released on Dec 29, 1999

"He shall appear from a far Eastern land across the sea. A young man who has yet to know his potential. This potential is a power that can either destroy him, or realize his will. His courage shall determine his fate. The path he must traverse, fraught with adversity, I await whilst praying. For this destiny predetermined since ancient times... A pitch, black night unfolds with the morning star as its only light. And thus the saga, begins..."

This first chapter of Shenmue kicks off Yu Suzuki's cinematic Dreamcast tour-de-force, an exploration-heavy adventure that has players immerse themselves in Yokosuka, Japan. Players slip into the role of a young martial artist named Ryo Hazuki, who is on the trail of his father's killer. On the way, players must talk with hundreds of characters, engage in martial arts battles, and marvel at the realistic depiction of the Japanese coastal town.

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Crecí pegando tirones por la Castellana
¿Quién sabe? Lo mismo una de esas era tu hermana (¡Vaquilla!)
Mi barrio una zona dominicana
Salsa, bachata, picapollo, Mamajuana (¿Qué lo que?)
Bendecido por la baraja gitana (¡Olé!)
Voy a hacer lo que me dé la puta gana
Alquilamos un Volkswagen en Liubliana
Llegaremos a Sarajevo por la mañana (Yugoslavia)
Sentao' en el tejao' fumando porros
En la cuarentena escuchando Pibe Chorros
Videollamadas con mis calorros
Loco, al que joda le calentamos el morro
Me paso tus amenazas por el forro 'e los cojones
Andan con el pincho mis cachorros
Después de esto maricones necesitan Sonotones
Y esas putas pijas progres pedirán socorro
Is Jarfaiter, fucking guiri, run to your house
O te va a romper las gafas como Nelson a Milhouse
Saben que vamos por ellos y ahora están armao's
Comiendo Bollycaos con los gayumbos caga'os
318 desde La Habana hasta Laos
Vuestro virus expandiéndose por to' los la'os
Veo tu película romperse entre mis manos
No quieres que aparezca en tu puerta con mis hermanos
El mundo está muy mal, hijoputa
Y muchos solo comen gracias a la fuerza bruta (Ñam ñam)
Sierra Guadalupe, las cundas
Hasta el guerrero más fiero a veces se derrumba
Hundiéndome con mi barco, bandera negra
Viendo cómo estos cabrones controlan la tierra
Sobrevivo, que no es poco
No me vengas a comer la oreja con tu mierda
Mi hermano, os pasó con el Renault Mégane por encima
Os dejo to' espachurra'os en la avenida
Tú no sabes cómo es mi gentuza, se les pira
Por segundo nos suda la polla vuestra vida (Sí)
Con un cantal chantao en la revista
Haciéndome el perdido con la cara de turista (Uh)
En cuanto te vea te abro la crisma
Ninja, con la capucha y con la mascarilla

Hear me out
This game is really funny and its a vibe.. It does things AAA releases have problems achieving

Didn't keep my attention. In the hour or so that I played, the gameplay mostly seemed like walking around and talking to people with awkward dialogue. I can see how impressive the game world was for its time.

rather than place movement on the analog stick, am2 took an unorthodox approach and mapped it to ryo's gaze. through this, the player interacts with shenmue's painstaking representation of urban japan primarily through the act of sight. ryo is a natural observer, of signs, of people, of animals, of forklifts moving to and fro and waves undulating below. when ryo focuses on an object in the world, the player gently melts into his head to embody him. you take his perspective to roll a gacha toy between your fingers, or check your watch, or browse the shelves of a convenience store. this is certainly an ADV of sorts with sprinkles of what would become "open world" gameplay, but first and foremost it is a game of sight and perception. succinctly, it is eyes entertainment.
the meticulous attention to detail and passive nature of play fosters an undeniable sense of atomization. the game does not explicitly critique capitalism, but by creating this diorama-like visage of it, the game uncovers the listlessness at the heart of this era in history. ryo's hero's journey is constantly undermined by his delinquent status, loose social bonds, and overall impotence against forces with greater means than him. outside of the sanctuary of the hazuki dojo, ryo plunges into a world where he can do little but observe those around him. crowds of people, each with unique ways to spurn ryo's questions. when ryo isn't dutifully gathering scraps of information in his notebook, he can do little else other than window shop in a market district enclosed in the influence of former US navy occupation. what can he do other than pour money into pointless tasks and have stilted conversations with his acquaintances? at best he can convert a parking lot into a makeshift practice space for martial arts. in other instances I found myself staring at my phone waiting for buses to arrive or shops to open; would ryo not have done the same to suck up his time had the option existed? there are sparks of life to find, but virtually every point of contact is transactional, every activity is gated by money, every part of ryo's life wilting from his isolation after his father's death.
it makes sense then that disc 3 represents a significant change for ryo as he shifts into employment at the harbor. his absence of purpose morphs into routine living, and he begins to form bonds with his coworkers. ryo's lack of community ties pushes him into the workforce as a sole reluctant method of social engagement, his ulterior motive to investigate the mad angels aside. at the same time, his time in dobuita becomes severely limited, and the fragments of relationships he formed previously become even more distant. one gets the sense that his lunch break camaraderie and daily forklift races fill part of this void. his primary action becomes moving the forklift and fighting gang members after prior weeks spent primarily with the action of sight, signaling the shift from eyes to hands. the inability of ryo to settle in outside of labor is telling, and the eventual termination of his employment closes this chapter before he quietly sets off on his nomadic quest to find lan di. these were the only solid bonds he had, after all.
where the game inevitably stumbles is in where it artificially blocks these bonds. limited conversations are expected (although frankly these are astonishing for the era), but to lock characterization for a person like nozomi behind phone conversations when she's so easily accessible in the world feels awkward. the game occasionally expects this kind of unusual logic in order to get the most out of its world, with missable, timed events slipping through new players' fingers. however, it's unquestionable that the novelty present at the game's release has persisted thanks to the dearth of those willing to be as daring in its recreation of life. just wish there was one more motorcycle section...

Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?