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35667-shenmue-dreamcast-front-cover (1).jpg
The Dreamcast's Killer App.
Protagonist: Ryo Hazuki
Genre: Action
Platforms: Microsoft Windows
PlayStation 4
Xbox One
Release Date: Dreamcast
JP: December 29, 1999
NA: November 8, 2000
EU: December 1, 2000

Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
WW: August 21, 2018
JP: November 22, 2018
Developer: Sega AM2
Publisher: Sega
Made in: Japan
Franchise: Shenmue
Next Game: Shenmue II

Shenmue is a game released exclusively to the Sega Dreamcast. At the time, it was the most expensive video game ever made, costing 47 to 70 million dollars to develop and promote.

An HD port was announced for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in 2018.


After his father is beaten in combat and murdered, a teenaged martial artist named Ryo Hazuki must uncover the truth of why his father was murdered and seek revenge.

Why It Rocks

  1. Heavily popularized the use of quick time events.
  2. Ryo socializes with NPCs and sees them live out their lives, similar to real life.
  3. Jaw-dropping graphics for the time it came out.
  4. Ryo can fight multiple enemies.
  5. There are certain places where Ryo can train. Training increase the power of each of his martial arts abilities.
  6. There are arcades where Ryo can play past Sega games like Space Harrier and Hang-On fully complete. There are also arcade games that help train a gamers reflexes on quick time events.
  7. A persistent clock runs constantly throughout the game and everything is affected by it, such as buses running on timetables and each NPC having their own routine.
  8. A very large voice cast. Every single NPC has its own voice actor so there is no text when communicating with someone.
  9. Ryo earns a daily allowance and can earn a job as a fork lifter.
  10. Very good story.
  11. One of the earliest iterations of what would become open world games. It's design also inspired the Yakuza franchise.

Bad Qualities

  1. The game is too slow paced, often you'll have to waste many in-game hours waiting for appointments. Even with the multiple distractions in the game you'll still have to waste time waiting. Those distractions also tend to get boring quickly.
  2. A large amount of missions boil down to fetch quests and talking to NPCs.
  3. Abysmal voice acting.
  4. Despite being a 3D game, gamers use the D-Pad instead of the analog stick. The analog stick is used for camera control.


Shenmue has a 4.37 rating on GameFAQS and is considered one of the best games ever made with a strong cult following and sold over 1.2 million copies. Unfortunately, the game was too expensive to develop therefore it could not recoup its development costs despite the good sales numbers and was declared a commercial failure. According to Sega, in order for Shenmue to turn a profit every single Dreamcast owner in the planet would've had to buy two copies of the game.

Some believe that Shenmue's excessive development cost was a contributor to the Dreamcast's early demise, as financial problems were one of the main reasons Sega had to discontinue it.

Reception to the HD collection was notably less positive, as some reviewers have pointed that the game's dated flaws were not improved, most notably that the player is often required to wait around wasting time.



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