Friday, March 5, 2021

Ryo & Ren Reunited! Eric Kelso and Corey Marshall Twitch Livestream Announced

Voice talent Eric Kelso (English voice of Fuku-san, Guizhang, Ren as well as additional minor characters in Shenmue I and II) will be joining Corey Marshall on his Twitch stream as he plays Shenmue II!

Eric and Corey worked together in Japan recording their lines for SEGA for the original Shenmue - and following that, again for Shenmue II - more than twenty years ago. (You can read about this in our earlier interview with Eric Kelso on the blog).

And now they will be back together to chat and interact with fans on this special stream. Get your questions ready!

In Corey's announcement tweet, he says: "Eric and I will reminisce about our (mis)adventures working together and will take questions from Shenmue fans.  Don't miss this very special livestream!"

  • Time: Friday, March 5th at 8pm Los Angeles time [= Saturday 1pm JST]

At the Sega studio, during the recording of Shenmue II: Eric Kelso, Lisle Wilkerson [voice of Joy / Xiuying / Yuan] & Corey Marshall



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Thursday, March 4, 2021

Cut Lucky Hit Boards Resurrected in Shenmue 2 After 20 Years | Dragon & Phoenix Project Discoveries

 

Shenmue 2 was the first game in the series to introduce the game of Lucky Hit. A number of stands can be found throughout Hong Kong where Ryo may play to increase his savings, or take on a part-time job and pit his skills against passers-by.

Lucky Hit boards are scattered throughout Aberdeen, Wan Chai and Kowloon, and they offer plenty of variation: each game has its own board size, backing illustration, nail lay-out, payout ratio, rules and rewards. Many of these are easy to miss on a first play-through, being placed in little-used alleyways or sprinkled through the dilapidated buildings of Kowloon.

All these years after the game's release, renowned Shenmue modder and lead of the Dragon and Phoenix project LemonHaze has discovered the existence of a "master settings file" that defines the set-up of all the Lucky Hit boards in Shenmue 2.

Inside this file are several never-before-seen dormant Lucky Hit boards that were disabled before the game's release. LemonHaze has successfully brought these disabled Lucky Hit boards back to life, and they can even be played!

Not only that, but the discovery opens the way to allowing customization of all the Lucky Hit boards in the game.

Let's jump right in to gaze upon a slice of history in the form of the newly-uncovered Lucky Hit boards that were cut before release. For some video footage of the amazing discoveries described here, see the end of the post.


Cut Content Unearthed: New Lucky Hit Boards at the Thunder House

Our location of interest is the "Thunder House" in the Dim Sum Quarter of Kowloon and is the shell of a derelict building that has partially collapsed and is now used as an entertainment area by the locals. It is accessed down a steep set of steps (near the circular arrangement of boards known as the "Lucky Hit Museum").

Entrance to the grandly-named "Thunder House" in Kowloon
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Sunday, February 28, 2021

Early Shenmue UI Textures | Dragon & Phoenix Project Discoveries


The recently-announced Shenmue Dragon & Phoenix project promises almost limitless possibilities for experiencing Shenmue I and II running on the modern Unreal Engine. (See this great overview video and project team interview by Segalacious to learn more).

Such a project naturally involves thorough analysis to evaluate and comprehend the existing game files to ensure the gameplay is ported across accurately; and this also means that the team is perfectly positioned to uncover a wealth of new findings under the hood. As fans are very much aware, the games are so packed with content and secrets that previously-unknown easter eggs are being discovered even to this day.

Related posts:

Today we'll look at an interesting find by the project team - a set of early UI graphics that may even date as far back as the days of Shenmue development for the Sega Saturn!
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Tuesday, February 23, 2021

A Mini-Map Was Once Considered for Shenmue I

Players of Shenmue II will be familiar with the mini-maps feature in that game, being displayed onscreen in Hong Kong, if Ryo has purchased a map for the area, and also later in parts of the Guilin section to mark Ryo and Shenhua's progress along the mountain paths.

Something that may come as a surprise is that a mini-map had also been considered for the first game of the series as well at one point in the development. This discovery was reported by user Mestre Ziming on the Shenmue Dojo forums in 2016.

Arriving at New Yokosuka harbor with the mini-map feature in place might have looked like this (mock-up)

The evidence for this lies in remnants left behind in the game files of the released Dreamcast version of the game. 

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Wednesday, February 17, 2021

[Video] Shenmue 1&2 in Unreal Engine 4: Dragon and Phoenix Collection | Segalacious

A newly-announced (but already well-established) fan project called Shenmue Dragon and Phoenix Collection has been rousing excitement and anticipation throughout the Shenmue community.

By replacing the aging under-the-hood engine of the Shenmue I & II games with Unreal Engine 4, the project team aims to take advantage of modern rendering features to really show off the world of Shenmue as never before. Not only that, but the project will offer players two ways to enjoy the games: Dragon Edition, which will have gameplay that is entirely faithful to the originals and Phoenix Edition, which will be a "full UE4 reimagining" that modernizes the game with new features.

Can't wait to find out more? Segalacious has come to the rescue in his latest video below with tantalizing details and information as he breaks down exactly what the Dragon and Phoenix Collection is about, along with a Q&A session with the members of the modding team working on this ambitious task.


Shenmue 1&2 In Unreal 4 | Dragon and Phoenix Collection Modder Q&A, by Segalacious


Segalacious has also kindly allowed us to reproduce a full transcription of his narration below, together with a selection of in-engine screenshots he received from the project team for inclusion in the video.

Transcription:

The original Shenmue games are well known for being technically and visually impressive. Chasing the full potential of what Shenmue could look like using modern technology has long been an obsession for fans. Kid Nocon famously captivated the internet with his fan-made Shenmue HD remaster concept in 2014 that contributed to him being hired to work on Shenmue III. Videogame co-development studio d3t would assist Sega in creating an enhanced re-release of Shenmue I and II that was ported to the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows that both impressed and frustrated fans. As good as this port was it still missed the opportunity for greatness by neglecting to give the Shenmue games a thorough HD treatment in terms of cinematic cut scenes, sound quality, and other various blemishes. Soon after this release Digital Foundry broke a story about Sega's abandoned attempt at a ground up remake of the Shenmue games and fans were tantalized with the question “What if?” What if Shenmue I and II could be cleaned up to their fullest potential? Even if a true remake isn't financially possible, just how well could the original assets clean up on a modern engine like Unreal Engine 4?

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Saturday, February 6, 2021

Poll Result: Patrons' Choice Topic for February 2021

Every month Phantom River Stone holds a poll among our patrons to choose a topic for the blog in the coming month. After tallying the votes (including accumulated votes from previous months), the winning topic for the start of 2021 is...

"Yu Suzuki's Research Trip to China 1994: Part Eight"

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 the preceding parts of the series, Yu arrived in Beijing and from there traveled to Luoyang, Xi'an and Dengfeng where he observed monks training at Shaolin Temple.

In this next part, Yu has arrived in Cangzhou where he meets martial arts expert and descendant of the founder of Bajiquan, Master Wu Lian Zhi. Thus begins the start of a firm friendship which goes on to this day.
Yu Suzuki meets Master Wu for the first time.

Watch for it on the blog in the near future!

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Thursday, February 4, 2021

Interview with Shenmue Doujinshi Creator Mappy

Today we have a special interview with mappy, one of the team of artists (who are also of course Shenmue fans!) who recently released an amazing limited-print Shenmue doujinshi [fan-made comic book] called "Mankan Zenseki".

The cover of the "Mankan Zenseki" comic book.

The original interview in Japanese is included after the English translation.
英訳の後に日本語のインタビューの原文を掲載しています。

The 100-page book was released on 29th December 2020, and is A5 size in size. The cover illustration, shown above, wraps completely around to the back, so if two books are placed together they will form the complete image! It was produced in Japan, but the creators even offered global shipping for Shenmue fans overseas. Note: due to popular fan demand, the book sold out quickly after its release.

The book represents an updated edition of content that the artists published previously between 2002 and 2008, with new comics and some color illustrations added.

Note on the illustrations in this post: Mappy has kindly given us permission to reproduce some sample pages from the book in this post, and Daniel Mann has done a wonderful job of turning these into English scanlations! (We plan to feature more of his sample page scanlations in a future post). Note that the panels read right to left.


Introduction


PRS: To start, could you please introduce yourself?

mappy: My name is mappy. I have been a Shenmue fan since 2001.

Shenmue Fan-made Book “Mankan Zenseki”


PRS: I really enjoyed reading your Shenmue fan-made book! By the way, what does its name “Mankan Zenseki” mean?

mappyThank you very much for reading it! They call the more than 100 different types of imperial dishes in Chinese cuisine "Mankan Zenseki". Since this doujinshi was exactly 100 pages long, we decided on this title.
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Thursday, January 28, 2021

Yu Suzuki's Early Days in Manga Form! Part 3/3 | Scanlation by Daniel Mann

Welcome to the third and final part of Daniel Mann's scanlation of a manga about the early days of the legendary games creator Yu Suzuki. The original was published in 2019 by DenFamiNicoGamer, 

Go here to read the earlier parts:

In this part of the interview, Yu Suzuki talks about how Virtua Fighter evolved, and paved the way for the development of Shenmue. The manga ends with a tribute to the legend that is Yu Suzuki.

Note: the manga panels read right to left.

-Switch

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