Eurogamer has a nice retrospective on the underrated cult classic, Shenmue, that released to dismal sales on the ill-fated Dreamcast. Here’s a sample of their article:
“…There’s no real urgency in place, and its grand arc offers a gentle tug rather than rudely shoving you along. Too often in open-ended, open world games there’s a conflict that’s I’ve never been able to resolve: you’ve the burden of saving the galaxy on your shoulders, but the designers expect you to stop in your tracks to resolve a lover’s tiff between two people you’ve never met before.
In Shenmue, Yokosuka’s stories are much more enthralling than Ryo’s own; there’s the chef at Funny Bear Burgers, a former banker who quit to pursue his culinary ambitions, or the elderly widower Hattori who stands outside his sports shop, sending a drive down an imaginary golf course each and every day. And so Shenmue becomes a game of eavesdropping in between chores, killing time at the arcade or expanding your capsule collection while silently stalking non-playable characters.
It inspires an intimacy with its surroundings that few other experiences can really attain, and that’s what makes a pilgrimage to Yokosuka so chilling. I’ve etched every pixel of OutRun 2’s tarmac into the wet flesh of my memory, and there are parts of Hyrule I know better than my own living room, but I’ll likely never experience the strange synapse snap of being confronted by them in real-life…”