The following is an opinion article and should be treated as such.
Ryo Hazuki is the main protagonist of SEGA’s RPG Dreamcast hit: Shenmue, its sequel Shenmue 2, which was later ported to the original Xbox. He will be making his grand return in the upcoming Shenmue 3.
Beyond Shenmue, Ryo has gone on to appear in numerous SEGA cross-overs, these include: Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing, where he distinguishes himself as the only character to feature two different vehicle options. As well as its sequel: Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed as a DLC character using an arcade-machine for his vehicle.
In perhaps his most bizarre appearance, Ryo along with several other SEGA characters appears in ESPN NFL Football as a free agent. Most recently Ryo appeared in Project X Zone 2 as a solo unit.
Reasons for Inclusion:
Shenmue’s influence can perhaps never be understated. Its lingering effects can still be felt on the gaming industry to this day. A game that was hugely advanced for its time, it integrated systems for day-and-night and varying weather conditions. It also featured a host of non-playable characters that adhered to schedules and were fully interactive. It is furthermore credited with having popularised the quick-time-action mechanic. It even pre-dated Grand Theft Auto 3 as the original open-world game.
Beyond the importance Shenmue has not only with SEGA, but gaming as a whole Ryo has a lot to offer any fighting game thanks to his unique character background and fighting abilitiy. Ryo’s story begins on his 18th birthday. When he embarks on a journey to confront Lan-Di, the man who killed his father in order to get to the Dragon Mirror.
Ryo is proficient in Martial Arts, having studied the art of Jujitsu under his father since the age of 7 years old. Ryo’s extensive Martial Arts training have made him very strong, both mentally and physically. He is often able to defeat several skilled fighters or dangerous assailants at a time.
SEGA’s relationship with Nintendo is significant also. Considering both Sonic The Hedgehog and SEGA-owned Bayonetta have already appeared as playable characters in Smash Bros, it means less difficulty in licensing and creating the character. At least compared with some other Third Party candidates.
Perhaps most key is Ryo’s resurgence and revival into the limelight. The long awaited Shenmue III was announced at E3 in 2015, with a Kickstarter campaign launching shortly thereafter. Shenmue III met its initial $2 million goal in less than 8 hours, and went on to receive over $6.3 million. It is now the most successful and highest funded video-game related Kickstarter of all time, thrashing even the likes of Shovel Knight and Yooka-Laylee.
Reasons for Exclusion:
Ryo’s biggest issue perhaps lies in the platforms his games have appeared on. None of the main-series Shenmue games have ever seen the light of day on a Nintendo system, or will any time soon. This means that Nintendo fans have only ever experienced this character through his spin-off appearances in Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing and Project X Zone 2.
Another issue is that despite Shenmue doing extremely well in terms of sales (1.2 million copies, and fourth best selling Dreamcast game overall), its extremely high budget for the time meant that the game lost a colossal amount of money. Every Dreamcast owner would have had to have bought the first game twice in order for SEGA to turn a profit.
Smash Bros. features some of the best music from each series that graces it. Shenmue would be no exception. Here is a track that would have to feature should Ryo ever find his way into the fray.