Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Unused Asset: A Second Letter From Iwao to Ryo | Shenmue

In the first Shenmue game, players discover a note addressed to Ryo from his father Iwao, who seemingly had some inkling that his life was in danger. Reading through this letter is a memorable moment for players of the game.

In fact, it turns out that this is not the only that letter Iwao wrote. There is a second, unused version of Iwao's letter to Ryo that can be found within the game files which we will examine in today's post, and see how it compares to the one used in the game.

Iwao's Letter #1 (Release Version)

In Iwao's letter that Ryo finds in the game, his father gives him advice on being true to one's convictions:
"Dear Ryo... those who follow the path of a warrior, must be prepared to die in order to stand by their convictions. Live for one's convictions, die for one convictions. That is how I lived my life. Ryo, it is up to you to discover your path and follow it through."
Letter from Iwao #1 (release version)

Ryo reading Iwao's letter (release version)

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Saturday, May 14, 2022

Poll Result: Patrons' Choice Topic for May 2022

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 that has been voted this time is:

"What's Shenmue Unused Assets: Mr. Yukawa business card variants"

What's Shenmue is the name of a playable demo that was released in Japan shortly before the full release of Shenmue. It took place in Dobuita Street and involved a short quest in which Ryo has to to locate Mr. Yukawa (a former senior executive at Sega) before a deadline.

During the quest, Ryo visits the You Arcade where he obtains Mr. Yukawa's business card.

Details on the front of the card include the SEGA logo, Mr. Yukawa's full name and title (Hidekazu Yukawa, Former Senior Managing Director), his company (Sega Enterprises) and a link to the Shenmue.com website.
The back contains a handwritten clue over the Dreamcast swirl that points him to the next location of interest ("After 4pm, Asia Travel Co.").

While this is the card that is used when playing the demo, in fact among the game files are a couple of other minor variations of the Mr. Yukawa business card that would have been produced during its development but not used, but were left behind. We'll be looking at these in an upcoming post.

Watch for it soon on the blog!

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Saturday, May 7, 2022

Ryo at Miao Guang Temple Entrance

Ryo approaches Miao Guang Temple.

This image is a composite of a screenshot showing content cut from Shenmue 2, and a model of a temple gate & wall present in the released version of the game.

The latest posts in the Miao Village analysis series have more details about the cut temple content:

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Friday, May 6, 2022

[Part Five] The Secret of Miao Village: Temple Content Left Behind

Welcome to Part Five of our analysis of cut-content screenshots of the mysterious "Miao Village" and temple that were revealed in 2002 on the Shenmue.com website by AM2, Yu Suzuki's development team at Sega.

Parts in the series:

  1. Village Screenshots Analysis
  2. Village Content Left Behind
  3. The House in Xiuying and Ziming's Flashback
  4. Temple Screenshots Analysis
  5. Temple Content Left Behind (this post)
  6. The Original Plan for Miao Village in Shenmue II
  7. Content Reborn
In this post, we will gather together any content to be found among the disc files that may have once been part of the temple location seen in the screenshots.

Name of the Temple

Just as an unused "Miao Village" loading screen was uncovered by fans (see Part Two), a second unused loading screen was also found that provides the name of this temple. If running a build of Shenmue II that has a debug menu, this can be viewed by setting the area code to SMMK:
Debug menu: settings for displaying the temple loading screen

Doing so will display the following loading screen, which has the name "Miao Guang Temple" (as with the Miao Village loading screen, it fails to continue past this point):

The Miao Guang Temple loading screen (the time and date are default values)

The area code for this loading screen, SMMK, matches the four-character prefix seen in the filename for the object model representing the red-cover version of the Wulinshu (seen in Ryo's hands in the temple screenshot), confirming that it is the same temple.

Next, we'll look for models of objects or buildings on the disc. You may recall that Part Two's earlier investigation into the village screenshots turned up fragments of village houses actually included in the released game in an unexpected area: the gloomy corridors of the first couple of floors of the Yellow Heads Building. It turns out there are further pieces of scenery to be found there that relate to the temple location.
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Thursday, May 5, 2022

The Shenmue Game Yu Suzuki Wants to Make Next | Excerpts from the Yokosuka Livestream

During the recent livestream talk event to celebrate the release of Shenmue the Animation that was held on location in Yokosuka, Yu Suzuki was asked about his plans or intention for his next Shenmue-related project.

The focus of the livestream was naturally on the anime, but in this post we have transcribed extracts from Yu Suzuki that are pertinent to the topic of the Shenmue video games and any plans for a next Shenmue entry (translations by Switch).

Reflections on Shenmue III

While the focus of the livestream was of course the anime, in the latter half the topic turned to Shenmue III. The MC, Esra Krabbe of IGN Japan, pointed out that, while he had held interviews with Yu Suzuki several times in the period leading up to the game's release, there had not been so much of an opportunity to talk with him about the game in the 3 years after its release.

Yu Suzuki: Through the support of long-time players, the game [Shenmue III] was able to be realized through Kickstarter, and they rated it really highly. That's largely because I put my heart and soul into it with fans in mind, and made it just for them. Their high ratings really gave me a feeling of achievement and I was very happy to see that.

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Friday, April 29, 2022

Shenmue Anime Merchandise: Stamp Sets (with Pins or Hand Cloth)

SEGA / Shenmue Project has released a set of stamps themed on Shenmue The Animation through Japan Post. They are named "Frame Stamps" which is the registered trademark for Japan Post's customizable stamp creation service.

Each set has 5 genuine large-size stamps of 84 yen value each which depict the following characters from the anime: Ryo, Lan Di, Shenhua, Nozomi and Ren.

(During the recent Shenmue The Animation livestream in Dobuita, Yu Suzuki commented that, although he had not been aware of this merchandise being planned, he has always wanted a set of Shenmue themed stamps).
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Thursday, April 28, 2022

Shenmue x Yokosuka: Livestream with Yu Suzuki, Yu Kiyozono, Masaya Matsukaze and Esra Krabbe

Tune in 29th April at 6pm JST for a special livestream in which Yu Suzuki and other special guests will be talking about Shenmue The Animation!

Featuring special guests:

  • Yu Suzuki (anime executive producer, YS Net)
  • Yu Kiyozono (anime producer, Telecom Animation Film)
  • Masaya Matsukaze (voice of Ryo Hazuki, Japanese voicing)
and with Esra Krabbe (MC, IGN Japan) as MC.

According to the stream description:
"We have invited some illustrious guests related to the anime series to talk about what makes Shenmue The Animation so appealing, as well as details of the Shenmue ✕ Yokosuka Anime Commemoration Project promotion".


Note: the livestream will be in Japanese, but we plan to provide English subtitles, or a summary, in the near future after the stream has ended.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2022

[Part Four] The Secret of Miao Village: Temple Screenshots Analysis

Welcome to Part Four of our analysis of cut-content screenshots of the mysterious "Miao Village" and temple that were revealed in 2002 on the Shenmue.com website by AM2, Yu Suzuki's development team at Sega.

Parts in the series:

  1. Village Screenshots Analysis
  2. Village Content Left Behind
  3. The House in Xiuying and Ziming's Flashback
  4. Temple Screenshots Analysis (this post)
  5. Temple Content Left Behind
  6. The Original Plan for Miao Village in Shenmue II
  7. Content Reborn
In this part, we will now turn our attention to the remaining four screenshots of a temple location:

The four "cut content" screenshots of a temple

Order of the Screenshots

We saw previously with the village screenshots, that the images originally presented on the Muecas page are not necessarily in time sequence order; keeping this in mind, we will consider whether any change in order may be appropriate.

Temple Screenshot 1/4: Exterior

The image of Ryo outside is clearly the first in the sequence.

Screenshot 1: temple grounds

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