In anticipation of Shenmue I & II’s release in August, Sega brought two fans to Dobuita Street, one of the real locations recreated in the original game. The fans, Adam Koralik and Imran Yusuf, guide viewers through the notable spots in the area that Shenmue fans will either recognize or served as important areas in the game. All the while, they discuss what it is about Shenmue that’s earned it the cult following it enjoys today.
Koralik and Yusuf posit that a big part of Shenmue’s success is found in just fully-realized its world is. The inhabitants of Dobuita Street appeared to have lives of their own; The world had its own weather, and players could interact with just about everything they found there as they would in real life. In short, the creators of Shenmue did everything they could to immerse players in the game’s world. Many of these features are par for the course now, but could be considered groundbreaking in the game’s heyday.
As seen in the video below, there are several portions of Dobuita Street that very closely resemble their in-game counterparts. Not everything is the same of course. Considering that the original Shenmue was developed for the Sega Dreamcast, a perfect representation wasn’t really going to be feasible. That said, the similarities are still striking despite the fact that it’s been almost twenty years since the game was originally released. That level of attention to detail is nothing short of admirable.
Now that Shenmue III has been officially delayed to 2019, hopefully they’ll use the extra time to apply a similar kind of polish and scrupulous craftsmanship to it; the kind that’s kept fans talking about the series for the past nineteen years and which has indirectly enabled the project to get off the ground in the first place.