Monday, December 31, 2018

[Pinned] Announcement: Phantom River Stone is on Patreon!

It is hard to believe that over one-and-a-half years have passed since the Phantom River Stone blog launched. We've made more than 200 posts on our favorite subject: translations of community interviews, magazine articles and design documents, notes about everyday items and culture reflected in the game, photos of real locations around Yokosuka... just celebrating the awesomeness that is Shenmue.

In order to sustain this rate of output, and dedicate the time needed for the translations and posts, I wanted to offer a way for blog readers who wish to help contribute to do so.

And so, I am excited to announce our new Patreon page for Phantom River Stone!

If you're not familiar with Patreon, it’s an easy way to give those who find the blog of interest, a way to support it directly.

Plus, you will receive some great rewards in return, such as exclusive "behind the scenes" content, early access to blog posts before anyone else, and monthly voting on a future blog topic. We also have a Discord channel for chatting about Shenmue and blog posts & I look forward to chatting with you there.

There are several different reward tiers, which you can check out in detail on the new Patreon page.

Thank you for considering becoming a patron of the blog, and regardless of whether you are in a position to offer financial support, thank you for being a reader of the blog!

Click to open the Phantom River Stone page on Patreon!

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Saturday, November 17, 2018

The Hazuki Family Altar - Part One | The Realism of Shenmue

The Hazuki Family Altar - Part One | The Realism of Shenmue

Today's topic was selected as the Patrons' Choice topic for November by the Phantom River Stone blog patrons via our monthly poll. If you'd like to have a say in what subjects we cover next, check out our Patreon page here!

Shenmue I naturally weaves many facets of Japanese culture into the game, such as the way Ryo takes off his shoes indoors, or the different types of period telephones that Ryo can use around the area.

Today we'll look at another example of Shenmue I's faithful recreation of Japanese culture within the game: the Buddhist altar that can be seen in the Hazuki Residence.

The importance of the altar to the Hazukis can be appreciated by the fact that there is a whole room dedicated to it. And during the game it is not just there for show; as Ryo we able to interact with it ourselves, and furthermore other characters in the story also interact with it as we will cover later in this post.

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Thursday, November 15, 2018

Shenmue I & II Two-Hour Talk Panel with Masaya Matsukaze

Shenmue I & II Two-Hour Talk Panel with Masaya Matsukaze

The two hours of SEGA Japan's talk panel live stream discussing Shenmue I & II passed by in a flash, and did a great job of promoting its Japan release exclusively for PS4 on November 22nd. The stream included memories and comments from the guests, a quiz, and anecdotes from those who developed the original games.

Masaya Matsukaze, Ryo's voice/motion-capture actor for the Japanese version, was MC for the session and was accompanied by two of the original developers of the games: Eigo Kasahara and Hiroshi Noguchi (original roles: Planning Director and Real Time Movie Designer); they two have also been handling the localization of Shenmue I & II for the domestic market in Japan.

The guest panel consisted of members of the Japanese media, with editors/journalists from Weekly Famitsu, Dengeki Game Media, 4Gamer and IGN Japan.

A shorter stage discussion was held on the SEGA stage at the Tokyo Game Show in September with the same participants, but this time much more time was allotted.

Here is a selection of video grabs to give the flavor of the session.
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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Shenmue Coaster Collectibles in Yokosuka | Shenmue Sacred Spot Campaign

Shenmue Coaster Collectibles in Yokosuka | Shenmue Sacred Spot Campaign
In a follow-up to their production of a Shenmue-themed guide map for the Dobuita Street area and environs last year, Yokosuka City and SEGA Japan have teamed up again with a new promotion called the "Shenmue Sacred Spot Campaign" to mark the upcoming release in Japan of Shenmue I & II on the PS4 on November 22nd. The promotion runs from December through to February of next year.

This time, original Shenmue-themed coasters are being offered in exchange for a minimum purchase at one of the participating locations.
As with the guide maps, the promotion is based on locations around the town of Yokosuka, such as shrines, parks and shops, that evoke the 1986 setting of the first game in the series.

Here's the information you need to know.

"Shenmue Sacred Spot Campaign"
"Shenmue Sacred Spot Campaign"

Promotion Details & Period:

Receive an original coaster for every purchase of 500 yen (including tax) or more at participating locations. There are 12 designs in total, distributed randomly.

The promotion consists of two stages, with the available designs differing for each:
  • Stage One (6 designs): 4 December 2018 (Tue) to 11 January (Fri).
  • Stage Two (6 designs): 12 January 2019 (Sat) to 24 February (Sun).

Participating Locations:

There are a total of 9 locations participating in this campaign, listed below. (Tap a name to open the location in Google Maps).

Shenmue Photo Spot

Full-sized boards of characters from Shenmue as well as a forklift, will be set up on Dobuita Street - stop by here for some souvenir photos.

On their website, Yokosuka City encourages everyone to take this opportunity to come along and enjoy the world of Shenmue!

Shenmue Fan Meet-Up / Talk Event with Masaya Matsukaze

On December 24th, a Shenmue fan meeting & talk event with Masaya Matsukaze & other guests will be held in Yokosuka. The event is jointly sponsored by IGN Japan (Esra Krabbe will be MC) and Yokosuka City. Live-streaming is planned. Attendance is limited to 80 people, with registrations open now at this link.
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Friday, November 9, 2018

Shenmue I & II Discussion Live Stream on Nov 14th (Japanese-Language)

Sega Japan will be streaming a 2-hour talk panel on Shenmue I & II on Wednesday November 14th at 8pm JST.

The MC will be Masaya Matsukaze (Ryo Hazuki's Japanese voice / mocap). Hiroshi Noguchi and Eigo Kasahara (developers on the original games & now working on the Japanese localization of I & II) will also make an appearance. The discussion will be in Japanese.

The panel guests are members of Japanese media who are self-professed fans of Shenmue, including IGN Japan, 4Gamer, Dengeki and Weekly Famitsu.

An on-stage discussion with the same participants was held at the 2018 Tokyo Game Show, but the 30-minute slot was felt to be too short, hence the longer time allowance.

YouTube live stream:

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Out of Bounds in China: Automated Cheat Tool for Shenmue Two

Out of Bounds in China: Automated Cheat Tool for Shenmue Two

In this post, we present our automated tool for Shenmue II that will let Ryo step right through walls, fences and boundaries as if they didn't exist. It is a companion tool to the one for Shenmue I (which can be found here).

The Download Link can be found near the end of the article.

What Is It?

The tool is a short script built in the Cheat Engine (an open-source memory scanner, editor and debugger) that scans through memory to identify boundary data for the current area, and clears it out. Bingo - the boundaries are removed.

The original method for removing collisions in the Dreamcast version was developed by Giorgio and BlueMue of the Shenmue Dojo.

The tool also has an extra function to adjust Ryo's position within his current area. The following keyboard shortcut keys can also be used:
  • Insert / Delete: move Ryo forward/back in the X direction
  • Home / End: move Ryo forward/back in the Y direction
  • Page Up / Page Down: adjust Ryo's height (note, disable collisions first)
Read on for instructions.

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Thursday, November 8, 2018

Poll Result: Patrons' Choice Topic for November

Every month Phantom River Stone holds a poll among our patrons to choose a topic for the blog in the coming month. The results are in for November's topic, and the most highly-voted topic (including accumulated votes from previous months) was...

"Unused textures found in What's Shenmue: introductory letter from Master Chen."

At the end of Shenmue 1, a cut scene plays in which Master Chen hands Ryo an envelope and tells him that it contains the address of a master who will be of help after he arrives in Hong Kong.

Several years ago, the modding & hacking community discovered some unused graphic textures relating to this envelope and its contents sitting on the What's Shenmue demo for the Dreamcast, and we will take a look at them in the blog later this month.

If you're interested in reading it early, check us out on Patreon - the $2 tier will get you early access as soon as its ready, plus access to all early-access posts for the month. Or become a patron at a higher tier and participate in voting for your choice of monthly blog topic.
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Monday, November 5, 2018

SEGA Japan's Dreamcast Bingo Give-Away

SEGA Japan has updated their website with a new page added to the hardware history section about the Dreamcast console.

The Shenmue games are among the selection of historical Dreamcast software titles mentioned, with the description text reading:
"The end of the year saw the appearance of an epic creation whose development had carried over from the era of the Sega Saturn: Shenmue Chapter 1: Yokosuka.
This work, which went on sale at the end of 1999, built on technology cultivated for the Virtua Fighter series, and played out its story with 3D-rendered characters in the 3D-built town of Yokosuka, on a scale that was a first for its time. The open world concept it presented had not existed until then, and it is said to have had a great impact on the game industry in subsequent years".
The Shenmue games are given a mention on SEGA Japan's page on the history of the Dreamcast console.
The Shenmue games are given a mention on SEGA Japan's page on the history of the Dreamcast console. 
In conjunction with this new article on the Dreamcast, SEGA Japan is running a "Dreamcast Bingo" give-away on Twitter - and it features the face of a familiar character!

Here is our translation of the Bingo board:

 Instructions to go into the give-away draw are as follows:

  1. Follow the SEGA Japan twitter account.
  2. Download the official Japanese Bingo board image from their tweet and circle/mark it with all squares that apply. Getting Bingo is not mandatory for entry!
  3. Tweet out your marked version of the Bingo board image together with the hashtag #ドリキャスビンゴ

There are three prizes of a set of Dreamcast merchandise up for grabs. Entries are accepted until November 12th JST.

Note: As far as I have been able to determine, there are no stipulations regarding entry being restricted to Japanese twitter accounts, but it is likely the prize would be delivered only within Japan (for example, to the address of a forwarding company).
The Dreamcast merchandise prize set (3 sets)
The Dreamcast merchandise prize set (3 sets)

Related links (Japanese):

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