From Sega Retro

For the Japanese re-release version, see US Shenmue.


  • NTSC-J

Shenmue title.png


System(s): Sega Dreamcast
Publisher: Sega
Supporting companies:
Licensor: The Coca-Cola Company
Peripherals supported: Dreamcast Modem, Visual Memory Unit, Dreamcast VGA Box
Genre: FREE Full Reactive Eyes Entertainment[1], Action Adventure[2], Adventure[3]

Number of players: 1
Official in-game languages:
  • 日本語
  • English
  • Français
  • Deutsch
  • Español
  • Release Date RRP Code
    Sega Dreamcast
    ¥6,800 (7,140)6,800e[2] HDR-0016
    Sega Rating: All Ages
    Sega Dreamcast
    (Shokai Genteiban)
    ¥6,800 (7,140)6,800e[2] HDR-0031
    Sega Rating: All Ages
    Sega Dreamcast
    $49.9549.95[4] 51059
    ESRB: Teen
    Sega Dreamcast
    (Limited Edition)
    $49.9549.95[4] 51059
    ESRB: Teen
    Sega Dreamcast
    ELSPA: 11+ OK
    Sega Dreamcast
    USK: 12
    Sega Dreamcast
    ELSPA: 11+ OK
    Sega Dreamcast
    SELL: Tous Publics
    Sega Dreamcast
    £39.9939.99[9][10] MK-51059-50
    ELSPA: 11+ OK
    Sega Dreamcast
    Sega Dreamcast
    Tectoy: 14+

    Shenmue, called Shenmue: Ichishou Yokosuka (シェンムー 一章 横須賀) in Japan (i.e. "Chapter I: Yokosuka") , is an adventure game produced and directed by Yu Suzuki and developed by Sega AM2. It was published by Sega for the Sega Dreamcast in late 1999.

    Shenmue stands as one of the most significant video games ever published by Sega, at the time being the most expensive game ever produced, and having unparalleled interactivity and freedom, real-time day/night and weather systems, fully voiced non-playable characters and cutting edge graphics. Borrowing from many genres of video games, Suzuki coined a new genre name, "F.R.E.E." (Full Reactive Eyes Entertainment) to describe it.

    As the Japanese name suggests, Shenmue consists of the first chapter in what is currently an unfinished story.


    Ryo Hazuki, protagonist of Shenmue.

    The fictional story of Shenmue begins on November 29, 1986, in the perspective of the protagonist Ryo Hazuki (芭月 涼 Hazuki Ryō) returning home to his family dojo to witness his father, Iwao Hazuki battling with a man named Lan Di, dressed in Chinese attire, who demands he hand over an item known as the "Dragon Mirror". Ryo intervenes in battle after his father is felled, but is injured by a blow from Lan Di. As his father refuses to reveal the location of the mirror, Lan Di lifts Ryo from the ground and threatens to kill him with a final blow, which prompts Iwao to reveal its location underneath the Cherry blossom tree.

    After Lan Di's henchmen recover the mirror, he asks Iwao if he knows of a man called "Sunming Zhao" and then kills him after forcibly asking him to stand as a warrior to face his end. As Ryo lies injured on the floor of the dojo, Lan Di and his men leave the Hazuki household. After Ryo has partially recovered he feels that he must dutifully gain revenge for the murder of his father, and begins to instigate inquiries into the incident with the local people of his hometown, Sakuragaoka.

    Ryo's first clue is a car that some of his neighbours saw on the day of the murder. Though his leads are few and far between, Ryo slowly makes progress in his investigation by interviewing people all over Yokosuka. Just as he is about to run out of leads, a letter from a man named Yuanda Zhu suggests that he seek the aid of a certain Master Chen, who works at the harbour. Through Chen and his son Guizhang, Ryo learns that a local wharf gang known as the Mad Angels is connected to Lan Di's crime organization, the Chiyoumen. Ryo also learns that "the mirror" stolen by Lan Di is part of a set of two mirrors. After much investigation, he locates the second mirror underneath his father's dojo. This mirror is decorated with a Phoenix.

    Ryo takes a job on the waterfront in order to learn more about the Mad Angels gang, and eventually he causes them enough trouble that the gang kidnaps his friend (and principal love interest) Nozomi Harasaki. To rescue Nozomi, Ryo must first fight Guizhang, then team up with Guizhang to defeat all seventy members of the Mad Angels gang. Upon defeat, the gang's leader reveals to Ryo that Lan Di has left Japan for Hong Kong. With the aid of the Chen family as well as his family and friends, Ryo boards a boat to Hong Kong. Before the close of the first chapter (and subsequent end of the game itself), he is instructed by Master Chen to seek out the help of a master of the Chinese martial arts located in Wan Chai named Lishao Tao.

    Shenhua, a mysterious young girl who haunts Ryo's dreams.

    Concluding the first chapter of Shenmue, Ryo boards a boat and travels to Hong Kong in pursuit of Lan Di.


    Shenmue was envisioned as the next evolution of RPGs, although its design incorporates a number of genres, attempting to simulate life in the mid-1980s while also including puzzle solving, fighting segments and even the occasional race. The game is very much story-driven, and uses very simple mechanics designed so that anyone could play (as opposed to the likes of Virtua Fighter, which Yu Suzuki claimed were too daunting for younger players).

    Most of the game is spent, as Ryo, walking around Yokosuka in Japan, talking to people. It is interspersed with many "mini-games", including forklift and motorcycle races, bar fights, chases down crowded alleys, full versions of Sega arcade games Space Harrier and Hang-On, dart games and 'free fighting' sequences. The game was remarkable for its time for allowing the player to talk to every NPC they came across (who are in turn, fully voiced) and allowing Ryo to interact with hundreds of object seen in the game.

    Shenmue is governed by an in-game clock and fully implements a day-to-night cycle, with certain events only occuring at certain times of day (or indeed year, in some cases). Players are not, however, restricted by the date and time - it is fully possible to spend in-game months and years in an area. How the player plays the game in this first chapter of Shenmue was originally set to influence the story in later chapters, though this feature was never fully implemented.

    Weather also changes depending on the time of year, and is reportedly based on observed real-world weather patterns of the mid-to-late 1980s.

    Most of the action occurs in quick-time event (QTE) sequences, in which cutscenes differ in outcome depending on your accuracy in hitting buttons in a timely fashion.

    As opposed to standing still and dispensing the same lines of dialogue, as is common to most RPGs, non-playable characters in Shenmue live their lives in accordance to Japan's then-5½-day working week, leaving their houses to start work, taking lunch breaks and going home at the end of the day[16]. The development team also made sure each NPC has its own name, age and hobbies, and characters will also react to the weather, with some taking out umbrellas when it begins to rain.

    There are 168 different capsule toys in Shenmue, featuring characters and objects from Bonanza Bros., Daytona USA, Fantasy Zone, Golden Axe, Hang-On, NiGHTS into Dreams], Panzer Dragoon, Phantasy Star, Rent A Hero, Ristar, Sonic Adventure, Sonic the Fighters, Space Harrier, Virtua Fighter and Virtua Fighter Kids. Alex Kidd also makes an appearance, as does Hidekazu Yukawa, alongside a number of smaller versions of Shenmue objects.



    Main article: Shenmue/Development.


    Shenmue saw wide critical acclaim after release due to the many revolutionary features it brought to the world of video games. However, despite the praise, Shenmue struggled to sell. Some critics believed the game was far too slow and self indulgent. Though easy to sell to Japanese audiences, Western consumers found the game's themes unappealing.

    The game sold at a massive loss, and it is predicted that every Dreamcast owner would have needed to buy the game twice in order for it to turn a profit. Initial plans were to create a trilogy of Shenmue games, and although Shenmue II saw a release (with a much smaller budget), Shenmue III has been in development hell for nearly a decade. In June 2015, a Kickstarter campaign for Shenmue III was announced by Yu Suzuki at Sony's 2015 E3 press conference. It was successfully funded and the game is currently scheduled for release on August 27, 2019.

    Shenmue includes both Japanese and English speech/subtitles in the West. However in Japan, only Japanese was an option. For unknown reasons Sega would later release US Shenmue in Japan - exactly the same game but with the English dub.

    During its first week of sale, 260,000 copies were sold in Japan[17]. In Europe it sold more than 300,000 copies[18], in total 1.2 million copies of the game were eventually sold worldwide[19].

    On August 21st, 2018, a remastered version of Shenmue (bundled with Shenmue II) was released for Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.


    While considered a market failure, Shenmue has developed a cult following and remains one of the highest rated Dreamcast games ever made. Many of its ideas regarding an open, freely explorable world have been revisited in the Yakuza series of games, starting with the original PlayStation 2 Yakuza in 2005.

    Production credits

    Main article: Shenmue/Production credits.

    Magazine articles

    Main article: Shenmue/Magazine articles.

    Promotional material

    Main article: Shenmue/Promotional material.


    Main article: Shenmue/Artwork.

    Physical scans

    Sega Retro Average 
    Publication Score Source
    94 №91, p80-85
    60 №92, p120
    70 Video Gamer
    Sega Dreamcast
    Based on
    4 reviews
    Sega Retro Average 
    Publication Version Score
    576 Konzol (HU)
    Bonus (SCG) NTSC-J
    Click! (PL)
    Consoles + (FR) NTSC-J
    Consoles + (FR) PAL
    Computer & Video Games (UK)
    Dreamcast Monthly (UK) PAL
    DC-UK (UK) PAL
    Dreamcast Magazine (JP) NTSC-J
    Dreamcast Magazine (UK)
    Dorimaga (JP) NTSC-J
    Edge (UK)
    Electronic Gaming Monthly (US) NTSC-U
    Entsiklopediya igr dlya Dreamcast (RU)
    Famitsu (JP) NTSC-J
    Fun Generation (DE) PAL
    GameFan (US) NTSC-U
    GamePlay RPG (FR) PAL
    GamePro (US) NTSC-U
    Gamers' Republic (US) NTSC-U
    Hyper (AU)
    Joypad (IT) NTSC-J
    Man!ak (PL)
    Neo Plus (PL)
    Next Generation (US) NTSC-U
    Official Dreamcast Magazine (UK) PAL
    Official Dreamcast Magazine (US) NTSC-U
    PSX Extreme (PL)
    Strana Igr (RU)
    Strana Igr (RU)
    Video Games (DE) PAL
    Sega Dreamcast
    Based on
    32 reviews


    Dreamcast, JP

    Dreamcast, JP (Shokai Genteiban)
    Shenmue DC JP BoxBack LimitedEdition.jpgNospine-small.pngShenmue DC JP BoxFront LimitedEdition.jpg
    Shenmue DC JP Disc1.jpg
    Disc 1
    Shenmue DC JP Disc2.jpg
    Disc 2
    Shenmue DC JP Disc3.jpg
    Disc 3
    Shenmue DC JP Disc4.jpg
    Disc 4
    Shenmue DC JP Manual LimitedEdition.pdf
    Shenmue dc jp back cover.jpgShenmue dc jp front cover.jpg
    Jewel Case
    Shenmue DC JP Disc5 LimitedEdition.jpg
    Soundtrack CD
    Shenmue DC JP Manual2 LimitedEdition.pdf
    Dreamcast, US
    Shenmue DC US Disc1.jpg
    Disc 1
    Shenmue DC US Disc2.jpg
    Disc 2
    Shenmue DC US Disc3.jpg
    Disc 3
    Shenmue DC US Disc4.jpg
    Disc 4
    Shenmue DC US Manual.pdf
    Shenmue DC US Manual Passport.pdf
    Passport manual
    Dreamcast, US (Limited Edition)
    Shenmue (Limited Edition) DC US Manual.pdf
    Dreamcast, EU (cover)
    Shen dc eu back cover.jpgShenmue dc eu spine.jpgShen dc eu front cover.jpg
    Dreamcast, EU (Discs 1 & 2)
    Shen dc eu back cover1.jpgShen dc eu front cover.jpg
    Shen dc eu disc1.jpg
    Disc 1
    Shen dc eu disc2.jpg
    Disc 2
    Dreamcast, EU (Discs 3 & 4)
    Shen dc eu back cover2.jpgShen dc eu front cover.jpg
    Shen dc eu disc3.jpg
    Disc 3
    Shen dc eu pass.jpg
    Disc 4
    Dreamcast, BR
    Shenmue DC BR Box Front.jpg

    Technical information

    In Shenmue, the backgrounds consist of up to 57,150[51] polygons, while the characters can have up to 14,361[52] polygons each. This was the highest character polygon count in any video game at the time, surpassing the Sega NAOMI arcade game Dead or Alive 2 released several months earlier. It was significantly higher than the polygon counts on other consoles and PC at the time. In comparison, the highest polygon counts for PC games at the time were up to 15,000 polygons per scene (Quake III Arena) and 2500 polygons per character (Half-Life).[53] The character polygon count of Shenmue was surpassed by the Dreamcast game Sports Jam in 2000.

    ROM dump status

    System Hash Size Build Date Source Comments
    Sega Dreamcast
    2000-08-18 GD-R Page

    External links


    1. File:Shenmue DC JP BoxBack LimitedEdition.jpg
    2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 (Wayback Machine: 2008-01-29 10:32)
    3. (Wayback Machine: 2020-11-07 20:31)
    4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Press release: 2000-11-07: Experience the Music of a Masterpiece With 'Shenmue Limited Edition'; Special Edition of Anticipated Dreamcast Game -- Shenmue -- Includes CD Containing Original Musical Scores
    5. (Wayback Machine: 2003-12-16 01:11)
    6. (Wayback Machine: 2002-07-16 19:52)
    7. (Wayback Machine: 2001-02-11 06:17)
    9. Computer & Video Games, "January 2001" (UK; 2000-12-13), page 85
    10. 10.0 10.1 Dreamcast Magazine, "No. 16" (UK; 2000-11-30), page 36
    11. (Wayback Machine: 2005-03-07 05:03)
    12. (Wayback Machine: 2001-07-18 11:44)
    13. (Wayback Machine: 2001-07-19 17:01)
    14. (Wayback Machine: 2001-09-17 04:32)
    15. (Wayback Machine: 2001-07-31 23:17)
    16. Interview: Yu Suzuki (2014-09-18) by Shenmue Dojo
    17. Edge, "March 2000" (UK; 2000-02-22), page 122
    18. Press release: 2001-01-31: Sega to focus on content strengths to become the world's leading publisher of interactive entertainment
    19. Press release: 2001-10-12: Microsoft Announces Leading Sega Games for Xbox
    20. 576 Konzol, "December 2000" (HU; 2000-xx-xx), page 34
    21. Bonus, "9/2000" (SCG; 2000-12-25), page 51
    22. Click!, "1/2001" (PL; 2001-01-04), page 20
    23. Consoles +, "Février 2000" (FR; 2000-0x-xx), page 78
    24. Consoles +, "Décembre 2000" (FR; 2000-1x-xx), page 72
    25. Computer & Video Games, "January 2001" (UK; 2000-12-13), page 84
    26. Dreamcast Monthly, "Christmas 2000" (UK; 2000-11-23), page 92
    27. DC-UK, "Christmas 2000" (UK; 2000-11-17), page 42
    28. Dreamcast Magazine, "2000-01 (2000-01-07,14)" (JP; 1999-12-24), page 26
    29. Dorimaga, "2002-18 (2002-10-11)" (JP; 2002-09-27), page 33
    30. Edge, "Christmas 2000" (UK; 2000-11-29), page 86
    31. Electronic Gaming Monthly, "January 2001" (US; 2000-12-05), page 196
    32. Entsiklopediya igr dlya Dreamcast, "Izdaniye chetvertoye, dopolnennoye" (RU; 2002-xx-xx), page 204
    33. Famitsu, "2000-01-07,14" (JP; 1999-12-24), page 29
    34. Fun Generation, "01/2001" (DE; 2000-12-20), page 46
    35. GameFan, "Volume 8, Issue 12: December 2000" (US; 2000-1x-xx), page 25
    36. GamePlay RPG, "Décembre 2000" (FR; 2000-1x-xx), page 48
    37. GamePro, "January 2001" (US; 200x-xx-xx), page 98
    38. Gamers' Republic, "December 2000" (US; 2000-xx-xx), page 72
    39. Hyper, "February 2001" (AU; 2000-12-20), page 40
    40. Joypad, "Febbraio 2000" (IT; 2000-0x-xx), page 54
    41. MAN!AC, "01/2000" (DE; 2000-12-06), page 40
    42. Man!ak, "Wrzesień 1999" (PL; 1999-xx-xx), page 39
    43. Neo Plus, "Styczeń 2001" (PL; 2001-xx-xx), page 56
    44. Next Generation, "December 2000" (US; 2000-11-21), page 100
    45. Official Dreamcast Magazine, "December 2000" (UK; 2000-11-02), page 8
    46. Official Dreamcast Magazine, "November 2000" (US; 2000-10-03), page 56
    47. PSX Extreme, "03/2001" (PL; 2001-0x-xx), page 38
    48. Strana Igr, "Fevral 2000 1/2" (RU; 2000-xx-xx), page 46
    49. Strana Igr, "Sentyabr 2000 2/2" (RU; 2000-xx-xx), page 20
    50. Video Games, "01/2001" (DE; 2000-12-06), page 42
    51. (Wayback Machine: 2020-02-22 19:44)
    52. (Wayback Machine: 2020-02-22 19:45)
    53. (Wayback Machine: 2020-02-22 19:46)


    Shenmue title.png

    Main page | Comparisons | Credits | Hidden content | Development | Magazine articles | Video coverage | Reception | Promotional material

    Books: Official Shenmue Perfect Guide (2000) | Shenmue: Ichishou Yokosuka Saisoku Kouryaku Guide (2000) | Shenmue: Ichishou Yokosuka Kanzen Seiha no Sho (2000) | Shenmue: Ichishou Yokosuka Complete Guide (2000) | Shenmue: Ichishou Yokosuka World Guidance (2000) | Prima's Official Strategy Guide: Shenmue (2000) | Shenmue: Ichishou Yokosuka Support Book (2000)
    Music: Shenmue/Shenhua (1998) | Shenhua: Jiang Qing Ri Bao Hua Ge (1999) | Shenmue Orchestra Version (1999) | You're My Only: Shenmue no Sasayaki (1999) | Shenmue JukeBox (1999) | Shenmue: Ichishou Yokosuka Original Sound Track (2000) | Shenmue (2015)
    Videos: What's Shenmue (199x) | Shenmue: The Movie (2001)
    Sega Dreamcast
    Demos: What's Shenmue (1999)

    Sega Dreamcast
    Prototypes: 2000-08-18

    Shenmue series of games
    Sega Dreamcast
    What's Shenmue (1999) | Shenmue (1999) | Shenmue II (2001)
    Shenmue II (2002)
    Windows PC
    Shenmue Online (Unreleased) | Shenmue I & II (2018) | Shenmue III (2019)
    Mobile phone
    Shenmue Gai (2010)
    Sony PlayStation 4
    Shenmue I & II (2018) | Shenmue III (2019)
    Xbox One
    Shenmue I & II (2018)
    Shenmue Characters
    Ryo Hazuki
    Shenmue related media
    "Shenmue"/"Shenhua" (1998) | "Shenhua: Jiang Qing Ri Bao Hua Ge" (1999) | Shenmue Orchestra Version (1999) | "You're My Only: Shenmue no Sasayaki" (1999) | Shenmue JukeBox (1999) | Shenmue: Ichishou Yokosuka Original Sound Track (2000) | Shenmue (2015) | Shenmue II (2021)
    Shenmue: Ichishou Yokosuka Saisoku Kouryaku Guide (2000) | Shenmue: Ichishou Yokosuka Kanzen Seiha no Sho (2000) | Shenmue: Ichishou Yokosuka Complete Guide (2000) | Official Shenmue Perfect Guide (2000) | Prima's Official Strategy Guide: Shenmue (2000) | Shenmue II Saisoku Kouryaku Guide (2001) | Shenmue II Kanzen Kouryaku Shinsho (2001) | Shenmue II Premiere Guide (2001) | Shenmue II Guide Book (2001) | Shenmue II Complete Guide (2001) | Prima's Official Strategy Guide: Shenmue II (2002)
    What's Shenmue (1999) | Shenmue: The Movie (2001) | Shenmue: The Movie II (200x) | Shenmue the Animation (2022)