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 interested in the blog a way to support it directly. Plus, receive some great rewards in return, such as exclusive "behind the scenes" content, early access to blog posts before anyone else, and even voting on a future blog topic. We also have a Discord channel for chatting about Shenmue and blog posts.

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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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Toshihiro Nagoshi on Yu Suzuki | Sega Fes Livestream

Sega video game producer & designer Toshihiro Nagoshi was asked his opinion on Yu Suzuki in a Q&A livestream session earlier today.

Despite having some "huge arguments" in the past when they worked together, Nagoshi holds Suzuki in great respect.

Source: YouTube video (Japanese)
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Monday, April 23, 2018

Android: Guide to Downloading Kotodaman Outside Japan

Following yesterday's iPhone/iPad guide to downloading Sega's mobile game Kotodaman, here is one for Android users.

Kotodaman is based on the concept of forming Japanese words, with the UI also being completely in Japanese. However if you are interested in playing around with it anyway, why not give it a try!

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Saturday, April 21, 2018

iPhone/iPad: Guide to Downloading Kotodaman Outside Japan | Guest Post

Step-by-Step Guide: Download Kotodaman Outside Japan

Help is at hand for those not living in Japan who want to download Sega's new word-based RPG  mobile game Kotodaman (read more about it here), thanks to Phantom River Stone patron James Brown (visit him on Twitter or YouTube) who has written this guest post with step-by-step instructions on how to install the game on your Apple iPhone or iPad.

Kotodaman was released this week and, according to a recent tweet, generated 1 million downloads in just the first 3 days! The game is a free download - with optional in-game purchases - but unfortunately is only available on the Japan app stores. 

The game is based on the concept of forming Japanese words, with the UI also being completely in Japanese. However if you are interested in playing around with it anyway, we recommend giving it a try!

For Android users: we will be publishing a separate guide soon on a method for downloading Kotodaman outside Japan.

About the author

Hi guys, it's James Brown (SkillJim) here! You may not know me, but I've been a huge Shenmue fan and collector since its inception. Playing the Original Shenmue on Xmas day of 2000! I've been heavily involved with the community since then, and I'm currently part of the Shenmue Dojo team! Some of you may also recognise my name from the Sega Europe video where community manager at the time Dan Sheridan read out and answered my question concerning Shenmue 1 & 2 HD back in 2016! - I'm jealous of Switch for being able to see it announced live in person last weekend (considering I was in Japan only a week prior - doh! Look out for a future post from me all about my day exploring the Dobuita area with Switch!).

I don't contribute too much on Twitter, but if you would like to follow me, please do so :) -  @SkillJim - I also have a YouTube channel with Sega content, and hopefully really soon I'll be releasing a series of travel videos of my time visiting the great countries of China & Japan, and also the day I met Switch in Yokosuka, you can find my channel here - - Thanks guys! 

It's with great pleasure that I present to you a guest blog post here on!  A big thank you to Switch for letting me be featured! I hope that this post can be of some use to someone out there who may have heard about the Kotodaman game, yet didn't know how to go about downloading it from the Japan Apple AppStore.

As someone living outside Japan (in the UK), I was wondering how it would be possible for me to download this game onto my iPhone and potentially be able to play as Ryo Hazuki, which we unlocked in the campaign which Switch previously did a blog post about a while back!
So I did a little bit of research into creating a Japanese iTunes account and I want to help anyone interested in doing the same!

This is a lot easier to do if you have access to a computer or Mac with iTunes installed on it.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Announcement of Shenmue I & II | On-the-Ground Report

The Announcement of Shenmue I & II | On-the-Ground Report

Sega's announcement last weekend that Shenmue I & II would be coming to modern platforms set the Shenmue community on fire. Interestingly, they chose to make the announcement at their SEGA FES 2018 event in Japan. While some fans around the world watched it on live-stream, many caught the news the next morning when they awoke.

I was lucky enough to attend the presentation in Tokyo. I recount my experience below.

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Monday, April 16, 2018

Masaya Matsukaze Prepares to Reprise Role as Ryo Hazuki

Another hint has been received that voice recording for Shenmue III may bet set to commence in the near future.

This morning, the voice actor for the Japanese versions of Shenmue, Masaya Matsukaze, tweeted out an image of the Shenmue: The Movie DVD cover on a stand, accompanied by the message (my translation):
Time to prepare for my part (^_^)"
In the first two Shenmue games the Japanese voice actors themselves performed the actions for their own characters in the game, however at this point it has not been revealed to what extent this will be the case for the third game.

This morning's tweet follows the news from Corey Marshall, the English voice actor for Ryo, in response to a fan's query on Facebook in March that his recording was scheduled to start at the end of May (with the recording location to be in the U.S., as of the end of last year).

We will continue to keep our eyes peeled for further updates regarding voice recording.

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Sunday, April 15, 2018

It's Really Happening! Shenmue I & II Coming to Modern Platforms in 2018

It's Really Happening! Shenmue I & II Coming to Modern Platforms in 2018

A day later and it is still taking time to sink in for many of us fans!

Following some teasing tweets from both SEGA Europe and Koch Media on the evening before the SEGA FES 2018 event in Tokyo, Shenmue fans have at last been rewarded for their years of hope and patience with an official announcement from SEGA that Shenmue I & II will be coming to modern platforms in 2018.

Shenmue I & II covers for PS4 and XBox One

Here's a summary of information about the release (information gathered from GameInformerSteamAdam Koralik)
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Saturday, April 14, 2018

"HUGE announcement" to be made at SEGA FES

Shenmue fans have been sent into overdrive as the fires of speculation are stoked by some explosive tweets just hours away from the start of the SEGA FES 2018 event.

The first tweet, from SEGA Europe's account, promises a "HUGE announcement" that "you DO NOT want to miss", to be made on the event's first day:

Link to tweet

Now, a tweet from SEGA is something that of course is to be taken with a grain of salt by Shenmue fans.

However this tweet soon afterwards received a comment from none other than Koch Media, the worldwide publishers of Shenmue III, asking rhetorically whether anyone has any idea what it might be - and including a winking emoticon:

Link to tweet

A further comment from SEGA Europe was even more direct. A Twitter user suggested that "if it's anything other than Shenmue I & II HD it's not a huge announcement". This was met with the reply: "It's HUGE!".

Link to tweet
Shenmue of course has not been specifically mentioned, however Koch Media's participation here is highly suggestive. It is also worth noting that the voice actor for Ryo Hazuki in the Japanese version of Shenmue, Masaya Matsukaze, will also be on site at the venue tomorrow (although ostensibly for the promotion of a different game, called Readyyy!).

It is certainly worth keeping a close eye on the SEGA FES sessions tomorrow, all of which will be live-streamed. (I myself will be there in person with the hope of catching the announcement while I am there).
  • See our recent blog post for the English event schedule and information about the live-stream links.
Could this be the Shenmue HD announcement the fans have been waiting for all this time? As always, it may be something quite different so keeping a level head is advised to avoid disappointment - but we will have our answer very soon!
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Thursday, April 12, 2018

SEGA Fes 2018 English Schedule & Information | 14-15 April 2018

SEGA Fes 2018

SEGA will be holding a festival event, "SEGA Fes 2018", this weekend on April 14th and 15th at the Belle Salle Akihabara building in Tokyo.

This is SEGA's second such event, with the first one having been held in November 2016. This year's event also promises to be packed full of exciting presentations and entertainment. Furthermore, there will be live-streaming of all the events on YouTube and elsewhere.

The attractions include:
  • Stage events (B1 level): promising special guests, the latest information on recent games, "surprise announcements", gameplay competitions, and more!
  • Giant Attractions (1F level): there will be a huge UFO Catcher (crane game) using a person to grab the prize instead of a crane; a giant Mega Drive (Genesis) controller for playing retro games like Puyo Puyo; the classic Sega arcade games Virtua Fighter II and Daytona USA; and some of the latest arcade games including a darts machine DartsLive3, and a driving simulator called SLDS-3G.
  • Taking part in an AR Stamp Rally (use an Augmented Reality app to collect stamps at the venue and around Akihabara).
  • A merchandise area (1F level) for buying SEGA trinkets and toys.
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Saturday, April 7, 2018

Shenmue 1 Start of Game Flowchart | Early Design Document Translation

Shenmue 1 Start of Game Flowchart

Introduction & Related Posts

Several snippets of actual early design documents from the making of the first two games are contained in the 1998 Shenmue art book, in a section entitled "Making of Shenmue".

Previously on the blog we have investigated flowcharts covering the first part of play in Shenmue II, after Ryo arrives in Hong Kong:
Today we tackle another flowchart, which is from the opening gameplay of the first game. Some interesting differences can be noted compared to the release version of the game.

The Shenmue 1 Flowchart Snippet

In the Shenmue art book, portions of several different design diagrams have been overlaid on a single page for artistic effect, making deciphering them a challenge, although at least each is printed in a different color. The flowchart relating to Shenmue 1 is reproduced at an angle on the page in a magenta shade, in the area highlighted below.

The Shenmue 1 flowchart is the magenta-colored diagram inside the highlighted area on this page of the Shenmue art book.
The Shenmue 1 flowchart is the magenta-colored diagram inside the highlighted area on this page of the Shenmue art book.
Image credit: David De Ville.
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Tuesday, April 3, 2018

New Series: Learning Japanese through Shenmue

Last month our White Tiger patrons voted in our monthly poll to decide one of the post topics for this month, and the results are in!

The highest-voted topic was "Learning Japanese through Shenmue", which I plan to make the start of a new monthly series aimed at teaching basic conversational Japanese, with a Shenmue theme.

The level will be suitable for new learners, but with a few more advanced items thrown in here and there for people who may already know a little. Japanese voice-acted clips of various characters through-out Shenmue I & II will be used to illustrate words and phrases that are useful for everyday life in Japan (as well as one or two that may be of more interest to those intent on avenging their father's murder).

If you have any thoughts or suggestions regarding the lesson content, comments are welcome.
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Saturday, March 31, 2018

Diorama of the You Arcade: Interview with its Creator

Diorama of the You Arcade: Interview with its Creator

Earlier this year, a talented Shenmue fan and model hobbyist in Japan completed an amazingly-accurate scale model diorama recreation of the interior of Shenmue's You Arcade.

Diorama of the You Arcade: view from the front.
We got in touch by email with the fan who created the diorama, Hiroaki Suzuki - who coincidentally shares the same surname as the series' creator - to ask what prompted him to embark on such a project and find out exactly how it was made.

(All images and videos of the diorama were included with the creator's kind permission. Note that the responses have been translated from Japanese).

An image and video gallery follows the interview.
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Saturday, March 24, 2018

A Survey of Red TVs in Shenmue | Guest Post

A Survey of Red TVs in Shenmue

We have previously noted the presence in the Shenmue world of old red 14-inch TVs, which are often found sitting in the corner of Chinese Restaurants as outlined in this Shenmue design document. It turns out that there are many more of them in the games than one might casually imagine.

In this collaboration post, we present a definitive survey of all such red TVs throughout Shenmue 1 and 2, based on the results of a thorough investigation by regular reader JCGamer who has tracked down and logged every appearance!

Shenmue 1

Apart from being found in the Chinese restaurants in Dobuita, the red television also turns up in a few other locations in the first game. (It seems that Abe-san catches the daily soaps on a set behind the counter of the Abe Store).

Red TVs in Shenmue 1

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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Erhu Concert by Ryuji Iuchi & Hiroko Suzuki

This week Shenmue composer Ryuji Iuchi performed in a special evening concert featuring the erhu (a two-stringed instrument also known as a "Chinese violin"), an instrument whose sound is so memorable from the soundtrack of the first two Shenmue games.

Entitled "Spring Sky: Erhu Melodies Echoing Beneath a Starry Sky", the concert had Ryuji Iuchi on piano and synthesizer, accompanying erhu performer Hiroko Suzuki (with whom he has worked before - read on to find out when!)

The venue was the intimate interior of the Discovery Park planetarium, and with a capacity of 165 attendees the concert the event was of course sold out well in advance. The planetarium is located in Yaizu city, Shizuoka, which is Hiroko Suzuki's hometown.

The photos below from the planetarium's Twitter account, show the magical atmosphere of the event.

Ryuji Iuchi and Hiroko Suzuki perform beneath a canopy of stars
Ryuji Iuchi and Hiroko Suzuki perform beneath a canopy of stars

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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Yu Suzuki's MAGIC Conference in English | Transcript & Video

Yu Suzuki attended the MAGIC 2018 event held in Monaco on 24th February, and took the stage for a one-hour conference. Topics covered included Shenmue's early history, features of Shenmue III, and the revelation of four new images. Questions were asked in French, with an interpreter present to convey the questions to Yu, and translate the responses back from Japanese.

An official English translation was not provided at the conference, but through the joint efforts of the Shenmue community we are happy to present a subtitled video and transcript of the questions and Yu Suzuki's words at the conference.

Enjoy! Note that the conference proper starts at 4:17 in the video.

Video footage by Peter Campbell (hosted at the Shenmue Lounge YouTube channel)
Translation of questions by Shenmue Forever
Translation of Yu Suzuki's responses by Phantom River Stone.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Yu Suzuki MAGIC Conference in English | Progress Update

Over the past weeks we have been working, together with others in the community, to put together a full English translation of Yu Suzuki's one-hour conference at MAGIC 2018. Thank you for your patience!

The translation work is now complete, and the final task of adding subtitles to the video footage is now in progress.

A subtitled conference video and a written transcript of the conference session will be posted up tomorrow (Thursday).

Yu Suzuki on stage at MAGIC 2018

P.S. We will also be making another exciting announcement tomorrow on a separate topic relating to the Phantom River Stone blog!

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Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Be Credited in SEGA's Upcoming Mobile Game "Kotodaman"

If you would like to have your name in the official credits of a SEGA game in which Ryo Hazuki appears, here is your opportunity. Read on for details.

Recently SEGA confirmed a cameo for Shenmue's protagonist Ryo Hazuki in their upcoming word game for mobile devices Kotodaman, thanks to the efforts of Shenmue fans in helping reach the target number of registrations of interest.
Concept art of Ryo for the game
(from the game's official Twitter account)

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Monday, March 5, 2018

Promotional VMU Sticker Sheet | Shenmue Merchandise

Today we introduce something I've never seen discussed in the Shenmue community, and in fact I didn't know this existed until recently.

It's a genuine Dreamcast item that was released by Sega, being a sheet of game-themed stickers / decals with which to customize the appearance of a Visual Memory Unit.

VMU Custom Sticker Sheet
VMU Custom Sticker Sheet

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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

4 New Screenshots from MAGIC 2018 | Kickstarter Update #80

4 New Screenshots from MAGIC 2018

Four new Shenmue III images were revealed by Yu Suzuki at his MAGIC 2018 conference and these were released as a brief Kickstarter Update.

Each image contains one of four different NPCs (some also featuring Ryo) which really emanate a Shenmue vibe. The contribution of the Lakshya Digital team, to whom Yu Suzuki gave special mention during his conference, is apparent with a noticeable improvement in the character models.
In this post we will run through the four images, and add a few comments (however no hidden Easter Eggs have been discovered in them so far!).

Image #1

The first image shows a little girl in a pink cardigan, her hair tied up behind in double buns behind her head. She looks up with a playful expression on her face.

Isn’t she charming?
"Isn’t she charming?"

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Sunday, February 25, 2018

Recap: Yu Suzuki at MAGIC 2018

MAGIC 2018 is over, and Yu Suzuki is on his way home again.

In this post we recap the three main Shenmue III related sessions for which Yu was on stage: the opening ceremony, the Shenmue III conference and "Crazy Time" at the end of the day; with a brief mention of the separate autograph-signing session.

Opening Ceremony

The first event of the morning was the opening ceremony, which was attended by all guests. Yu Suzuki was introduced by Shenmue III co-producer Cédric Biscay (Shibuya Productions) and welcomed on stage enthusiastically by the audience.

Video clip courtesy of Geek Rebelde (Twitter: @Agente_Requejo). Thanks to Shenmue Forever (Twitter: @ShenmueForever) for the captions.

Yu remarks "I'm looking forward to the conference."
Yu remarks "I'm looking forward to the conference."
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Saturday, February 24, 2018

Shenmue 3 at MAGIC 2018: Schedule Summary

The MAGIC 2018 event is almost upon us! As promised in the January Kickstarter Update, this Saturday (24th February) Yu Suzuki will be attending to tell - and show - the latest on Shenmue III.

I felt an extra jolt of excitement to see the photo below which was tweeted today on the MAGIC Monaco Twitter account, evidence of Yu Suzuki's arrival at the event venue, the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco (source tweet).

At the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco: Shenmue III co-producer Cédric Biscay with creator Yu Suzuki.
At the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco: Shenmue III co-producer Cédric Biscay with creator Yu Suzuki.

The main Shenmue III conference is scheduled for the morning at 10:40 am CET (Central European Time).

There are also some other times of interest to take note of:
  • An opening ceremony at 9:30 am CET which will include all the conference guests, hence Yu Suzuki should also be present at this.
  • An autograph-signing session held with Yu at 3:00 pm CET for those fans lucky enough to be in attendance.
  • At the end of the day at 5:10 pm CET there is a Shibuya Productions "Crazy Time" with Cédric Biscay. While the exact content is undisclosed, with Shibuya Productions co-producing Shenmue III we may be treated to some additional material; after all it was at this very session at MAGIC 2016 where three new Shenmue III videos were revealed.
The latest schedule information can be found at the MAGIC website.

Below is a summary of the times mentioned above. Remember that all times should be converted to your local timezone:

Key Times for Shenmue III at MAGIC 2018

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Friday, February 23, 2018

Draw Result: Shenmue Guide Map Giveaway on Twitter

Shenmue Guide Map Give-away DRAW RESULT

Congratulations to Twitter user , the winner of the set of Shenmue Sacred Spot Guide Maps from Yokosuka, in our giveaway!

The winner was chosen by random selection from among all valid entries.

A big thanks to everyone who participated and helped make this giveaway a success. We will be lining up another one soon, so stay tuned!

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Monday, February 19, 2018

Interview with Shenmue 2 Designer: Norikazu Hirai | Translation

Earlier in the week, SEGA Interactive published an online interview in Japanese with Norikazu Hirai, whose worked as a designer on Shenmue II early in his career.

We have translated into English some background introductory information, followed by the Shenmue-related part of the interview for Shenmue fans to enjoy. Of particular interest is hearing about Hirai's hand in the design of the famed Sword of Seven Stars that features at the end of Shenmue II.

Norikazu Hirai

Section Manager & Producer,
AM2 Multi-device Business Development Section

Producer of Soul Calibur Zero*
(also known as Soul Calibur: The Lost Story in Europe, or Soul Calibur: Resurrection in USA)

Norikazu Hirai
Norikazu Hirai

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Ryo Hazuki Cameo Confirmed for SEGA's New Mobile Game

A spectacular result for Shenmue fans!

Last week we reported about a tiered SEGA promotion for their new mobile game Kotodaman, whereby the character of Ryo Hazuki would be given a cameo in the game upon if a sufficient number of registrations of interest was received.

Shenmue fans across the world responded to the call with enthusiasm, and thanks to everyone's efforts SEGA has just confirmed on the game's website (Japanese) that Ryo Hazuki's cameo has been achieved.

Concept art for Ryo Hazuki as he will appear in the game
Concept art for Ryo Hazuki as he will appear in the game
Although the mobile game is for Japan only, this will provide additional exposure for the Shenmue franchise, and shows SEGA once again the passion of the fans for Shenmue.

Furthermore, the next "reward" tier is for another character that will be close to the hearts of Shenmue fans: the human hero from Space Harrier (whose name is apparently just "Harrier"). This character will be included if a level of 60,000 registrations is reached, an additional 5,000.

Next reward level cameo: "Harrier"
Next reward level cameo: "Harrier"
If you have not yet registered interest for the game, and wish to help Harrier make a cameo too, just follow the instructions in our previous post.

Kotodaman is scheduled to be released in spring of 2018. We will post up footage on the blog of Ryo in action after release!

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Monday, February 12, 2018

"Shenmue Gaiden: A Christmas Story" | Fanmade Visual Novel

Talented developer ShenSun is back with the release of a new visual novel creation named "Shenmue Gaiden: A Christmas Story", for all Shenmue fans to enjoy. (The original intention to release in December didn't work out due to real life commitments, but thankfully there's no need to wait until the end of this year to play!)

ShenSun's previous Shenmue visual novel released a year ago, "Shenmue Gaiden; Christmas Event", masterfully mixed audio-visual elements together to produce a memorable and moving story that was sprinkled with plenty of humor throughout, and this year's release provides an equally-immersive experience to satisfy those Shenmue cravings.

Our post on the previous game can be found here:
Storywise, "A Christmas Story" starts out with a similar premise to the previous version: you the player have been invited along to an upcoming Christmas party with Ryo and friends.
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Friday, February 9, 2018

The Old Red TV | Chinese Restaurants in Shenmue

Following our recent post translating an early Shenmue design document for Hong Kong diners, I decided to collect together shots of the familiar old red TV that can often be found sitting up in the corner of such restaurants in the game, part of the game's careful design.

The Old Red TV in Shenmue 1 and 2.
The old red TV in Shenmue 1 and 2.
Do you know of any other locations?

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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Help Ryo Hazuki Appear in SEGA's Mobile Game "Kotodaman"

SEGA are running a promotion that offers the opportunity to help include Ryo Hazuki as a character in their upcoming mobile game called Kotodaman that is scheduled for release in spring 2018 (the official Japanese site is here).

This is a great chance to increase awareness of the Shenmue series among a broader audience.

For those who want to skip information about the game and jump right into registering, please follow the "How to Pre-Register" instructions in blue at the end of the post.

Overview of the Game

Kotodaman is a word-puzzle RPG game in which up to 4 players band together, selecting elements of the Japanese alphabet to form words and defeat enemies (the damage attributed depends on the number and length of the words formed). Being based around Japanese words, it seems likely that the game will be a Japan-only release.

Game screenshot
Game screenshot: the player drags an element from the bottom to the middle area to build words and defeat their foe at the top of the screen.

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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Hong Kong Diner | Translated Shenmue II Design Document

Shenmue II Early Design Document: Hong Kong Diner

A little over a year ago, Yu Suzuki was jointly interviewed with Katsuhiro Harada (of Tekken fame) and during this briefly spoke about a handful of original design documents for the Shenmue games he had brought along with him.

This photo, which accompanied an interview with Yu Suzuki & Katsuhiro Harada, shows Yu with various Shenmue design documents as he points at what appears to be a sketch of a Chinese tulou.
This photo accompanied an interview with Yu Suzuki & Katsuhiro Harada. Yu shows various Shenmue design documents, pointing here at what appears to be a sketch of a Chinese tulou.
We have analyzed some of these design documents in earlier posts on this blog.

Relevant posts:

Hong Kong Diner Interior

Today, the design document we will be examining is a concept sketch of the interior of a typical Hong Kong casual diner.

The document is headed "VF RPG", indicating that it was produced in the early design period of Shenmue, when the game was still known by its early working name of Virtua Fighter RPG.

It contains a single large illustration with hand-written annotations surrounding it, which I have translated.

Here is the translated design document [click to enlarge]:

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Thursday, February 1, 2018

Shenmue Guide Map Giveaway on Twitter | Closes Feb 19th (JST)

Phantom River Stone is giving away a set of the Shenmue Sacred Spot Guide Maps on our Twitter account @phantom_river!

How to Enter:

  • Follow our Twitter account @phantom_river,
  • Retweet the giveaway announcement tweet (below), and
  • Reply to the tweet with a comment. 

Terms of Entry:

The closing date for entries is at noon on 19 February, 2018 (JST). The winner will be drawn from all valid entries on 22 February. One entry per person; entries made using multiple accounts are ineligible.

Good luck!

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Monday, January 29, 2018

A Visit to Yokosuka After Snow | Photo Gallery

A Visit to Yokosuka After Snow | Image Gallery of Shenmue Locations

One of the many memorable aspects of the first Shenmue game is its depiction of winter. The moment snowflakes begin to lightly drift down from the cloudy sky is a memorizing moment, bringing with it the anticipation that Ryo's hometown will soon be transformed by a cover of snow and ice.

Last week a chance came up to capture some snowy footage as a blizzard passed across Japan. The forecast for the region where Yokosuka is located is underlined in red:
Snow forecast! (Yokosuka is located in Kanagawa prefecture).
Snow is on it's way. (Yokosuka is located in Kanagawa prefecture).
A few days later, snow did indeed fall heavily throughout the region, starting from the later afternoon. The next morning dawned warm and sunny, so I jumped on a train bound for Yokosuka as soon as I could, before the evidence could melt away to nothing.

Note: I have juggled the real-life ordering of the photos a little to match with the kind of scenery Ryo sees as he strolls from his house in Yamanose down to Dobuita Street.

The Hazuki Residence

Actual location: the grounds of Suwadai Shrine.
Actual location: the grounds of Suwadai Shrine.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

1999 Shenmue Promo Leaflet | Shenmue Merchandise

SEGA promoted Shenmue heavily in Japan for its release back in 1999, and in this post we look at an item that was part of that promotional effort.

It's an A4-sized shop leaflet that advertises preorders for the then-imminent release of Shenmue Chapter One, as well as information about a promotional campaign.

It features an image of Shenhua on the front side, accompanied by the slogan "1999 - the RPG will be transformed...". At the bottom is the Shenmue logo (the kanji version) beneath which is the scheduled release date.

On the reverse side is an image of Ryo Hazuki, the usual expression of determination on his face. At the top of the page is a sentence that reads: "In a certain bar in Yokosuka sits a single old JukeBox..." At the right, a box that gives information about how to get the Shenmue JukeBox CD through a promotional campaign (see further down in the post for details); and in large hard-to-miss letters are the words "Preorders Now Being Taken at this Store".

At the bottom of the reverse side of the leaflet is a pre-order form that people would fill and hand to the shop.

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Friday, January 19, 2018

Showcasing the Shenmue Guide Map | Video

The Shenmue Sacred Spot Guide Map is a multi-page tourist pamphlet highlighting locations of interest to Shenmue fans around Yokosuka that was a collaborative effort between Yokosuka City and SEGA. It was released last month, as reported here on the blog.

Today's video below is a brief showcase of the physical guide, both to give an overview of its content and also to hopefully convey a sense of its high manufacturing quality which really does justice to the Shenmue images within it.

For anyone fortunate to be visiting the area in person, near the end of the video is some quick information about locations in the Dobuita area from where one can be picked up.

On with the video!

As mentioned in the video, the guide map is also available as a digital (pdf) download from the Yokosuka City website. And if you haven't yet read it, our interview with one of the actual co-creators of the map reveals how the map came to be created.

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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Kickstarter Update #79: Shenmue III Conference at MAGIC 2018

Thanks to the recent press conference for the MAGIC 2018 event, Shenmue fans are looking forward to actual gameplay footage of Shenmue III and "a lot of content" to be shared.

Now a brief Kickstarter Update has been released confirming Yu Suzuki's attendance at the event which will take place in Monaco on February 24th.

The update goes on to state that Yu Suzuki will be holding a Shenmue 3 "conference", with further details to be announced at a later date:
"A conference with Yu Suzuki is planned for the day. Once details have been worked out with participating partners, we will have an update to follow up." 
We'll post up any new information here on the blog when it's announced.

Link to official update: Kickstarter Update #79
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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Examining the 3 New Shenmue III Screenshots | MAGIC Press Conference

Examining the 3 New Shenmue III Screenshots

Three fabulous new Shenmue III screenshots have been released at the recent press conference for the MAGIC 2018 event (to be held in Monaco on February 24th) and they have got the community buzzing with their highly-polished appearance.

The press conference took place on January 16th, 2018 at the embassy of Monaco in Paris, France. A photo of the conference in progress is shown here:
The press conference in progress
The press conference in progress (from the official MAGIC Monaco twitter account).

In this post, we'll do our usual comb-through of the images to point out any items of interest to be found.

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Friday, January 12, 2018

Sakuragaoka Park in Real Life | Shenmue Realism

Sakuragaoka Park in Real Life

The recent Shenmue "Sacred Spot" Guide Map published by Yokosuka City highlights several real-life places of interest around Yokosuka and Dobuita that feature in, or served as inspiration, to the setting of Shenmue I.

Featured in the guide is a small park called Odakicho Park which is located not too far from Dobuita Street. We present our findings that strongly suggest that it served as inspiration for not just Suzume Park as mentioned in the guide, but for that second well-known park in the game as well.
Odakicho Park is the small park highlighted at the right-hand side of the map of the Dobuita area.
Odakicho Park is the small park highlighted at the right-hand side of the map of the Dobuita area.

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Sunday, January 7, 2018

Sightings Near Dobuita That Made a Shenmue Fan Look Twice | Photos

Sightings near Dobuita that made a Shenmue fan look twice

Today I'd like to share a few photos that I took recently in the vicinity of Dobuita Street, which gave me cause for a double-take due to their apparent connection to the Shenmue series (even if this turned out not to be the case in reality...).
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Thursday, January 4, 2018

IGN Japan Interview with Cédric Biscay | Shenmue III

Cédric Biscay on Shenmue III | IGN Japan Interview

Today's post is a translation of an interview with Shenmue III co-producer, Cédric Biscay, that was recently published in Japanese on the IGN Japan website on the topic of Shenmue III (hence it is an English translation of a Japanese translation of his original comments!).

While for obvious reasons Cédric does not reveal specific details about the game, he has an upbeat message to fans on the state of the in-progress game - having tried out the latest version when he visited the development studio in Japan last month - and also takes the opportunity to encourage SEGA regarding remasters of the first two games in the Shenmue series.

Translation note: Cédric talks about a feeling of "reassurance" on playing the most recent version of Shenmue III. It could also be translated as feeling comfortable, or feeling at ease. To me this is wonderful to hear as it indicates that Shenmue III has the right "vibe"; a feeling of being a Shenmue game.

Date of article: 3 January, 2018.

The interview begins below.

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