Friday, February 11, 2011

Searching for Shenmue

As many gamers clamor for a full trilogy, and videos pop up on the internet regarding cancelled spinoffs or halted versions, I am recalled of when I first explored almost every corner of the marvelous work of art that is Shenmue.

And what a rich palette did Yu Suzuki paint with. Almost every person and element in Yokosuka can be interacted with and I dare say most players won't tire, as Ryo Hazuki's town is particularly charming. Ryo's own USAF bomber jacket, as well as various elements from the surroundings, comment on the fact that the 80s were a time of change, of globalization.

A game which consists, in its first disc, of talking to elaborate characters in a small town with a pleasing weather system, and in its second, of employing fighting techniques, so refined as to appear to be from a fighting videogame.

The project indeed began as a mix between an RPG and Virtua Fighter, yet it started to develop into something far greater. The game cost tens of millions to make, which it certainly did not recover in its time.

It was open-ended, cinematic, fully voice-acted and presented QTEs even when such elements in games were uncommon. The sequel had many things going for it, yet it had a "big city" theme which may have worked for some yet not for all. A gaming landmark, for certain.