Back when Shenmue was first announced, SEGA leaned heavily into a buzzword: FREE. An acronym, the term stood for “fully reactive eyes entertainment”, and it was essentially used to describe the type of gameplay that we more commonly consider open world today; it meant that the title enabled you the freedom to go anywhere and do anything you wanted at any time.
To encourage this, the first game includes multiple moments throughout its story where you needed to wait to meet a character or attend a certain location. Governed by an in-game calendar and clock, this meant that there were periods where you’d quite literally have to “time waste” in order to progress the story. It was a divisive feature, and Shenmue II added in a time skip option in response to the criticism.
There had been some speculation online that this feature would be retroactively added to the first game as part of SEGA’s upcoming Shenmue I & II remaster, but according to VG247 that’s not the case. “We’ve tried to stay as close to the original feature sets in each game as possible, so Shenmue I will not have the time skip feature,” a spokesperson told the website.
We think it’s the right call personally, but it’s yet another reason why we reckon series newcomers should be cautious before playing these cult classics.