Monday, 18 November 2013

My Yokosuka Adventure

From the intro where a mysterious man kills your father in front of your own eyes. To the outstanding graphics which still stand up well, Shenmue was and always will be something special to gamers and my all time favourite gaming experience. 

You are presented with Ryo Hazuki, brilliant genius martial arts student who is slightly awkward and naive. Upon the death of your father you decide to avenge him and track this murder down. Twists and turns along the way the story of Shenmue is a captivating tale, one where you see Ryo grow with each experience yet never becoming anything more than a highly relatable character who is more human than most protagonists.

For me the main reason I find myself returning to Shenmue 1 on a yearly basis is not just the outstanding cast but the setting. Shenmue's setting to me us my all time favourite place in gaming, to the point I can and have drawn maps for it just out of memory and it's been 100% correct. 

There was always something so captivating as when the story would hit a slow part and you were given a few days to just soak in the Yokosuka air. The amount of activities for this sleepy Japanese village were all varied and fun. From hanging out at the arcade playing some vintage Hang On or my personal time sink Space Harrier. Feeding the homeless and parentless kitten who lost it's mother the same day Lan Di descended and changed your life. Collecting small collectible Sega characters for a perfect set!. Hanging around the centre of Yokosuka's shopping district chatting away with Tom. Training in the park or arcade carpark, there is a lot to spend your time and money here.

That's what I love about this game, even the slow bits have a magical grip about it. I couldn't count the hours I lost playing the lottery in Tomato or money wasted trying to get Super Sonic for my collection!.

The NPC's all had their own routine, face and unique lines depending on what had happened up now. The streets changing with the weather and time and main characters were only a phone call away. There was mysteries to solve at your home and of course the gripping main tale but that's a story for another day.

Having the time pass as you play was an amazing feature aswell, everyone had a daily routine which meant sometimes you had to wait around or chase someone around. It's stolen moments watching the sun set over the bar district and watching the drunks emerge, knowing that the peace has now been shattered.

Another major area is the docks, for the last quarter of the day you take a job as a Forklift Driver. Not only does increase money but gives you a different change of scenery. It's a dark and gloomy place and does feel incredibly depressing while being there. Fortunately you can play on the dart machine while waiting for shifts, something I spent god knows how much yen on!. Though the darts was available in the arcade it just seemed to fit the overall pace and feeling a lot better at the docks.

Other attractions were the vending machines where you can get a nice refreshing drink while chasing Justice!. The shady Nagai Industries and the army surplus stores, even shops you never interact with will help create this outstanding living breathing town!.

Shenmue 1 and 2 are my personal GOAT games but if I had to choose despite 2 fixing issues, I would have to go with 1. If not for anything else other than Yokosuka. You do fall in love with the several settings of Shenmue 2 but you'll never feel the warmth and pure intricacy of Yokosuka, where even a day of Hang On, feeding the cat and boxing machine before the 11pm curfew feels eventful.   

Maybe one day I'll get my conclusion to this series, till then I'll always have my years trips to Yokosuka and Hong Kong. By the way does anyone know where I could find any sailors? 

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