Thanks to the HD re-release of these two Dreamcast classics, many of you will be experiencing Shenmue for the very first time. I'm one of those people too, and after receiving my pre-order a fair few days early, I've been able to make a decent amount of leeway into my search for the killer of Ryo Hazuki's father, the infamous Lan Di. Due to the original's age however, there has been one or two things that left me a little dumbfounded, and so without further ado, these are the five things I wish I knew about Shenmue before playing for the first time.
It's not quite as archaic as you might think
It's understandable if you're of the opinion that Shenmue must surely be an unplayable mess in the year 2018, but as someone who is also playing it for the first time, I can assure you it's not as bad as you may think. Yes, the almost tank-like controls are utter garbage and the dialogue can be so bad to the point of hilarity at times, but they're the only teething problems you're likely to suffer from. On the flip side, there's a handy journal only a button press away that details your current objectives, characters always have something to say when you interact with them, and towns are designed in such a way that their layout becomes fairly easy to memorise. Of course it's going to pale in comparison to the AAA titles of today, but the Yu Suzuki classic is still more than playable in today's age.
Learning how the in-game clock works is integral
It's fairly common knowledge that Shenmue's gameplay loop is based around an in-game clock, but its intricacies may not be so widely known. Every person around town also bases their activities around the 24 hours of the day, meaning that they live their own lives and won't be in the same place you expect them to be every day of the week. They move about, they go home, they sleep, they eat, all of which you'll be doing as Ryo yourself.
This aspect also plays into your objectives, with meetings set up at specific times that you need to be ready to attend at the given hour and minute. Ryo even has a time he needs to be home by of 11:30pm. So much of Shenmue's design revolves around the two hands of the clock, and you need to adhere to that to make any decent progress.
Use the zoom button for extra interaction
The game has a zoom button that allows you to further interact with particular objects in the environment by holding L2, but you wouldn't know that unless you stared at the pause menu for a while. You're not told about this feature until you do it yourself during an early side quest where you must locate a certain house for an old lady hanging out in the park. I managed to find the residence in question, but wasn't aware that I had to zoom in on the plaque next to the gate in order to register that I had actually found it. Thus, I failed the activity and the OAP disappeared forever. Don't make the same mistake as me.
Every town has at least one map
When I found out that Shenmue doesn't have any sort of map attached to its HUD or quest markers to aid me in my travels, I feared that getting lost would be all too easy. Thankfully however, every location has a map located somewhere within the area you're exploring to make navigation much easier. Smaller districts such as Yokosuka only have one graph mapping out its streets and alleyways, while larger locales like Dobuita have multiple points where you can work out your surroundings. And thanks to the journal using the exact phrases found on maps, working out where you need to go next is a breeze.
You can save at any point in the game
After doing a bit of digging, it appears that the original Dreamcast version of Shenmue had a rather odd way of saving. Much like this HD remaster, you could make a hard save at home as you went to bed, but you could also make a one time save while you were out and about using a resume feature, but this save was then deleted when you booted the game back up.
For the 2018 release, this second option has been tweaked. Not only can you make a hard save back home in bed, you can also make one anywhere out in the world by pressing the triangle button and then scrolling to the save function. The game will then boot back in the exact same place you left it upon your return without any deletion.
Do you have any other tips to share with Shenmue newcomers? Collect your allowance in the comments below.