From Sega Retro
- For the Japanese re-release version, see US Shenmue.
|System(s): Sega Dreamcast|
|Developer: AM2 of CRI, Scarab|
|Supporting companies: 81 Produce, Compozila, Digital Design Studio, Media Jungle|
|Licensor: The Coca-Cola Company|
|Peripherals supported: Dreamcast Modem, Visual Memory Unit, Dreamcast VGA Box|
|Genre: FREE Full Reactive Eyes Entertainment, Action Adventure, Adventure|
|Number of players: 1|
|Official in-game languages: |
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.
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.
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 adventure elements, 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).
Traditionally Shenmue is said to consist of three core gameplay modes:
- Free Quest: Where Ryo can freely move aroundm, talk to passers by and interact with objects in an effort to obtain information.
- Quick Time Events (QTE): "Dramatic" event scenes in which players have to press the , , , , , , or buttons in a short amount of time.
- Free Battle: Where Ryo fights opponents in a 3D arena, not dissimilar to AM2's older Virtua Fighter games. Ryo learns new moves throughout the adventure, and practising makes them more effective in battle.
There are also a number of mini-games and side activities, such as darts and full versions of Sega arcade games Space Harrier and Hang-On. When Ryo is given a job at the harbor later in the game, much of his day is spent driving a forklift; first for an early morning "warm up" race, and then to move crates between warehouses. Part of the game also sees Ryo ride a motorcycle.
Gameplay in Shenmue is governed by an in-game clock, with certain events only occuring at certain times of day (or indeed times of the year, in some cases). Players are not, however, usually restricted by the date and time, and while their journey was originally set to influence the story in later chapters, this feature was never fully implemented. It is not possible to fast-forward the clock in this original game (save for when Ryo is asleep, which only becomes an option after 8pm); if an event requires the player to wait, they must do so in real time (although the clock runs much faster than real life).
Shenmue's "Magic Weather" system sees the game implement a full day-to-night cycle, and weather changes, reportedly based on observed real-world weather patterns of the mid-to-late 1980s. Characters will also react to the weather, with some taking out umbrellas when it begins to rain.
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). 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. The development team also made sure each NPC has its own name, age and hobbies (including some of the animals).
In several spots on the map, it is possible for Ryo to buy capsule toys. There are 168 different toys in the game, 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.
Items collected, money earned, and the in-game date is picked up and carried forward to the sequel, Shenmue II, if that game detects a Shenmue save file.
While there appears to be no time limit in Shenmue, if the player does not finish the game by 15th April 1987, Lan Di will return, beat Ryo and the game will end. Shenmue II suggests the canonical ending is before 23rd February, 1987, but it is fully possible to finish the game in December 1986.
While the core Shenmue game takes place across three GD-ROMs, a fourth "Shenmue Passport" disc is included in all versions of the game. Shenmue Passport uses the save data from the main game to provide more details about characters and settings, as well as what the player has achieved. It also allows the user to re-watch cutscenes and play music from the game, and contains the game's networking features, which at launch allowed players to submit "rankings" for various minigames across the game to an online leaderboard.
Shenmue Passport doubles up as a pseudo-tech demo, in which high polygon versions of the characters' heads explain the core systems of the game.
The Japanese version also includes F355 Challenge VM Operator, which allows users to download replay data (which can be used to race against) for F355 Challenge (if a F355 Challenge save is detected). Debuting eight months before its Dreamcast incarnation, the feature was designed for the arcade NAOMI-based version of F355 Challenge, though is compatible with both. This feature was removed from overseas versions.
- 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.
In Japan, Shenmue is voiced and subtitled only in Japanese, whereas Western version add English. Japan would receive this localised version as US Shenmue.
Shenmue is said to have 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. However, the game 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.
Initial plans were to create a trilogy of Shenmue games, and although Shenmue II saw a release (with a much smaller budget), Shenmue III spent more than a decade in development hell. In June 2015, a Kickstarter campaign for Shenmue III was announced by Yu Suzuki at Sony's E3 2015 press conference. It was successfully funded with the game shipping in 2019.
- Main article: Shenmue/Production credits.
- Main article: Shenmue/Magazine articles.
- Main article: Shenmue/Promotional material.
- Main article: Shenmue/Artwork.
In Shenmue, the backgrounds consist of up to 57,150 polygons, while the characters can have up to 14,361 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). The character polygon count of Shenmue was surpassed by the Dreamcast game Sports Jam in 2000.
ROM dump status
|GD-ROM (JP)||Disc 1|
|GD-ROM (JP)||Disc 2|
|GD-ROM (JP)||Disc 3|
|GD-ROM (JP)||Disc 4|
|GD-ROM (US)||Disc 1|
|GD-ROM (US)||Disc 2|
|GD-ROM (US)||Disc 3|
|GD-ROM (US)||Disc 4|
|GD-ROM (EU)||Disc 1|
|GD-ROM (EU)||Disc 2|
|GD-ROM (EU)||Disc 3|
|GD-ROM (EU)||Disc 4|
- Sega of America webpage: Dreamcast
- Sega of Japan catalogue pages (Japanese): Dreamcast
- What's Shenmue? - Part I: Why a niche game for a failed console continues to inspire passion in its fans more than a decade later, and how it broke Kickstarter and Guinness World Records article by Amir Moosavi at Medium
- What's Shenmue? - Part II: The Death of the Dreamcast and Shenmue’s Uncertain Fate article by Amir Moosavi at Medium
- What's Shenmue? - Part III: The Brief Lives of Shenmue Online & Shenmue City, the Birth of Ys Net, and the Seeds of an Idea article by Amir Moosavi at Medium
- What's Shenmue? - Part IV: Part IV: Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt and Hope article by Amir Moosavi at Medium
- File:Shenmue DC JP BoxBack LimitedEdition.jpg
- http://sega.jp/dc/990804/ (Wayback Machine: 2008-01-29 10:32)
- https://sega.jp/history/hard/dreamcast/software.html (Wayback Machine: 2020-11-07 20:31)
- 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
- http://www.sega.com:80/games/dreamcast/post_dreamcastgame.jhtml?PRODID=200 (Wayback Machine: 2003-12-16 01:11)
- http://www.chipsworld.co.uk/detProd.asp?ProductCode=3124 (Wayback Machine: 2002-07-16 19:52)
- http://amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/tg/stores/feature/feature/-/videogames/50781 (Wayback Machine: 2001-02-11 06:17)
- Computer & Video Games, "January 2001" (UK; 2000-12-13), page 85
- Dreamcast Magazine, "No. 16" (UK; 2000-11-30), page 36
- http://www.amazon.de:80/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00004U2DF (Wayback Machine: 2005-03-07 05:03)
- http://www.micromania.fr/zooms/?ref=17734 (Wayback Machine: 2001-07-18 11:44)
- http://www.amazon.fr:80/exec/obidos/tg/browse/-/557776/ref=vg_br_dp_1_lf/ (Wayback Machine: 2001-07-19 17:01)
- http://www.centromail.es/top/ficha.asp?codmail=15768&codprov= (Wayback Machine: 2001-09-17 04:32)
- http://www.futuregamez.net:80/outnow/dc.html (Wayback Machine: 2001-07-31 23:17)
- Interview: Yu Suzuki (2014-09-18) by Shenmue Dojo
- Edge, "March 2000" (UK; 2000-02-22), page 122
- Press release: 2001-01-31: Sega to focus on content strengths to become the world's leading publisher of interactive entertainment
- Press release: 2001-10-12: Microsoft Announces Leading Sega Games for Xbox
- 576 Konzol, "December 2000" (HU; 2000-xx-xx), page 34
- Bonus, "9/2000" (YU; 2000-12-25), page 51
- Click!, "1/2001" (PL; 2001-01-04), page 20
- Consoles +, "Décembre 2000" (FR; 2000-1x-xx), page 72
- Consoles +, "Février 2000" (FR; 2000-0x-xx), page 78
- Computer & Video Games, "January 2001" (UK; 2000-12-13), page 84
- Dreamcast Monthly, "Christmas 2000" (UK; 2000-11-23), page 92
- DC-UK, "Christmas 2000" (UK; 2000-11-17), page 42
- Dreamcast Magazine, "2000-01 (2000-01-07,14)" (JP; 1999-12-24), page 26
- Dorimaga, "2002-18 (2002-10-11)" (JP; 2002-09-27), page 33
- Edge, "Christmas 2000" (UK; 2000-11-29), page 86
- Electronic Gaming Monthly, "January 2001" (US; 2000-12-05), page 196
- Entsiklopediya igr dlya Dreamcast, "Izdaniye chetvertoye, dopolnennoye" (RU; 2002-xx-xx), page 204
- Famitsu, "2000-01-07,14" (JP; 1999-12-24), page 29
- Fun Generation, "01/2001" (DE; 2000-12-20), page 46
- GameFan, "Volume 8, Issue 12: December 2000" (US; 2000-1x-xx), page 25
- GamePlay RPG, "Décembre 2000" (FR; 2000-1x-xx), page 48
- GamePro, "January 2001" (US; 200x-xx-xx), page 98
- Gamers' Republic, "December 2000" (US; 2000-xx-xx), page 72
- Hyper, "February 2001" (AU; 2000-12-20), page 40
- Joypad, "Febbraio 2000" (IT; 2000-0x-xx), page 54
- MAN!AC, "01/2000" (DE; 2000-12-06), page 40
- Man!ak, "Wrzesień 1999" (PL; 1999-xx-xx), page 39
- Neo Plus, "Styczeń 2001" (PL; 2001-xx-xx), page 56
- Next Generation, "December 2000" (US; 2000-11-21), page 100
- Official Dreamcast Magazine, "December 2000" (UK; 2000-11-02), page 8
- Official Dreamcast Magazine, "November 2000" (US; 2000-10-03), page 56
- Play, "Marzec 2001" (PL; 2001-xx-xx), page 28
- PSX Extreme, "03/2001" (PL; 2001-0x-xx), page 38
- Power Unlimited, "xxxx xxxx" (NL; xxxx-xx-xx), page 24
- Strana Igr, "Fevral 2000 1/2" (RU; 2000-xx-xx), page 46
- Strana Igr, "Sentyabr 2000 2/2" (RU; 2000-xx-xx), page 20
- Video Games, "01/2001" (DE; 2000-12-06), page 42
- https://imgur.com/OUDTrfx (Wayback Machine: 2020-02-22 19:44)
- https://imgur.com/wn0KBPW (Wayback Machine: 2020-02-22 19:45)
- https://forum.thegamecreators.com/thread/46032#msg477010 (Wayback Machine: 2020-02-22 19:46)
Books: 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) | Official Shenmue Perfect Guide (2000) | Prima's Official Strategy Guide: Shenmue (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 (1999) | Shenmue: The Movie (2001)
|Shenmue series of games|
|What's Shenmue (1999) | Shenmue (1999) | Shenmue II (2001)|
|Shenmue II (2002)|
|Shenmue Online (Unreleased) | Shenmue I & II (2018) | Shenmue III (2019)|
|Shenmue Gai (2010)|
|Shenmue I & II (2018) | Shenmue III (2019)|
|Shenmue I & II (2018)|
|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 Premiere Guide (2001) | Shenmue II Saisoku Kouryaku Guide (2001) | Shenmue II Guide Book (2001) | Shenmue II Kanzen Kouryaku Shinsho (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)|