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  • There is but one game

  • that will make any and every hardcore Sega Dreamcast fan

  • break out in a cold sweat

  • and it's name is Shenmue.

  • It was billed as the most interactive and immersive game of its time.

  • Beginning life as a Sega Saturn game starring Virtua Fighter characters

  • Shenmue blossomed in to a massive, 16-chapter epic

  • created and produced by Yu Suzuki

  • a man best known for some of Sega's most memorable arcade hits

  • such as Outrun, Afterburner and Virtua Cop.

  • Shenmue was Suzuki's magnum opus

  • and Sega put all of its weight behind the game.

  • Until it was beaten by Grand Theft Auto 4 in 2008

  • Shenmue was the single most expensive game the industry had ever produced

  • costing over 70 million dollars to create.

  • Today, ten years after the launch of the Sega Dreamcast

  • and around nine years since the first game was released

  • it's clear that Shenmue did not set the world on fire.

  • But ask any ardent Sega fan and they will tell you:

  • Shenmue was amazing.

  • But was it amazing enough to justify its 70 million dollar price tag?

  • Ryo: "No!"

  • Shenmue follows the story of Ryo Hazuki in 1980's Japan.

  • As Ryo arrives home one day

  • he bares witness to his father, Iwao Hazuki

  • doing battle with a man named Lan Di.

  • Lan Di is seeking an ancient artifact called the "Dragon Mirror".

  • After Ryo's father reveals its hidden location in order to spare his son's life

  • Lan Di murders Iwao in front of Ryo's very eyes.

  • This sparks Ryo to hunt down Lan Di and exact his revenge

  • while simultaneously learning the secret

  • of why the "Dragon Mirror" was so important to him

  • The first Shenmue game is considered only "Chapter One" of

  • Ryo's planned sixteen-chapter quest, and involves

  • raising enough money to leave Japan and travel to Hong Kong

  • the last known place that Lan Di was seen.

  • Shenmue 2 picks up as Ryo docks in Aberdeen

  • following him through chapters Three, Four and Five

  • of the Shenmue storyline.

  • Over the course of the series we learn that

  • Lan Di is one of several high-ranking members of

  • the Chi You Men, a powerful chinese crime syndicate.

  • The Dragon Mirror - and its counterpart, the Phoenix Mirror

  • are to bring about the resurrection of the Qing Dynasty

  • an ancient Chinese rule known for their

  • tyrannical and barbaric practices.

  • Though the story begins grounded in reality

  • towards the end of Shenmue 2, the game begins to hint at concepts like

  • destiny, and the mystical arts, suggesting

  • Lan Di sought the mirrors for the otherworldly powers they posses.

  • Unfortunately, because no games were

  • ever produced after Shenmue 2

  • not much else is known beyond this point.

  • Though Sega and Yu Suzuki

  • coined a new genre for the game called

  • Full

  • Full Reactive

  • Full Reactive Eyes

  • Full Reactive Eyes Entertainment

  • Shenmue is primarily a 3D Adventure game

  • with an overbearing emphasis on immersion.

  • As Ryo, your primary goal is playing detective

  • as you gather clues about your father's murder

  • and Lan Di's whereabouts.

  • This means talking with people on the street

  • asking them questions about the day of the murder

  • and following up any leads.

  • The world in Shenmue is governed by a clock, just like real life

  • and as you roam around cities, day will eventually turn to night.

  • If it gets too late, Ryo will be forced to go home and get some rest.

  • The clock plays in to more than just a graphical effect, though

  • if you make an appointment to meet somebody at a specific time

  • and you get there early, you must wait for them to arrive.

  • This plays a fairly large role in the game

  • as certain locations are only available at certain times of the day

  • Ryo will typically wake up before most shops open in the morning

  • and seedy locations such as bars are only open late at night.

  • Should Ryo find himself in a bad situation

  • the game usually presents the player

  • with one of two ways to deal with it:

  • the now-famous

  • Quick

  • Quick-Time

  • Quick-Time Event

  • which involves watching a cutscene and pressing a button when prompted to

  • or a more traditional fighting game engine

  • reminiscent of games like Virtua Fighter.

  • Though it'll be hours before you see

  • any of this stuff in the first Shenmue

  • Shenmue 2 ups the ante considerably, throwing you

  • into multiple encounters within 20 minutes of stepping off the boat

  • and it's these moments that really help liven up the slower parts of the game.

  • Between appointments, Ryo can waste time (and money)

  • at the video arcade playing classics

  • like Outrun and Afterburner

  • practice his martial arts skills in empty parking lots

  • seek out side quests, or do part time jobs for extra money.

  • Even with all of these distractions, however, you'll occasionally find yourself

  • with spare time to kill and nothing to do.

  • All of this is done in the name of immersion

  • Shenmue is paced this way to give the game a sense of reality.

  • To intentionally make parts of your game boring

  • strictly for the sake of realism is a bold move

  • and depending on the type of person you are

  • this will make or break Shenmue for you.

  • Shenmue 2 makes strides to avoid these boring moments

  • by including a feature to "fast forward" to an appointed time

  • but there's simply no avoiding the tedium

  • of a part-time job involving moving crates.

  • But for those who really understand Shenmue and what

  • it is trying to do, the game provides

  • an unparalleled sense of immersion.

  • Just like real life, there are hundreds of people

  • that populate Shenmue's towns and cities

  • and each character looks and sounds unique

  • though most of them obviously have no reason to talk to you.

  • Woman: "I'm sorry, but"

  • "I don't have time to talk right now."

  • Likewise, the world is stocked with thousands of objects

  • for Ryo interact with

  • allowing you to look in places that most games explicitly ignore

  • even if they don't contain anything you can use.

  • Even today, there are few games that offer

  • anything close to this amount of detail.

  • All of Shenmue's game mechanics work towards

  • the singular ideal that you aren't just playing as Ryo Hazuki

  • you ARE Ryo Hazuki

  • seeing and experiencing every exciting

  • or mundane moment the world has to offer.

  • It's this unflinching dedication to immersion and realism

  • that was one of Shenmue's many undoings.

  • Though the game was only on the fifth of

  • sixteen planned chapters

  • Shenmue and its sequel did not sell anywhere near enough to justify

  • its ridiculous production costs

  • and Sega was already in enough financial trouble

  • with the Playstation 2 digging a grave for the Dreamcast.

  • In the end, Shenmue's intimate sense of immersion

  • became a double-edged sword

  • all of those who became so heavily invested

  • in living the life of Ryo Hazuki would never see

  • the story get proper closure.

  • Lan Di would go unpunished

  • and the fate of the two mirrors would be left a mystery.

  • Perhaps it was for the best

  • to many people, Shenmue was simply

  • paced too slowly

  • and by the time Shenmue 2 made an effort to

  • streamline the game mechanics

  • the damage had already been done.

  • But regardless of how many people

  • appreciated the goals Shenmue was trying to accomplish

  • it was these kinds of daring, weird games that had come to define

  • the Sega Dreamcast, and you'll have

  • a hard time finding any game that matches Shenmue in

  • tone, style, and pure ambition.

  • Ryo: "Ah, good."

There is but one game

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B1 ryo lan di sega immersion reactive

BLTN #3: Shenmue

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    阿多賓 posted on 2013/06/17
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