What the flying Fuku-san is this? Shenmue III’s first post-release expansion pack Battle Rally launched this week, and it’s stranger than turtle racing. Somehow, this extraordinary add-on does its best Outrun impression, aping the logo of Yu Suzuki’s high-speed arcade hit. And yet we’ve never experienced anything quite like this before – it’s truly one of a kind.
So, what do you do? Well, in essence this is a racing game, where you must sprint through the idyllic scenery of Bailu Village. The location’s layout remains unchanged, but courses have been added to familiar areas, with spectators standing on the sidelines to cheer you on. This isn’t just a sprint to the finish, though – you’ve also got to beat up bad guys along the way.
Here’s where it gets interesting: you earn more points for fighting foes, but they also eat into your time. As such, you need to be efficient with your combat, and all three playable characters – Ryo Hazuki, Ren Wuying, and Wei Zhen – come with different move scrolls. There’s also a fourth unlockable protagonist, but we’ll leave you to discover that little surprise.
Each time you complete a course, you’ll be put onto the leaderboard with scores dating back to 1921; we can only assume that Ys Net wanted to make this look like a historical Chinese activity, hence the ancient records. Top the leaderboard with all heroes across all courses and you’ll earn access to that aforementioned bonus.
But there’s more: in order to unlock more courses, you need to go on scavenger hunts around Bailu Village searching for stuffed toys. This works similarly to the Chobu Chan side-missions in the core campaign, except you now have a radar to help with your hunting. Collecting these will not only add more tracks to Battle Rally, but it’ll also improve your stats.
Searching for these hidden objects is both a torturous and relaxing experience that’s indescribably addictive. The whole expansion is pretty bad, yet there’s a je ne sais quoi to it that will keep it in your thoughts long after you’ve switched your PS4 off. We don’t know where this came from, and we don’t recommend it – but we’ve got Bailu Chan to find, so if you’ll excuse us...
Are you as baffled by Shenmue III's Battle Rally as we are? Have you found all the Bailu Chan stuffed toys yet? Look harder in the comments section below.