Monday, March 23, 2020

Exploring Kowloon's "Magic Rooms" Part 1 | Guest Post


The depiction of Kowloon in Shenmue II is memorable for its sheer scale and size, with a number of high rise buildings soaring up to the sky. Even more remarkably, especially for the time the game was made, is that a great portion of the rabbit-warren of rooms inside the buildings are actually accessible to the player, even if visiting them is not required to advance the game's story.

With Yu Suzuki's typical attention to detail, these extra "filler" rooms were not simply left empty, but were filled with all kinds of dilapidated furniture and various small items that evoke a lived-in feeling.

Long-time Phantom River Stone patron Jcgamer has undertaken a room exploration marathon to screenshot and catalog the wide variety of objects to be found in these Kowloon rooms, and in today's post we present Part One of his findings, which will continue across a number of posts.

Browsing these is sure to give an appreciation for the effort the development team put into crafting realistic-looking rooms that many players may pass by perhaps without even realizing the possibility of glancing inside.
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Monday, March 9, 2020

Submarine at New Yokosuka Harbor | Shenmue One Cut Content


The presence of sailors in the first Shenmue game is an accurate reflection of the influence of the US Navy Base that is located at the harbor in real-life Yokosuka. The warship docked at the far side of the harbor was also modeled on an actual ship that served in Yokosuka, and makes for a memorable sight as Ryo goes about his forklift job.
There was in fact originally going to be another large navy vessel in the game that might have increased this impact, namely: a submarine, which was to have been stationed along the warship.

Its inclusion would have been true to life, as submarines can often be seen around the real Yokosuka harbor.
A submarine at Yokosuka harbor.
The decision to remove it was likely made quite close to the game's final release, as it appeared in promotional footage as late as the release year.
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Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Poll Result: Patrons' Choice Topic for March 2020

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 March is...

"Ryo Hazuki's jacket: do the patches have any meaning?"



For any player of Shenmue, the patches on Ryo's leather jacket are a familiar sight, especially the Tiger design that constantly faces the player during normal gameplay. In this post we'll look at each of them more closely and investigate whether the designs and symbols are merely for decorative purposes, or whether they may have a deeper meaning.

Coming soon in a future blog post.

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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Shenmue Passport - Feature Article | 2000 Dreamcast Magazine Translation


We translate an article that was published in the Japanese Dreamcast Magazine back in February 2000, about the Shenmue Passport that came on disc 4 of the set of Shenmue discs. While some of its content (such as music and video clips) could be accessed offline, it also contained many features that took advantage of an internet connection such as global leaderboards and more. This article focused on explaining these network-specific features for the reader.

Note: some images are of reduced quality as they have been extracted from the scanned article. 

-- Start of article ---


Shenmue Passport


Shenmue's world is vast. However, even vaster than that is the world of the Internet. Shenmue Passport is a bridge that connects your Shenmue world to the world of the net. Don't miss the information published on the official site either!

The Internet Makes Shenmue Twice As Fun!


To all Shenmue players who are not connected to the Internet: unfortunately you're missing out! Why? Because 30% of the fun of Shenmue lies within this Passport.

For example, even if you get stuck in the game at night, you can get a hint right away. Or, learn more about the profile of characters that take your interest while playing. Or even see how your mini-game scores compare with users around the country... If you connect to the Internet, all of these things become possible.

Left: By reading in save game data, optimal support can be provided per user.
Right: Data is sent through the Internet so the content is always fresh!
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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?

Question submissions are now closed. Thanks to everyone who submitted!

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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.

Video:

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..."

-Hiki
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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