Tuesday, December 31, 2019

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

It is hard to believe that over two 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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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Virtua Fighter CG Portrait Series | Guest Post by James Brown

Today's guest post was authored by James Brown (Twitter: @skilljim, YouTube: youtube.com/theskilljim). Thanks to James for the great write-up!

Back in 1995 Yu Suzuki with his AM2 team and SEGA released a 10-disc series of stand alone SEGA Saturn discs called the Virtua Fighter CG Portrait Series. Each of the discs contained computer-generated art and a unique music track, some even featuring vocals from the iconic Daytona singer himself, Takenobu Mitsuyoshi!

Each disc focused on one specific Virtua Fighter character, and there was also a bonus 11th "not for sale" disc that was based on the character Dural (and could only be obtained in exchange for sending the spine cards of the previous 10 discs to Sega).

All the discs are shown here below:
The complete set of 11 discs in the CG Portrait series
Each of the discs feature a wealth of fantastic early 3D concept art that still looks great today -  a testament to Yu Suzuki and his vision for realism.
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Saturday, March 16, 2019

Steven Spielberg's Reaction to Virtua RPG Helped Greenlight Development

A photo of Steve Spielberg visiting Yu Suzuki and the development studio during the 1990s has emerged online, in an written interview by Japan's 4Gamer with the then-business-director of AM2 ( Hisashi Suzuki - yes, another Suzuki!).

With Steve Spielberg was Mark Cerny, who was not working at SEGA at the time but was accompanying Spielberg for another project.
Sega Development Studio tour. Top: Hisashi Suzuki (AM2 business director), Yu Suzuki (AM2 development head), Hisao Oguchi (AM3 development head), Steven Spielberg, Mark Cerny. Bottom: Mie Kumagaya (AM3 developer) and Steven Spielberg's son.
Due to Spielberg's enthusiastic comments ("wonderful!") on being shown Virtua Fighter RPG, Shenmue's early form, apparently SEGA's CEO was put in such a good mood that he greenlit the start of full-on development.

A second photo of Yu Suzuki with Steven Spielberg and son has been previously shared before online:
Yu Suzuki with Steve Spielberg and son, most likely taken during the same visit as the previous photo.
It's interesting to identify that this photo is likely to have been during the same office visit, based on the matching clothing.

The 4Gamer article contains other interesting anecdotes about Yu Suzuki and Shenmue so we hope to be able to provide a translation of these parts on the blog in the future.

Source: 4Gamer (Japanese)
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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Shenmue Postcard & Name Card Set (2000) | Shenmue Merchandise

Today we'll take a look at a Shenmue item I hadn't seen before, which was produced back at the time of the original release of Shenmue as a bonus for readers of Japan's Famitsu DC magazine in early 2000.

The bonus was an exclusive insert of detachable post cards & name cards featuring the Shenmue CG art from Shenmue's original promotion. The illustrations are: Shenhua in an exquisite headdress, Ryo striking a fighting stance, Ryo & Nozomi on a motorcycle and Shenhua standing in falling snow.

The idea was that the reader would remove the card they wished to send from the sheet, fill it out and send it like a normal postcard.

Sheet 1:

Sheet 2:

The "name cards" are smaller-sized cards containing spaces for a contact's name, address, birthday, blood type (believed by some to give insight into a person's personality) and telephone/fax machine number, with lines for notes on the reverse side.

The text at the top of the first sheet reads:
"Special Shenmue postcards and name cards, exclusive to Famitsu DC. March is graduation season. Why not send one to that special someone, with a few words of congratulation and appreciation".
The second sheet also has some words of encouragement to get posting:
"Shenmue: at last, that day has arrived to play it. Why not write a message with your memories of this great year and hopes for the new year to come, and send a special Famitsu DC postcard to your friends and acquaintances!"
The reverse side has all the necessary markings for filling in a message, address and post code.

I wonder whether any magazine readers actually went ahead and posted a card...

Thank you to Retro Import Gamer for providing the photos for this article. They have this set available right now at their Ebay store, in excellent condition. All items ship from the UK.

View the Shenmue Postcard & Name Set on Ebay
Or view other Shenmue items listed on the Retro Import Gamer website.

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Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Observations on "Ryo & Master" Shenmue 3 Trailer | Part One

A new Shenmue 3 trailer was shown at MAGIC Monaco, giving us the chance to see Ryo interacting in several different situations around Bailu village. In this post, we'll highlight some of the details, especially the smaller, easy-to-miss ones, with an assumption that the reader has already watched the trailer through (if not, the link follows).
The observations will be spread over a series of posts, this being the first.

Note: some of the images in this post have been upscaled / filtered.

Sound and Music

Two main pieces of music play in the trailer, both from the original games' soundtrack. The video initially opens to the majestic crash of cymbals from the opening notes of the original Shenmue main theme, which accompanies the scenes. When the action turns to fighting, the music changes to the well-known piece known in English among fans as "Earth and Sea" (and officially as "Continent and Sea" as Sega Japan recently clarified). Finally, the main theme reprises with an erhu solo at the end.

Sound effects also can be heard: the chirping of birds, the scrape of a sliding door being pulled open, the tread of boots on ground as well as various whooshes and swishes during the fighting sequences. Not forgetting the anxious cluck of the chickens as they dash out of the way.

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Sunday, March 10, 2019

New Shenmue 3 Trailer: "Ryo and Master" From MAGIC Monaco | Kickstarter Update #98

A new Shenmue 3 trailer was shown during the Crazy Time session at MAGIC Monaco yesterday, which has been named "Ryo and Master".

The scenes appear to take place entirely Bailu village and its surroundings. The video, which is just over two-and-a-half minutes long, shows Ryo interacting in various ways with characters, including a training scene with the titular master, snippets of conversations and combat. There is also a dream sequence showing Lan Di and a frightened Shenhua. The characters are voiced in Japanese, with English subtitles.

The trailer was also announced as Kickstarter Update #98, with a brief message to backers indicating there will be more information to follow:
"We know we have not put up a development report for a while, but please rest assured that production is steadily moving forward, and we hope to share more info with you very soon!"
We will be putting up an analysis of some of the finer details of the trailer on the blog soon.

Watch the new trailer below:

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Saturday, March 9, 2019

Yu Suzuki's Shenmue 3 Talk Highlights | Magic Monaco 2019

Image credit: Koch Media UK via Twitter
Yu Suzuki held an on-stage talk on Shenmue 3 at today's MAGIC Monaco event, and revealed some new details about the game. Long-time blog contributor yuc02 was at the event, tweeting live updates and images from the talk for Phantom River Stone.

Here is a collection of the tweets, summarizing highlights from the talk.

The start of the talk was slightly delayed due to the previous session running on, but it was then time for Yu and team to get set up!
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Thursday, March 7, 2019

Poll Result: Patrons' Choice Topic for March 2019

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 March's topic. After tallying the votes (including accumulated votes from previous months) the winning topic was...

"Learning Japanese through Shenmue: Lesson Two"

It has been a while but it's coming back! Last year we piloted our first Shenmue-themed Japanese lesson, which introduced the various Japanese writing systems (see the screenshots below). In the second lesson we will be introducing some simple greetings in Japanese which can be heard in the game.

We'll be putting together the second lesson later this month. In the meantime, why not refresh yourself with the first lesson:

For early access to this and other articles published on the blog, check us out on Patreon. Link to Phantom River Stone on Patreon.
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