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Shenmue and Yakuza are really not that similar

September 02, 2018 1 min read

For nearly as long as I’ve been playing Yakuza games, I’ve always read comments from fans saying, “These games are like Shenmue”. At first glance, that definitely sounds accurate. I even remember making such a claim after playing the demo for Yakuza 3,which  reminded me a lot of what I had heard about Sega’s Dreamcast classic. It has taken me until now to see how wrong that statement is.

For those unaware, I’ve never personally owned a Dreamcast. My friend had one and I’ve played games on it, but the consumer distrust that Sega bred after the release of the Saturn got to me even in my youth. I absolutely loathed Sega’s 32-bit system and I didn’t want anything else to do with their consoles for the foreseeable future. Maybe it was just my nine-year-old self being hyperbolic, but I wrote off the Dreamcast long before it was even announced as coming west.

While that may or may not be a tragedy, it was how I felt at the time. That decision ended up causing me to miss out on some crazy and memorable games from Sega’s final console, most notably Shenmue. I’ve never had a frame of reference for properly comparing Yu Suzuki’s magnum opus to Yakuza, but after reviewing the two games this past week, I can finally make a declarative statement.

Shenmue and Yakuza are really not that similar.

Shenmue and Yakuza are really not that similar screenshot