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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Monday, September 24, 2018

Shenmue III Trailer "The Prophecy" Dissection [Part Three]

Shenmue III Trailer "The Prophecy" Dissection [Part Three]

Welcome to Part Three of our three-part analysis of the Shenmue III release date announcement trailer. If you haven't read them already, Part One can be found here and Part Two here.

We continue on from the second part, in which Ryo appeared to be taking part in some kind of sparring challenge with a silver-haired man inside an opulently-decorated room. Immediately after this, the scene changes back to the caverns at the Stone Pit.

Exploring the Cave

We see Ryo and Shenhua - or, to be specific, their legs - at the start of a rocky passage, with another illuminated area of the cave beyond. Reflections are cast off pools of murky water on the ground. Cables are strung along the cave roof, most likely more of the "fuses" that set the cave's network of torches alight, as seen at the end of Shenmue II.
Ryo leads the way down a rocky passage.
Ryo leads the way down a rocky passage.
We have seen a shot very similar to the one above before in July. It was displayed on the monitor at the voice recording session, in a photo posted by the actress who will play the Japanese voice of Shenhua (Haruka Terui):
A photo from a voice-recording session for the Japanese audio with Haruka Terui (right; voice of Shenhua) and Masaya Matsukaze (left; voice of Ryo).
A photo from a voice-recording session for the Japanese audio with Haruka Terui (right; voice of Shenhua) and Masaya Matsukaze (left; voice of Ryo).
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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Yu Suzuki to Produce New VR Battle Game "VRSUS" | Tokyo Game Show

Today Yu Suzuki made an appearance on the stage at the 2018 Tokyo Game Show -- not in this case for Shenmue (although he did take the opportunity to play the recent Shenmue III trailer), but rather as part of a presentation to announce a new virtual reality arcade game.

Yu was approached to participate in the project, and has taken up the role of General Producer for its development. He will be working on the game together with virtual reality company JPPVR Corporation, a company that sell VR rigs for arcades, and their software development subsidiary company VRes.


Yu explained that some of the reasons for his involvement include his extensive background in developing arcade games at SEGA since the early 1980s, as well as his interest and experience in Virtual Reality (he made reference to some involvement in VR around 1991 - perhaps not coincidentally this was the period when the Sega VR headset was under development, although it didn't make it to market).

Yu also mentioned that one of the reasons he agreed to become a part of this project was because he wants to help "liven up" the arcades.

The working title for the new game is VRSUS (pronounced "versus"), a play on the nature of the game being a one-on-one battle in a virtual reality space, and a prototype has already been developed.


A demonstration of an actual battle was also given using the prototype. The two players were equipped with a VR headset suspended from overhead arms, and held position-sensing controllers in their hands that allowed them to fire a stream of ball-like missiles.



Here is a short clip of the prototype of the game:

Commented Yu: "In its current state it is a true prototype, and I'm still feeling out which aspects will make for an interesting game. Going forward I'd like to work with things like 'bullet time' (which slows down time) and the concept of dodging through a slew of balls within a 3D confined space".

Video


Video of the presentation (mainly in Japanese) can be viewed on Niconico.

Shenmue III


Regarding any potential effect on Shenmue III, the short answer is that there will be none. Shenmue III remains Yu Suzuki's priority and focus, as succinctly stated here by Ali on the official Shenmue III Ambassador account:


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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Shenmue I & II at TGS 2018 | Tokyo Game Show

Shenmue I & II at TGS 2018 | Tokyo Game Show

The annual Tokyo Game Show (TGS) opens on Thursday September 20th, at its usual venue of Makuhari Messe in Chiba prefecture. The first two days are Business Days, with the Public Days being on the weekend: Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd.

Entry to the show is 1,000 yen if bought prior, or 1,200 yen if bought on the day.

Entry is from 10 am, although there is a note on the official site that there is a possibility that doors may open earlier at 9:30 am "depending on the situation".

SEGA

SEGA will of course be present, and what's more will be promoting Shenmue! Here is an overview of what they have in store.
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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

New Shenmue T-Shirt at TGS 2018

SEGA has prepared a new piece of Shenmue merchandise for sale at the Tokyo Game Show later this month in the form of a T-shirt!

The front has an image of Ryo driving a forklift truck, with a crate that says "Shenmue" on the side. The rear has a small image of the tiger motif from the back of Ryo's jacket in the game. And, in a nice additional touch, the sleeve has a directional sign "No.1-17" that echoes the markings that can be seen at harbor in Shenmue I.


The price of the T-shirt is 3000 yen including tax (sizes: M / L / XL).

As well as the T-shirt, a Shenmue-themed pin badge will be available from the capsule toy machines - and as usual, you will need to try your luck to get hold of it. The design is the same as the one seen at the 2015 Tokyo Game Show & SEGA Fes earlier in the year, with the Dreamcast logo at the bottom.

The Shenmue pin badge will be available from the capsule toy machines
The full line-up of SEGA merchandise at TGS 2018 can be viewed on the official site (Japanese).

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Sunday, September 9, 2018

Shenmue III Trailer "The Prophecy" Dissection [Part Two]

Shenmue III Trailer "The Prophecy" Dissection [Part Two]

Welcome to Part Two of our analysis of the Shenmue III release date announcement trailer. Part One can be found here.

We pick up as Ryo, backpack on one shoulder, steps off the berthed ferry across a rough ramp of wooden boards, onto the wharf at Choubu.

Disembarking from the Ferry


Ryo steps onto the wharf.
Ryo steps onto the wharf.
A lot of small graphical details help to bring the scene to life, such as a puff of steam produced from inside the ferry. The glass in the windows are smeared, and grimy residue can be seen on the walls and under the port holes.
Small graphical details: a puff of steam (left); smeared windows (middle) and grimy walls (right).
Small graphical details: a puff of steam (left); smeared windows (middle) and grimy walls (right).
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Saturday, September 8, 2018

d3t's "Toughest Project": Interview on the Shenmue I & II Rereleases [PCGamer]


PC Gamer has published an interview with Noel Austin, technical director at d3t Limited, the development studio behind the rerelease of Shenmue I & II to modern platforms.

Noel reveals some fascinating pieces of information about the way the original games and the challenges involved that will surprise even veteran fans.

We recommend reading the full article (link below), but here is a condensed summary:
  • The project got underway in October 2015, when d3t gained access to the "massive" Shenmue archive of data and started planning their approach.
  • At least 20 developers in total worked on the code over the course of the project, with the team size growing to around 10 developers at its largest point.
  • The project was "by far the toughest" project d3t has ever done.
    • Source code was not available for the Dreamcast libraries (and hence for Shenmue I which was released only for that console).
    • For Shenmue I, some of the biggest challenges were around the hardware:
      • Sound: the loop points, reverb, volumes, envelopes etc that were specified within separate programs for the Dreamcast's audio chip had to be reverse engineered.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Exclusive Pre-Order Bonus at SEGA Japan's Online Shop | Shenmue 1&2 Limited Edition

Exclusive Pre-Order Bonus at SEGA Online Shop | Shenmue 1&2 Limited Edition [Japan]

SEGA Japan's official online shop is offering a special exclusive bonus, while stocks last, for customers who pre-order the Japan Limited Edition version of Shenmue I & II (to be released on November 22nd).

The bonus takes the form of a custom-designed "QUO" prepaid card to the value of 500 yen in a custom envelope.
QUO cards can be used to pay for items at convenience stores in Japan, as well as a number of other shops.
QUO cards resemble phone cards and come in many designs.
QUO cards resemble phone cards and come in many designs.
This bonus was created as a tribute to the daily allowance of 500 yen that Ine-san leaves out for Ryo each day in the first Shenmue game.
Ryo picks up his daily allowance envelope (Shenmue I)
Ryo picks up his daily allowance of 500 yen (Shenmue I)

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