All this exciting news of the Shenmue 3 Kickstarter has made me go through my old Shenmue song list. Lots of great sounds were produced during these two games that helped provide some ammo to the realistic environment that Shenmue introduced to the world. I wish I could name them all, but there are too many. However, here are my personal favorites:
1. Shenmue – Heart Beats
Heart Beats is jazz music with soul. To me it represents a cool Ryo Hazuki, who is unstoppable in his quest to avenge his father. The music is also very chill which is perfect for a game that lets you wander around town for hours. The actual music only plays briefly while Ryo is looking for information on Chinese sailors, but I always sought out the cassette tapes at the Tomato Mart when I had the chance.
2. Shenmue – Tomato Mart
Ah, I absolutely love this song. It’s so bright and upbeat. The song really makes for a positive shopping environment and to me also represents the positive business vibes Japan felts back in the 1980s. Looking back at it now, it also reminds me of the golden years of SEGA, when they were innovating like crazy and popping out some of the best game systems on Earth. It reminds me a bit of the Earthbound “Buy Something Will Ya” song with the good vibes.
3. Shenmue – Hip de Hop
How could you not love Tom in Shenmue? He doesn’t fit into the Japanese society he lives in at all and that is what makes him so great. This theme is awesome and totally defines Tom – it doesn’t come close to being similar to the other songs in the soundtrack, but it is excellent.
4. Shenmue – Wish
I listened to this song A LOT after the first Shenmue came out. The scene it is paired with in Shenmue is pretty cheesy, but that is exactly what I love about Shenmue. It’s silly, but in a way that makes sense and makes it a game that is realistic, but still a fun story that isn’t really realistic at all. I know this sounds crazy, but if you play Shenmue you will understand exactly what I mean.
5. Shenmue II – Wise Man’s Quarter (Day)
Shenmue II has a completely different vibe from the first game now that Ryo has left home and traveled to China. I feel the song Wise Man’s Quarter (Day) captures this new world pretty well and is telling a story with upbeat drum sounds. One thing about Shenmue is Ryo is always looking ahead and never back, I think this theme is a good representation of that.
6. Shenmue II – South Carmain Quarter (Day)
This theme is much slower than Wise Man’s Quarter and I think it represents the struggle that Ryo is going through in order to find information about Lan Di and to avenge his father. No matter what happens, Ryo keeps pressing forward in his quest and I think this song represents that well…the daily struggle.
7. Shenmue II – Yan Tin Apartments
This song has an eerie vibe to it. To me it represents that this new place Ryo has ventured is pretty dangerous and filled with mystery and darkness. Glad they included something like this in the game.
8. Shenmue – Asia Travel Agency
A song that represents exploration – Shenmue is just the beginning of a much bigger adventure and I think the song is to represent Ryo’s desire to go abroad and continue his journey as well as the mystery behind traveling to a new place. Also the shady nature of some businessmen.
9. Shenmue – Main Theme
You really cannot close out a top 10 list without mentioning the Shenmue Main Theme which has a strong Asian vibe to it and certainly helps capture the cultural elements behind Shenmue. It captures Ryo’s adventure in a way that feels epic, while maintaining an introductory vibe.
10. Shenmue – Hazuki Residence
The theme of the Hazuki Residency mainly comes to mind because of how often you visit Ryo’s house and it’s where the game starts you out. The basics are learned at the Hazuki residence and it brings back memories of bothering Fuku-san on the regular.
Feel free to leave a comment with your favorite Shenmue songs!