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4.4 out of 5 stars112
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 8 January 2001
This is a classic game which every Dreamcast owner must own....
Short, however, it is. It takes little under a week to complete, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. How many people would complain if a fim lasted under 3 hours. You're more likely to complain that it is too long.
Shenmue features excellent graphics and an immersive plot that creates tension in far greater quantity than any of the old-style RPG's.
The Playability is great, the voice acting unrivalled and the sound atmospheric throughout.
But still people complain. "The game is tedious" I hear them cry. Well thats a lot of rubbish. Infact it is far less tedious than any of the Final Fantasy Games because you can go where you like, as the game is completely free-roaming. You can buy the majority of products except the obvious ones like magazines and newspapers. I mean why would anyone really want to buy a magazine in a computer game? It really is mystifying.
Shenmue features one of the best fight systems in any game ever, eclipsing many beat-em-up's, and it features the excellent QTE system, where you have to press buttons as the come on the screen.
This is a game everyone should own, which warrants the purchase of a Dreamcast just to play it. Trust me.
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on 27 January 2003
I really think that this is the best ame I have ever played. A visual and audio masterpiece, this game is absolutely fantastic.
The game follows the life of a japanese teenager named Ryo Hazuki avenging the murder of his father. With the help of his friends Fukuhara-san, Nozomi, and many more, Ryo sets out to find his father's killer and get his revenge.
Originally, this game was set to be released on the sega megadrive, but as it took 10 years to complete, it was refreshed and brought out on the Sega Dreamcast. The game, which is set over 4 discs (well - 3 really), is eye candy, ear candy, and every other body part candy. This was revolutionary in the gaming world. Every character on screen has artificial intelligence, going about their daily lives, shopping, chatting and more. Every non playable character can speak to you and give you clues. The concept of this game is interesting. First, you find some information you need to know, and then set out to try and find the answers by asking people, and searching through their houses, and scribbling in your little brown notebook.
Also, in this game, we are introduced to something called 'magic weather'. This means that, different to other video games, the weather changes instead of constant sunshine. There is also a small clock in the corner of your screen. Each game hour lasts around 5 minutes, and at the end of each day it gets darker, the bars open, and at 11:30 pm you look at your watch, stop whatever you are doing, and decide that you must go home in case your stepmother gets worried.
This is a sheer work of art and I would recomment this to anybody. If you haven't played this, you really are missing out. Big Time.
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on 8 October 2005
I have to express my love for this game, if I dare call it that. Shenmue is a powerful, graphically rich, intelligent work of genius that can't be described fairly in words. I first saw it round a friends house and was so taken with it that I ran out and bought a Dreamcast, just for this one game!

The setting is Yokosuka - Japan, 1986. You play as Ryo Hazuki, a 17 year old Japanese martial arts student who's life is turned upside down one day when his father is murdered in front of him. He swears to avenge his father's murder and that is where you take control. You walk around the beautifully recreated town of Yokosuka and interact with people and items all around. You can almost do as you please in this free world including play real life 80's Sega games in the arcade or go into shops and buy things and talk to the shop owners. It has to be said how much money, effort and attention to detail has gone into this game. It really is a work of art and it is scary how many things you see in the game which make you think 'I've seen that before in real life'. Towards the end of the game, you even get a job as a forklift truck driver at the docks which is a very unusual thing to see in a game. Shenmue is also highly educational with regard to eastern culture.

For me personally, I feel a deep connection to Shenmue as it has genuinely changed my life. Due to the strong martial arts elements in the game, I took up karate and I am now a teacher. I am also very into Japanese things and have a ton of eastern decorations in my room! I feel contented in my life and I owe so much of this to this game so you can imagine how much I like it.

I'm just going to finish off saying what a wonderful game this is and if you have a Sega Dreamcast, you must own this game. If you don't have a Dreamcast, you must buy one just to play this game lol! Your life is incomplete without it so get it now!!
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on 2 December 2000
Shenmue is in another dimension - literally. I have to thank Special reserve for sending it to me, as I found it outside my house at 6.00pm today hidden behind a fence! (The game was too big to put through my letterbox)
I must admit that Shenmue is amazing. For the last 2 hours I've been taken into a whole new world, a Japanese world (set 14years ago) with some awful American voice-overs, but I love it. It's like a whole new life, well almost!
I wasn't expecting this, I truly wasn't, and I am absolutely awe-inspired. Nothing I have seen can compare to such a 'game', but it really didn't feel like a game to play! As you may well have heard people say - Shenmue is an experience, and an incredibly absorbing one at that.
I found myself drawn into the environment I actually thought for a split second that I was actually in the game. Sonic - move over, a new spiky haired chum is in town and his name is Ryo-san, and he's out for revenge (as a dragon robed chap just killed his dad.
I've only been 'playing' for a couple of hours, and already I've witnessed a sun-setting, I've bought far too many mini plastic egg toys contain all sorts of things (including Bark and Bean from Fighters Megamix/Sonic Fighters!), but Ryo said he loved them, and told himself to keep on buying more!
I've had a Jet Soda to drink, and have mastered 4 new fighting moves in a local park! The old woman that lives with me (is she my...I mean Ryo's mum?) has already threatened to scorn me if I am reckless, and I've talked with a drunken Japanese bloke, been asked by about 10 little kids to play Baseball with them (did this sort of thing happen in Japan 14 years ago?), and I've fed a kitten (which is stuck in a box) some dried fish!
I simply could not believe how graphically amazing the game is. The texture mapping is fantastic, and the frame rate at 60hz is superb. The only faults that I have found so far, and I'm only on day 1, is that the control system will take a while to get used to (you can't jump, and the D-Pad is the only pad you can use) and the fact that some Japanese women have been assigned the most appalling American voiceovers.
I'll have to return back to the world of shenmue soon, but I'm glad that I can pause this world, and continue in my own, as I really need to catch up with a few things.
Shenmue is the work of Yu Suzuki and his team, and is spread out over 4 discs! I urge you to get this 'game' I was lucky enough to win it!
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on 5 November 2003
the title says it all-its easily one of the best games ever made- shenmue II surpasses it even more, which is amazing considering the quality of this game. if you have a dreamcast- buy this game-its a classic, and one of sega's finest moments. if you get this-get shenmue II as quickly as possible cos when u finish this game you WILL want to see what happens after the ending...... quality game, and one of my favorite games ever-i havent been absorbed in a story line from a film, or game like i was with shenmue. i just hope sega will finish off the story with shenmue III....cos im dying to see what happens to ryo!
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on 3 June 2007
Forget all your fancy Xbox 360 and PS3 games, this is the only game you will ever need (apart from its sequel, you'll need that too)! This was the video game that got me into gaming and is still the best game i have ever played. The graphics in this game were the best in its class at the time and still manage to look outstanding with todays games. It has an excellent storyline and lots of fun things to keep you entertained throughout the story, e.g. playing games in the arcade, collecting capsule toys, feeding a cat, the list goes on. The only thing bad about the Shenmue series is that at the moment there are no plans to finish it off, but hopefully, one day in the future, Yu Suzuki will wow us all again by bringing Shenmue 3 to a Next Gen console. It deserves to be finished in style. :) There isn't a score i could give this game as it deserves more than 10/10. If you have to play one game before you die, play this, you wont regret it.
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on 5 February 2014
Shenmue is, quite likely, the greatest video game ever made. The fact that it is now 14 years old and still looks amazing and plays brilliantly only adds to its enduring charm. Anyone who has played Shenmue could talk at length about strolling around Dobuita and Yamanose and Shenmue's other areas. Imagine, too, an open world game of today that didn't contain endless swearing in order to make it somehow "real". Shenmue doesn't need ersatz "grit" to give it character, it has that in spades through superb writing, characters, environments and pacing.

Other titles since Shenmue have had larger landscapes, and I am a fan of many of Rockstar's offerings, but none have the heart of Ryo Hazuki, his family and friends. And enemies. The shops and other buildings aren't pointless empty boxes, either, with great interiors created for such classic retail outlets as the Tomato store and the YOU Arcade. In the former, and other such places, you can buy items, including food (handy for an abandoned kitten you will encounter), batteries, a torch, cassettes (it's 1986, remember) and much more. In YOU Arcade you can play arcade perfect versions of Hang On and Space Harrier, plus other titles. Then there is the beautiful soundtrack (it really is fantastic) and the narrative of tracking down ne'er do wells (including sailors - a hoot!), plus friendly locals who will offer advice. The supporting cast include Ryo's always anxious aunt chastising him for getting home late; Tom and his parping theme whenever you approach his van-cum-hot dog stall; the burger guy who only uses the very best beef in his burgers; Dandy Old Man, the local soak; the love interest Nozomi and many more. On and on go the layers in this brilliant character-led classic.

Myself and other Shenmue fans will never stop hoping for Shenmue 3. But if we are disappointed and such a title never emerges, we will return to Shenmue and Shenmue II time and again. Others prefer the sequel for its more focused story and larger in-game environments, diversity, etc. And they are right to love that also stunning game. For me, though, it's the hometown environments and slow burning pace of the original that I long to come back to most often.

Shenmue is quite simply the greatest game ever made.
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on 4 January 2002
This game is an true epic, even if it is a bit short.Its also a bit slow until the end of the 1st cd, then it gets WAY better.The graphics are brilliant and you wouldn't see them better now, they are even a bit better than shenmue 2.The music fits the game perfectly but you don't really hear it because you are just listening to the brilliant voice acting!Overall this game is just brilliant!This is one of the games ever and only is only rivalled by mgs or ff8.
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on 9 August 2014
For 14 years I stubbornly gave an unrelenting defense in favour of this being the best game ever. My dogma was so strong I even promoted the idea it could never be beaten. Shenmue was nothing short of revolutionary for video gaming at the time of it's release. It was a masterclass of adventure, story-telling, creativity and Sega tribute. After completing it again today though, I realise I must be sensible with objectivity and revise my opinion.

As a youngster, I was more than willing to wait around for hours for shops to open and meeting schedules to occur, be goaded into extremely linear 'go to' quests, persist with the very awkward controls (and controller), and forgive every word of the lame acting. I was happy to persevere repeatedly on the ridiculously difficult motorcycle challenge to rescue Nozomi and the tricky mechanic of the forklift employment in the face of the cumbersome traffic-laden harbor environment where cats and people are stronger than vehicles. Fighting moves are rarely executed or explained clearly and the camera control in the game is another game in and of itself.

The love I have for the game was wrapped up in the novelty of it's impressive new gaming experience - something I reluctantly have to admit to today. Being able to interact with every residential dwelling or random roaming passer-by to some degree; buying (purposeful) products from stores; lush 'realistic' environments to explore; old video games to play within the game and the worldly reality inflicted from the visual day into night cycle along with the emotional spirit this triggered in me after each days struggle for justice.

I was clouded by the powerful charming effect this had on me the first time I played it but sadly, the game is quite a struggle to play and merely enjoy in 2014 - We've been spoilt with so many better made and vastly more playable games. I was a huge campaigner for a HD release but after the play-through this weekend, I think I've had my fill. Shenmue 2 is much better game in many different ways but it too has been surpassed too far now for me to champion them as the best of all time.

I hate to say this to newcomers, but you REALLY had to be there at the time to understand the impact of this title amongst gamers of that generation. It was easily the best thing to happen to gaming when it was released let alone meeting a silly 5 star metric. It is arguably the reason GTA and all the other powerful sandbox type games exist.
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on 11 January 2008
Yu Suzuki's (and Sega's) masterpiece.

Set in Japan during the 1980's, this game offers gameplay unlike any other. Prepare to be overwhelmed with technical achievements and articulately crafted material. The game is in itself, a painting of the era where it is set. No other game has encapsulated both Japan and the era so perfectly. It is very doubtful that any other game will capture, like a moving picture, any setting so well.

If you ever wished for a game that takes you on a journey to another world, another time, you may try the adventure genre. Now ask yourself, what do you, as a gamer, demand from the adventure genre? A compelling storyline, interesting characters, an original world, an atmosphere which is unique, the gameplay must be varied, plenty of extras material for you to find, and an epic length. Shenmue delivers this and so much more.

If ever there was a gaming series that catches you in an instant, this is it. Not only does it incorporate everything you wish for an adventure game to have, but some nice and new features to the genre. Shenmue gave us the QTE system, press the button which flashes onto the screen. Many argue that Dragon's Lair created this, however, I digress; Shenmue incorporated this so it fit into an adventure game. Now look at how many games have tkane the QTE system as one of their own original devices; God Of War, Resident Evil 4 et al. Not to take anything away from that, since I enjoy QTE sequences, they're a lot of fun that keep you on edge during the cutscenes. It certainly added a lot of tense moments in Shenmue, as well as replay factor; fail the first button you have to press, and get the second one right, and you shall react differently in the situation.

The action, when it arrives, is a breathe of fresh air and adds some spice to the game. The fighting moves are taken from Yu Suzuki's masterful fighting series, Virtua Fighter. The moves are easy to learn, and easy to adapt to, even for those of us who aren't very good at fighting games on the whole (myself included). The fighting can be a lot of fun, and the game's big climax is a very rewarding experience.

Then there's the freedom of the areas. You can explore Shenmue to (almost) its fullest extent. The only time I have found any limits with the areas, is when you are attempting to enter 'restricted zones' at the Harbour, or try to go onto the road, whilst at Dobuita. The many brilliant actions you can perform in this mode is incredible. Talk with the locals, buy a can of coke, play on an arcade game, spar, the list goes on and on. Very rarely do you get such a game that, strictly speaking, follows a linear path, storyline-wise, but allows itself to let you take your time. There IS a limit to how long you can keep doing whatever you wish, but it is a long, long way down the road. The game does not wish for you rush, in other words. How many other adventure games give you so much freedom? Very few, that's what.

The characters in Shenmue are either very bland and ordinary people (Dobuita's fellow locals), or extremely fascinating (Lan Di, Guizhang, Chai). The voiceover work varies greatly, whilst it doesn't take away from the overall impression, the game does suffer from mediocre overall voice work. However, there is some good work in there, regardless (Chai, Lan Di, Iwao, Terry, Guizhang, Shozo Mizuki). That is practically the only fault in a game so vast and full of great promise.

The atmosphere, I cannot put into words, for it is untold how magnificent the atmosphere in this game is. No other game has pulled me in beforehand into its world. The feelings I get from it change all the time, each time I play, there are sections that are intense, emotional, saddening, joyful, distressing, funny.

This game is a prime example of what games can, and should accomplish; give the player a sudden rush of emotions, capture the player with its atmosphere so brilliantly like a great novel, a great experience to be had that the user will never, ever forget.

The graphics are still pristine, even to this day (eight years on from the original release date). The Dreamcast was truly a blessed system, whilst not the greatest, it certainly had the potential to be. The graphics and gameplay factors in Shenmue prove just that.

Need I utter another word for you? I do not even need to spell it out to you, or to myself; this game is absolutely well worth buying. It certainly made me interested in visiting Japan in the near future, that's for sure. The sequel lives up to this promise, adding even more incredible features to the series, that so desperately needs its third title. Sega, the time is now. Release Shenmue III, for we have waited long enough. Let us turn the next page and be swept away again.
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