Saturday, July 11, 2020

Shenmue Selected by IGN Japan as All-Time Best SEGA Game

Shenmue Selected As IGN Japan's All-Time Best SEGA Game

To celebrate the year of SEGA's 60th anniversary, IGN Japan counted down their all-time top 10 SEGA games.

And ranking in at first place is Shenmue - specifically, the first game in the series!

IGN Japan's Esra Krabbe commented on the magic of Shenmue as follows (translation):
"Shenmue undeniably had a tremendous influence on the games that followed it, although now of course there are many games that - on the surface, at least - far surpass it. However, this is not a title that can be simply dismissed as "old". Its design, which focuses on density over area size and reality over entertainment, creates a real, believable world that amazes even now. Shenmue follows real-world rules to an extent that some might find tedious, and with some of its highlights being details that can easily go unnoticed, it can be hard to understand what makes it so special. The premise of a young Japanese man traveling to China creates a unique setting. The story, which deals with concepts such as cultural values and communication across cultures and depicts a journey of finding one’s roots, forms something so powerful it can be life-changing, especially if you play it in your formative years".

IGN Japan's All-Time Top 10 SEGA Games 

  1. Shenmue
  2. Yakuza 0
  3. Virtua Fighter 4
  4. Nights into Dreams
  5. Sonic Adventure
  6. Valkyria Chronicles
  7. Jet Set Radio
  8. Sakura Wars 4
  9. Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA
  10. Out Run
Notes on the selection:
  • Eligibility: any game ever developed or published by SEGA, regardless of platform.
  • Factors considered included historical impact, innovation and quality.
  • In the case of a game series, only one title from the series could be selected.
  • Titles by Atlus, a subsidiary of SEGA, were excluded.
Source: IGN Japan article (Japanese)
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Sunday, July 5, 2020

Poll Result: Patrons' Choice Topic for July 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 the winning topic for June is...

"Memories about working on Shenmue I & II by various Japanese voice actors & project members".

In November 2018, when Shenmue I & II was released in Japan, gathered comments from several of the original members of the Japanese cast and development team, and asked them to share their memories of creating the games. Included were Masaya Matsukaze (voice & motion actor for Ryo), Ikue Ōtani (voice of Megumi), Tow Ubukata (scenario writing) and Takenobu Mitsuyoshi (music).

We will be translating their comments into English in an upcoming blog post.

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Saturday, July 4, 2020

Exploring Shenmue Forest at the "Network Jungle II: Digitaliland" Event (1999)

Exploring Shenmue Forest at the "Network Jungle II: Digitaliland" Event (1999)

Coming into 1999, the excitement around the upcoming release of Shenmue was growing ever stronger. The game had been gathering widespread interest, with Shenmue Premiere events being held in multiple cities across Japan from the end of the previous year, and the public had their first hands-on taste of Shenmue at the March 1999 Tokyo Game Show (TGS). Following this, the next major event at which Shenmue was shown was a multimedia event called "Network Jungle II: Digitaliland" in early May 1999. SEGA pulled out all the stops in promoting the game, with video footage, stage events, merchandise, demonstrations, hands-on play and even a special "virtual exhibition" demo which ran on Dreamcast hardware. Magazine reports quoted Yu Suzuki as saying people could look forward to seeing significant improvements since the Shenmue demos shown at TGS.

In this post we'll recap everything SEGA lined up for Shenmue at the Digitaliland event.

Image credits: special thanks to PRS patron James Brown, our friends at Shenmue Master and to Kohji for their images & photos of the event.

Network Jungle

If you are wondering about the meaning behind the event's name...

"Network Jungle" is the name of an experimental project that was started by NHK Enterprises (one of the group companies owned by Japan's national broadcaster NHK) in 1997, to investigate how digital content and communications would shape Japan's society in the near future. Government ministries were also involved as sponsors.

Part I took the form of a special broadcast program on channel BS2 in 1997 that was called "Network Jungle: How Electronic Networks Will Change the World".

For Part II, a three-day exhibition event was organized to allow the public to experience the potential of multimedia and digital communications for themselves. A digest of this event was subsequently broadcast as a documentary with the even wordier name of "Network Jungle II: The Future is Coming to Your Home! Explore Digitaliland!" 

A few months later, in July of that year, NHK would broadcast a third documentary in the Network Jungle series, "Network Jungle III: a Vision of the Future! A New Digital Era", which documented the making of Shenmue.

Today's post is about the Shenmue promotion at the event produced for the second part of the Network Jungle series.

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Friday, June 26, 2020

The Official Shenmue Jigsaw Puzzle | Timelapse Video by James Brown

The Official Shenmue Jigsaw Puzzle | Timelapse Video by James Brown

The Shenmue jigsaw puzzle is one of the lesser-known pieces of officially-licensed Shenmue merchandise, released in 1999 ahead of the launch of the first game in the series, and there is very little to be found online in the way of information or even images.

But it's now possible to see the jigsaw up close, thanks to avid Shenmue collector and PRS patron James Brown, who has created a superb timelapse video showcasing the jigsaw and showing the start-to-finish process of solving and framing the jigsaw. The many hours of effort it took to finish can be enjoyed in minutes!

About the Shenmue Jigsaw

The jigsaw was released as a licensed product of SEGA Enterprises in 1999.
  • Size: 750 x 500 mm
  • Pieces: 1000
  • Manufacturer: Yutaka, with "PUZZLE COMPANY" branding
  • Box contents: bag of jigsaw pieces, general information sheet, glue & sponge.
  • Serial number: N3100-001
  • Country of manufacture: Japan
  • Year of release: 1999
The jigsaw image is a composite of characters from the Shenmue series: Ryo Hauzki, Shenhua, Xiuying, Lan Di, Iwao Hazuki, Niao Sun, Chai and Ren. At the bottom right is the Shenmue logo, and a smaller YS logo.
Box cover
Box cover

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Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Exploring Kowloon's "Magic Rooms" [Part 3] | Jcgamer

Exploring Kowloon's "Magic Rooms" [Part 3] | Jcgamer

Welcome to part 3 in this series on the "magic rooms"  to be found within Kowloon's skyscrapers in Shenmue 2, in which we present the findings made by Jcgamer who has thoroughly explored the Kowloon rooms and taken screenshots of all the individual items found inside, and finally carefully sorted these into categories for our enjoyment!

The previous parts revealed the great variety the developers put into populating the rooms:
Today we turn our attention to the categories of Electrical Appliances, Bottles, Ceiling Fans & Light Fittings and House Plants.

Category: Appliances

The main types of electrical appliances to be found in the rooms are television sets and refrigerators. 

The fridges show the greatest variation, with different colors (white, green, red, yellow), sizes (full-size, half-size) and doors (one-door and two-door styles). The family photos taped to the front of one of the fridges are a nice touch.

The variation in the TVs is more limited, with some having cabinet doors underneath, but only a single style of set to be seen.

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Thursday, June 11, 2020

Yu Suzuki Celebrates His 62nd Birthday

Yu Suzuki celebrated his 62nd birthday.yesterday, on June 10th, and tweeted out a photo on his personal account.
Happy birthday to Yu!
Happy birthday to Yu! (Source tweet)
His tweet reads (translation):
Thank you everyone for your wishes!
I have turned 62.
I'll keep giving my best.
The icing message on the cake reads "WanWan Happy 62nd". The meaning of WanWan (わんわん) is not clear, but it means "bow wow" in Japanese. Yu was born in 1958 which is Year of the Dog in the Chinese Zodiac, so perhaps that is the connection..?

We also sent our own message of congratulations to Yu on behalf of the Shenmue fans, and we wish him an amazing year to come.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Shenmue I & II Sound Collection Online from SEGA

SEGA has today made the #Shenmue I & II Soundtrack collection available online!

The full collection of 40 songs can be streamed for free, or purchased through one of the many services.
Here is the title list in English:

Enjoy listening to the collection now on...

YouTube Music

The complete collection can be purchased for 1580 yen (about $15 USD).

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Monday, June 8, 2020

Bailu Village Secrets Part 2: Ranking Boards at Martial Hall | Guest Post by Dave Matthews (SalsaShark)

Bailu Village Secrets Part 2: Ranking Boards at Martial Hall

Hello again everyone and welcome to part two of Bailu Village Secrets! If you missed it, in part 1 we took a look at the ema housed in Man Yuan Temple and the stories they tell about the village and its inhabitants.

Related post:
Today I want to focus on Martial Hall. Situated on a picturesque overlook with a gorgeous view of the Verdant Bridge, Martial Hall is the first building Ryo encounters in his descent from Shenhua's home down into Bailu proper. Here Ryo can practice his horse stance and one-inch punch on the wooden training dummies out front and polish his fighting techniques by either sparring with or challenging the five resident monks.  

Five Tigers
Five Tigers
Ryo starts out unranked and must defeat each monk in turn - from Red Tiger at 1st duan to Gold Tiger who stands alone at 5th duan – if he wants to reach the top of the rankings posted on the dojo wall.

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