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, May 21, 2019

Weekly News Round-up: Shenmue Shorts #60


Shenmue Shorts is our weekly news round-up and selected fan community highlights.

News in #60 includes an interview with Yu Suzuki by SEGA Saturno & an overlooked coffee cup?! Read more on these and other news in Shenmue Shorts #60
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Sunday, May 19, 2019

Capsule Toy Machine Labels | Shenmue 3

Capsule toy machines are a familiar sight in the first two Shenmue games, and details released to date have confirmed (such as in this April 2019 Yu Suzuki interview by Famitsu) that capsule toys will continue to play a role in Shenmue III; for example as collectible items for obtaining complete sets or as a way for Ryo to make some cash at the pawn shops.

A couple of Shenmue III screenshots seen so far have shown capsule toy machines. The first of these was in the screenshot of a ferry interior revealed at the press conference for MAGIC Monaco 2019 in February, which had a couple of capsule toy machines sitting to one side under the stairs.

In this screenshot, the illustration on the closest capsule toy machine shows what looks to be a fire-fighting themed toy set, with fire extinguishers and a fire ax. A figure in a purple top leans at an angle (which some fans have pointed out recalls the hero in Space Harrier) while holding a fire extinguisher and hose.


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Saturday, May 18, 2019

Sneak Peak: Shenhua's Voice in Shenmue 3 | Brianna Knickerbocker

Last month questions were gathered from the fan community for an interview with Brianna Knickerbocker, who will play the voice of Shenhua in English in Shenmue III. (We have now received back her responses to your questions, and we're readying it for publication on the blog).

One of the interview questions was to ask Brianna on behalf of the fans if she would be able to give a small preview of Shenhua's voice - and this she has kindly done!

In this new video clip which she has posted up on her YouTube channel, she voices a piece of the the prophecy poem that Shenhua recites in the first two games. Brianna also gives a message to Shenmue fans.


Although only a short sample, her voicing for the character of Shenhua promises to be a perfect fit, and we can't wait to hear more in future Shenmue 3 trailers or gameplay.

Our interview with Brianna will be posted up later this month.

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Sunday, May 12, 2019

Famitsu Postcard Set Prize (2000) | Shenmue Promo Item


In early 2000, Shenmue had just been released in Japan and the February edition of the Famitsu Dreamcast magazine contained a 100-page special feature on the game, as well as bonus items such as a set of Shenmue postcards & name cards that came as an insert in the magazine, which we have previously covered in an earlier post.
One of the magazine inserts
In addition, readers could win a set of five limited-edition Shenmue postcards that were available only by lucky draw to 10,000 people across three Famitsu-published magazines circulating in Japan at the time: Famitsu Dreamcast, Famitsu Bros (a strategy/hints magazine) and Weekly Famitsu.


The reverse side of each of the cards was printed with a space for the sender's message, with logos from the three Famitsu publications promoting the draw showing at the bottom.

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Saturday, May 11, 2019

SEGA Saturno Interview with Yu Suzuki | Shenmue 3


The MAGIC 2019 event in March featured a stage presentation by Yu Suzuki, and an exciting new Shenmue 3 trailer was released called Ryo & Master (see our commentary/analysis posts: Part One, Part TwoChinese Writing Analysis).

Representatives from the Shenmue fan community were also busy behind the scenes carrying out interviews with Yu Suzuki at Monaco. Several fan interviews have now been released:
Now our friends at the Spanish site SEGA Saturno have released their own interview held with Yu Suzuki. Phantom River Stone is very happy to have helped prepare the English translation from the interview audio source.

The questions are interesting and detailed, as befitting true fans of the games. Yu did, however, want to keep a few cards up his sleeves in terms of the topics to be discussed: the location of Baisha was one such topic for which a polite request was received to skip to the next question.

One of the highlights of this interview for me was a question asking about whether Yu had any funny Shenmue 3 development anecdotes to share. It turns out that there was one that caused all the NPCs in the area to gather together in a most unusual location:
"The number of characters around was extremely small - they were nowhere to be found. I wondered where they could be."
Read the interview in English at Sega Saturno to find out more!


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Monday, May 6, 2019

Children's Day Illustration and Cultural Notes

Yesterday, Yu Suzuki tweeted out a Shenmue-themed illustration in celebration of Children's Day, featuring Ryo and Shenhua (and a little yellow bird).

Children's Day is a day on which families in Japan celebrate the healthy growth and happiness of children. It is also a national holiday and is held on May 5 every year.
Children's Day illustration, tweeted by Yu Suzuki. The vertical writing at the left side reads "Kodomo no hi" (=Children's Day in Japanese), while the horizontal writing reads "Tango no Sekku" (explained later in this post).
In the illustration, Ryo is riding atop a blue-colored carp, recalling the image of a character from Japanese folklore who is often associated with Children's Day: Kintarō, a child with superhuman strength who once fought a giant carp, among his many adventures.
Kintarō, a folk hero from Japanese folklore, is said to have fought a giant carp.
In fact, the carp on which Ryo is riding here is in the shape of a windsock known as a koinobori (carp streamer). These streamers are commonly flown above houses with children for Children's Day and can be of various sizes, from smaller ones under a meter on the balconies of inner-city apartments to large ones of many meters in length that are strung up on poles in more open areas.
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Sunday, May 5, 2019

Yu Suzuki's Research Trip to China Part 2: Textures & Bajiquan | Translation

Yu Suzuki's Research Trip to China Part 2: Yu Suzuki Comments on Virtua Fighter Development | Translation

This topic was selected by Phantom River Stone patrons in our monthly poll for a topic choice.

In the early 1990s, Yu Suzuki made a seminal trip to China. His objective was to research and gather material for his upcoming Virtua Fighter 2, and this research also influenced his concept for a "Virtua Fighter RPG" which eventually came to be known as Shenmue.
In this post we translate comments Yu Suzuki made on return from his trip in Beep! MegaDrive magazine, in which he talks about his motivation for travelling to China to help prepare for developing the next Virtua Fighter game, Virtua Fighter 2, as well as the state of development on Virtua Fighter 1 for the Sega Saturn.

A note regarding the year of the trip: in his GDC 2014 presentation, Yu Suzuki gave the year of the trip as 1993, however based on the information in this magazine article published soon after the trip was made, it actually took place in early 1994.

The translation starts from here.

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