Review by Dosu1524

"Groundbreaking for it's time, and still fun to play today"

So this is my very first game for the Dreamcast, and from what I understand this was Sega's ace in the hole for the dreamcast. It was the most expensive game to make at the time (I would imagine of all time to be honest) it cost about $70 million to make. It actually lost money (as you could imagine), and according to the wiki, the only way Sega could've made money on this game would be if everybody who bought a dreamcast bought the game twice. So it's statistically impossible. And there's your useless trivia of the day.

Story: The game starts off with the protagonist, Ryo Hazuki, running to his home to find that his father is being killed by a mysterious man who wears a Chinese robe. The man demands that the father hands over "The Mirror" (it doesn't look like a mirror to me though) and your father gives it over out of the fear that the man will kill Ryo. The plot of the game is to find out who the man is and get revenge. Very basic, so I'm tempted to give it a lower rating, however the story branches out very well. It becomes incredibly involving, what starts as a game based on revenge, stays a game based on revenge but expands further the trouble Ryo is facing.

It's not the best story ever told but it works well. It has a nice little romance subplot, also it does end on a cliff hanger.



Gameplay: I'm gonna divide this into 2 parts: Control and Fun Factor; but before I get to those I'll go over what new ideas Shenmue brought to the world of gaming. Shenmue was the first game to create the QTE, or Quick Time Event. Most people hate these (I don't know why), it works very well in this game, it's very unique, and it gives this game a particular feel.

Control: 70% of the game is spent running around and talking to people. So how do those controls work? They work fine, you hold down L to run and you use the D-Pad to move. You press A to talk, etc etc. Gameplay in this regard is fine. This game also has QTEs, as I previously mentioned, and they work very well, they're a lot of fun to do (even though they sometimes ambush you). They don't really pop up all that much, it's usually just for fighting and chasing people to beat the crap out of (and trust me when I say Ryo is a big time *ss kicker). When you fight certain enemies (usually in a sparring match or fighting against multiple opponents) you enter this virtua fighter style fighting mode. You get a move list and many NPC's teach you different moves to use in this mode. You can fight against bad guys, you can train by yourself (to increase the power of your attacks), you can spar with your friend Fuku. This particular fighting can be very strange at first, and it takes some time to get used to. You also spend some time driving a fork lift, I'll get to that later, but it controls pretty well. It's hard to race with it though because I get stuck on the walls a lot (I usually get 3rd place).

Control: A+

Fun Factor: So I'll start with the main part, which is running around and talking to people. That's pretty fun, even though it sounds boring. It's basically you have a lead, you ask people about the lead, they tell you where to go, you ask more people, sometimes you get a fight/QTE, other times you keep following leads. I know that probably doesn't sound too fun but the story makes it worth while. It becomes very interesting and you really want to find out what happens next.

In this game you have tons of little mini games, such as the arcade where you can play 2 different kinds of darts, or a boxing game, or a QTE game (which is pretty much a less complicated version of the boxing game), and a Sega game called "Space Harrier", oh and another Sega motorcycle game but it sucks. It's a fun way to kill time.

The fighting is alright, you mostly just mash punch and kick so there isn't really too much skill to it. But to be honest you usually fight 3 or more people so it's not like you have time to develop a strategy. You just want to knock out as many people as you can with as little hits as you can pull off. So I usually just keep using kick moves. Although you do get some pretty cool moves later on in the game. It's kind of funny though because they teach you a move at the very ending of the game. You can only use it on 1 guy; how pointless is that?

The QTE are what made this game. I know that sounds bad but they are pretty fun. They do come out of nowhere but it's more enjoyable then actually chasing someone. Mostly because they come and go pretty quickly.

The Forklift. Ok so there's a point in Disc 3 where you get a job to investigate something (no spoilers) and you have to work at this place in order to find out more about it (it makes more sense when you play it trust me) And you have to do work with this forklift A LOT. You do it for like a week (which is a lot considering this game takes place throughout 1 whole month) It's not so bad at first but by day 4 or 5 it starts to get a little annoying. By that point you just want to keep going and continue the story because not that much happens in Disc 3. But the ending is well worth it.

Fun Factor: A+


Graphics: From what I understand Shenmue was the first game to ever have a weather engine. And being that Shenmue was made in 1999 it probably had the best graphics at the time it was made. Also it's probably the first game to run in "real time", meaning that you have to do certain things at certain times, and it has an in game clock. Do those make a great game? No, and they probably would've come around later if shenmue didn't exist but it is a nice touch (and to be honest something I didn't even notice, because I've become so used to it).

This won't count towards the overall rating, it's just something I thought I'd mention.


Music: The music is very ambient, nothing really stand out about it but it's very good for setting the mood of the game. It's mostly soothing traditional sounding Japanese music. They have this one song sung in English but it's pretty cheesy. I never like those songs, the ones in the FF games and other Japanese games etc.

Music: B


Miscellaneous: The game is actually VERY creepy, but not because it tries to be. The way people look is nothing how they will sound. The voice acting is awful (it seriously feels like you're watching a less funny/exaggerated version of Girl-chan) and I have a few guesses as to why.

1. It is a literal translation from Japanese. Japanese does not translate perfectly to English it sounds very awkward most of the time.
2. The voice actors were more concerned about lip flaps then they were about the quality of the voice acting. And yes it is very hard to nail both of those.

Because of the acting, Ryo comes of as kind of flat. You don't really get to know a whole lot about your protagonist other then.

1. He's nice/polite
2. He's determined to avenge his father

and that's about it.

A few other things, you don't really have "side quests" there are side events but you don't get rewarded for them, and nothing really comes of them. That could have made this game a lot better.

Another thing is that when you play this game, you will hear 2 words so often that it will probably be the most memorable thing about this entire game (not to say that this game isn't memorable). Those words are "I SEE". Ryo seriously says this almost every time somebody stops talking. It seriously happens all the time.

Overall: Shenmue is definitely worth playing, it was worth getting a dreamcast for, it's fun and enjoyable but it's not the greatest game I've ever played in my life. Still a great game though


Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 07/21/10

Game Release: Shenmue (Limited Edition) (US, 11/07/00)

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