aka: Project Berkley, Shenmue: Isshō - Yokosuka, Virtua Fighter RPG

Description official descriptions

On a November day when the snow turned to rain, Ryu Hazuki arrives home just in time to see his father killed by Lan Di, a man Ryu's father obviously knew very well. Ryu attempts to stop Lan Di but is effortlessly beaten to within an inch of his life. After recovering from his injuries Ryu sets out to track down his father's murderer, as well as uncover his family's secrets and the mystery of the Phoenix and Dragon mirrors that Lan Di seeks.

Shenmue is a hybrid game that incorporates elements of life simulation, adventure, and fighting with light role-playing. The game is set in a 3D environment that can be freely explored by the player. Much of the gameplay involves talking to Ryu's friends and the various people around town, hoping to find hints or clues that lead to the next step in the story. Any details Ryu learns are written down in his notebook for future review. Ryu can buy items from stores or try his luck with capsule toy machines, but most items that can be bought have no purpose outside of filling his inventory. Ryu can also visit an arcade and play accurate versions of Hang-On and Space Harrier, as well as games like darts and pool.

Ryu is a trained martial artist, and while a true martial artist knows it is better to avoid a fight, sometimes it is still necessary. Ryu can train his moves, either by repeatedly doing them while training or by sparring with his friend Fuku-san, which constitutes the role-playing element of the game. The fighting system is similar to that of the Virtua Fighter series, although with toned-down air juggling. Ryu's training also gives him heightened reflexes, and sometimes during a cutscene the player will have only a moment to press a button (displayed onscreen) to get Ryu out of danger. Failing an input prompt is not always fatal, but whether Ryu survives or not depends on the danger he was in.

Included with the game is the Shenmue Passport disc. On this disc, players can receive tutorials about various aspects of the game like mini-games or the battle system, watch cutscenes they've already seen in the game, and listen to music from the game. This disc also includes the option to go online to a special site where players can review worldwide mini-game rankings, get hints for the game from Nozomi, review game maps of Yokosuka, trade uncommon items found in the game for even rarer items only available on the passport, and visit the official homepage. This service went offline along with the rest of SegaNet, and all online features are currently impossible to access.


  • シェンムー 一章:横須賀 - Japanese spelling
  • 莎木 第一章 橫須賀 - Chinese spelling (traditional)

Groups +



Credits (Dreamcast version)

955 People (850 developers, 105 thanks) · View all

  • Kanagawa Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Shenmue Orchestra M-1
Recording, Mixing & Mastering Engineer
Promotion Staff
Recorded at
  • PolyGram Studios STUDIO-A
  • Avaco Creative Studios 301st
Mixed at
  • PolyGram Studios STUDIO-D
[ full credits ]



Average score: 90% (based on 59 ratings)


Average score: 4.0 out of 5 (based on 163 ratings with 8 reviews)

The soda-buying simulator

The Good
The level of detail is unsurpassed by any other Dreamcast game I have ever seen, period. This is the closest thing to walking down an actual street in a claustrophobic small Japanese town besides actually getting a plane ticket and just doing it. Also, the playable Sega classics in the arcade will have you yearning for the days of the single quarter game.

The Bad
Um... where's the game? Fight sequences are extremely rare until the later part of the game, which tries to make up for the lull by having you beat the drud out of about 50-60 guys. Until then you're treated to Ryo's burning hunger for vengeance taking the form of him wandering around town looking largely apathetic to the events around him. The plot advancement is pretty tepid, featuring you asking every single person you come across the same question again and again, some of which the player has observed in the intro. It's a pretty boring verbal scavenger hunt. "Have you seen a... car?" "Why yes, it was a... black car." And thus you start asking everybody if they've seen a... black car. Ryo's personality is bad enough, but the budget voice talent will have even the most die-hard dub fan turning on the original voice track with subtitles. Also, considering this is about a sixth of the intended product... not cool.

The Bottom Line
It's a fascinating attempt, and certainly one that took a whole lot of sweat and love from the developers. I just couldn't imagine forking over full price for it.

Dreamcast · by Vance (94) · 2002

One of the most realistic games iv'e ever played

The Good
Almost everything. The towns for example, never before was a city made so beautiful and realistic! I also like the dialogs in the game, there almost never the same. The store is so rich and beautiful. The fighting scenes are great. The interaction is perfect. Everything is perfect!

The Bad
Nothing, absolutely nothing!

The Bottom Line
Well, if you have a DC and still haven't got this game, get it! It's the only game on DC that's still very good (along with Jet Set (Grind) Radio).

Dreamcast · by Goteki45 (323) · 2001

Hello, My Name Is Ryo Hazuki, You Killed My Father Prepare To Die

The Good
Shenmue is a difficult game to label. It is part RPG, part fighting game, part adventure, while the story is a mystery, an action/adventure, and foreign. This game also showcased the true power of the Sega Dreamcast, and is further proof that it was an excellent system that died too soon.

Ryo Hazuki’s life is torn apart when after returning home from school one day, he finds that there are men in suits led by a man in Chinese silk, questioning his father. The man wants to know where a mirror is. When he gets it he asks about a man Ryo’s father killed. Then using a style of martial arts that has not been seen in centuries, he swiftly kills him. Thus begins Ryo’s quest for vengeance, a much bigger fate awaits him, will he succeed? Well that is really up to you. Needless to say the plot in Shenmue is one of the finest ever written for a videogame. Better than most of the stuff Hollywood turns out. It is very enveloping as well. Every time you un earth a clue new questions emerge. Shenmue is one of those few games that had me addicted, even and injured hand could not stop me from playing.

The Graphics are amazing, to think that a Dreamcast game that only came out a year after the systems launch could look this good. It makes we wonder what Dreamcast games could have looked like if the system has not died so early on. Everything in Shenmue looks good, and almost all the items in the game can be manipulated. The buildings in Yokosuka as well as the characters are incredibly realistic looking. The faces of the characters are particularly well detailed.

The Sound and Music is strong as well. The score contains lots of tracks, all varying, from pop, to rock, to R&B, to orchestral. Even classic videogame music! The voices are good, the main characters are very good. But the occasional NPC sounds dumb, but in a way that is more realistic. In real life not every one sound like a voice actor. This was one of the first games to be fully voiced.

The Gameplay, is a amalgam of game types. The meat of the gameplay is exploration and talking to NPCS, as well as fighting and QTE’S. Which has not been seen since Dragon’s Lair. But are much better in Shenmue as they never get Ryo killed, unlike Dirk The Daring. Other game types abound, like sneaking into a warehouse, Sam Fisher style. Pet care, playing classic arcade games like Hang-On, and Space Harrier, buying sodas and toys,(for all those collectors.) and racing a motorcycle. Shenmue was also one of the first games to successfully merge different gameplay types. The only other game that comes to mind before Shenmue, was Omikron: The Nomad Soul. Shenmue does a better job then Omikron however.

The Bad
On the bad side, we may never see a Shenmue III, although there are hints of a movie, which is not the same as playing a game.

The Bottom Line
Overall Shenmue is not a game for everybody. Few games are. Interestingly enough it has enough different gameplay types to satisfy most. If you are a like me and still play your Dreamcast, give Shenmue a try.

Dreamcast · by MasterMegid (723) · 2006

[ View all 8 player reviews ]


Subject By Date
I don't think this is a simulation game White Snail (122) Jan 3rd, 2021
Clear Game Save GNJMSTR (106) Jul 3rd, 2009


1001 Video Games

Shemue appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.


In the 2008 Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition, the Dreamcast version of Shenmue is listed as the most expensive game ever to develop at $70 million.


Shenmue started development on the SEGA Saturn. The Dreamcast and Xbox versions of Shenmue II both contain a video of scenes from the Saturn prototype, accessible when you beat the game and save your file. The scenes are impressive given the limited power of the Saturn. The working title was Virtua Fighter RPG and the protagonist Ryo was in fact based on Akira from the Virtua Fighter series.

The game was supposed to be quite longer than what it ended up to be. The game progressed further into Hong Kong and even had flashback sequences were you got to play as young Ryo. Due to time constraints and market pressure the decision was made to cut the game at the point were Ryo sets sail to Hong Kong, however lots of the mentioned sequences were already produced and included in Shenmue 2.


The game takes place in the mid-80s on a definite timeline, but the weather is inaccurate. There is an unlockable mode to play with the actual historical weather for that period of time.


During promotions at Tokyo of the original Dreamcast version Sega used displays featuring real forklifts (as used in the harbour scenes) holding TV's displaying previews of the game.

Mini games

Shenmue features the ability to play Space Harrier and Hang-On, the original 80's arcade games made by Sega. Both games were also created and designed by Yu Suzuki.


Although the game takes places in the 1980´s, Ryo Hazuki has a Sega Saturn hidden under his TV set. Said console was not available in Japan until late November of 1994, but like the references to Sonic, Virtua Fighter and Virtua Racing games, these things have no effect in the game and where included to please Sega fans.

Soundtrack on vinyl LP

In summer 2015, a remastered recordings of the Shenmue soundtrack are released on vinyl LP by Data Discs. The recording contains 13 tracks from the game by the composers Takenobu Mitsuyoshi, Ryuji Iuchi, Osamu Murata and Yuzo Koshiro. The remastering was done by Shawn Hatfield (Audible Oddities). (Sources: Data Discs product description, LP at Discogs)


  • GameSpy
    • 2000 – Dreamcast Game of the Year

Information also contributed by Chris Chidester; David Mackenzie, J. Michael Bottorff, Juan Pablo Bouquet, Karthik KANE, Lain Crowley, Jo, tangledcontrolpads and Vance

Related Games

Shenmue II
Released 2001 on Dreamcast, 2002 on Xbox
Shenmue III
Released 2019 on Windows, PlayStation 4
Shenmue I & II
Released 2018 on Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Shenmue III: Battle Rally
Released 2020 on Windows, PlayStation 4
Shenmue III: Story Quest Pack
Released 2020 on Windows, PlayStation 4
Bright Memory: Episode 1
Released 2019 on Windows, 2020 on Xbox Series
Shenmue III: Big Merry Cruise
Released 2020 on Windows, PlayStation 4
Shenmue III: Complete DLC Collection
Released 2019 on PlayStation 4, Windows

Related Sites +

  • Shenmue Dojo
    The biggest Shenmue fansite online with videos, music, artwork and everything else related to this great series.
  • The Hazuki Dojo
    A fansite that contains videos, fan fiction, downloadable material and all kinds of information for the dedicated Shenmue fan.
  • The Shenmue Legend
    Everything you could want from a dedicated Shenmue site plus more. All the info, on all Shenmue topics, no matter how obscure.

Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 3558


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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Grant McLellan.

Additional contributors: Julian McKenzie, Zovni, Kaliban, Unicorn Lynx, Sciere, Joby Kuriako, Игги Друге, —-, Patrick Bregger, Jo ST, FatherJack.

Game added April 3rd, 2001. Last modified August 14th, 2023.