Release Date: 8/21/2018
Platforms: Steam, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Developer: SEGA AM2
Shenmue is an action-adventure game set in the late 80s in Japan created by the legendary Yu Suzuki. It was originally released on the Dreamcast in 1999 and 2001 later in the West. The game is similar to Yakuza and resembles what would be the prototype to that series later. Shenmue is different in regards to a few things. One difference it's Teen rated and doesn't sport the profanity or violence that Yakuza has. Yakuza is much more of an action-adventure with RPG elements tied into it while Shenmue is more of an adventure than an action game. Most of the time spent in Shenmue is exploring and finding clues and hitting QTE buttons when prompted (but even that's rare). The combat is similar to the Virtua Fighter series.
Be warned: if you don't have any nostalgia to the series, it may be too rough for some to enjoy. If you want to give it a shot though, just going in knowing that this was a crazy neat idea in a new open-world setting. It's similar to going back to Super Mario 64 and trying to judge it by today's standards, which is stupid (I hope my friend sees this). The original Shenmue was at one point the most expensive game created (up to $70 million).
The story is pretty simple but interesting. You play as Ryo Hazuki in a sort of life simulator where you work, play, and interact with everyone in the world. You're father is murdered for a mirror by a Chinese man and you're on the pursuit to find his killer. You'll travel through Japan and China on this journey, exploring many of the detailed shops and worlds. Again—detailed for 1999.
Its important to note that the game is a remaster and not a remake. It's looks are very similar to the Dreamcast except now in "HD", meaning a cleaner set of subtitles, 16:9 support, smoother framerate, and a cleaner looking menu with slightly touched up textures. What may turn a lot of people off is not the visuals as much as the audio, that I've described as being "deep fried".
Here's a pretty good comparison video of the originals and the remasters:
I'm doing something a little new. While I'll have written reviews, I'm including a couple of YouTube reviews in this section too. I hope this catches on NeoGAF to do for future OTs. Overall reviews are positive, scoring a 79 on Open Critic.
PC Gamer - 88/100
A weird, beautiful, melancholy martial arts adventure. Flawed, but an unforgettable, singular experience.
PlayStation Universe - 9.0/10
Sega have done these classic titles a service by re-releasing them in the original form and resisting the temptation to tamper. Surely as divisive now as they were nearly 20 years ago, Shenmue I & II are not just a great primer for the forthcoming threequel, but also a great opportunity to experience one of gaming's most pioneering series. Welcome back Shenmue, I have missed you dearly.
GamePro - 75/100
A carefully conserved milestone of the medium, inviting to a fascinating journey through time to the beginnings of modern game design.
As far as nostalgia goes, plenty of aging gamers will fall for Shenmue's shonky charms all over again, and revisiting Ryo's tale of revenge can be a deeply enjoyable experience. However, newcomers will face an uphill struggle to get past the poor controls, terrible English voice acting and grinding repetition. It's still a great primer for the third game, but only if you've been here before.
Shenmue Original Reviews:
IGN - 9.7/10
It's evident, to me at least, that there are some games you can't judge till you've played it for awhile (then you have stuff like Orphen for the PS2... ack). It's also pretty easy to see that there are a lot of Dreamcast owners who have been waiting for Shenmue and will be extremely pleased with the game. Those of you reading who are teetering on giving it a shot, will probably try it out or borrow it from a friend before buying it.
GameSpot - 7.9/10
Indeed, while Shenmue is revolutionary, the game is far from perfect.
Shenmue II Original Reviews:
IGN - 8.3/10
Shenmue II is a good game and a definite pick-up for RPG fans, but more should have been done with this sequel to make it more accessible to those who never played the original. It has its faults, for sure, but it is a unique experience. It's certainly a love or hate type of game, which means that you should only buy it if slightly open-ended RPGs appeal to you. The only real bummer is that there seem to be no plans for a third installment, which could make this one heck of a long cliffhanger.
GameSpot - 8.7/10
While Shenmue II looks fantastic for a Dreamcast game, there are a few flaws to be found. The frame rate in the game does chug a bit, from 30 fps as you move through the streets and crowds, and lack of mip mapping keeps things a bit more shimmery than in Shenmue. Another jarring graphical quirk lies in the way the engine handles the many polygonal characters onscreen. Characters will randomly fade in and out depending on what's being displayed onscreen at a given time. But there's nothing that isn't easily overlooked once you become engrossed in the game's story.