Saturday, December 31, 2016

Yu Suzuki & Katsuhiro Harada Interview | Part 1 | DenFamiNicoGamer [26 Dec, 2016]

I've been working over the past few days on the translation of a multi-page interview with Yu Suzuki was recently published online by Japanese gaming site

Interviewed together with Yu is Katsuhiro Harada, of Tekken and Soul Calibur fame. 

Due to its length, I will be posting up the interview as a series.

Today I am pleased to present the first part. (Note that the order in which they are presented differs from that of the original article, as I am prioritizing the Shenmue-related content).

Yu Suzuki & Katsuhiro Harada

Part One

Today's initial part covers the following content:
  • Interviewee profiles
  • Article introduction
  • Interview / discussion:
    • Shenmue's popularity outside Japan
    • Shenmue: ahead of its time
    • Concept of a cinematic game

Also in today's part: a photo of Yu Suzuki sharing a building design for Shenmue III plus an previously-unseen early Shenmue project document. (I will be looking at the text written on the project documents in a future post!)

The interview translation starts below.

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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Yu Suzuki's New Year Resolution [, Dec 29] has asked 110 Japanese game developers to comment on the upcoming 2017 (this theme sounds somewhat familiar...), and naturally Yu Suzuki is one of these.
"110 Game Developers' New Year's Resolutions for 2017"
While other developers have answered with a paragraph or two, Yu keeps his answer short and sweet - which is totally understandable given the way that game developers in Japan seem to get flooded with interview requests at the year end.
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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Yu Suzuki Comments on the Past & Coming Year [, 28 Dec 2016]

Yu Suzuki was one of the 149 prominent games industry figures who were surveyed by Japanese games site in their feature published today.

A montage of some of the 149 (mainly Japanese) game industry leaders to contribute comments.

Four questions were asked, covering games & media of this past year, as well as looking ahead to 2017. Read on for the questions and Yu's comments.

Note: the translation of another much larger interview from is also in the works, the first part of which will be posted within the next couple of days. It is a good time of year for interviews!

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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Thoughts on Kickstarter Update #64 [Season’s Greetings!]

Today Yu and team released a second update for the month of December. While it does not really contain new information of note, it does have a special treat for backers in the form of an animated Shenmue-themed greeting for the holiday season.

Full animated version contained later in the post!

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Monday, December 19, 2016

Winter Heating in Japan | Shenmue Realism

Today's post is about the heating methods that can be observed in Shenmue at the Hazuki residence and elsewhere.

Winter in Yokosuka

The story of Shenmue opens on November 29, 1986 to a wintry scene in the hamlet of Yamanose where Ryo lives. Snowflakes drift down from an overcast sky, the roofs and trees are dusted with snow and snowdrifts have started to appear at the sides of the roads and pathways.

Shenmue intro scene
November 29, 1986: the snow will be turning to rain later in the day.

From this one's impression might be that Yokosuka experiences severe winters, but in real life it has a fairly mild climate, with temperatures rarely falling below freezing point. Snowfall is seen typically on only a few days each winter.

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Thoughts on Kickstarter Update #63 [Campaign and Progress Update]

Kickstarter Update #63 has been released, and includes some astonishing new images. Here are my thoughts on this latest update.

Game Development Status

A direct comment from Yu Suzuki reveals that he living and breathing Shenmue, and has been staying overnight at the offices more and more. His dedication to the project is evident.

New Work-In-Progress Images

Three new images are presented in the update, with the first showing an intricate temple gate illuminated by the glow of red hanging lanterns. Further in, a set of stairs leads up towards the dark interior of the temple and above, the moon casts a silvery light over the rocky mountains from a star-studded night sky.

Of the three this first image, entitled "Rising moon over the temple gate", is the one that captivated me most with its evocative atmosphere and lighting. It feels reassuringly "Shenmue" to me.

What intrigue lurks beyond the temple gate... [Click to enlarge]

The distinctive silhouette on the mountain peak is a clear tease to the return of a certain creepy villain!

If you feel as if you've seen this outline somewhere before...
... then you would be right: in the concept art for Chai.
Image detail: a wooden bench sits under the temple gate.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Shenmue III "Pre-Orders" for PC Start Tomorrow (Dec 15, 2016)

The weekly Famitsu magazine in Japan has released a few preview pages of their upcoming feature on expectations in the game industry for 2017 which goes on sale tomorrow (Dec 15).

One of the games picked up is Shenmue III, and includes a short message from Yu Suzuki.

Famitsu magazine preview page
A short description of Shenmue III is featured

The message from Yu Suzuki reads as follows (my translation, Japanese source text courtesy of Hachima Kikou):

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Sunday, December 11, 2016

"Let's Get Sweaty" | Translation Analysis

We join Ryo one cool but fine day in Dobuita, as he scouts around for a place to put in a spot of martial arts practice.
Finding an empty parking lot, Ryo enters it cautiously and stops in the middle, looking around him at the available space. "Maybe I can practice here," he muses. "Think I'll warm up a bit".

After a slight pause, almost as if to confirm the decision with some higher power, Ryo says with determination: "Let's get sweaty."

Ryo manages to keep a straight face as he delivers the English line.

It's another slightly off-beat line from the English version of Shenmue which has charmed fans far and wide. The (presumably) unintentional element of humor comes from a combination of Ryo's dead-serious tone coupled with the choice of words themselves - although the sentence can't be faulted for grammar.

Examining the equivalent phrase in Japanese reveals why the translation ended up the way it did.

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Saturday, December 10, 2016

Yu Suzuki Currently In California

Yu Suzuki has met earlier today with Gio Corsi, Director of Third Party Productions & Developer Relations. The PlayStation Offices are located south of San Francisco in California.

Gio tweeted the photo below of the occasion, mentioning that Yu even put his signature to a Ryo Hazuki forklift model. (Hopefully Yu's wrist is holding up from his daily signing of the many pieces of Kickstarter reward art!)

The smile of someone who has been treated to a preview of the latest Shenmue 3 progress?

The L.A. Kickstarter Dinner

While information has been scarce regarding the timing of the Los Angeles Kickstarter dinner reward, it is believed to have been rescheduled to some time this month, from the original tentative June timeframe,

If this is the case, with Yu in California everything seems aligned for the dinner to take place this week.

Let's see what is revealed later in this month's Kickstarter update.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Shenmue Campaign Timeline

Team Yu has added a fantastic new resource to their website in the form of an extensive Campaign Timeline for Shenmue.

The timeline documents significant events that have occurred during the journey of the collective Shenmue fan community, starting from the early Shenmue development work and the mysterious Project Berkley through to its revival and current day events. Entries in the timeline contain links as appropriate to relevant historical posts, articles and videos.

The timeline is attractively laid out and easy-to-read.

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Monday, December 5, 2016

Shenmue's Absence From PSX 2016

The two-day PlayStation Experience (PSX) 2016 event took place over the weekend, and while there had been some anticipation among the Shenmue community for something new on Shenmue III to be revealed, in the end this turned out not to be the case.

I was among those who been hoping that Shenmue III would get a mention. There was the tweet from Cedric Biscay suggesting the possibility of something being shown in December, together with various other factors in the weeks and days before the event that all appeared to point to a reveal at PSX (confirmation bias!).

Furthermore, PSX seemed to "make sense" as it would have provided a high level of public exposure for the game, and timing-wise would have slotted in nicely ahead of the release of the trial version due some time in 2017.

However while the outcome is somewhat disappointing, the absence of Shenmue III from PSX was always within the realm of possibility.

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Friday, December 2, 2016

Yu Suzuki Interview Video (Subtitled) - Retro Games Expo 2016

A couple of months back, I posted up my English translation of an interview held with Yu Suzuki in August 2016 in which he speaks about his childhood and his time at SEGA as well as stories about several of the arcade games he designed during his time there.

Working together with Ziming from the Shenmue Dojo, we have put together a version of the video overlayed with English captions.

As usual, Yu comes across as relaxed and humble about his many achievements. Video form is particularly helpful when he is describing Space Harrier using various gestures and sweeps of his arm!

View the video below (running time: approximately 16 mins).

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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Thoughts on Kickstarter Update #62 [Yu Suzuki on the Music of Shenmue]

In this month's Kickstarter update, we have a video interview with Yu Suzuki on the topic of music.

Yu relaxes at the end of the interview
The questions cover the following areas:
  • The Music Yu-san Loves: his membership in a rock band growing up, and bands that have influenced him.
  • Approaching Music in Games: his changing role with respect to music.
  • Shenmue and Music - Atmosphere: evoking the atmosphere of China in 1987, with a frequent use of the erhu (Chinese fiddle).
  • Shenmue and Music - Sound Design: how music selection varies for battles, quests and events.
  • What Music Means to Games: music as one of the three key elements of a game.
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