There once was a time when Shenmue would of graced the sega saturn, sadly it never did because it was developed as a late generation saturn game and had it’s release canceled due to sega ending the saturns lifespan too early.
As sad as it was to not see shenmue on the saturn, people didn’t have to wait long because the game graced sega’s new console the Dreamcast, it was one of the 10 launch titles released in 1999 and sold a million copies worldwide.
Shenmue is a open-world adventure game developed by Sega AM2 development team and was produced and directed by Yu Suzuki.
Suzuki coined a genre title, “FREE” (Full Reactive Eyes Entertainment), for the game, based on the interactivity and freedom he wanted to give to the player. Suzuki intended to achieve this by Simulating aspects of real life through the game, such Day/Night/Sleep system, real time variable weather effects (unheard of in a game of this kind at the time), fully voiced non-player characters with their own daily schedules, quick time events, and various other interactive elements such as vending machines, arcades, and convenience stores.
Shenmue borrows gameplay elements from several different genres, but largely consists of open-world adventure segments with real-time 3D battles interspersed throughout. It was the most expensive video game in its time, with a production cost of $47 million, equivalent to $64 million in 2011.
The game was followed by a 2001 sequel Shenmue 2, with at least one more planned as a Dreamcast series. The budget for both games amounted to $70 million, equivalent to $95 million in 2011. However, production on the series ended with the second game, leaving the story at an unresolved cliffhang
The story of Shenmue begins on November 29, 1986, in the perspective of the protagonist Ryo Hazuki returning home to his family dojo to witness his father, Iwao Hazuki, battling with a tall, ominous man dressed in a green silk Kung-Fu suit known as Lan Di. He demands Iwao hand over an item known as the “Dragon Mirror”, though Iwao refuses to reveal where it is. Ryo intervenes in battle after his father is felled, but is injured by a blow from Lan Di. He then lifts Ryo from the ground and threatens to kill him with a final blow, which prompts Iwao to reveal its location underneath the cherry blossom tree.
After Lan Di’s henchmen recover the mirror, he mentions a man called Sunming Zhao, who was allegedly killed by Iwao in a rural Chinese village. The two then engage in combat for the last time, as he wishes Iwao to die “as a warrior”. Lan Di finishes the fight with a deadly blow, and he and his party then leave. Iwao dies shortly after in Ryo’s arms, which fills Ryo with the desire for revenge above all else. He begins to instigate inquiries into the incident with the local people of his hometown, Sakuragaoka.
The 4 main settings in the game
Shenmue takes place within Yokosuka, Japan. The four main areas of Yokosuka available to the player are detailed and offer many avenues for exploration. The Hazuki Dojo is located in a small hamlet called Yamanose, where many of Ryo’s childhood friends and neighbors live. Ryo’s childhood friends, Ichiro Sakurada and Noriko Nakamura, are also residents of Yamanose. Directly next to Yamanose lies Sakuragaoka, a slightly bigger neighborhood. There are several points of interest here, including Setsu Abe’s Candy Shop and Sakuragaoka Park. There are also several residents of Sakuragaoka that can offer assistance to Ryo in his quest to find Lan Di. They include local gossips Fusayo Mishima and Fusako Kondo, as well as Naoyuki Ito, who lends Ryo his motorbike towards the end of the game.
Gameplay in Shenmue is diverse; while most of the game is spent walking around the Japanese locations in a third-person ‘chase cam’ mode (talking to people, searching for things, and so forth), it is interspersed with many ‘mini games’, including forklift and motorcycle races, bar fights, chases down crowded alleys, full versions of Sega arcade games Space Harrier and Hang-on (both originally programmed by Shenmue creator and director, Yu Suzuki), dart games, and fighting sequences.
During the majority of Shenmue, the player will explore the Yokosuka area usually for any leads to progress the narrative. Often, these leads will be gained by talking to local people who can provide important clues. If the player so desires, they can explore the area simply for fun without progressing the game’s narrative. Furthermore, talking to a variety of local people that although will not progress the narrative, can greatly enhance the player’s understanding of the plot and/or gameplay mechanics. There are also several side-quests for players to engage in throughout the game. These will not affect the main narrative, but might provide Ryo with useful items or further develop characters and storyline for the player. Items collected and martial arts skills leveled up in the first game could be imported into Shenmue II after completing the game.
Shenmue delivers a kind of life simulator aspect with it’s slow pace which at times feels almost too slow especially when NPC’s setup meetings for Ryo to meet a gang member or getting a job at the warehouse taking place the next day which leaves the player with nothing else to do during the currant day, players then have to either go to the arcade and play some games just to waste time or just stand in one spot until the time says 11:30 pm in which at that time Ryo always says “it’s late I better go home, I wouldn’t want Enaysah to worry”.
Voice acting and dialogue isn’t the best in this game but it isn’t cringe worthy either nor is it game breaking, in fact it’s more amusing then anything else.
Shenmue is a rare gem indeed and if you’re a sega fan or new to sega games but haven’t played it yet I highly recommend buying a Dreamcast and this game.
Posted by hedgefox on Oct 28, 2011Tags: AM2, Classic, Dreamcast, Hedgefox, review, Ryu, SEGA, Shenmue