Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Poll Result: Patrons' Choice Topic for September 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 September 2021 is...


" Interview with Shenmue sound staff: Yuzo Koshiro, Takenobu Mitsuyoshi (January 2000)"

We will be translating an early magazine interview with two legendary music composers who were part of Shenmue's Sound team: Yuzo Koshiro and Takenobu Mitsuyoshi. Among the numerous games for which Yuzo Koshiro has composed music are the Ys series in the late 1980s and the Streets of Rage series in the 1990s, while Takenobu Mitsuyoshi has been composing for Sega games since the 1990s, including work on the Virtua Fighter series and the theme song for Daytona USA.


This interview was published in a January 2000 edition of the Japanese Dreamcast Magazine, soon after Shenmue's release in Japan.

Watch for it on the blog in the near future.

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Saturday, September 4, 2021

Weekly AM2 Vol. 3: Shenmue Triathlon | 28th Dec 1999

 In this series we translate Shenmue content from Weekly AM2, the official online magazine published by Sega's AM2 development team back in the day. News and information about the Shenmue series could be found regularly within these pages from the end of 1999 through to 2001 with the release of Shenmue II.

Vol. 3 was released on 28th December 1999, one day before the official release of Shenmue in Japan on the 29th, and announces a speed run competition named the Shenmue Triathlon. The Weekly AM2 logo has also been revamped with the tagline "Always bringing you the hottest topics" (complete with three exclamation marks at the end!).

-Switch

 

Vol.3:1999.12.28

Hello! This is Takuan.

Another year comes to an end, and with it the release of the long-awaited "Shenmue Chapter 1: Yokosuka".

This is the last Weekly AM2 of the year, and I'll be bringing it to you with the utmost enthusiasm!

This week's contents:
  • "Shenmue Chapter 1: Yokosuka" Releases at Last Tomorrow!
  • Shenmue Strategy Guide Releases on January 7th!
  • Announcing the Shenmue Triathlon!
  • Commencing the Shenmue Original Wallpaper Download Service!

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Tuesday, August 24, 2021

March 2021 Yu Suzuki Interview Part Two | SEGA Hard Historia

Part Two of our translation of a new interview with Yu Suzuki that was published in the recently-released SEGA Hard Historia book, featuring retrospectives with various key developers and staff members over the years.

Part One can be found here if you haven't yet read it:

In the second and final part of the interview, Yu-san talks about the evolution of 3D in games, and the Sega Saturn and Dreamcast eras.

Source material supplied by SkillJim (James Brown). Check out his SEGA Hard Historia unboxing video at the end of the article!

The interview translation continues below, with Yu describing how he gathered video footage for Out Run during his trip in Europe.



YS: We took videos with a camera to the hood and near the wheel suspension, attached with duct tape or string. It also had a sunroof, so I opened the sunroof and filmed from there. When I was thinking over what the player's car should be, I saw a red Ferrari outside a public casino in Monaco. A Testarossa. And it was a convertible. "That's it!", I thought, "There's no car more exciting, no car with more presence, no other car more enviable!" And the sunshine, unlike in Japan, was so crisp and clear. With its vivid red color shining brightly, under a blue sky and white clouds - I knew this was it.

Q: You next went on to create After Burner and G-LOC. What motivated you to create those?

YS: Well, there wasn't anything connecting on to these games. Mr. Hayao Nakayama, who was the (Sega) president at the time, was talking a lot about how MicroProse had released a flight simulator that had become a hit in the US. He was always saying, "Don't we have a flight simulator?" So I thought, "Why don't we make a flying game?"

It was like when I was working on Out Run and Hang On. Namco had games like Pole Position, and there was a general perception that racing games were Namco's thing. So when Mr. Nakayama said, "Don't we have a racing game?" I thought, "I should make one." (laughs) When I started Hong On, I had thought of making a racing game, but cars running into one other didn't seem very appropriate, so I decided to go with Hang On. So that's why there was this sense that Namco was the only company that made racing games. If I was going to make a game, I wanted to make one with something like the F14. Also, part of it was because Space Harrier gave me the chance to try something I hadn't done before. At the time, there was no 3D hardware, you see.

So I rendered 3D airplanes with a 3D library I had built, and made use of the resulting set of images, switching between them. I input all the data for the plane by hand, using 3D software tools I wrote myself. As they were sprites, I was free to hand-draw them how I wanted, but if I made the missiles look too smooth, they wouldn't look 3D. I wanted them to have a polygonal appearance, so I purposely made them hexagonal.

After Burner: Suzuki deliberately gave the missiles a hexagonal look
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Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Mar 2021 Yu Suzuki Interview: SEGA Hard Historia | Part 1/2

A new interview with Yu Suzuki was published in the recently-released SEGA Hard Historia book, featuring retrospectives with various key developers and staff members over the years. In this first part of the interview, Yu-san talks about his early game development days at Sega. The interview took place in March this year (2021).

Special thanks to James Brown for supplying the source material. James also has a superb unboxing video introducing the complete SEGA Hard Historia package, linked at the end of the article.

The interview translation (Part One) starts below.


AM2's Yu Suzuki gained immense popularity with his series of legendary hits in Sega's arcades, as well as ports such as Virtua Racer, in the Mega Drive's later years, and Virtua Fighter for the Sega Saturn. Sega's legendary creator reveals story upon story from those days...

Anecdotes on arcade hits and what Sega was like at that time

Q: What was Sega like when you joined the company (1983)?

YS: SEGA was originally a foreign company, so at that time, all the documents were in English. Issue sheets and all sorts of other things were all in English. It struck me as a somewhat peculiar company. I was in the development section - at the start I was asked if I wanted to be in Software, Design (which is what art was called) or Sound. I was interested in all three, but my boss, Mr. Yoshii, told me that software was the way to go, so I joined Software. I still remember that the Software and Hardware sections were in the same general area. Later, Sega would be divided into the Hardware section, Software section, Console section, and Amusements section, but at that time, Software and Hardware were huddled together in the same place.

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Thursday, August 12, 2021

Fan-built Shenmue 3 Character Database Released!

Something that adds greatly to Shenmue's sense of realism are the believable characters that inhabit its world. Each has been carefully crafted, with their own motivations and back-stories, not all of which is necessarily even revealed while playing - how many players will have been astounded to find out perhaps many years later that the "fine and dandy" drunk that stumbled around Dobuita's streets at night is an ex-actor who is in fact only pretending to be drunk?

When Shenmue I and II were released, players had various options to access this extra character information in various forms such as the Shenmue Passport disc (for Shenmue I), magazine features and strategy guidebooks - even if much of this was published only in Japanese. However with Shenmue III,  there has been no such guide or character repository for Yu Suzuki's third game in the series.

But now, long-time Shenmue fan Stuart Peacock (otherwise known as Miles Prower on the Shenmue Dojo forums) has released to the community a comprehensive Shenmue III character database. The culmination of a great deal of thorough research and careful investigation, the database contains entries for 300+ characters met or seen in the game, complete with headshot images, names, ages, locations, notes and more, all of it just a few taps away.

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Monday, August 9, 2021

Poll Result: Patrons' Choice Topic for August 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 August 2021 is...

"Shenmue III English Lines Compared to the Original"

The first two Shenmue games have their share of quirky English translations, and in this topic we'll turn our attention to Shenmue III and look at a number of English lines that may have caused players to wonder how closely they reflect the original Japanese.

These may be anything from a particular word or phrase that relates to the story, to an inconsequential conversation that leaves the player feeling slightly puzzled.

Watch for it to come to the blog in a future post!

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Sunday, August 8, 2021

Weekly AM2 Vol. 2: Shenmue Pre-Release Interview with Keiji Okayasu | 21st Dec 1999

In this series we translate Shenmue content from Weekly AM2, the official online magazine published by Sega's AM2 development team back in the day. News and information about the Shenmue series could be found regularly within these pages from the end of 1999 through to 2001 with the release of Shenmue II.

Vol. 2 was released on 21st December 1999, a few days before the official release of Shenmue in Japan on the 29th, and includes a mini-interview with the game's director Keiji Okayasu. Okayasu also directed Shenmue II and returned to Shenmue once again many years later to work with Yu Suzuki on Shenmue III.

-Switch

 
Vol.2:1999.12.21


Hello, this is Takuan.

Get ready for another exciting edition as we bring the latest news!

This week's contents:
  • Pre-release interview with Shenmue game director, Keiji Okayasu
  • F355 Challenge: prizes for the top Internet Ranking winners!
  • Shenmue launch event scheduled!
  • Start of i-mode service on December 24!
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Sunday, August 1, 2021

Weekly AM2 Vol. 1: The Launch of Weekly AM2 | 14th Dec 1999

In this new series, we will be translating content from the official online magazine published by Sega's AM2 team back in the day. Content about the Shenmue series was published regularly within over the next couple of years until the release of Shenmue II in 2001.

This is the very first edition of the Weekly AM2 web magazine, launched on 14th December 1999, with the release of Shenmue in Japan imminent. A link to the Weekly AM2 thereafter became a regular feature of the Shenmue.com website.

Although this first entry is really just an announcement of the planned series, it has short messages from Yu Suzuki as well as Makoto Osaki (the deputy director of AM2 under Suzuki, whose other projects include the Virtua Fighter series and Daytona USA).

The three concept keywords around which Shenmue was built - "Leisurely, Fully, Gently" - are mentioned again here. Yu Suzuki referred to them in his GDC 2014 retrospective, and Takumi Hagiwara also brought them up in his 1999 pre-release interview we translated last week.

-Switch

 
Vol.1:1999.12.14

Nice to meet you all.

I'm Takuan, and I'll be running Weekly AM2.

I'm looking forward to bringing you lots of great information on a weekly basis going forward.

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