I’ve written about this game a hundred times across a hundred different websites and it never fails to make me feel as though it is the best game to ever have been created. I usually like to direct my Throwback Thursdays to something a little more relevant to what is going on or to whatever it is that I’m currently playing but I think that Shenmue deserves to be on every website that I am a part of. The game has always been a very important facet of my life not only as a great Dreamcast game, (my favorite home console of all time), but a game that changed a generation of gaming. Shenmue focused on main character, Ryo, who is searching for the person who murdered his father, crime lord and master martial artist, Lan Di. Of course, detective work isn’t easy for a teenager who has only ever studied martial arts, so you need to utilize the time of day as well as your surroundings in order to find Lan Di.
The game utilizes time as an important factor, as it dictates when certain stores are open and when certain people are able to be spoken to. It triggers most events of the game so it is greatly important that you pay attention to the time and date in the game. Another incredible feat created by Yu Suzuki, creator of the game, is the fact that basically every NPC has both a voice and a personality. Depending on the holiday or time of day, they each say something different or will have a different word of advice that can help you progress in the game. This kind of gameplay was almost unheard of during the time of this game’s release, making it both incredible to hardcore fans of the roleplaying genre as well as those that passively want to play the game without any harsh movements. Speaking of harsh movements, the combat in the game is done through the use of different skills learned, which are activated through different combo buttons, or through a series of quick time events.
Games nowadays pretty much always have these elements in their gameplay and it seems like no big deal but the difference is that this game came out in 1999, a whopping seventeen years ago. Intricate gameplay that required you to discover your path through a series of trial and error while following written notes and challenging your memory wasn’t something that was developed every day. In fact, it is loved by so many people that a Kickstarter was created last year to bring the third game to fruition and bring the series to a whole new light. Hopefully, the intricacy of the game stays and the only thing that will be changed is the level of fighting and the ability to discover more than just the closed area that you were allowed to be.
Check out the trailer for the first game below: