Friday, May 3, 2024

Poll Result: Patrons' Choice Topic for May 2024

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 for this time is:

"Examining Shenmue Storyboards from the Shenmue The Animation Event in Yokosuka"

In the Spring of 2022, a promotional event was held on location in Yokosuka in celebration of the anime adaption of Shenmue, Shenmue The Animation, which was organized by Yokosuka City in collaboration with SEGA and IGN Japan. Various pieces of concept artwork were exhibited at a number of shops in the area, some being from the anime while others were sketches and illustrations from the time of development of the first two games.

Among the artwork were reproductions of certain storyboards from the game, detailing the camera shots and spoken lines to guide creation of cut scenes in the game. 

The three storyboards exhibited at the event which will be covered are:

  • "Encounter with Joy"
  • "Xiuying's Tears"
  • "Encounter with Shenhua"

In this upcoming post, we will be looking at these in more detail and translating any written notes and characters' lines, noting differences of interest between the storyboards and the final implementation of the cut scenes in the game.


Coming soon!


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Friday, April 12, 2024

Weekly AM2 Volume 11 [22nd Feb 2000] - Shenmue Wins the Dreamcast Magazine Best Game Award

In this series we translate Shenmue content from Weekly AM2, the official online magazine published by Sega's AM2 development team back in the day. These pages regularly featured news and information about the Shenmue series from the end of 1999 through to 2001 with the release of Shenmue II.

Vol. 11 celebrates various awards won by Shenmue in Dreamcast Magazine, including Best Game and Best Scenario. The Shenmue Original Sound Track double CD goes on sale, and a third "wallpaper" image is made available for download.

-Switch

 

Vol. 11: 22nd Feb. 2000

Hello, I'm Takuan.

I apologize for taking last week off. My tonsils were swollen, and I couldn't even drink water.
Please be careful not to catch a cold, everyone.

I'll keep up the momentum this week too, in my first week back!

Right, let's get started!

This week's contents:
  • Shenmue receives the Dreamcast Magazine Best Game Award!
  • Announcement of a live performance by Mr. Mitsuyoshi!
  • Shenmue Chapter 1: Yokosuka Original Sound Track set for release!
  • [omitted] Exclusive stories about Out Trigger!
  • Shenmue Wallpaper Download Service: Wallpaper #3
  • Shenmue illustrations wanted

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Friday, April 5, 2024

Poll Result: Patrons' Choice Topic for April 2024

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 for this time is:

"Shenmue Anecdotes from Shenmue Music Composer Osamu Murata"

Osamu Murata (profile photo from Twitter / X)

The musical talents of Osamu Murata left an indelible mark on the Shenmue series, captivating players around the world with his unforgettable compositions.

Fresh out of university, Murata joined AM2 Sound Section at SEGA and quickly immersed himself in a number of arcade projects, over 10 titles during his time there, including classics like F355 Challenge and Virtua Cop 3.

Murata's exceptional talent as a composer saw him produce a staggering estimated 800-1000 songs during the project, pouring his heart and soul into crafting the atmospheric pieces that enrich the Shenmue experience. Murata's dedication to his craft was such that he pushed himself to the brink, even blacking out at the piano during an arduous composing session (as related in his interview with Shenmue World magazine, Issue 2).

When Murata first joined the Shenmue project, he was also responsible for recording the spoken lines of a great number of voice actors, and is officially credited as Voice Recording Chief for US Shenmue.

Among his many compositions are such standouts as Nozomi's Theme, Xiuying's Theme, and Yokosuka Blues (Goro's Theme) which became instant classics, each adding depth and emotion to the Shenmue universe. Also, a number of his compositions from among the vast pool of music that ended up unused during the original project were selected for inclusion in the latest chapter, Shenmue 3.

Xiuying's Theme, composed by Osamu Murata, which accompanies her instruction on the Swallow Flip move

In our upcoming post, we'll share a selection of Murata's tweets from recent years, where he recounts anecdotes and memories from his time working on the Shenmue project as one of the music composers. These tweets offer an insightful look into the creative process behind one of gaming's most beloved series, directly from the perspective of one of the individuals who contributed to its music. Get ready to dive into Murata's firsthand experiences and reflections!

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Thursday, April 4, 2024

Sega's Precautions with Phone Numbers in Shenmue

On its initial release in Japan in December 1999, Shenmue impressed players with its realistic settings and attention to detail.

One such detail was the accuracy with which phone calls were reproduced in order to check the weather forecast, speak with Nozomi or gain access to Warehouse No. 8. Local phone numbers even had the correct area code for Yokosuka city (0468). 

This proved to be a slight headache for Sega, as some of the eager players tried actually calling the numbers. While the numbers used in the game were said to have been reserved beforehand by Sega to prevent nuisance calls, nonetheless a warning was issued in the February 2000 edition of the Weekly AM2 online magazine (which we recently translated) asking players to refrain from trying to call the numbers.

"Attention: Regarding the phone numbers used in Shenmue

The phone numbers used in the game Shenmue Chapter 1: Yokosuka are intentionally designed not to allow actual calls. Recently, there has been an increase in attempted calls, leading to nuisances such as wrong numbers.

We kindly request your cooperation to refrain from making actual calls. Thank you for your understanding".

More on this topic was revealed in an interview with Shenmue game director Eigo Kasahara in Adam Sipione's Shenmue Documentary, "A Gamers Journey: The Definitive History of Shenmue" 

Eigo Kasahara: Yu-san wanted to display the proper area codes in the game. The problem we raised was that players would try to call them. And we couldn't just make something up. In which case, Yu-san proposed we get hold of those phone numbers. We wondered how many we should get. We ended up getting about five.

When he gave us that instruction, the first thing we did was to check whether there was anyone at Sega who lived in Yokosuka and in fact there was one person who did. So we approached that person and explained that we wanted to obtain five phone lines, with any costs of course being covered by Sega. His house already had a telephone connection, although it didn't have an actual telephone. So we were able to obtain four, I think it was, real phone numbers.

At that time, there was someone who actually tried calling the number for Master Chen. Apparently, when he heard a proper ringing tone, he got spooked and hung up! However, the phone numbers were all ones where definitely nobody would answer.

In truth, I had been thinking of having them connect in the future to something like "Shenmue Fun Facts", although that part didn't get implemented.

Those numbers were actually held for several years afterwards. Then the Sega employee who had let us obtain the numbers informed us that he would be retiring, and asked us to do something about those phone lines. So we actually went along and arranged the infrastructure work needed to deregister the phone numbers.

Eigo Kasahara was also in charge of the Shenmue I & II re-releases, and he explained that he took the opportunity to avoid potential problems by shortening the phone numbers used in the game by omitting the last digit:

Eigo Kasahara: These days, we don't know where they connect to, and registering phone numbers was out of the question at this late stage, so for the remake we abandoned that idea and dropped a digit instead. 

Wishing everyone a Happy Shenmue Day!



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Thursday, March 28, 2024

Weekly AM2 Volume 10 - Results of the 3rd Network Rankings Tournament | 15 Feb 2000

In this series we translate Shenmue content from Weekly AM2, the official online magazine published by Sega's AM2 development team back in the day. These pages regularly featured news and information about the Shenmue series from the end of 1999 through to 2001 with the release of Shenmue II.

Vol. 10 gives the winners of the Third Network Rankings Tournament, which was for Forklift Racing. The next competition is announced, which will be for Space Harrier.

-Switch


 

Vol. 10: 15th Feb. 2000

Hello, nice to meet you.

I'm Saito, stepping in for Takuan today as he is unwell and unable to make it. I hope you'll stick with me through to the end of the issue.

This week's contents:
  • Announcement of the results of the 3rd Network Rankings Tournament
  • Notice of the 4th Network Rankings Tournament
  • Messages from winners of the 2nd Network Rankings Tournament (70-player Battle)
  • Strategy guide for Shenmue Chapter 1: Yokosuka confirmed for release!
  • Messages from top performers in the F355 Challenge Network Rankings [omitted]
  • Shenmue Spoiler BBS (Bulletin Board System) opens today!
  • AM2 Supporters Homepage launched
  • Shenmue Chapter 1: Yokosuka Director Okayasu to feature on the "Super Mobile Anime & Game Master" radio show
  • i-mode gallery image #3

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Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Does the Chawan Sign in Shenmue Have a Historical Basis?

Today, we will do a deep dive into an iconic communication method seen in Shenmue: the Chawan Sign, which Ryo first learns about in Shenmue II (and is reintroduced later in one of the Shenmue III DLC stories). He makes use of the Chawan Sign to discreetly communicate with allies, by arranging teacups in a certain pattern in a public place, 

Arranging four teacups

Ryo is warned that placing them at the wrong location, or carelessly arranging them in the wrong pattern, can result in unwanted attention...

Trying at the wrong location may attract trouble

But was the concept of the Chawan Sign something that Yu Suzuki and team created purely for Shenmue, or did it have some kind of historical basis?

In this post, we will try to answer this question by looking at a possible sources of inspiration.

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Monday, March 4, 2024

Poll Result: Patrons' Choice Topic for March 2024

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 for this time is:

"Shenmue II Special: a Message from Yu Suzuki - DoriMaga Interview May 2001"

This interview with Yu Suzuki about the upcoming release of Shenmue II for Dreamcast was published in the May 2001 edition of Japan's DoriMaga magazine. As noted in the introduction to the interview,  it fell in the period shortly after Sega's decision to cease production of the Dreamcast a couple of months earlier, in March.


DoriMaga: There was a huge turnout at SEGA's recent event, Game Jam, reaffirming the great anticipation for Shenmue II. What plans are there for the Dreamcast in future, and what is the significance of Shenmue II? Let's hear a message from Yu Suzuki to the readers of the new-look DoriMaga magazine and users of the Dreamcast.
Suzuki: Game Jam was fantastic. While we apologize for any inconvenience caused due to the crowded space, we are delighted that so many people attended. Seeing such a large number of attendees makes us very happy. Seeing so many attendees on that day made me think, "It's a shame we're giving up on the Dreamcast..."
DoriMaga: The event featured the first-ever demonstration using actual hardware, but how far along is the development of Shenmue II at this point?
Suzuki: Well, as of the end of March, it's mostly been bug fixes. That means we've essentially locked in the program code, and from there, it's mostly about replacing data and focusing on debugging. Since April, we've been diving into that work, and at the moment, we're at a stage where it's nearing the finalization process. At this stage, if we are able to iron out any critical bugs, we'll be looking at finalization in just a few weeks.

Watch for the translation of the rest of the interview in a future post!
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Friday, February 23, 2024

(Part 3/3) Concept Art From the 2022 Shenmue The Animation Promotional Event

Today is Part Three, the final part, of our exploration of the art from Yokosuka City's Shenmue anime celebration! 

Links to the previous parts:

Special thanks: thanks again to も_なお Mo_Nao for kindly providing the source photos from the event, to which cropping & straightening has been applied. Be sure to follow her on X (Twitter) at @greed_air for a heap of original Shenmue content!


Hong Kong Locations


"Come Over Guest House, Wan Chai (night)"


"Wan Chai (morning)"

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