Shenmue - Retro Review
It has been almost 14 years since the release of Shenmue on the Sega Dreamcast. WIth all the talk of the #SaveShenmue social media campaign I decided to do my part and stream on Twitch TV my playthrough of Shenmue. I did not intend to write a review for the game but after completing it I felt compelled to.
For those that have never played the game you play as Ryo Hazuki. A young man living in Japan who father is murdered by a mysterious man named Lan Di. Ryo’s life is now consumed with finding this man and getting his revenge. Shenmue was developed by Am2 and was produced and directed by Yu Suzuki. The game was released on November 8, 2000 on the Sega Dreamcast and was originally planned for the Sega Saturn as an RPG based on Virtua Fighter. As development moved along it moved away from Virtua Fighter but the fighting mechanics still pull from that series. Shenmue was the most expensive game in it time costing over $47 million to produce and it was a first of its kind in many ways. Suzuki called the gameplay "FREE" (Full Reactive Eyes Entertainment). The game was open world and it simulated real life with a day and night system, real time weather, non-playable characters that were fully voiced and had there own daily schedules. It even has tons of interactive elements like animals, stores, vending machines and arcades and included a feature call quick time events.
Playing this game again 14 years later I see where I didn't fully appreciate everything this game had to offer back in then. Yes it was slow paced and you had to be home before 1130 to go to bed, but there was so much to do while you waited on that store to open so you could talk to the owner. I could go to the arcade and play Hang-On, Space Harrier or Darts or hang out at the dojo and practice my fighting skills. I could see this time that the game was a mesh of every game Suzuki had made. The fighting was like like Virtua Fighter, the motorcycle ride was like Hang-on and the fork lift races are like Outrun. You even have to get a job at the docks, a job! I can see how this game has influenced games over the past 14 years and how it was so far ahead of its time. If you have played the Yakuza series you get the feel of Shenmue.
Im not going to rate the game, I really don't see the point in rating classic games. What I will say is this was one of my favorite games when the Dreamcast was out and after another playthrough is is one of my favorite games of all time. Playing it in 720p HD the visuals really hold up. The one complaint I have is I wished that the Japanese voice overs would have been left in the game because the english ones can get really ruff. I did not do any collecting this playthrough and completed the game in under 15 hours. I can't wait to play through Shenmue 2 again.
Shenmue 2 was never available in the US on the Dreamcast but you can get your hands on a UK copy on ebay but the price may not be cheap. If you have a 360 or original Xbox you can get a copy of Shenmue 2 in the US. If its complete it will include a DVD with the story of Shenmue 1 but to really get the feel of the series I recommend getting a Dreamcast. If you have never played it do yourself a favor and get a Dreamcast and a copy of the game off eBay or Craigslist. If you play it on a HDTV using the A/V cables it can look ruff but grab a VGA cable and the game looks great in HD. If you want to know more about how to play you Dreamcast in 720p please leave a comment and I can repost my article from GoozerNation.
After playing through these games again I really hope Sega brings out HD remasters of the games. As much as I would like to see a Shenmue 3 I just don't know if it will ever happen. Sega seems content on setting on the franchise but money talks these days. If you would like to show your support for Shenmue through social media be sure to click the banner and sign up for the #SaveShenmue campaign. Also check out our Twitch and YouTube channel where my playthrough of Shenmue is posted and subscribe to our twitter feed for when livestreams are for Shenmue 2 playthrough on the Dreamcast are happening.