Monday, December 31, 2018

[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, December 11, 2018

Shenmue III English Voice Recording Now Underway

English voice recording for Shenmue III is now underway! Voice actor Corey Marshall, who is reprising his role as Ryo Hazuki for the game, recently revealed via Twitter that he has started recording, sharing a photo of himself in the recording studio together with Yu Suzuki. This follows the news earlier in the year in the June Kickstarter Update of the start of the Japanese voice recording.
Corey's tweet contained a warm message expressing his feeling of honor at Yu's visit:
Link to tweet
Thanks to the studio lights, Corey's stance in the photo was given a super-worldly glow, to which Corey jokingly remarked, "You’d think the other name for Shenmue 3 is ‘Ryo Hazuki: The Immortal Iron Fist’."

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Monday, December 10, 2018

Shenmue Documentary Filming in Yokosuka | Photo Report

Shenmue Documentary Filming in Yokosuka | Photo Report

The documentary project "A Gamer's Journey: The Definitive History of Shenmue" was successfully funded on Kickstarter in August, and its creators have spent the past week in Japan, carrying out numerous interviews and filming footage for the documentary.

Switch recently accompanied the project originator, Adam Sipione, and his crew on a filming trip down in Yokosuka. This post is a photo report of the day.

Travelling Down to Yokosuka

It was a cool early-December morning when I joined the documentary crew in boarding a southbound limited-express train down to Ryo Hazuki's hometown of Yokosuka. The purpose of the visit was to gather "b-roll" (supplemental) footage of the area, capturing on film snippets of Shenmue's vibe that can still be felt there today.

Just under an hour later we stepped out onto the platform at Yokosuka-chuo station and, passing through the ticket gates, made a bee-line for the tourist information center conveniently located in the building opposite. Pleasingly, there was a large Shenmue I & II poster* displayed prominently at the front of the information desk.
* Currently there is a Shenmue promotion running whereby a minimum purchase made at participating shops around Dobuita qualifies for one of several Shenmue-themed coasters. Details: Shenmue Coaster Collectibles & Dec 24th Fan Meeting in Yokosuka | Shenmue Sacred Spot Campaign
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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Poll Result: Patrons' Choice Topic for December

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 December's topic, and the most highly-voted topic (including accumulated votes from previous months) was...

"In-game restaurant menus around Dobuita."

Although in Shenmue Ryo isn't able to eat at any of the restaurants around his home town, each of them is created in great detail, right down to the menu boards and lists of what food is available at each.

For this topic we'll investigate the various menu items and their prices at the restaurants around the Dobuita area, and see exactly what is on offer.

Watch for the article 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. Link to Phantom River Stone on Patreon.

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Saturday, December 1, 2018

Introductory Letter from Master Chen | Unused Textures in Shenmue

Unused Textures in Shenmue: Introductory Letter from Master Chen

Today's topic was selected 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, consider supporting us on Patreon!

In this post we will examine some textures relating to envelopes and letters that were not used in the final release version of the game, but which were discovered hiding in the game files.

In particular we will focus on one particular letter that plays a key part of the story: the introduction letter from Master Chen that Ryo receives at the end of the first game, containing the name and address of a master in Hong Kong who will be able to assist him.

At the start of Shenmue II, Ryo starts holding the "letter" (really just a note):

Ryo checks Master Chen's note upon arrival in Hong Kong, at the start of Shenmue II.
Ryo checks Master Chen's note upon arrival in Hong Kong, at the start of Shenmue II.
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Thursday, November 29, 2018

Yu Suzuki to Speak About Shenmue III on 16th December | Video [ENG Subs]

Yu Suzuki has announced that he will be in China on 16th December to give a presentation about Shenmue III, at the invitation of WeGame, China's biggest PC games distribution platform. The event's name is G-Fusion Tour and the venue is in Xiamen, a sub-provincial city in south-eastern Fujian province.

Yu Suzuki recorded a video greeting to the fans in China, extracted below, to which we have added English subtitles:

Fujian province, in which the venue city is located, has a special meaning to Shenmue fans as it is home to the Fujian Tulou, multi-level rounded buildings that feature in the concept art for the city of Baisha in Shenmue III.

Concept sketch of Baisha, showing Tulou
Concept sketch of Baisha in Shenmue III, showing Tulou

Tulou in Fujian province.
The event's website promises that there will be interesting stories and that "good news" will be announced. We look forward to what Yu Suzuki may reveal in his presentation on the 16th.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Fan Photos of Shenmue at Network Jungle II Event in 1999

Shenmue was featured at "Network Jungle II: Digitaliland," an expo for games making use of networking and digital communications held in Tokyo in 1999, to promote the game in Japan ahead of its release.

One of the stage events had members of the public competing to "dub over" lines from Shenmue. One participant spoke as Ren using a regional Kansai dialect, which must have caused some hilarity among the audience.
The voice/mo-cap actors for Ren (Takumi Hagiwara), Shenhua (Hazuki Ishigaki) and Ryo (Masaya Matsukaze) in the Japanese versions introducing the dubbing competition
Later Yu Suzuki also took the stage together with Hiroaki Takeuchi, and Sega Managing Director Hidekazu Yukawa (of "What's Shenmue" demo fame).
From left: Hiroaki Takeuchi, (former) Managing Director Yukawa and Yu Suzuki.
From left: Hiroaki Takeuchi, Sega Managing Director Hidekazu Yukawa and Yu Suzuki.
Most images that can be found online of this event are rather low-resolution (understandably, due to bandwidth considerations at the time), so it's fascinating to get another glimpse from someone who was actually there.

Photo credit: @kohji_nakazawa via Twitter
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Saturday, November 24, 2018

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

The Hazuki Family Altar - Part Two | 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!

In this second part we wrap up our examination of the Hazuki Family Altar, this time investigating each of the individual items that decorate the altar and lie in the drawers. To start from Part One, click here.

The Family Altar in Shenmue

The Hazuki altar in Shenmue has been created with amazing detail, accurately reflecting many of the typical religious items to be found. Here are some brief notes on a few of these.

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