Thursday, December 3, 2020

Naoyuki's Stylish Motorbike Key Tag | SEGA Branding in Shenmue

Various branding can be found scattered throughout the Shenmue games. Right from the start of the first Shenmue, when Ryo explores his room and the contents of the desk and closet, the numerous small objects and items within give the world a lived-in feel; and such is the detail that many in-game items even have their own branding. In some cases, real-life licensed brands were used through agreements with the manufacturers, and in others they were made-up. And a small number proudly carry the SEGA brand.

In this post we'll go through some of the Sega-branded objects that can be found in Ryo's house and elsewhere in the first Shenmue game - some of which are obvious, and others which are only apparent upon the closest examination.


Genuine Sega Items

The most obvious Sega items are those which are manufactured or made under official license in real-life, such as the arcade games at the You arcade (we'll also include the Shenmue-specific variations such as the darts games), capsule toy machines, game posters such as the Virtua Fighter ones in Fukuhara-san's room, and of course the Sega Saturn console at the Hazuki residence.


Shenmue I & II Rebranding


A case of Sega branding that can be seen in the recent Shenmue I & II re-release of the game serves to replace the branding in the original Dreamcast version of the game: Ryo's wristwatch. This originally had a Timex brand on the watch's face but in the re-release, this has been changed to SEGA, presumably to avoid licensing complications. The watch's appearance and functionality were not changed however, and it is still instantly recognizable as a Timex.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Mystery of the White Leaf | Shenmue Theories Guest Post by Segalacious

It is a great pleasure to welcome Segalacious to the blog for the first time with an intriguing theory post on the ever-mysterious White Leaf! Over to Segalacious.

-Switch

Shenmue’s universe is one steeped in mystery and intrigue. Secrets regarding the martial arts as well as the secrets of history linger just beyond the reach of Ryo, and therefore the player, every step of his quest for revenge as he walks the path of destiny. Most enigmatic of all is Ryo’s father, Iwao, whose shrouded past contains not only a closet of skeletons, but apparently an entire basement full of them as well. During Ryo’s search for the Phoenix mirror in said basement, he discovers a white leaf inside of an old Chinese zodiac book. After commenting with surprise that the leaf is not even dry, Ryo places it in his inventory where it has remained without another reference and, seemingly, without purpose for the entirety of Shenmue II and III.

In his eternal search for answers, finding this item probably didn’t provide Ryo much re-leaf.

That this leaf remains to this day in Ryo’s inventory suggests that it must have some kind of significance to Shenmue’s story down the road. Is it simply to foreshadow Ryo’s leaf catching training in Wanchai’s Man Mo Temple, a tasty herb meant to be used for tea, or something more? Put on your tinfoil hats, Friendmues, because it’s time for a Shenmue Theory. Let’s get into it!

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Saturday, November 21, 2020

Niaowu Confidential Part 2 - Wu Shen Hall | Guest Post by Dave Matthews (SalsaShark)

Niaowu Confidential Part 2 - Wu Shen Hall

Hi everyone!  It's been a little while (again...sorry about that), but I'm back with another Shenmue 3 post.  Thanks, once again, to Switch for graciously providing the opportunity to share with you!  As I did previously for Martial Hall in Bailu Village, today I'm going to take a deep dive into who the name plaques posted on the ranking boards at Wu Shen Hall represent.

If you missed my previous Niaowu Confidential post highlighting Ma Jialing, you can find it here:

Also if you are interested in checking out who's who at Martial Hall, go here:

The Wu Shen rankings initially present a somewhat more daunting task than did those at Martial Hall due mainly to the addition of 5 extra Duan rankings, and a higher number of name plaques per rank.  Also to be contended with are the greater size of Niaowu in general over Bailu and the lack of a convenient in-game way to translate those name plaques (à la Man Yuan Temple).  

Nevertheless there is a logic to who is included here that makes it much easier to handle than you might think.  First, we do still have all of the trainee monks occupying the left-most positions at each rank. Second, it turns out that the Rose Garden fighters are also all ranked members of Wu Shen Hall!  This effectively cuts the number of not easily translatable names in half.  

The first curious thing to mention is that Wu Shen instructor, Hu Guitong, is not actually listed on the boards at all!  Very strange....

Hu Guitong is not listed... what's the deal with that?

Without further ado, let's start with the board on the left wall (the master and novice board):

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Friday, November 20, 2020

Shenmue III Complete Edition from Limited Run Games: Orders Open Today

Limited Run Games (LRG) has announced a new limited collectors edition called the Shenmue III Complete Edition for the PS4, priced at USD $149.99 with orders opening today 20th November at 10 am ET (3 pm GMT) from the Limited Run Games site.

Production will be limited to 3,000 copies available worldwide, although it is not a part of the numbered Limited Run Collection.


Background


This offering is an LRG exclusive, with the idea for the project being conceived by owner Josh Fairhurst after Shenmue III's release last year in November/December, when the game ended up being his favorite of the year!
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Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Ryan Payton Interview by Shenmue Dojo

In his early career, Ryan worked for Konami in Japan, then later at Microsoft in the US. He currently runs his own games studio, Camouflaj.

Shenmue Dojo has released a special audio interview for their 20th anniversary celebrations with games industry veteran Ryan Payton, someone who was instrumental behind the scenes in helping Shenmue III become a reality by educating and convincing Yu Suzuki about the potential of crowdfunding, as well as freely giving his time to give Yu advice and feedback on the game during its development.

The interview was arranged and conducted by Dojo co-owner Matt Oliver who asked some great questions, and the interview makes for a compelling and insightful listen in a casual chat format.

A few pertinent quotes from Ryan during the interview:

On contacting Yu Suzuki to propose Kickstarter: "I emailed [Yu Suzuki] and I basically said, 'Look, it's been bothering me for longer than you can imagine that you haven't been able to continue this franchise, and I think I have an idea for how you can make Shenmue III' and he writes back and says, 'Wait, who are you?'"
On Yu Suzuki's forklift tweet at E3: "I have to say, that he was right about that tweet. Even though I was nervous about it, I think what it did was that it was a rally cry to the Shenmue community that it needed to pay attention to what's happening at E3. So I think he was right about that."
On recognizing the achievements of Shenmue III: "From a development perspective, this thing is a damn miracle. They did not start with the codebase of Shenmue I and II. He and his team recreated so many complex systems from Shenmue I and II in a new engine they had never used before, on a platform they had never shipped on, and they delivered on a game that had more features and more length than anyone was expecting. And that should be celebrated."
On Shenmue IV: "A reason to be hopeful for the future is that, if there is an opportunity to work on a sequel, to build a Shenmue IV, instead of spending 70% of their time building the foundation and then 30% building the content, they can spend 80% of their time building content for a sequel. And that is the secret ingredient of almost all the best video games of all time."
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Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Shenmue World: Fan-made Magazine on Kickstarter (Fully Funded!)


The Shenmue Dojo has just celebrated its 20th anniversary, and as part of the celebrations a new Kickstarter project was announced: Shenmue World is a fanzine that boasts 160+ pages of full-color fan-created content on Shenmue, packed with contributions from fans around the world,

The creator behind the whole project, Shenmue Dojo co-owner James Brown, has poured untold months of time and effort into designing and producing this magazine, and the result is something that any fan will be delighted to have on their shelf. The project is entirely non-profit, with the costs having been meticulously calculated to cover the costs of ordering a mass print of the items and shipping them to backers globally, all of which is laid out very transparently on the project page.

As the product creation and design has already been completed up-front, then after successful completion of the Kickstarter period the only remaining task is the physical print order.

In the Kickstarter project video (below), James gives a sneak preview of some of the magazine's content, and the high production values of the product impresses. The varied content includes an interview, fan art, cosplay photos, articles, manga... and a lot more that's waiting to be discovered once the magazine is in the backers' hands.


Incredibly, the reward for backing the project is not just the magazine itself, but also a number of Shenmue-themed extras: a music CD of tracks by RyoX, a print hand-signed by voice actor Eric Kelso, an A3 poster of the superb artwork by Kohji Nakazawa as featured on the magazine's cover, and even a set of Guilin picture postcards. A nice additional touch is that every backer's name will also be printed inside the magazine.

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Friday, November 13, 2020

New Kenji Miywaki Art | Shenmue III Soundtrack Digital Pre-Orders Open

Brave Wave has announced that pre-orders are now open for the Digital Edition of the Shenmue III Soundtrack.

Head over to the Bandcamp page for "Shenmue III - The Definitive Soundtrack" to listen to 5 of the tracks which are available for free preview:

  • Shenmue Theme - Piano
  • Hide & Seek
  • Main Theme Kokyu (Erhu) Solo
  • Boundless Lands
  • Happy Convenience (The Tomato Mart Theme!)

Along with this announcement, a custom piece of art by character designer Kenji Miyawaki was also revealed. On Twitter, Brave Wave said:

"For our upcoming Shenmue III OST, we teamed up with original Shenmue artist Kenji Miyawaki to create a brand new illustration exclusively available with the complete OST".

It looks amazing! 


See our earlier post for information on the release schedule of the various editions:

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Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Poll Result: Patrons' Choice Topic for November 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 result for November was a tie! Switch stepped in to make the deciding vote, and so the winning topic is...

Voice recording for the original Shenmue: interview with Susumu Aketagawa.

Susumu Aketagawa is a highly-regarded sound director who has worked on a huge number of anime and other titles over the years, notably including the 1988 animated film Akira.

Aketagawa spent 3 years working on Shenmue I & II, in charge of casting and dubbing. We will be translating an article he wrote last year for Japanese website Anime Hack about his experience on the project.

Watch for it on the blog in the near future!


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