Top positive review
6 people found this helpful
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.