Tuesday, December 31, 2019

[Pinned] Announcement: Phantom River Stone is on Patreon!

It is hard to believe that over two years have passed since the Phantom River Stone blog launched. We've made more than 200 posts on our favorite subject: translations of community interviews, magazine articles and design documents, notes about everyday items and culture reflected in the game, photos of real locations around Yokosuka... just celebrating the awesomeness that is Shenmue.

In order to sustain this rate of output, and dedicate the time needed for the translations and posts, I wanted to offer a way for blog readers who wish to help contribute to do so.

And so, I am excited to announce our new Patreon page for Phantom River Stone!

If you're not familiar with Patreon, it’s an easy way to give those who find the blog of interest, a way to support it directly.

Plus, you will receive some great rewards in return, such as exclusive "behind the scenes" content, early access to blog posts before anyone else, and monthly voting on a future blog topic. We also have a Discord channel for chatting about Shenmue and blog posts & I look forward to chatting with you there.

There are several different reward tiers, which you can check out in detail on the new Patreon page.

Thank you for considering becoming a patron of the blog, and regardless of whether you are in a position to offer financial support, thank you for being a reader of the blog!

Click to open the Phantom River Stone page on Patreon!

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Sunday, May 19, 2019

Capsule Toy Machine Labels | Shenmue 3

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

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

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

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Saturday, May 18, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sunday, May 12, 2019

Famitsu Postcard Set Prize (2000) | Shenmue Promo Item

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

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

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Saturday, May 11, 2019

SEGA Saturno Interview with Yu Suzuki | Shenmue 3

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

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

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

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

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Monday, May 6, 2019

Children's Day Illustration and Cultural Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The translation starts from here.

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Friday, May 3, 2019

Poll Result: Patrons' Choice Topic for May 2019

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 May's topic. After tallying the votes (including accumulated votes from previous months) the winning topic was...

"Hidden Shenmue Passport Feature: F355 Challenge save file analysis"

Shenmue Passport is an extra disc of features that accompanied the original release of the first Shenmue game. Some of these features, such as information videos and a music player, were able to be accessed from the main menu, while the main section required a dial-up connection to enter (for more information about the Passport disc, and how to browse it without a connection, see the following post).

The Shenmue Passport disc also contained a "hidden" feature which related to one of Yu Suzuki's racing arcade games that was released for the Dreamcast in 2000: F355 Challenge. If a VMU containing save data from the game was present, the Passport disc would show a new menu entry as shown below at the top.

We will be looking at what this feature is all about. Watch for more later this month!

For early access to this and other articles published on the blog, check us out on Patreon. Link to Phantom River Stone on Patreon.
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Saturday, April 20, 2019

An Evening Snack in Niaowu | Shenmue 3

In the first two Shenmue games, there were plenty of restaurants and food stands to be found - and even Tom's hot dog truck - but it wasn't possible for Ryo to eat at any of them.

That will be changing with Shenmue III, where managing Ryo's energy (screenshots suggest it will be called "endurance") will be a core part of the gameplay both during combat and while exploring. Ryo's maximum endurance is represented on-screen by a number of balls, a number that can be increased by training.
While exploring: the green balls around the outside of the mini-map represent Ryo's endurance (from a screenshot at Yu Suzuki's talk at Reboot Develop 2019)
Ryo's HP meter during combat (from Yu Suzuki's presentation at MAGIC 2019)
Ryo's endurance is depleted through physical exercise such as fighting or running. We have learned from recent comments by Yu Suzuki that if Ryo grows too tired, he may become unable to run but he can restore his energy by eating various types of food.
Ryo may find or buy snacks that boost his Endurance, such as this banana (from a screenshot at Yu Suzuki's talk at Reboot Develop 2019)
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Friday, April 19, 2019

Shenmue Documentary Update: Interview Translations Completed

Work continues on the Shenmue Documentary, and last week Adam Sipione, the project's originator, released a Kickstarter Update to keep everyone informed on the current state.
  • Currently work is continuing on editing the story, following which it will undergo refinement.
  • Translations of the Japanese video interviews which were held during the team's visit to Tokyo at the end of last year, have now been completed - and in fact these are what I have been working on in recent months. (Thanks to Adam for the shout-out to PRS!)
  • Planning has been carried out for integrating some highly-stylized and cinematic pieces into the documentary to help set the mood: reference was made to the documentary's Kickstarter video teaser that can be viewed on the campaign page as an example of the kind of pieces we can look forward to.
  • Backers are also reminded to submit your photos and videos for your rewards tiers.
Note: in case you missed the message in February's update, the release date for the documentary has been adjusted to be after Shenmue III comes out (exact date to be confirmed).

Go here to read the official update on Kickstarter
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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Yu Suzuki Speaks to Weekly Famitsu on Shenmue III: Part Two | Translation

We complete our translation of a new article released by Japan's Weekly Famitsu magazine who interviewed Yu Suzuki about the latest state of Shenmue III. For Part One of the translation, go here.

YS = Yu Suzuki

Q: There's also an element of having been able to realize in Shenmue III ideas that you've had from back then but weren't able to implement, isn't there.

YS: Yes - although part of me wonders how much of what I originally wanted to do I've actually been able to realize. It's always been this way; I always want to take things further.

To give an example from the Shenmue I and II days: when you order ramen noodles, they give off steam; when going to eat them, people hold chopsticks properly, pick up some noodles and the bowl's content decreases by the amount they've eaten; and when the noodles grow cold, the steam disappears.

Back then, I called it "4D," as opposed to 3D. 3D represents a solid object composed of three dimensions: x-axis, y-axis, z-axis, right? The concept of the previous games was "4D": let's add another dimension so it's not 3D, but with the addition of "t"...

Q: That's "time," isn't it.

YS: We add a time axis. For example, a cup of coffee that is left here [points at a coffee that sits in front of him in the conference room], will be gone tomorrow.

Q: The liquid would evaporate, or someone might clear it away.

YS: That's the case for the coffee; for the ramen I mentioned earlier it will disappear if someone eats it, and so on. So having the world change with time is something I wanted to do in Shenmue. But when you're trying to do things like that... well, there's no end to it really! [laughs]

Q: That's true.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Bracelets & Prayer Beads at the Waterfront | Shenmue 3

Bracelets & Prayer Beads at the Waterfront | Shenmue 3
Yu Suzuki shared several new Shenmue III screenshots at the Reboot Develop conference last week, and one of these was the above image of Ryo strolling along the waterfront in Choubu (Niaowu) at night.
This post will talk some more about the first stand, as it has a few extra details of interest.
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Sunday, April 14, 2019

Recap & Analysis: New Shenmue 3 Screenshots (High-Res) | Reboot Develop 2019

To the delight of Shenmue, Yu Suzuki revealed several new screenshots and new gameplay details on Shenmue 3 during his one-hour on-stage talk at the Reboot Develop 2019 game developers conference held in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

This post presents the new screenshots (update: now refreshed with 1080p versions obtained via the official Shenmue.link site), with notes and comments on each. When zooming in on details, the images have been enhanced for clarity using image-processing software to upscale and filter.

At points along the way I've provided my own translation of Yu's words, although I have to say that the on-stage MC, Ben Judd, did an excellent job at digesting and translating what Yu said, and combining that with his own input.

New Screenshot: Ryo at the Waterfront (Choubu / Niaowu)

Notes on this image:
  • Yu Suzuki says: "This is the Guilin we created. It's Guilin only as far as the mountains go [indicating the distinctive shape of the mountains]: there are also outdoor stalls that are a little similar to those in Japan, and the scenery along the shore on this [right] side is from a place that isn't Guilin, called Fenghuang (Phoenix Ancient Town). I've assembled pieces of scenery that really feels like China from various places and made alterations as needed to bring them closer towards what I want to portray.

    In contrast to the fair amount of "shaping" that was carried out with the backgrounds, is the accuracy of things like people's movements and their small every-day gestures - for example when someone feels troubled and so on. NPCs too; we've made a lot of different faces of Chinese people, and I don't think there's any other game that has put this much effort into portraying old men and women NPCs!

    For the music also, I've used Chinese musical instruments as much as possible, for example.

    To bring out the feeling of China, there are certain areas like these that I've really focused on".
  • The items for sale at the first stand appear to be bracelets.
  • On the green awning of the first stand, the large characters 珠宝専科 mean "Jewelry Specialists" (hence the picture of a cut diamond in the center).
  • The smaller characters above are 五十年店. Update: I initially misread the fourth kanji - thanks to yuc02 for the clarification! The meaning in Chinese is that the shop has been in business for 50 years.
  • The writing on the other stalls is hard to make out, but it looks like one of the characters on the red awning is 董, which is part of the word "antiques".
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Friday, April 12, 2019

Shenmue Mugs | 1999 Shenmue Premiere Merchandise

When Shenmue was launched in Japan back in 1999, there was a wide range of merchandise available for sale at the premiere event: calendars, ballpoint pens, figurines, posters and more.

Today we'll focus on one of the types of merchandise items, namely the Shenmue mug.

There were a total of four mug designs based on the concept sketches of four key characters. These concept sketches were also used for posters and several other items, as can be seen in this scan from a premiere merchandise leaflet (mugs circled in red):

A closer look at the four designs: Shenhua, Niao Sun, Ren and Ryo.
Image credit: Shenmue Master
Niao Sun was one of the four major characters to be promoted during the Shenmue premiere, but she has yet to make an appearance in either of the first two games. However it is the expectation of some fans that she will be making her debut in Shenmue III (and indeed what looks to be her character model was spied in the background of a 2017 Shenmue III "teaser" trailer).

Below is the Niao Sun mug with its original box: 
Niao Sun mug & box (image: Retro Import Gamer)
On the mug, above her image is the classic "Shenmue" logo; at the lower left corner the copyright text of "©SEGA 1998", and on the right the name of the character shown in the concept art. Instead of "Niao Sun" we see "Choujhun," which is the pronunciation of this character's name in Japanese.

Turning our attention to the box, on the side it has a label with "Sega Enterprises" written at the top, followed by the company address in Tokyo and a free-dial number and service hours for the Dreamcast Support Center.

Yu Suzuki can be seen sipping from one of the Shenmue mugs (the Shenhua one) back in Kickstarter Update #66.

Even Ryo uses one, as can be seen in this (fan-created) image!
Image credit: Blasto on the old Shenmue Dojo forums

The Niao Sun mug shown in this article is currently available from our friends at Retro Import Gamer on their Ebay store. Item ships from the UK.

View the Niao Sun mug (unused with box) listing on Ebay

Or view other Shenmue items listed on the Retro Import Gamer website.

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Yu Suzuki Speaks to Weekly Famitsu on Shenmue III: Part One | Translation

This stunning new image above, showing Ryo at the wheel of - yes! a forklift truck - in a warehouse setting, accompanied an article released today by Japan's Weekly Famitsu magazine who have interviewed Yu Suzuki about the latest state of Shenmue III.

We are currently translating the interview, with a preview section below.

YS = Yu Suzuki

Forklifts: World Premiere

Image caption: Revealed to the world for the first time is the figure of Ryo Hazuki driving a forklift in Shenmue III! The location, which looks like a warehouse, has a different feel to it from the recent trailer or the images of Bailu village we saw during our private media viewing. Will the story take us to visit a harbor town again? In our 2015 interview, Suzuki had responded "The forklift's popularity is amazing, isn't it! I'm considering them," but it would seem that they will be implemented!!
[Notes from Switch]
1. In a 2017 Famitsu interview, Yu Suzuki said "Forklifts... if I don't include them, everyone will be upset with me. [laughs] Forklifts are being readied."
2. A forklift, albeit of a differing design, was also present in the background of the warehouse battle scene image distributed with Kickstarter Update #85 (July 2018).

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Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Shenmue Shorts #54 (w/e Mar 31st): Weekly News Round-Up

Shenmue Shorts #54: Weekly News Round-Up

Each week we post a Shenmue news round-up, including selected fan community highlights, for our blog patrons.

Here's what was going on in the world of Shenmue during the week ending March 31st (link to public post):
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Monday, April 8, 2019

Poll Result: Patrons' Choice Topic for April 2019

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 April's topic. After tallying the votes (including accumulated votes from previous months) the winning topic was...

"Yu Suzuki's Research Trip to China: Part Two"

In 1994 Yu Suzuki spent two weeks in China gathering material for his upcoming Virtua Fighter II game, and his findings also greatly influenced his creation of Shenmue. In Part One, we translated blog posts about the trip by Kazunari Uchida, the person who accompanied Yu Suzuki.
In Part Two we will be continue this in-depth look at the places and people Yu visited as we translate the first of a series of magazine articles that Uchida wrote about the research trip for the Japanese Bleep! MegaDrive magazine in 1994 on their return.

Watch for it later this month!

For early access to this and other articles published on the blog, check us out on Patreon. Link to Phantom River Stone on Patreon.

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Saturday, April 6, 2019

[Closing 14th April, 2019] Submit Your Questions: Brianna Knickerbocker Interview

Brianna Knickerbocker, the new English voice actor for Shenhua in Shenmue III, has kindly granted an interview, and we would like to hear your question suggestions. A subset of the questions gathered will be selected for the interview.

Brianna is a Los Angeles based actor and voice artist who was introduced in a Shenmue III Kickstarter Update in February. She started recording her lines for the game at the end of last year and this is now complete.

She has voiced characters in an extensive number of anime, movies and video games as can be seen on her profile page on IMDB. Her roles include the voice of Sakura, Est, Ninian and Charlotte in the role-playing game series Fire Emblem and the voice of Yuna in the anime series B: The Beginning. You can hear samples of her voice work at her official site.

What would you like to ask Brianna?

Submit your questions below, bearing in mind that Brianna will not be able to disclose unreleased details about the actual game. This is a great chance for the community to learn about topics such as her background, her thoughts voicing the character of Shenhua and her experience in the studio recording for Shenmue III.

Update: Acceptance of submissions will close at the end of this weekend (Sunday, 14th April 2019).
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Friday, April 5, 2019

Analysis of Writing on the Chinese Building | Ryo and Master Trailer

Analysis: Writing on the Chinese Building | Ryo and Master Trailer

Today's post is a guest post contributed by Shenmue Dojo’s yuc02 and Araviel (Chao Yu and Hanna). Read on as they explain the meaning of the Chinese writing that can be seen decorating a building in the recent "Ryo and Master" trailer.

Note: upscaling & noise reduction has been applied to some of the images, to aid readability.

As this blog continues to showcase, the recent “Ryo and Master” MAGIC 2019 trailer has given us a bunch of fascinating aspects to explore and discuss!
  • Related posts: Observations on "Ryo & Master" Shenmue 3 Trailer Part One and Part Two.
In one of the segments with the old, drunken Master himself, Ryo is training outside in front of the entrance to a traditional Chinese building. Above the door frame we can see horizontally-written characters on a sign as well as writing running vertically down the central pillars. These form a very commonly-used decoration for traditional Chinese buildings.
Writing can be seen above the entrance and on the front pillars.
Writing can be seen above the entrance and on the front pillars.
The left and right vertical lines are called a 对联 Duilian, which is an Antithetical Couplet, and the placard across the top is called a 横批 Hengpi with an inscription is in the form of a 成语 Chengyu: an idiomatic expression usually consisting of 4 characters.
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Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Part Two: Observations on "Ryo & Master" Shenmue 3 Trailer

Part Two: Observations on "Ryo & Master" Shenmue 3 Trailer

Welcome to Part Two of our close-up examination of the Shenmue 3 "Ryo & Master" trailer that was released at MAGIC 2019 earlier this month.

In the previous part, we saw a defeated Ryo being taunted by a character wearing the distinctive costume of a Mongolian wrestler: "Did you really think you could beat me with kung fu like that?"
Now let's continue with the next part of the trailer.

"Bad Ending" Scene

With a dramatic crashing sound effect and a flash of white, the scene changes and we see Shenhua standing in a black void, with the pink petals of the Shenmue tree falling around her. The camera pulls back to reveal the ominous figure of a man in green silk robes adorned with the motif of a dragon clutching a blue crystal ball: Lan Di. He moves towards Shenhua as she draws in her breath. 
Shenhua faces Lan Di
Shenhua faces Lan Di
Behind him, he holds a mirror in his hands, and as the light catches it we see a red stone in the center that identifies it as the Phoenix mirror.
Lan Di has managed to get hold of the Phoenix mirror
Lan Di has managed to get hold of the Phoenix mirror
There are strong similarities between this clip and part of the "bad ending" cut scene in Shenmue II that plays out if Ryo has taken too long (specifically, after he goes to sleep on the night of July 31st). This cut scene consists of two parts: first, Ryo is holding the Phoenix mirror as it glows and cracks in front of his eyes, after which he is attacked by Lan Di; then Shenhua is approached by Lan Di who snarls, "I shall take your power for the Chi You".

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Monday, April 1, 2019

Shenmue 500K and Shenmue Forever Interview with Yu Suzuki | Shenmue 3

Another new fan community Shenmue 3 interview write-up with Yu Suzuki is out, brought to you by Shenmue 500K and Shenmue Forever! The interview with Yu took place in Monaco on the day before the MAGIC 2019 event. Phantom River Stone is pleased to have been able to help with the translation of Yu's responses into English.

The article is a top-quality read, and it is exciting to hear Suzuki explain that enhancements have been made to the Shenmue world in Shenmue 3 through tighter overall cohesiveness of it elements. He also notes the effect of play guides and the like being so readily available these days, and indicates that Shenmue 3 has been designed to minimize such impact.

>> Read the interview here at the Shenmue 500K website.

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Phantom River Stone Topic Selection for April

Every month Phantom River Stone holds a poll for patrons to vote for a Shenmue topic they'd most like to see on the blog.

Here is the selection of topics for the latest poll.

The selection of topics for our  latest Patrons' Choice poll.

Watch for an article on the highest-voted topic from the list above to be posted on the blog in the coming month!
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Sunday, March 31, 2019

Segata Sanshiro Theme Song at SEGA Fes 2019

Last year at the annual SEGAFes event in Tokyo, Shenmue fans were delighted with the announcement of the Shenmue I & II re-release for PS4 and PC (rewatch a captioned video of the 2018 announcement). After Day One of this year's event, has there been anything so far for Shenmue fans? In fact there were a couple of things - if only small references.

During the opening "SEGA Fan Meet-Up" stage event, the SEGA's CEO, Hajime Satomi, briefly brought up a slide of games that are celebrating their 20th anniversary since release in 2019. One of those was Shenmue, which was released for the Dreamcast in Japan at the end of 1999.

At a later event, SEGA also brought on stage their lovable mascot character for the Saturn console, Segata Sanshiro, played by actor Hiroshi Fujioka who has several links to Shenmue.

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Thursday, March 28, 2019

Community Interview with Yu Suzuki on Shenmue 3 | Shenmue Dojo and Team Yu

A great fan community Shenmue 3 interview with Yu Suzuki has been released. The interview was carried out by Team Yu & Shenmue Dojo at the recent MAGIC 2019 event. Phantom River Stone was involved in a small way too by providing an English translation of the interview.

The article is informative and entertaining and provides useful context to Yu's answers, with reference to previous answers he has given. Yu also reveals a "nod" to the feel of the previous games in the upcoming game which should bring a smile to fans' lips.

>> Read the interview here at the Shenmue Dojo forums.

Ryo's new ability to change his wardrobe

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Sunday, March 24, 2019

Is Joy related to Master Chen? | Analysis

Joy's Connection to Master Chen & Guizhang

This topic was selected by the Phantom River Stone blog patrons via our monthly poll on Patreon.

From playing Shenmue II, one might gain the impression that Joy is related to Master Chen, from certain conversations in which she refers to him as "Uncle Chen". Does she mean this literally?
A conversation in which Joy speaks of "Uncle Chen."
A conversation in which Joy speaks of "Uncle Chen."
Before dealing with this question directly, it makes for a good opportunity to review various pieces of information from within and outside the game that can be found regarding their relationship, including some optional conversations that might be missed on an initial playthrough.

Let's start by examining the profiles of Joy and Master Chen, as well as Master Chen's son Guizhang.

Joy's Profile Description

Joy's profile on SEGA Japan's Shenmue I & II site
Joy is the same age as Ryo at 18 years old. Here is an excerpt from her profile description, translated from Sega's Shenmue I & II website:
Her father, Chunyun Liang, presides over the harbor's trading business and is someone people trust deeply. Joy is his only daughter, and as a result, she is looked up to by many people at the harbor.

Like Ryo, Joy lost her mother when she was a child. Because of this, her father indulges her. She is acquainted with Master Chen and his son in Yokosuka, and they contact each other from time to time.
So Joy knows Master Chen and Guizhang, however the phrasing used, "acquainted with," sounds somewhat formal and doesn't hint at a family connection.
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Friday, March 22, 2019

[Video | English Captions] Yu Suzuki's Shenmue 3 Talk at MAGIC 2019

Earlier this month on March 9th at the MAGIC event in Monaco, Yu Suzuki gave a stage presentation about Shenmue III during which he revealed fresh information about the game. While we posted a summary of highlights at the time, a video of the presentation with English subtitles is now ready.

The video can be viewed below, and a written transcript of the presentation follows the video.

The moderator of the presentation was David De Ville and the interpreter was Kenji Kojima. We would like to thank them both for the excellent job they did on stage, as well as all their many hours of unseen efforts behind the scenes.

Shenmue Master kindly provided the video footage. Thank you to Yokosuka from the Shenmue Dojo for the question translations. Yu Suzuki's responses were translated by Switch.

Transcript of the Presentation

Shenmue 3 Kickstarter and Announcement at E3 2015

Q: First of all, I would like to return to a key element, since Shenmue 3 was born on the Kickstarter platform. Kickstarter is what allowed us to see Shenmue 3 as it is today. It's good to remind ourselves of the two Kickstarter records that Shenmue 3 broke. The first one is the fastest $1 million pledged for a Kickstarter video game, in just 1 hour 44 minutes. The second is the most-funded Kickstarter video game ever. Let's applaud this great achievement!


YS: Thank you.

Q: I am curious to know what you thought about the Kickstarter campaign. What are your memories?

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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Virtua Fighter CG Portrait Series | Guest Post by James Brown

Today's guest post was authored by James Brown (Twitter: @skilljim, YouTube: youtube.com/theskilljim). Thanks to James for the great write-up!

Back in 1995 Yu Suzuki with his AM2 team and SEGA released a 10-disc series of stand alone SEGA Saturn discs called the Virtua Fighter CG Portrait Series. Each of the discs contained computer-generated art and a unique music track, some even featuring vocals from the iconic Daytona singer himself, Takenobu Mitsuyoshi!

Each disc focused on one specific Virtua Fighter character, and there was also a bonus 11th "not for sale" disc that was based on the character Dural (and could only be obtained in exchange for sending the spine cards of the previous 10 discs to Sega).

All the discs are shown here below:
The complete set of 11 discs in the CG Portrait series
Each of the discs feature a wealth of fantastic early 3D concept art that still looks great today -  a testament to Yu Suzuki and his vision for realism.
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Saturday, March 16, 2019

Steven Spielberg's Reaction to Virtua RPG Helped Greenlight Development

A photo of Steve Spielberg visiting Yu Suzuki and the development studio during the 1990s has emerged online, in an written interview by Japan's 4Gamer with the then-business-director of AM2 ( Hisashi Suzuki - yes, another Suzuki!).

With Steve Spielberg was Mark Cerny, who was not working at SEGA at the time but was accompanying Spielberg for another project.
Sega Development Studio tour. Top: Hisashi Suzuki (AM2 business director), Yu Suzuki (AM2 development head), Hisao Oguchi (AM3 development head), Steven Spielberg, Mark Cerny. Bottom: Mie Kumagaya (AM3 developer) and Steven Spielberg's son.
Due to Spielberg's enthusiastic comments ("wonderful!") on being shown Virtua Fighter RPG, Shenmue's early form, apparently SEGA's CEO was put in such a good mood that he greenlit the start of full-on development.

A second photo of Yu Suzuki with Steven Spielberg and son has been previously shared before online:
Yu Suzuki with Steve Spielberg and son, most likely taken during the same visit as the previous photo.
It's interesting to identify that this photo is likely to have been during the same office visit, based on the matching clothing.

The 4Gamer article contains other interesting anecdotes about Yu Suzuki and Shenmue so we hope to be able to provide a translation of these parts on the blog in the future.

Source: 4Gamer (Japanese)
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