I like the sound of… Shenmue

This article started out as an exploration into what I think makes a game soundtrack good. It eventually evolved into a rant about how some of them are too good, which is of course ridiculous. I then started to think about how soundtracks can really stay with you after you’ve finished playing and, in the same way as a smell, can bring memories flooding back, that in some cases make you realise just how bloody good a game is.

Now don’t get me wrong, I always knew Shenmue was a stunning game, but not until I listened to the soundtrack did I realise how engaging and absorbing it was. I would almost say that when I think back to the time when we played it as a group (in between worms), I can remember nothing other than the game. I couldn’t tell you what room we were in or the size of the TV we played it on, absolutely nothing except the game and the genuine emotions it stirred whilst playing (anybody else still worry about who’s gang Joy was allied with? Admittedly that was Shenmue 2, but you get the idea). When listening to this track I can’t help but be yanked back into the beautifully rich and detailed atmosphere the game created.

Anyone who’s played the game and has clicked that link should now be in 1986-Japan amongst the busy streets, quite probably on their way to play some Q.T.E. in the arcade. Throughout the game the music never stood out, not to a point where I would be aware of it anyway, and it’s that very quality that in my opinion makes this one of the best examples of a game soundtrack I’ve heard. The fact that I can happily sit and listen to it as a piece of music outside of the game is further testimony to how ruddy good it is.

True, my love for the game is definitely not completely down to the music, but I swear, if the music had been primarily in the style of “blue grass”, regardless of how catchy or well produced, I’d have had a very different opinion of this Dreamcast beauty!

I apologise for such an obvious filler article this early on, but it’s been my birthday and I’ve been very drunk this week.


    Sometimes I could smell the sea when I played that game, and the thing I remember most about it is tree blossom – if I see any now then it reminds me of Shenmue…

  • It’s crazy thinking back to it, I honestly cant think of another game that I was so engrossed in. Never realised at the time still amazes me that every single character was individual!

Leave a Reply