Friday, December 6, 2019

Poll Result: Patrons' Choice Topic for December 2019

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), there was a draw between two topics. Switch stepped in with a deciding vote, making the winning topic for December...

"Shenmue Passport Online Features (Dreamcast Magazine 2000)"

Soon after Shenmue's original release at the end of 1999, Japan's Dreamcast Magazine published a section to introduce the Shenmue Passport, a little-known but impressive feature of Shenmue that was completely contained on the 4th disc and even made use of an online connection to Sega's servers if your Dreamcast had network capability.

Shenmue Passport Feature from Dreamcast Magazine
Topics in the section include:

  • Enjoy Shenmue more online!
  • Are you set up for online connection?
  • Nozomi's Messages, Troubleshooting, Character Profiles
  • Shenmue Triathalon
  • Shenmue.com

We will be translating this article on the blog in the near future.

(Also don't forget you can download a modern fan remake of the Shenmue Passport for mobile devices at the Suka Pass project site. It is updated regularly with new features.)

Get early access to this and other articles by becoming a Patreon supporter!


Become a Patron!

Shenmue III Review by Daniel Mann


Guest contributor Daniel Mann gives his thoughts and verdict on Shenmue III.

⚠Potential Spoilers!⚠

This review has been carefully written to avoid any major story spoilers, but be aware that there are brief references to some of the characters, locations and activities in the game.


If you had told me twelve years ago that I would finally be playing Shenmue III in 2019, I would have looked at you sadly and said “stop yanking my chain already.” But incredibly, here we are in 2019 and not only have I played it, but I have also completed it. Days removed from witnessing the final cut scene of Shenmue III and here I sit processing the journey I’ve just taken. After 45 hours with the game, I confess that I’m left with far more questions than answers but the one thing that holds true in my heart is this: even after 18 years of waiting, Shenmue III still retains the same charm and ambition that made me fall in love with the first two games way back when.

After 18 years dormant, Shenmue returns to prominence thanks to the help of Kickstarter and over $6 million dollars raised by an eager fanbase who wouldn’t let it die. Despite the long 18 years of waiting, the story literally picks up mere moments after the end of Shenmue II.


Become a Patron!

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Announcement: Shenmue Guide Map Give-away Result

It's the 3rd of the month - Happy Shenmue Day!

It's time to announce the winner of our give-away for two Shenmue Sacred Spot Guide Maps that were picked up from Yokosuka on Shenmue 3 release day month.


A lucky winner has been chosen, and congratulations go to... Alvin T. Chan. We will be in touch with you by DM to get some details so we can get the maps sent off to you.

Thank you for all your entries. For those who missed out this time, a digital version of the map is available for download here.

Become a Patron!

Friday, November 29, 2019

[Part 1] Shenmue Discussion with Yu Suzuki & Developers | IGN Japan


To commemorate the release of Shenmue 3 earlier this month, IGN Japan's Esra Krabbe spoke with key members of the development team, who were all also on the project team for the first two games: creator and game director Yu Suzuki, animation producer Hiroaki Takeuchi and second director Keiji Okayasu.

In this post we share some of the highlights of the discussion. Due to length, we will split this over a number of parts. A link to the video can be found at the end of this post.

Early Concept Art


Displayed on the table are folders containing some colored concept sketches. Yu Suzuki comments that these were created during development of the original Shenmue games, with some being from the start of the project which began "4 to 5 years" prior to the release of the first game in 1999. The figure wearing Chinese-style martial arts clothing is Akira from Virtua Fighter, as the idea at that time was to make him the main character in a story centered around Chinese martial arts - indeed, Yu Suzuki wrote a set of scripts that encapsulated the story, called "The Legend of Akira".


Become a Patron!

Saturday, November 23, 2019

IGN Japan's Video Review of Shenmue 3 (ENG captions)

IGN Japan has published their review of Shenmue 3 and awarded the game a rating of 9/10 (Amazing), stating that Shenmue 3 is overall a "magnificent" game.


This review was carried out by IGN Japan's foremost Shenmue expert, Esra Krabbe, who dedicated over 100 hours playing the game thoroughly to the end to form a fully-rounded opinion.

The video is narrated in Japanese, but we're pleased to  have worked with IGN Japan to provide English captions so now the wider community can enjoy this well-balanced review.

⚠️ Potential Spoilers

The review does not give away any story spoilers, but that it does contain clips of game locations and gameplay from both early and later areas of the game.

As noted at the start of the video, if you wish to avoid exposure to any new information or clips taken from the game then you may wish to hold off on watching the review until after you have played Shenmue 3.

Otherwise, view the video below (remember to turn on captions if they are not already enabled):

Become a Patron!

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

We Took Shenmue III on a Dobuita Tour. Plus Sacred Spot Map Give-away Celebration!

November 19th, 2019: what a special day this has been, marking the successful release of Shenmue III and is true testament to years of hopes, dreams and coordinated efforts to bring about something that was widely dismissed as something that would never happen. It is amazing to see social media such as Twitter exploding with the reactions of delighted fans.

And this all came about because of you, the community who believed in and supported the vision of a continuation of the saga that first started 20 years ago. So a hearty congratulations to everyone, from those who run social fan sites, forums, YouTube channels and podcasts, to those who have tirelessly organized ongoing campaigns to promote the franchise, and to each individual fan who kept the dream alive.

To commemorate the occasion, enjoy a small photo gallery showing Shenmue III on location in Ryo Hazuki's hometown of Yokosuka, where his journey began so long ago. The images were taken at various locations on Dobuita Street and the surrounding area.

But first, an announcement: we will be giving away a Shenmue map set to one lucky person. Here are the instructions on how to enter.

Phantom River Stone's Shenmue "Sacred Spot Guide Map" Set Give-away!


On Dobuita Street we picked up a pair of Shenmue maps from the friendly Kakita military surplus store, as a lucky give-away prize.


Become a Patron!

Monday, November 18, 2019

Farewell, Kawasaki Warehouse Arcade | A Slice of Kowloon Walled City


Today's post, written by Patrick Fuller, is a tribute to the arcade building in Kawasaki that closed down yesterday. It realistically recreated a magical slice of the once-existing Kowloon Walled City that Ryo explores in Shenmue II, and that magic can be seen in his photographs and walk-through video.

About the author: Patrick (Paddy) Fuller
I’ve been a Shenmue fan since back in 2002 and have not been able to get this series out of my head since. The world has so much depth and presents something new with every playthrough. Just when you think you’ve seen all the game has to offer, PhantomRiverStone.com comes along with another brilliant article exploring some of the in-depth cultural references and minutiae that would otherwise go overlooked. Thanks to Switch for allowing me to contribute.

I’m @patrickjfuller on Instagram and @paddyjfuller on Twitter if you want to follow me for pictures of Japan. I travel at least once a year and will be in Hong Kong over Christmas.
On 17th November 2019, just two days before a new chapter in Shenmue history opens, a popular spot on the Shenmue pilgrimage tour closed. The Kawasaki branch of the Anata No Warehouse ('Your Warehouse') chain was a five-story amusement arcade that was renowned for its recreation of the gritty, urban atmosphere of Kowloon’s infamous Walled City, but has now shut its doors for the final time.

There’s no turning back for Ryo now.

Anyone who has embarked on a Shenmue pilgrimage will testify that there is a distinct feeling of déjà vu when walking down Dobuita Street for the first time. The fact that a place you’ve never visited can feel so familiar is a testament to Shenmue’s ability to capture the atmosphere of a place in the real world.

Kowloon’s ‘Walled City’, perhaps the most atmospheric place in the Shenmue series, was one that fans of the game would never get to experience in real life: due to the city’s demolition in 1993.

Become a Patron!

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Yu Suzuki Presented With Lifetime Achievement Award (Golden Joystick Awards)


Yu Suzuki was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the recent Golden Joystick Awards held recently in London.

Peter Moore, former president and COO of Sega America, gave some words of introduction:
"We marveled at the 3D graphics of the F1 cars in Virtua Racing, and in Akira in Virtua Fighter. From Out Run to F-355 Challenge, he put us in the cockpit of the cars of our dreams. But it was as Ryo Hazuki, out to avenge the death of his father, that he introduced us to the wonders of true open-world exploration in the ground-breaking tour-de-force that was Shenmue. It wasn't cheap, but my goodness, its unique gameplay and non-linear journey became the goal stand for so many games that followed in its ground-breaking footsteps."
After Yu received the award, he added with a smile: "Furthermore, Shenmue 3 will be released next week!" to which the audience responded with cheers and applause.

Watch the video of Yu receiving his reward:

Our congratulations to Yu Suzuki on this well-deserved award!


Become a Patron!