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Shenmue

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Released: 2000

Publisher: Sega

Developer: Sega AM2

Submitted by: Ryan McNeilly

Yu Suzuki’s Shenmue for the Sega Dreamcast will immerse you. Make no mistake about it, this adventure is as good as the critics say.

Starting life off as a Virtua Fighter RPG but evolving into an epic original adventure, the core story of Shenmue is based around a young lad named Ryo who witnessed his Father being murdered by a mysterious bad-guy named Lan-Di. Lan-Di was searching for a mirror and was happy enough to kill Ryo’s Dad to find it’s whereabouts. You will control Ryo with the intention of avenging your Father’s death. You will travel around four open areas of Japan to put the pieces of the puzzle together. The story of Shenmue takes place within the span of a few months, but can vary depending on your personal gameplay.

For it’s time, Shenmue introduced common features featured in many open-world sandbox games today, such as a day and night system and weather changes. Suzuki has stated that he wanted to create a real world by simulating real life through the game. This is achieved incredibly well, as you will want to see what the next day brings in Shenmue.

You can polish up on your fighting skills by practicing your moves in the park or the dojo, feed the little kitten outside your house, go to the bar, collect some toys at the capsule machines, or even visit the arcade for a game of darts or Outrun! There are lots of welcoming distractions from the main task at hand.

The people you meet in Shenmue all have their own their own working hours, their own personality and their own reasons for being included in the cast. You will meet and talk to the same people throughout the game who will give you little updates to how their lives are going. Using a notebook, you will take notes throughout the game which will help you continue your quest. The culture, setting and tone of Shenmue is something to behold. You will never forget the experience.The pure diversity of Shenmue made it a masterpiece for it’s time and is still very much worth playing today.

Shenmue has that “I want to see what happens next” quality which keeps you playing on. You will not grow tired of Shenmue as there is so much to find out. It also gives you an empty feeling once you complete the game, you just want to keep going.

Spread across 3 discs and including a “Passport” disc (a sort of companion disc which featured a theater mode, tips and online features), Shenmue cost a staggering $47 million to produce. Big money for a game in 1999.

A sequel was released and a 3rd installment was planned, but never materialized. Still, to this very day, people are signing petitions demanding the return of the franchise. The sequel was good (perhaps better than the original, depending who you ask), taking everything from the original (including your saved file, your fighting skills would transfer over, along with any funds and toys you collected) and expanding greatly. That will be for another game profile though.

It is not hard to see why Shenmue was marked as one of the greatest games of all times by numerous outlets. Groundbreaking for it’s time and opening the door’s for open world games, Shenmue is an inspiration for both players and developers.

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