Review by Gyarados

"This unique game is truly a MASTERPIECE. The beginning of a great series."

I love this game. I completely am glad that I bought it. Many people will probably not like it because they will not understand why it's so good. Nobody please say ''But it sucked! Look at all those flaws!'' I am aware of all of them. But I still enjoy the game. Many people also like it, but this review is for both types of people.

Graphics - 10/10
These are the most realistic graphics I have seen on a Dreamcast. Plus, they aren't used the wrong way - to attempt to fool people into liking the game. They are used because Yu Suzuki wanted everything to look realistic in his game. The people look like real people (especially the main characters), but those walking around don't look as good, but that's OK. The mouths move according to what the people are saying, which I think was done very well. I had a problem with objects popping up too much, but that's probably because there are so many things around. The buildings are done well, and so are many other things, but there are too many things to list.

Sound - GREAT
I like the voices used for the game. For example, the people will rarely say something like robots. If you go near a place with many people, you will hear talking sound effects. In the arcade, as you come closer to a certain game, you will hear noises from that game. The sounds are done very well.

Music - 9/10
The music is also great. The theme song is the best, in my opinion, and the background music is also great. When you walk around on a rainy day, you have a quiet little tune, and it perfectly fits the mood. This is true for many other situations as well.

Story - 10/10
The story is this - You, Ryo Hazuki, return home after your birthday and see a black car. You see the housekeeper injured and suddenly, your friend flies out of your family Dojo. When you enter, you see a dark, mysterious man demanding that your father gives him some kind of mirror. Eventually, he kills your father, but you also heard him saying that your father killed a man in China before. Angry, you decide to avenge your father's murder and find out what happened earlier to your father. You might be thinking this: ''How can you give the story a 10? Avenging your father's murder isn't a good idea for a story!'' But the plot is not that simple. You are also trying to find out what happened to your father earlier in his life. There are many emotional scenes, which also add points to the quality of the story. People will think the story is not that good at first, because it starts to get more exciting on Disc 2. Many things will probably be found out in the sequel.

Gameplay - 9
There are 3 different modes of gameplay, so I will review them individually.
QTE - 8/10
''QTE'' stands for ''Quick Timer Event.'' an icon of a button will sometimes flash and beep on the screen and you will have to press that button before it's too late. The exciting thing is that they can come when you least expect them, so you have to be prepared. Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of these, and the combination of buttons you need to press during a QTE will always be the same. But this is a good idea.
Free Battle - 9/10
I love this idea for a fighting game system. There are about 50 moves total, and each one is different. You have kicking moves, blocks, throws, counters, and punches. There are even some moves that aren't even listed in the moves scroll (which lists all the moves you know and how to do them) so you have the fun of discovering them! You can win these battles just by pressing buttons, but I strongly recommend that you don't do that, because it takes away the fun. The problem is again, that there are only a few free battles (about 10), and only a few of those are hard to win, but this part of the game should be made into a fighting game.
Free Quest - 9/10
This is probably what made people complain a lot. During your free quest, you can find or do whatever you have to find or do next. You have an alternate choice, which is to explore around. There are so many things to do. The complaints that many people had about the free quest was that you asked around too much, and having to find the right person. That is true, but I didn't notice that until I got to Disc 2, where that part of the game is done. I think that asking around was still fun to do, which added to the story. Another bad flaw was that if you had an appointment the next day, you would have to wait for it. Hopefully, that will be improved in the sequel. Another thing you have is the forklift job you will eventually get. It takes away your freedom to ''go where you want to go, see what you want to see,'' but it is still fun. Lastly, a good thing about the gameplay is that you won't have the same things happen to you, so you have many paths. One player might get a cut scene and find a certain piece of information from one person, and and another player will miss the cut scene but get another one that the first player didn't have and get the same information from a different person. In this way, your whole adventure probably won't be the exact same as your friend's. I recommend you to take your time and not try to beat the game as fast as possible. Despite all these flaws, the gameplay is great.

Originality - 10/10
I think this game leads to a new step in gaming. Games that also try to be realistic have been made, but this game does a good job at it. While it is not fully realistic (you don't eat in the game), it does a good job for being one of the first game like this.

Difficulty - 3/10
This is the worst thing about the game. If you are just hurrying, you can beat the game in less that 20 game days. You start at December 3, and have until April 15, and that is WAY more than enough time. If you fail a Free Battle or QTE, you are just allowed to try it again, and you are only allowed to fail one of them to continue the game. The only way to lose the game is to not finish it by April 15, which strongly decreases the difficulty. I only found a few parts of the game which are hard to progress in.

Replay Value - 10/10
Even when you beat this game, there will be many things you missed, so when you start over, you can do all the fun things in the game again. Many things make this game very replayable.

RENT or BUY? And Conclusion
If you are not sure, you should rent this game at least, and if you enjoy it, it is definitely worth buying. This game might not be the right game for everyone, but if a museum of games will be made in the future, Shenmue definitely should be in it for its innovation. I am very excited about the sequel.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 08/18/01, Updated 08/22/01

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