Why is Ryo always asking the wrong questions? That is what I am internally mulling over as I try my hand at Shenmue for the very first time. An epic ‘open-world action-adventure’ game (according to its Wikipedia page), it is also considered an RPG that was developed for the long deceased, but ultimately timeless Sega Dreamcast. Shenmue stars Ryo Hazuki, a teen who looks more like a 30-something man who jumped straight out of Virtua Fighter and onto the streets of Japan. There appears, however, to be a reason for that. The creator of the game, Yu Suzuki, originally intended for the Shenmue series to exist in the same world as Virtua Fighter, but then decided to drop the connection. Still, they could have tried a bit harder to make him look more like a pubescent, acne-riddled teen and less like a haggard, street-fighter who always looks like he is waking up from a Scotch-induced bender. As for what brings the advanced-in-age-looking protagonist to the beginning of the game, Ryo is seeking revenge for the murder of his father. As you proceed through the quest, you fill in a notebook with clues which you must follow to continue on with the story. There is also quite a diverse collection of items that you can buy, receive, and earn, but I haven’t quite figured out what I’m doing literally with any of them.
Man-child seeking fight
Can’t find a fight? That’s fine, Ryo will just fight himself
Regardless of the main character’s appearance, the game definitely looks and “feels” amazing, especially considering its age. Shenmue has the appearance of an early Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 game, which is saying something, considering the game came out in 1999, six years before either of those systems came onto the market.
By this point, you’ve either forgotten about my initial question, or you’ve been frustratingly clenching your teeth and demanding some serious answers because you’re a very serious person (it says so on your resume). But here it is: why does Ryo ask the wrong question in almost every scenario where there will be dialogue between you and another person? Well, I don’t know. This is my only gripe with Shenmue up to this point in the game. I wish that they had decided to give you dialogue options because not only is he asking the wrong questions, he’s usually rambling on about things that have nothing to do with the story, let alone the fact that the responding dialogue typically makes even less sense. Here’s hoping that the dialogue starts to fix itself!
Tom has no idea what is going on, but he has some amazing dance moves and delicious hot dogs
Finally, within the first couple of hours or so, I find that Shenmue is more adventure than action. You spend most of your time wandering Dobuita street, fists always clenched, asking people silly questions and getting even sillier answers. I have, so far, been involved in one quick time fight, in which you press the correct corresponding button to the label on the screen. Yet, I’m somehow still enjoying the game thanks to the ability to explore the graphically pleasing city. I think I’ll stick around for a while.
Where can I find a fight?!
That is all for Part 1 as I, Wolfie, take you on an adventure through this retroland called Shenmue. Stay tuned for Part 2 as I get further into the story. Thanks for reading!
U.S.A. based arcade cabinet & retro game collector. Lover of all (good) games and the people that play them!