O Rei do Frango Assado wrote: Funnily enough, I missed an even more obvious Japanese character in that second pic I posted. There's a big red 実 there where there it should be, in fact, a 實, as that is the traditional Chinese form used in Hong Kong. So, in that one screenshot, we have two Japanese character variants (広 and 実 in place of 廣 and 實) on the shop signs. Which makes me think that, for all the Chinese writing, the developers simply used a Japanese program without taking into account the fact that Japanese uses certain variants not used anywhere in China. Seems pretty negligent, if you ask me, especially in a game with such minute attention to detail in its other aspects.
It's really cool that you have picked up those differences as it never occurred to me when I played it again a few years ago (not that I'm claiming fluency in either Chinese or Japanese). That being said, I have to disagree with the negligence comment. When it comes to videogames, the only attention to detail games should be scrutinized for is towards its internal world consistency. Unless Yu Suzuki was claiming to make 1 to 1 representation of the real world, what we see in Shenmue 2 seems fine to me. The reason is in Shenmue's world, though there's an acknowledgement of a Chinese language (by the gibberish spoken by Joy and the fact Ryo can't read Chinese characters as example) the entire population of Hong Kong and most likely China (seeing that Shenhua living in a remote village communicates perfectly with Ryo) consistently speak in native Japanese. So it is not strange at all that we see use of Japanese translation variants of Chinese in public signs and billboards. Immersion wise, it just appears to me that the Japanese occupation in South East Asia during WW2 left a strong cultural impact in the region, an alternative reality of sorts in Shenmue's world. Of course it was likely all done because of the lack of budget for an all Chinese dub cast, but as of the actual execution it is what it is, and it's consistent across the game's narrative.