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Created by Yu Suzuki, Shenmue takes players into a 3D world set in 1986 Japan. Sega calls the game F.R.E.E., which stands for "Full Reactive Eyes Entertainment." By Sega's definition, F.R.E.E. means that you can "Go wherever you want to go, see whatever you want to see, investigate whatever you want to investigate."
As the game opens, players witness the death of Iwao Hazuki at the hands of Lan Di. Lan Di and his thugs retrieve the mirror they had been searching for and then leave. Players assume the role of Ryo Hazuki, Iwao's son, and set out to unravel the mysteries surrounding the death of his father. Gameplay allows users to walk around three main areas: the towns of Yokosuka and Dobuita, and a harbor.
Each area is complete with people going about their daily lives who Ryo can converse with through the push of a button. Conversations unravel on their own, as players cannot select what to say -- they simply press the button between lines to keep the conversation going. While Ryo goes about his daily activities, the time of day and weather will be changing around him. Some days will be sunny, some rainy, and some snowy. The weather does not have a direct impact on the gameplay, but it will affect the look of the environments and cause some characters to discuss the weather in a conversation.
Throughout the game Ryo can perform a variety of actions such as open doors, pick up and examine items, and react to events via quick timer events (QTEs). These events can be anything from dodging a bicyclist to beating up some thugs. QTEs can occur without warning so players must always be ready to react. An image of a button or direction of the D-Pad will flash on the screen at which time the gameplayer will have to quickly hit the correct button on the controller. Many QTEs feature a string of events and sometimes allow for a few mistakes before failure occurs. If a player fails at a major QTE, the scene will repeat itself.
Ryo lives in Yokosuka with Ine Hayata, caretaker of the Hazuki household, and Masayuki Fukuhara, a martial arts student who was training under Ryo's father. Inside the home of Ryo players can search the rooms and find a variety of items to interact with, such as a Sega Saturn and a cassette player. They will also have to return here every night in order to go to bed and save the game. A full save of the game can only be done in Ryo's bedroom but one quick save can be done at any time. However, only one quick save can exist and they also can only be loaded one time.
Next to their home players will find the family dojo; here they can practice their martial arts as well as spar with Masayuki. Martial arts plays a major role in Shenmue as Ryo will get into more than just QTE fights. Ryo begins the game with a number of moves but can learn more during practice, by reading scrolls, and by being taught by characters in the game. A bar graph displays the proficiency level for each move that can be increased through practice. Fights are played similar to that of a 3D fighting game and can be one-on-one or against a group of enemies.
Yokosuka features a complete neighborhood where Ryo can speak with a number of characters, visit a kitten that he can feed and pet, shop at the local convenience store, and even purchase some toys from vending machines. Of the two vending machines in Yokosuka, one features Virtua Fighter characters while the other contains characters related to the Sonic the Hedgehog series. Other vending machines that can be found in the game include one dedicated to Virtua Fighter Kids, one filled with vehicles such as regular cars and Hang On motorcycles, one that has items related to the local harbor, and two that have a variety of other Sega related characters.
- Peripherals: Standard Controller, VGA Box, VMU, Modem
- Box Text: The Experience BeginsA massive and higly detailed 3D world unlike anything ever seen Real-time fighting with moves learned throughout the game -- motion capture with real budo experts Interact with a huge cast of characters with movements as intricate as a twitch of a finger
- Region: United States of America (US)
- ItemNo: 51059
- Genre: RPG
- Developer: Sega AM2
- Title: Shenmue
- Players: 1
- Platform: Dreamcast
- Publisher: Sega