Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Tile-breaking Job | Early Shenmue Document Translation

A few weeks ago in a joint interview with Katushiro Harada, Yu Suzuki shared an early Shenmue project document that had not previously been shown in public.

Tile Breaking
Ryo... ahem, Akira takes a practice swipe.
The document describes the concept for a Tile Breaking part-time job, with notes in Japanese text. I've translated these notes into English in the version below (click on the image to view in full size).

Early Shenmue Design Document for a Tile-Breaking Job
[Click on the image to zoom]
Although Yu did not shed any further light on the content of the document in the interview, it gives a glimpse into some of the design work carried out for the project.

Notes on the Document

Being an early design document, it refers to the protagonist as "Akira", a name taken from the Virtua Fighter series and used early on when the project was intended to be a "Virtua Fighter RPG".

At the start of the document there is an interesting reference to a "new Chapter 4" and one of the Four Wude (four principles that any martial artist should know).

I'm stuck for an explanation as to why the chapter is called "new" (unless that was the part of the story that the design discussions were currently at), but the chapter number itself may link in to the original set of 11 chapters that Yu Suzuki originally created telling the full story of Shenmue. These were presented as a concept art summary by Yu at the Games Developers Conference in 2014. The mapping between these chapters and the actual published games, their content, and even variations in the total number of chapters, has been a source of endless debate and theories among fans.

Chapter Concept Art
Concept art showing the original 11 chapters for Shenmue (Yu Suzuki, GDC 2014)
The wude named is JIE, which embodies the principle of not showing or using moves thoughtlessly. The suggestion in the document is that a tile-breaking event could be employed to lead to an understanding of JIE for the protagonist. (In reality, this wude is encountered by Ryo through his visit to the Guang martial arts school located in Wan Chai, in Shenmue II).

JIE, one of the four wude: "Don't show or use moves thoughtlessly"
What do you think of the idea of tile-breaking, either as an event or a part-time job for Ryo? Would you like to see it appearing in a modified form in Shenmue III?

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  1. Thankfully it made it into Shenmue 2 :)
    Thanks for your translations, Switch!

    1. Yes, interesting that they decided to use it as an event rather than a part-time job in Shenmue 2. Glad you enjoyed reading it!