Shenmue — 1999 — Sega
If you owned a Sega Dreamcast back in the day then chances are you have played Shenmue — if you have never played this revolutionary one of a kind title then you should be kicking yourself, hard, as you’ve quite literally missed out on one the greatest gaming masterpieces ever written.
Presented in a third person format, Shenmue is set in the 1980s in the fully inhabited, living and breathing city of Yokosuka, Japan where day turns into night, every NPC you come across can be interacted with and almost any object that isn’t bolted down can be touched, examined or manipulated in some way. This truly was, at the time, astounding stuff!
Now while the main aim of the game was to help main protagonist Ryo Hazuki avenge his father’s death, many players were far too busy spending their hard earned Yen down at the local ‘You Arcade’ — and yes, these were hard earned Yen as part of the game had you holding down a steady job at the local docks to earn your bread.
The arcade featured a darts game along with a boxing and reaction game that both tested the speed and reflexes of your button bashing and thumb stick movements. But what really stood out were the fully playable classic Super Hang On and Space Harrier Sega cabinets, both included as the writer of Shenmue, Yu Suzuki, was also the creator of both the iconic aforementioned titles. Overall the ’ You Arcade’ added a whole other level of unrivalled immersion to Shenmue and to this day it’s still regarded as one the best arcades to ever feature in a video game.