But did you know that these cassettes actually have some real life roots?
It's very common nowadays that videogames have a soundtrack CD to go along with the release, may it be as an included bonus in a limited edition or release as a standalone product later down the line.
Especially in Japan these have proven to be extremely popular. That trend isn't exactly recent at all however. Even deep in the 80ies video game OSTs have been a thing and since the CD was still somewhat new a lot of them have been released on cassette aswell and sometimes only on it (at the time).
Sega was leading the arcade not only with quality gameplay and graphics but also with catchy and technically impressive music and so it was a no brainer that they eventually started releasing some of their now legendary works. Amoung them were of course the soundtracks from the games that Yu Suzuki made.
|Original Japanese cassette tape releases from the late 80ies|
The two tapes above from the Sega Game Music series are the ones that match what you can get in Shenmue. Of course they look different and pack the whole soundtrack and not just a single track but they show clear signs of where the roots go.
The Outrun cassette was first released on December 21, 1986. That is only around two week after the start of Ryo's quest and makes it fit into place perfectly. The Tomato Mart could've easily given this out as a early release prize wich would be a great promotion. But it wasn't meant to be and they decided to make a mock tape instead, maybe for legal reasons or just because the cassette in the game only has one track after all.
The After Burner tape is a bit more of an anarchonism as it was only released on October 10, 1987.
Still, it is period correct enough and After Burner II itself was released around the same time and we all know that it can be found in Shenmue II.
Speaking of finding, the cassette tape versions of these soundtracks are rather hard to come by and so were good photos of them. If you're interested in the details and how the tracks are arrangend check out the pages over at VGMdb.