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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Sunday, July 15, 2018

Clouds, Smoke & Street Lights: an Examination of the Kickstarter Update #84 Video

The recent Shenmue III video, with its message for backers from the little girl at Bailu village, was full of animation and small details. Phantom River Stone goes through the video with a fine-toothed comb.
A new video clip set in Bailu village was included with the recent Kickstarter Update on the Backer surveys. It features the little girl we have seen in a few previous updates, most recently talking with Ryo in the THQ Nordic presentation - but now we are able to hear her voice for the first time, and there is even an Easter egg in the background! In this post we comb through the clip to examine the small details it contains.

Related posts:

The New Video Clip

First, here is the clip, which has a play time of around 40 seconds.

A Peaceful Scene at Bailu Village

The opening shot shows fluffy white clouds set against a brilliant blue sky. In the foreground we see the wooden pole of a street light with heavy electric cables running from it, and metal foot-holds running up it for repair workmen. The apex of a tiled house roof is visible, and at the bottom left, the tip of a rocky Guilin mountain in the far distance.

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Saturday, July 14, 2018

Cédric Biscay Visits Yu Suzuki in Tokyo | Photos

Earlier this week, Shenmue III co-producer Cédric Biscay of Shibuya Productions shared a few photos taken at Yu Suzuki's development studio YS Net, during his visit to Tokyo for the Shenmue III project.

"We are working hard with Yu san ! #shenmue3 #tokyo #Japan"
Yu Suzuki with Cédric Biscay. On the wall behind is the Guiness World Record certificate for "the most money pledged for a Kickstarter videogame" achieved by the Shenmue III Kickstarter in 2015.
The tweet text is as follows:
"We are working hard with Yu san ! #shenmue3 #tokyo #Japan" (link to tweet)
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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The "AI Battling" Stretch Goal | Shenmue III

The "AI Battling" Stretch Goal | Shenmue III
Phantom River Stone gives a brief recap of what we know about the "AI Battling" stretch goal and clarifies some information given in the English version of the recent Kickstarter Update, based on the Japanese text.
Pledges for Shenmue III, combining the Kickstarter and the Slacker Backer campaign pledges, have grown to an impressive total of $6,901,625 as of the last official update on June 22, 2018 (source:

Total amount pledged to Shenmue 3 as of June 22, 2018
Total amount pledged to Shenmue 3 as of June 22, 2018 (Kickstarter & Slacker Backer pledges combined)
Significantly, a further $100,000 of pledges would take this total to the next stretch goal from the Kickstarter campaign: "Battle System Expanded: AI Battling" at $7 million.
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Saturday, July 7, 2018

Leaving the Cave? | Analysis of a New Shenmue III Image

Leaving the Cave? | Analysis of a New Shenmue III Image
Phantom River Stone analyzes an image from Shenmue III that was displayed on a monitor in a photo posted recently by Haruka Terui to her personal blog.
An intriguing image from Shenmue III was displayed on a monitor in a photo posted recently by Haruka Terui to her personal blog. Haruka will be voicing Shenhua in Shenmue III, as announced earlier this month in a Kickstarter Update:
The image in question appears on the monitor screen in the photo below, which shows Haruka together with Masaya Matsukaze, who continues in his role as Ryo Hazuki in the third game. (Based on a comparison with the photos contained in the earlier Kickstarter Update, this photo was taken at the same recording session).

Masaya Matuskaze (left) and Haruka Terui (right), the voices for Ryo Hazuki and Shenhua Ling in Shenmue III.
Masaya Matuskaze (left) and Haruka Terui (right), the voices for Ryo Hazuki and Shenhua Ling in Shenmue III.
Let's take a closer look at what's shown on the monitor, and some of the main points of interest that can be identified:
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Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Shenmue I & II Release Date + Latest Details

Shenmue I & II Release Date + Latest Details
Phantom River Stone summarizes the latest details announced about #Shenmue I & II ahead of its August 21 release, together with a new trailer & screenshots.
Coinciding with the July 3rd Shenmue tweetathon (organized each month by Team Yu), SEGA has officially announced the release date for the Shenmue I & II rerelease as August 21st 2018 (available for Xbox One, PS4 and PC) and has also supplied more details about the games.

Build-up to the Announcement 

The launch date announcement had been somewhat anticipated by fans, with several factors in the days building up to it, such as the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) publishing their rating of "Teen" (for 13 years and above), and hints in social media from SEGA Europe such as their tease to fans regarding the July 3rd tweetathon: "This one will be extra special!"

SEGA also tweeted the short video clip below of Shenmue's chase scene with Jimmy, in 16:9 format and notably containing an updated QTE prompt:
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Sunday, July 1, 2018

Shenmue I & II Rated by the ESRB

Shenmue I & II has now received a rating by the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board), a sign of progress for the preparation for its release, the date of which is pending announcement. Console manufacturers require games that are published on their systems in the U.S. and Canada to be rated by ESRB, hence it is a key step prior to release.

The rating that has been given is "Teen", which corresponds to ages 13 and up.

The Rating Summary is worth a read for its rather detailed description. Spot the "shout-out" to Joy!

Link: ESRB Rating for Shenmue I & II
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Saturday, June 30, 2018

Choubu Inn Floor Plans | Translation & Commentary

Choubu Inn Floor Plans | Translation & Commentary
In this post, Phantom River Stone examines Shenmue III design documents for an inn in Choubu.
Going back three years to the very start of the official Shenmue III project, soon after its successful funding on Kickstarter, Yu Suzuki tweeted out several images of concept art and design documents. Among these were floor plans of a building in the town of Choubu.

Building floor plans tweeted by Yu Suzuki in 2015 (tweet #1, tweet #2)
There were clues scattered through-out the plans in the form of labels (in Japanese), but Yu did take the precaution of releasing the images in low resolution making the text extremely blurry and difficult to distinguish. In this post we will scrutinize every inch of the image and attempt to translate as much as possible into English.

This topic was selected from the blog's candidate topics via a poll of Phantom River Stone's patrons for June 2018.

The Town of Choubu

As we have learned from Kickstarter update videos, Choubu is a town on the Li River that Ryo will be travelling to during his adventure.
Choubu is the second main area Ryo will visit in Shenmue III
Choubu is the second main area Ryo will visit in Shenmue III

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