Sunday, August 13, 2017

List of Ryo's Goals | Shenmue Passport Disc

With our recent Shenmue Passport disc hack, some interesting sections of the disc can now be easily accessed.

One of these is the Data Review section, which spits out statistics on almost every imaginable aspect of a played game, from the number of game saves made, down to the number of times Ryo has walked into a wall(!).

Within this data is an item called "Present Goal" that describes what Ryo is currently trying to do - for example, after his battle with Chai in the arcade, it reads "Searching for the suspicious guy":

Ryo's Present Goal in the Data Review section
Ryo's Present Goal is displayed on the Data Review screen of Shenmue Passport.
Below is a list of all the goals, extracted from the Shenmue Passport disc. Reading through makes you appreciate the amount of effort Ryo - and you, the player - expends in the first game in his hunt for Lan Di!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Shenmue Passport Unlocked! | Hack to Skip Dial-up Check

Shenmue Passport Unlocked

I'm excited to be able to share a hack I've put together which allows easy access to the online section of the Shenmue Passport disc - without the standard requirement of a Dreamcast console + internet connection.

It is in the form of a small, targeted patch to apply to the Shenmue Passport disc which effectively skips the check for an internet connection, thus allowing the "online" section of the disc to be accessed and browsed (to the extent possible while offline).

Read on for an overview of the unlocked content - and see the end for simple instructions to patch the Shenmue Passport disc image.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Two Dazzling Shenmue-Inspired Projects: a Rock Opera & a Fan Manga

Two Dazzling Shenmue Art & Music Projects

The talent and creativity of Shenmue fans know no bounds! Demonstrating this are these two recent fan-made projects that have been inspired by the game: one is musical and the other visual art. The artists' love for Shenmue shines through in the care and attention given to the works.

We'll be introducing these two amazing fanmade projects:

  • A Progressive Rock Concept Album: "The Samurai Boy Saga: 1986" by Andy Hughes
  • A Shenmue Manga: "Shemmue Doujinshi" by Sebastian Riera

Links are provided in the descriptions to find out more about each. So, let's get started!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Tai Chi in Shenmue II

Today we present a guest post written by Shenmue Dojo member and Kickstarter super-backer yuc02, with an analysis of Tai Chi moves encountered by Ryo in Shenmue II.

Tai Chi in Shenmue 2

About the Author

"Hello, I'm yuc02! You may know me from the Shenmue Dojo forums, or from the Monaco dinner event as one of the $10k donors. Shenmue really changed my life, so I felt I had to do something in return for what Suzuki-san gave to me.

Since playing Shenmue I've started to learn Tai Chi and have also visited the famous Yokosuka with a guided tour given by Switch. My favourite game of the series is Shenmue 2 (of course), favourite characters are Ren and Xiuying. Also useless but cool trivia: I share the 'Yu' part of my name with Suzuki-san (though it's my surname)!"

One of the main themes in Shenmue is martial arts, and while Yu Suzuki re-used various styles found in the Virtua Fighter series, he also decided to add several others into the mix.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Shenmue III at Gamescom 2017: What We Know So Far

Shenmue III at Gamescom 2017 - What We Know So Far

At the end of last month, we received the happy news through a Kickstarter Update that Shenmue III would be making a presence at the Gamescom 2017 games event in Cologne, Germany.

Since then, there have been two further short updates related to Gamescom (in the form of Kickstarter Updates #70 and #71, the latter being issued yesterday) about what to expect.

Let's consolidate the information we have received so far.

Gamescom 2017 logo

Gamescom 2017 Venue & Dates

Gamescom 2017 will be held at the Koelnmesse convention center in Cologne.

There are two designated areas for the event: the business area (Halls 2-4), to which access is restricted to trade visitors & the media, and the entertainment area (Halls 5-10), for the general public.

The dates of the event are as follows:
  • Tuesday August 22nd: this day is reserved for trade visitors & the media.
  • Wednesday August 23rd - Saturday 26th: on these days the entertainment area will be open to general-admittance visitors from the early morning (8:00 am on Wed/Thu, and 9:00 am on Fri/Sat) until 8:00 pm. The restricted-access business area will remain in use on Wednesday and Thursday. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Shenmue Telephone Cards | Shenmue Merchandise

To coincide with the release of Shenmue in Japan, and during the following few years, a number of Shenmue-themed telephone cards were produced. While the cards can be used as normal phone cards for making calls, for the Shenmue fan they make a great collectible item.

About Telephone Cards in Japan

Japanese telephone cards / calling cards are thin plastic cards that come pre-loaded with a certain value (the most commonly-seen value being 50 units, representing a credit of 500 yen) and were created as a convenient way for making calls on a public pay phone in place of cash.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Vote Shenmue as Best All-Time Game! | Famitsu 1500th Edition Poll Closing 18th July 2017

Game Poll: Famitsu 1500th Edition

Shenmue fans, it is time for another poll, and another chance to boost the first two Shenmue games up the ranks!

The poll link is at the end of this post.

Poll for Best All-Time Game

It was not so long ago (May, in fact) that Famitsu held their poll for best Action-Adventure game and Shenmue came through with flying colors, with Shenmue II scooping 6th place and the first Shenmue game claiming 2nd place just below Yakuza 0.

And now a new poll is open to celebrate the upcoming 1500th edition of the Weekly Famitsu magazine (dated September 15th, on sale from August 31st).

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

How to Get to Dobuita Street | Dobuita Guide Series Part 1

How to Get to Dobuita Street

Today's post is the first of a series of mini-guides to visiting the real Dobuita Street area in Yokosuka. The intention is for these to serve as a reference for anyone who is planning a trip over to Japan visit the area for themselves.

Tip: Google Maps is extremely useful for checking train fares, times and routes, and is integrated with the timetables of all the main transportation companies in Japan.

General Location

Yokosuka is located to the south of Tokyo on the Miura Peninsula in Kanagawa prefecture. Although there are excellent train services, allow 60-80 minutes one-way by train from Tokyo. We'll take one of the main stations, Shinagawa station, as our example starting station for comparing fares. (If you are already in nearby Kamakura, it is only a 20 minute train ride).

Kangawa prefecture
A map of Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo. Yokosuka is situated on the Miura Peninsula.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Comments on Kickstarter Update #69: August Event, Revised Logo & New Characters

Comments on Kickstarter Update #69

Yu Suzuki left us all in anticipation when he mentioned earlier in the month (after his message about the rescheduling of the Shenmue III release date to the second half of 2018) that there was more news to be shared in this month's update. Now Kickstarter Update #69 is in, and it's a juicy one!

Response to Feedback

The update starts by expressing gratitude for the various comments they received after last time's announcement of the new release date. One small sentence from the Japanese version of the update that was left out of the English text was that "We have read them all". It is nice to know that they are actively checking everyone's feedback.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Guizhang Promo Clip Voiced by Eric Kelso

Guizhang has a message for Ryo!

Presenting the third and final promo clip voiced specially for the blog by Eric Kelso, voice of Ren, Guizhang and Fuku-san in the Shenmue games. 

The interview with Eric can be found here.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Eric Kelso Answers Your Questions! | Interview with the Voice Actor for Ren, Guizhang & Fuku-san

The characters of Fukuhara-san, Guizhang and Ren are certainly some of the most memorable characters in the first two Shenmue games.

I had the pleasure of interviewing the actor behind the English-language voices of all three of these Shenmue characters, voice talent Eric Kelso.

Guizhang, Ren, Fuku-san, Nagashima
As well as voicing [from left] Guizhang, Ren and Fuku-san, Eric also voiced a number of minor characters in Shenmue. One of his other lesser-known characters is Nagashima, one of the pair of thugs that Ryo runs into on Dobuita Street.
Questions for Eric were gathered beforehand from all over the Shenmue community, including through blogs, fan sites, Facebook and Twitter. Although not every question could be covered, the majority of them were able to be asked. The name of the person / people who suggested the question is noted above alongside each question.

The full interview transcription starts below. As you will see, Eric is a fan of the Shenmue series and very supportive of the fan community, and it was a really fun interview to do.

Plus, following the transcript, listen to an audio compilation of a selection of Eric's answers from the interview.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Eric Kelso Interview Coming Soon | Fuku-san Promo Clip

Presenting a second teaser for our upcoming interview, again voiced by Eric himself - the Fuku-san edition!

The interview with voice talent Eric Kelso (Ren / Guizhang / Fuku-san in Shenmue) will be posted up on within the next few days.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Eric Kelso Interview Coming Soon | Ren Promo Clip

I had a fantastic interview session with voice talent Eric Kelso, who plays Ren, Guizhang, Fuku-san in Shenmue.

We covered a good number of the questions gathered from everyone's submissions earlier, which I'm really happy about. The transcript is being worked on and should be posted up here on the blog within the next few days.

In the meantime, check out this awesome promo / teaser in the voice of Ren that Eric specially recorded for us!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Submit Questions for our Interview with Eric Kelso [now closed]

Eric Kelso Interview: Submit Your Questions!

Phantom River Stone is excited to announce that we have lined up a special interview this week with one of the English voice actors from Shenmue I and II: Mr. Eric Kelso.

Eric is a long-term resident of Tokyo, and has an extensive career in narration and voice acting, as you can see from his profile page. And, as anyone who has contacted or met him will know, he is a huge supporter of the Shenmue fan community.

Eric played several major voices in the Shenmue games, including most famously Guizhang, Ren of Heavens and Fuku-san. He also voiced several other smaller roles in the game, including Nagashima, the junior one of the thugs that Ryo bumps into when walking through Dobuita.

Some of the Shenmue characters voiced by Eric Kelso

What questions would you like to ask Eric?

Any question or topic is fine, although the interview will mainly be centered around Shenmue. For example: his experience recording for Shenmue I & II, current-day interactions with the other voice actors, thoughts or hopes about Shenmue III, his career, other voice-recording work done for arcade games etc... Unique or fresh questions are especially welcome.

The interview is scheduled for this coming Thursday June 15th, so get submitting! Leave your questions in the comments below. We will try to ask as many of your questions as possible in the interview.

Question submissions are now closed. Thank you for everyone who participated! The interview will be coming soon.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Sealed What's Shenmue | Ebay Merchandise

About What's Shenmue

"What's Shenmue" is the name of a Shenmue demo that was distributed prior to the release of the full game in 1999. (Note, this is not to be confused with the promotional video tape of the same name that introduced various features of the game).

What's Shenmue screenshots

This special demo was not for sale, but could be obtained in Japan prior to the release of Shenmue when purchasing a Dreamcast console or Dreamcast software from shops.

There is also a "Famitsu" edition (which is now very rarely seen) that was given away to a limited number of Famitsu Weekly magazine readers, which is identical in content but has an orange front cover slip rather than a blue one.

Sealed What's Shenmue on Retro Import Gamer

Although there used copies of What's Shenmue are not uncommon to find listed on Ebay, sealed copies are harder to come by and demand a much higher price.

Current asking prices for a sealed blue-cover What's Shenmue fall in the £50 to £83 range on Ebay, once shipping has been added in - almost all originate from Japan. (I did find one listed cheaper than this at around £30, but upon inspection the reason became apparent - it had a crack in the front of the case..).

However our blog sponsor, Retro Import Gamer, has come to the rescue by offering a sealed What's Shenmue in excellent condition for £24.75 which includes free postage (if you are within the UK).

Blog readers interested in picking it up, check the following link for details:
Sealed What's Shenmue at Retro Import Gamer

What's Shenmue at Retro Import Gamer
A piece of history: note the original sticker advertising the re-scheduled Shenmue release date in Japan
(28th October, 1999) . The eventual release date was December of that year.
Or see what other Shenmue & Dreamcast items Retro Import Gamer has available at the moment:

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Kickstarter Update #68: Shenmue III Rescheduled for 2018

Yu Suzuki announces a change in release date for Shenmue III

Yu Suzuki announced today that the release date of Shenmue III has been moved back to the second half of 2018. For me, this did not come as a great surprise, given the recent announcement that the team would not be participating in E3 this year in order to focus on development.

In Yu Suzuki's Words...

Although the official English captions in the video do accurately reflect Yu Suzuki's meaning, here is my slightly fuller translation of his explanation for the need for a reschedule (the areas in blue are omitted from the official translation):

My Translation:

Yu Suzuki: "By taking advantage of new technologies, we have discovered new possibilities and things we couldn't express in the previous games, and so the plan for Shenmue III has grown to be both bigger and more engaging than originally planned. We do, however, need more time to deliver this 'bigger and better' Shenmue to you" .

Official Caption:

Yu Suzuki: "By utilizing new technologies we have been able to discover new possibilities and expressions. In many ways, the game has become bigger and more beautiful than I initially expected. We do, however, need more time to deliver the game to you".
When you listen to the video, you may notice Yu uses the words "power-up" to express the enhanced plan for Shenmue III!

Yu finishes by letting us know that more information about the rescheduling will be coming in the June Kickstarter Update (which should be at the end of the month if the usual schedule is followed).

Why a Delay is a Good Thing

I believe this decision is for the best. Although a delay means we fans will need to wait a little longer to see the finished product, in my eyes the decision is a positive thing in the long term, taking into account the following:

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Streets of Shenmue: Street Addresses | Shenmue Realism

The Streets of Shenmue: Street Addresses

The authentic feel to Shenmue's streets comes, as always, from Yu Suzuki's meticulous attention to detail.

Over a series of posts we'll look at the way the streets are portrayed in the first game accurately reflect real life, starting with those relating to street addresses in Japan.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Results of Famitsu Poll: Action-Adventure Game Top 20 [June 2017]

Action-Adventure Game Top 20

The results of the recent Famitsu Online Poll for the category of Best Action-Adventure Game have just been published in the Weekly Famitsu magazine.

The poll questions were in Japanese but was open to anybody, and votes could be made for any game on any type of hardware. Polls are being run for a total of 11 categories, with the Action-Adventure Game category being the most fitting for the Shenmue games.

I don't think it is giving away too much to reveal that Shenmue has rated superbly!

I picked up a copy from my local convenience store today and have translated the most interesting parts, so let's look at the detailed results to see exactly how high a rank Shenmue reached.

Also watch for the bonus surprise at the end!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Comments on Kickstarter Update #67 | New Character Model & Absence from E3

Comments on Kickstarter Update #67

The Kickstarter Update for the month of May is upon us already and although brief it packs some explosive content. It consists of a new video entry in the "Developer Report" series (link to the full video at the end of the post), together with a short message.

Will Shenmue III Be at E3?

Let's take a look at the message first. It addresses the question that has been on everybody's minds: will there be a Shenmue III presence at E3 next month in June?

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Sealed US Shenmue | Ebay Merchandise

A cheery welcome to our new sponsor for the blog, the friendly folk at Retro Import Gamer who run an online Ebay store in the UK.

They are also big fans of Yu Suzuki's franchises and especially of Shenmue, so if you are looking to add to their Shenmue collection, it's a great place to check out. All their games and merchandise is imported directly from Japan.

We'll pick out some items of interest from time to time in this blog.

Sealed US Shenmue at Retro Import Gamer

If you are looking for a sealed copy of US Shenmue, Retro Import Gamer have one available now, priced very reasonably compared to the market.

US Shenmue was a special edition of the first Shenmue that was released only in Japan. It features English voices and menus, together with Japanese subtitles, and comes in this distinctive illustrated cover.

From what I have seen browsing on Ebay, copies of US Shenmue do not come cheaply these days, especially if in unopened condition. A sealed copy sold earlier this month for 170 pounds plus international postage to ship from Japan. And current listings from other sellers are asking even higher prices.

This listing from Retro Import Gamer is much more affordable at only half that price level, a significant saving. If you are in the UK, delivery will of course be domestic.

If you are looking for a reasonably-priced sealed US Shenmue edition to add to your collection, check it out below for more details.

Browse the Retro Import Gamer's store here.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Shoes On... Shoes Off | Shenmue Realism

Shoes On... Shoes Off: Japanese footware customs in Shenmue

In the West, it is often a decision made by each household as to whether shoes are to be removed before entering the home. In Japan however there are customs that are followed almost universally when it comes to where and when footwear is worn.

If you ever visit Japan, this is something you will come across wherever you go: at your accommodation, out sight-seeing or visiting friends.

The first Shenmue game does a great job in reflecting these customs naturally as part of the story, and it is also interesting to examine Shenmue II in the same light.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Gio Corsi Visiting Yu in Tokyo [May 17, 2017]

Hot off the press! Sony's Gio Corsi has tweeted out this photo taken with Yu Suzuki - accompanied by a copy of the limited edition of Shenmue.

The text reads, "Hanging with old friends talking about games!", and was copied to the official Shenmue 3 twitter account.

Gio Corsi (Sony) with Yu Suzuki (YS Net)
Gio Corsi holds the title of Director of Third Party Productions & Developer Relations
for PlayStation at Sony Interactive Entertainment America. (As well as being a lover of great ramen.)
The photo is taken in front of what looks like office cabinet doors, reflecting fluorescent strip lighting - it would seem a reasonable assumption that Gio was paying a visit to the YS Net development studio.

Gio arrived in Tokyo last week and will be in Japan through to the end of this week, for a total of two weeks.

With the E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) event now less than a month away in Los Angeles, the timing of this visit is unlikely to be coincidental and will fuel the hopes of fans that plans are being formed for Shenmue III to make an appearance in some form at the show - especially as the PSX event last year passed by without mention.

Our fingers are firmly crossed!

Link to tweet: @giocorsi

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Meaning & Origin of "Dobuita" | Placenames

The Meaning & Origin of "Dobuita"

Dobuita - the shopping street area in Ryo's hometown we know and love. By the end of the first disk of Shenmue, it is as familiar to the player as the back of their hand, as Ryo's investigations take you to burger stands, apartment buildings, seedy bars, antique shops and game arcades.

Dobuita in Shenmue was based closely its real-life Yokosuka counterpart, although the real location is known as "Dobuita Street" (Dobuita Doori in Japanese) rather than just Dobuita. As in the game, it is located next to a US Navy base and runs around 500m in length.

Dobuita Street at night
Dobuita Street at night. (Photo credit: SnoopBob)
So does the name "Dobuita" itself have any particular meaning?

I decided to research into how the street got this name, and it turns out the answer ties back to the early history of the area.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Comments on Kickstarter Update #66 [Yu-san on Story Building]

Comments on Kickstarter Update #66: Yu-san on Story-Building

True to their word in the last update, the Shenmue team have delivered another Kickstarter Update for the month of April (technically, at the very start of May) in the form of a video interview with Yu Suzuki about story building. The "loading screen" title pages in the video date the interview as April 15th.

Official update and video:

The video does not have a lot in the way of scribbled Japanese notes for the usual frame-by-frame analysis - the diagram on the whiteboard next to Yu has the most potential for clues but it is so cryptic that it could well be a red herring to throw fans off the scent!

In any case, this post will recap Yu's interview answers, with some expanded comments where his words in Japanese carry additional meaning that the English subtitles may not easily convey.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Guide to Famitsu Poll: Best Action-Adventure Game [closes 8th May, 2017]

Here is another chance to help boost your favorite games into the spotlight in Japan! Famitsu in Japan is currently running a poll to vote for your top game or games in the Action-Adventure Game genre, closing at the end of day 8th May (Japan time).

Update: the poll is now closed. Results to be announced in June.

Poll link (Japanese text; see later in the post for a guide). 

The poll is very short and should only take a minute to fill out. You can vote for up to 3 games. Results will be announced in the June 15th edition of the Weekly Famitsu magazine which will be on sale from June 1st.

While Famitsu are running a series of these polls across different genres, I think the Shenmue series fits best into this category.

If you wish to vote for Shenmue, here is the title in Japanese:


A reason for your choice is also requested, I imagine a brief word or two in English would be acceptable.

Below is a translation I've made of the introduction to the poll from the Famitsu website, followed by a quick-glance guide to the question form.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Retro Games Exhibition: Sega Taikan Games | Photo Report

Retro Games Exhibition Photos

A little while ago I headed along with my friend Robert (Snoopbob) to check out the Retro Games Exhibition in the city of Saitama, Japan. It has now just finished after running for the past several months and featured displays on games for a range of Japanese home console and arcade cabinets from the 1980s.

Knowing how busy these events can get in the weekend, we chose a weekday to go and it turns out we practically had the place to ourselves, playing classic games like Super Mario Brothers, Punch Out, Gauntlet, Xevious, Out Run and Space Harrier.

This post has a selection of photos showing how the Sega display room was set up. It featured a number of their Taikan games (those that introduced the ride-on style of cabinets) which of course are synonymous with Yu Suzuki.

An attraction of this exhibition was that, in addition to being able to view items such as signed posters and handwritten documentation produced when designing the games, the displays were hands-on and visitors were encouraged to try out the games which were set up for free play on the original hardware.

The exhibition was well put together and I was glad to see that Yu Suzuki's arcade games, and even a video interview with him, were proudly on display.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Ryo and the Tiger-skin Pants | Shenmue II

Ryo and the Tigr-skin Pants

I've been meaning to tackle this topic for a while, and I was reminded of it again the other day when Andrew & Matt brought it up on their latest AM2 Podcast (great series, guys!). So anyway, let's get started.

In Shenmue II, when Ryo arrives at the tiny riverside village of Langhuishan in Guilin, you may remember this optional conversation that he has with one of the three village boys on the wharf.

On being asked why he is seeking Bailu village, one of the choices is for Ryo to tell him that he is going there to fight the evil ogres there:

Defeat Ogres conversation option
Ryo decides to liven the mood with a light-hearted reply.

However the little boy does not seem altogether convinced by Ryo's explanation, and even less so by his details about what the ogres look like:

Ryo describes the ogres
You know, just your typical Japanese ogre look.
This is not unsurprising, as Ryo is basing his story on Japanese folklore that, while instantly recognizable to Japanese children, would not have been familiar to a little boy in China.

This is something that I've seen come up every now and again in Shenmue fan forums, so for any players who may still be scratching their heads about this interaction, let's look at the cultural background in this post.

Acknowledgement: Thank you to Kiyuu of the Shenmue Dojo for her old forum post which served as the inspiration for this post.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Fuku-san's Incredible Money Counting Skills | Video

Shenmue shows its sense of humor in scenes like this one where Fukuhara-san counts the money from his piggy bank to give to Ryo. Literally only a few seconds after he begins counting the coins that have spilled out of the smashed piggy bank onto the table, the camera pans down to reveal neat piles of coins and he announces the total amount.

The sheer speed at which Fuku-san completes the task suggests he has hidden talents far removed from the world of martial arts - his calling may well be in finance.

Fuku-san sorts the money
How on earth did you sort all those coins so quickly, Fuku-san?
And furthermore, Ryo expresses no surprise at this incredible feat (as usual, in keeping with his character).

For fun, I tweaked this scene slightly, to provide a proper reaction from Ryo in the video below...

Are you a fan of the character of Fukuhara-san? He rarely gets things right, but he's so well-meaning it's hard to dislike him.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Yu Suzuki Interview for the Release of "SEGA 3D Fukkoku Archives 3" | Famitsu [20 Jan 2017 article]

Yu Suzuki Interview: SEGA 3D Fukkoku Archives 3

To commemorate the release of a new games collection by Sega, published an interview with Yu Suzuki earlier in the year. Suzuki tells how he feels towards his earliest arcade title, Champion Boxing, and reveals how the Dreamcast is playing a part in Shenmue III development.


At the end of last year in 2016, Sega Games released their third entry in a series of 3D game collections for the Nintendo 3DS, having the somewhat long-winded name of Sega 3D Fukkoku Archives 3: FINAL STAGE. (The word fukkoku in Japanese means a reprint, or re-issue). The series as a whole is named the Sega 3D Fukkoku Project.

Sega 3D Fukkoku Archives 3: FINAL STAGE
Sega 3D Fukkoku Archives 3: FINAL STAGE, for the Nintendo 3DS
The first and third collections were released only in Japan, while the second is available outside of Japan also, as the Sega 3D Classics Collection.

As with the previous entries, this third and latest collection contains games tied to Yu Suzuki, namely 3D After Burner II, 3D Super Hang On and Turbo Outrun. It also has a special unlockable feature that allows you to play his earliest title, Champion Boxing, for players who have purchased Collection 1.


The interview starts below.

Friday, March 31, 2017

The Bamboo Fountain in the Hazuki's Garden | Shenmue Realism

The Bamboo Fountain in the Hazuki's Garden

The ornamental pond in the corner of the garden at the Hazuki residence is an oasis of tranquility. Flowering water lilies bob gently on the surface, rising and falling as Japanese carp glide lazily by underneath. Birds twitter in the trees and the water trickles continuously into a bamboo water fountain.

The scenic garden pond
Time stands still at the scenic garden pond.
Every so often, the bamboo spout of the fountain pivots over, spilling its collected water into the pond, and makes a distinctive "clonk" as it returns to its original position. The sound can be heard from other parts of the garden as Ryo walks around.

Let's look at how the fountain works, what its name is in Japanese and finally some in-game footage of the fountain in motion.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Anecdotes About Yu Suzuki From Yuji Naka | DenFamiNicoGamer [14 Feb, 2017]

Yuji Naka Anecdotes

In February, SEGA legend Yuji Naka was a special guest on an informal talk show streamed live online by the Japanese site DenFamiNicoGamer.

Some of the inside stories he shared about his early days at SEGA also mentioned Yu Suzuki, who was working there at the time. In particular, one previously-unheard episode ended up with the two not speaking for a couple of years!

I have translated excerpts of the stories involving Yu Suzuki into English below.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Shenmue Documentary Update Video | Chasing Shenmue: EP03

Chasing Shenmue Episode 3

The third episode has been released of "Chasing Shenmue", a podcast series keeping the community up to date with the in-progress Shenmue documentary "A Gamer's Journey: the Definitive History of Shenmue". The episodes are fronted by Adam Sipione, the project originator and hardcore Shenmue fan, and executive producer Randall Lobb from Fauxpop Media, the company working with Adam to make the documentary.

This post is a brief overview of what Episode 3 brings, with the full video at the end of the post. This episode also includes a short bonus teaser of new video material!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Guide to SEGA Japan's Twitter Questionnaire [Closes March 26, 2017]

SEGA Japan has put up a new online questionnaire to gather feedback on the topic of "Twitter". The submission period runs for the next few days and closes at the end of day on March 26th Japan time.

Questionnaire link: [now closed]

Sonic wants you to fill out the SEGA Online Questionnaire
Submission is not limited only to people within Japan, however the questions are in Japanese. As the questionnaire is run by SEGA Japan, there is a certain focus on SEGA Japan's Twitter account. 

As Google Translate often leads to some puzzling output, in this post I'll provide a translation of the questionnaire's questions.

Of particular interest are questions that give the opportunity to highlight a certain special campaign or game / franchise that is close to your heart.

The whole questionnaire contains 24 questions in total, and should only take around 6-10 minutes to complete.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Naming of Phantom River Stone | Translation Analysis

The mysterious mirrors that lie at the heart of the Shenmue story were crafted from a substance with an equally mysterious-sounding name: "Phantom River stone". (Which is, of course, from where the name of this blog was taken).

Now, although its name is Phantom River stone in the English Shenmue games, in fact this differs slightly from its Japanese name in the games.

"Phantom River Stone" on Japanese Shenmue.

In this post we'll look at what it is called in the Japanese version of Shenmue.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Thoughts on Kickstarter Update #65 [Dev Room Progress Report Vol. 2]

A new Kickstarter update - number 65 - has just been released, and it is full of enticing snippets of footage! It is the second Development Room Progress Report update, sub-headed "The Game Designers", following the first one that was seen back in Update #59 in August.

Thoughts & Observations on Kickstarter Update #65

Now it has been a while since the the last official update (at Christmas, or the New Year counting the New Year's Greeting posted only on the site), but it has been pleasing to see that we fans generally coped patiently with the wait, understanding that the dev team has been knuckling down and pouring their efforts into the game development.

The dates on the "Loading" screens range from February 22nd through to February 27th, so based on these dates we are being shown very recent footage. And we are treated to some tantalizing glimpses of those efforts in this latest Development Room Progress Report video update.

I was able to translate a few of the words on the screen in the Dialogue Meeting (section 3), which might be considered minor spoilers so I have hidden them behind a Spoiler button for those who don't wish to learn too much! 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Interview with Cédric Biscay at MAGIC 2017 | [Mar 9, 2017]

Co-producer of Shenmue III, Cédric Biscay, was recently interviewed by Japanese magazine Famitsu at the MAGIC 2017 event.

Famitsu article interviewing Cédric Biscay

The interview covers Cédric's background and reasons for starting his company Shibuya Productions, and he talks about some of the guests and goals of the MAGIC event.

And of particular interest for Shenmue fans, at the end of the interview Cédric is asked about Shenmue III and he replies positively regarding the current development progress.

I have translated the article from the original Japanese, starting below.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

New Song "Winter Sunset" by Shenmue Composer Ryuji Iuchi

Shenmue composer Ryuji Iuchi recently announced via Twitter that he has composed a new track in memory of a fan of Shenmue, the late Rodger Swan.

His tweet reads as follows (my translation):
"When I was looking up this and that late at night, I learned that a fan of the game passed away from illness several years ago. I felt compelled to do something, and worked through to morning on a composition. I hope this melody may be to his liking. R.I.P."
The new song, and others that he has created over the past year, are embedded later in this post.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

"You should have come yesterday" | Translation Analysis

It's time to look at another phrase plucked from the English version of Shenmue and see what lies behind its translation.

Translation Analysis: "You Should Have Come Yesterday"

The location is at the Abe Store down the road from Ryo's house, which has been serving toys and snacks to the children in Sakuragaoka for years.

The friendly store owner, Setsu Abe, often teases Ryo with various nicknames (which we'll devote a post to in the future), which he doesn't really like but it's a handy place to try for some rare prizes with the Shenmue Raffle.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Rotary Phones & Milk Delivery | Shenmue Realism

In previous posts we looked at some of the details in Shenmue that reflected life in 1980s Japan, such as the washing machines sitting outside the apartments and the heating arrangements during winter.

Today we check out some more typical items from Japan during the '80s, that Ryo encounters as he wanders through the suburbs near his home... starting with telephones.

Realism in Shenmue: Rotary Phones & Milk Delivery

Phones of Many Colors

There are a few different styles of phones that Ryo can interact with in Shenmue, all of which would have been commonly seen in Japan during the time in which Shenmue was set.

The first telephone the player encounters is the domestic-use one at Ryo's home. In addition there are a couple of different types of public phone in Ryo's neighborhood.

Public phones in Japan generally have an easily-distinguishable color, which helps identify the features a phone offers (as technology advanced models were released that offered international calling, push-button "dialing", accepted phone cards as well as coins and so on). Of course, with the ubiquity of mobile phones, public phones are harder to find in Japan these days.

Let's see how their in-game appearance stacks up compared to images of the real thing.

Friday, February 10, 2017

How to View the Passenger Plane and Fighter Jet Cutscenes | Shenmue II

Those who have played Shenmue II will recall the brief cutscene that occurs as Ryo strolls through Wan Chai, where he looks up at the sky to see a passenger airplane pass above him.

But were you aware of how to trigger the similar, but not-so-common, scene that has a formation of fighter jets flying overhead instead? If not, then read on.

In this post we'll cover how to view both of these cutscenes in the game.

Acknowledgement: Thank you to Kiyuu of the Shenmue Dojo for the tip from her old forum post which served as the basis for this recap.

Passenger Plane Flyover Cutscene

The view of the passenger jet is quite impressive due to the plane's proximity as it soars overhead with a roar, its landing gear extended, flaps down and landing lights twinkling.

Passenger plane flying over Wan Chai
The scene has even more impact at night.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Iwao Hazuki's China Visit | Diagram of Relationships & Timeline

During Ryo's travels in Shenmue and Shenmue II, he gradually pieces together clues and information about the mysterious Dragon & Phoenix mirrors and how his father came to possess them.

With Shenmue III in the works, now is the perfect time to consider afresh the circumstances surrounding his father's visit to China by reviewing some of the clues Ryo has comes across.

At the end of the post, we'll attempt to consolidate this information onto a diagram showing the inter-relationships and timelines.

A snippet of the final diagram.
Let's start with a name that is introduced at the very start of Shenmue, in the opening cinematic: Sunming Zhao.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Yu Suzuki & Katsuhiro Harada Interview | Part 3 | DenFamiNicoGamer [26 Dec, 2016]

Interview with Yu Suzuki & Katsuhiro Harada, Part 3

Interview with Yu Suzuki & Katsuhiro Harada, Part 1
Here is Part Three of our multi-part translation of an interview with Yu Suzuki and Katsushiro Harada from Japanese gaming site

I hope you have enjoyed the interview so far.

You can find the previous parts to date here:

Part One: click here.
Part Two: click here.
Interview with Yu Suzuki & Katsuhiro Harada, Part 2

Part Three

Part Three covers the following discussion topics:
  • AI and interactivity in games.
  • The timing for choosing to start developing Shenmue III.
  • Advice from Yu Suzuki to the younger generation.
The interview translation starts below.