Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Submit Your Questions for Shenmue 3 Developers

Call For Interview Question Suggestions

Would you like to hear what members of the Shenmue III development team have to say about their work on the game?

Stemming from a proposal in a recent Shenmue Dojo forum thread, I reached out to Deep Silver to see if they could help assist with approval to interview some of the developers that worked on Shenmue III, and to my delight, approval has been received from YS Net.

The developers in question are from Tokyo-based Implausible Industries, of which they are also co-founders, and have a great deal of experience in the game industry. From the company website:
"Before starting Implausible Industries, our members worked on many games of well-known franchises such as Driver, Fatal Frame, FIFA, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon, No More Heroes and Final Fantasy. Our strong experience with Unreal Engine allows us to quickly prototype and efficiently develop top quality games in what we believe to be the best games development toolset."
For Shenmue III specifically, the end credits of the game list their respective roles in the project as follows:
  • Christopher Willacy: Level Designer
  • Daniel Markiewicz: Level Designer
  • Cornelis E. (Kees) Gajentaan: Shader Artist
In view of them being in an extremely busy period, the plan is for the interview to be carried out by email.

This is an open call to the Shenmue fan community for interview question suggestions! Any topic will be considered, but obviously most focus will be given to their work on Shenmue III..

Leave your questions for consideration below, by February 26th.

What would you like to ask them about?

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Sunday, February 16, 2020

Ryo's Footwear Habits Revisited | Shenmue 3

One of the many small details in the first game in the Shenmue series is the way that Ryo always makes sure to slip off his shoes when entering his home or the Dojo (with the prologue scene being the one notable and deliberately-made exception), adding a layer of authenticity to the world.
Shenmue I: Ryo removes his footwear when inside the Hazuki residence.
In Shenmue II, however, unlike in the first game Ryo does not remove his footwear at any time, even on occasions where it would have seemingly been natural for him to do so.
One explanation for the absence of footwear removal in Shenmue II may have been due to budget constraints, as it would have required extra cut scenes, modeling and animations. With the release of Shenmue III, we have the opportunity to observe how similar occasions are handled in the latest sequel.

Ryo's Footwear Habits in Shenmue III

We'll look at how two locations that involve situations where Ryo might be expected to remove his shoes, both being in Bailu village with its traditional customs and way of life: Shenhua's house and the house of Elder Yeh.

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Friday, February 14, 2020

Happy Valentine's Day from Joy!

Happy Valentine's Day!
This art was distributed on a card to attendees of the premiere of Shenmue: The Movie in Japan in January 2001.

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Saturday, February 8, 2020

Baoding Balls | Guest Post by Hiki

Today's guest post is by Hiki, and introduces a traditional Chinese item for maintaining dexterity that features some familiar motifs.

Today I want to show something really interesting. I want to show you Baoding Balls or Healthy Balls.

My mother died in 2017, and these Healthy Balls was hers. Today I was looking at the balls and reading the instruction paper and I saw that this may have a connection with Shenmue. In my opinion, perhaps the Baoding Balls were the inspiration for Yu Suzuki to create the Dragon Mirror and Phoenix Mirror.


Synopsis of the Healthy Ball

Being a traditional product of Baoding City, the Healthy Ball is famous throughout China and all over the world.

The history of the Ball can be traced back as early as the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644 D), when it first came out. Solid at the beginning, it was used to build up physical strength and to limber up the joints, as well as a tool for self-defense. It remained solid till the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911 A D), when it was fashioned into a hollowed one with a soundboard inside. Since then, the Balls have been handed down from generation to generation.

They are also known as "Double Balls of Roaring Dragon and Singing Phoenix," for two balls are usually manipulated together, sounding different tones.

This is the part that I think has a connection to Shenmue, in my opinion. I think the Baoding Balls were the inspiration for Yu Suzuki to create the Dragon Mirror and the Phoenix Mirror.

I think that this is awesome. The Baoding Balls will be in my Shenmue Collection. I know this is not an item that appears in the games but I think it has a connection with Shenmue.

What do you guys think?

About the Author

Shenmue is my favorite videogame series of all time. Shenmue is so special for me and for many fans around the world, so I decided to create a YouTube channel called Shenmue コレクション (which translates as Shenmue Collection).

I plan to upload everything about Shenmue. I'm not trying to compete with other Shenmue channels, all I want is to create a beautiful collection of Shenmue videos to show my love for Shenmue and to help promote the series.

In this channel you will find Shenmue content of all kinds:, me playing the games, the soundtracks of the games, interviews with Yu Suzuki, me playing Shenmue songs on piano, me talking about Shenmue, me showing my Shenmue collection and much more.

In the word of Iwao Hazuki: "Your friends... Keep friends... Those you love... close to you..."

Thanks to Hiki for the post submission, and it's great to see another channel created in the Shenmue fan community featuring original content - we look forward to  performances of Shenmue pieces on the piano! Why not subscribe to Shenmue Collection on YouTube and keep an eye out for more.

Text originally shared on the Shenmue Dojo forums and submitted to this blog by the author.

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Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Yu Suzuki's 1994 China Research Trip Part 5: Days Two & Three | Translation

A continuation of our series on Yu Suzuki's 1994 Research Trip to China. This topic was selected by the Phantom River Stone blog patrons via our monthly poll on Patreon and was available for early access.

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.

Previous posts in this series of blog posts:
  • In Part One, we translated blog entries about the trip by Kazunari Uchida, the person who accompanied Yu Suzuki.
  • Part Two is a magazine article in which Yu Suzuki gives own comments about his trip, and how his findings would be useful for the development of the Virtua Fighter series.
  • In Part Three, Yu's traveling companion, Kazunari Uchida, talks about how he first met Yu Suzuki and his curiosity to learn about the genius behind the man during the upcoming trip.
  • Part Four is Kazunari Uchida's journal entry for the start of the trip itself: Day One - Beijing.
In this post, Part Five, we continue on with Kazunari Uchida's journal entry for Days Two and Three.

Yu Suzuki: China Research Trip Journal

Recap of the Trip So Far

With Virtua Fighter, Yu Suzuki broke new ground for the fighting game genre. Aiming at further enhancements for Virtua Fighter II, Suzuki made a decision to travel to China, the center of martial arts, on a research mission. His travel companion was his longtime friend and someone experienced in reporting on remote regions: writer and cameraman Kazunari Uchida, In high spirits, the pair boarded a flight to the continent and energetically started their research.

Day Two: Gathering Textures in Beijing

We wanted to go to Shaolin Temple as soon as we could for our first encounter with authentic kung fu, but buses and trains still don't run frequently in China and arranging the tickets was taking time. Holding our impatience in check, during the time before our night train departed we decided to make a typical sight-seeing tour of Beijing, taking in the Imperial Palace of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, and the religious buildings at Temple of Heaven Park where prayers are held for a bountiful harvest, 

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Tuesday, January 28, 2020

A Chat With the Knock Motorcycle Shop Owner | Shenmue in Real Life

This topic was selected by Phantom River Stone members in our monthly poll and was available for early access. More info on our Patreon page.

Many of the places in the Shenmue series are modeled or based on actual places, and this is especially true for the first game which features locations that are very similar to ones that actually existed at the time the game was made. In recent years, SEGA has even worked with Yokosuka City to produce an official Shenmue Sacred Spot Guide Map that highlights several of these.

Alas, some of these that were around in the early 2000's are no longer here today, such as the large gantry crane at the harbor, dismantled in 2013, or the Jupiter jacket shop in Dobuita that no doubt inspired the in-game Jupitor's Jackets shop, which closed in 2015.

One of the most memorable shopfronts in the game is the Knocking Motorcycle Shop, with its large sign above proudly proclaiming"YOKOSUKA JAPAN", the show window crammed full of parts and several motorbikes scattered about outside in various states of repair.

In fact, the Knocking Motorcycle Shop was also based on a real-life bike shop called Knock Motor, which used to be located just off Dobuita Street. As you can see from this photo in a March 2000 edition of the Weekly AM2 online magazine, they are remarkably similar, right down to the design and lettering on the shop sign.
The real Knock motorcycle shop in Dobuita (March 2000).
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Friday, January 24, 2020

A Nod to Bass Fishing in the Battle Rally DLC

The arcadey action of the racing section of the new Shenmue III Battle Rally DLC contains some nice touches that hark back to Yu Suzuki's classic arcade games.

As mentioned in our Battle Rally DLC recap post, there are several graphical tributes to Yu Suzuki's 1986 arcade game Out Run. One of these is the Goal banner:

And another nod to a SEGA arcade game has been spotted. The game in question is Bass Fishing (also known as Get Bass), which had an arcade release in 1997/1998 and came with a built-in fishing rod controller.
SEGA's Bass Fishing arcade
The game was later ported to consoles including the Dreamcast.

Comparing the Bass Fishing logo side-by-side with the title on the Battle Rally main selection screen shows the strong similarity, from the color graduation effect to the slant and font design. (Credit to Nikolai Antonov for the discovery).

There may well be more such nods to SEGA's classic arcade games. Leave a comment if you have noticed any others!

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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Shenmue III DLC Out Now: Battle Rally (with Bailu Chan Hunt)

The first playable DLC for Shenmue III, called "Battle Rally" has become available from today, and offers not one but two games set in Shenmue III's world.

One is Battle Rally, the an entertaining series of time-trial courses (mixed with fighting!) which gives the DLC its name. And the second is a separate treasure-hunt style game that will look somewhat familiar to Shenmue III players, called Bailu Chan Hunt!

Both of these activities are set in Bailu village, and the game will check that you have progressed past this location in your main game, before making it accessible. Also be sure your main game is up-to-date (at the time of this post, the latest version is currently v1.04.01).

Battle Rally

Battle Rally has a fun, arcade-like feel to it that will immediately remind players strongly of Yu Suzuki's past arcade titles. You can choose to play as one of three characters: Ryo Hazuki, Ren Wuying or Wei Zhen (the martial artist who can often been found practicing opposite the Sunflower grove in the main game).

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