Sunday, December 31, 2017

Ancient Game of “Go” Spotted in Shenmue

Did you know that Ryo's father was fond of the game of Go? It is also one of the world's oldest boardgames still played today, and is renowned for its depth of strategy - it was only recently that AI has been able to beat a top human player at Go (a feat accomplished by Google's DeepMind AI).

Today's article was contributed by Shenmue fan and longtime reader of the blog, JCGamer (visit his Twitter channel). Also in the latter part of the post is a response from the Shenmue III team regarding the possibility of a playable version of Go being included in a future Shenmue game.

Message from the Author

"I played Shenmue when it was first released on the Dreamcast here in Canada back in 1999 and it is one of my most fondest Christmas gifts. All these years later after shedding tears of joy over the Shenmue III announcement I am learning Japanese and still playing Shenmue 1 & 2 which I consider to be one of the most unique gaming experiences out there. I consider it something that transcends both games and movies in terms of immersion."
- JCGamer

The Game of Go: Overview

In Shenmue 1 you can spot a 9x9 Goban (Japanese name for a Go board) at the right-hand side of Iwao’s desk.

Note: the game of Shogi (Japanese chess) is also played on a 9x9 grid, but for this article the discussion will be about the game of Go.
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Saturday, December 30, 2017

Yu Suzuki's Keyword for 2018: "Immersion" []

Japanese website has carried out their annual survey, interviewing 107 game creators to ask their resolution for the year ahead and personal direction for 2018. 
"Game Creators' New Year's Resolutions for 2018"
Yu Suzuki has taken part, and his responses are given below.
Yu Suzuki, CEO of YS NET.
Q: What is your keyword & New Year's Resolution for 2018?

YS: "Immersion": focusing all my energy on Shenmue III.

Q: Please give an update on the current status.

YS: Shenhua's face has finally reached a state I am happy with. A difference of just 1 mm can greatly affect one's impression.

Going forward, I'll be refining things like her expressions and hair.

Given the characteristics of physically-based rendering, my feeling has undergone a change: Shenhua should not be "made", but rather "fostered".

This last comment from Yu is an no doubt a reflection of his experience with Unreal Engine, compared to methods of creation of the past. It can also be appreciated that the fine-tuning of her character model is a gradual, on-going process in order to bring it into line with his vision.

Translation by Switch
Source (Japanese):
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Thursday, December 28, 2017

2017 Yu Suzuki's End-Of-Year Comments to 4Gamer | Romance in Shenmue 3

Each year, asks a number of prominent figures in the game industry a few questions about the past year as well as thoughts for the year to come.

This year, they interviewed the largest number to date, receiving replies from 182 people. And of course, Yu Suzuki was again among those.

Yu Suzuki Comments on the Past & Coming Year

The four questions, which follow the same format each year, are:
  • Out of the games released in 2017, which title(s) interested you most / had the most impact on you? 
  • Of all the entertainment content released or shown in 2017, which title(s) made the greatest impression on you? 
  • Which person/people caught your attention in 2017? 
  • What are your plans for 2018, and could you also give a message for our readers? 
Read on to find out how Yu answered these for 2017.

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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Commentary on Kickstarter Update #78: "Then, Now and Tomorrow"

An animated greeting from the Shenmue III Development Team
An animated greeting from the Shenmue III Development Team

As a Christmas Day present to backers, a new Kickstarter update has been released. In addition to the animated greeting above (which features Shenhua, Ryo and Chai), the main part of the update takes the form of a video interview with Yu Suzuki reflecting on the past 2.5 years since the announcement as well as looking forward to the year ahead.

The interview was conducted by Hiroaki Takeuchi, Shenmue III's Animation Producer who also worked together with Yu as an animation advisor on the original Shenmue.

Related link:
In this post we will highlight some of the main topics Yu mentions, as well as pointing out one or two minor corrections for the English subtitles.

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Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas 2017 from

Merry Christmas Shenmue fans from the blog! Thank you for your support during the year. I'm really looking forward to what is sure to be an exciting 2018 for Shenmue.

Here is a slice of Christmas-time atmosphere on Dobuita Street to enjoy. ♫♪

Yes, they even pipe out festive music from speakers on the lampposts - it would be amazing if they mixed in some of the Shenmue tunes too...

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Sunday, December 24, 2017

Shenmue Master's Interview with Yu Suzuki | Gamescom 2017

A new interview with Yu Suzuki conducted by French fansite Shenmue Master at Gamescom 2017 in Germany has been released.

A special aspect of this interview is the thoughtfully-chosen questions on aspects we do not often hear Yu talk about, presented with illustrative footage and narration explaining the motivation behind each of the questions.

The interview reveals Yu's thoughts on an appropriate pacing for Shenmue III, how the increased budget may allow a certain character to appear more often than originally planned, and the symbolism behind the hawk / eagle in the game.

View the video below (note: ensure YouTube captions are turned on).

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Friday, December 22, 2017

Interview with Yokosuka City | The Story Behind the Shenmue Guide Map

Interview with Yokosuka City: the Story Behind the Shenmue Guide Map

The recent publication of an official Shenmue-themed tourist guide map for Yokosuka has caused a buzz of excitement within the Shenmue community. The result of a collaboration with SEGA, the two-sided 3-fold pamphlet oozes quality and the care that has been taken in putting it together is apparent at a glance.

Shenmue fans may also be wondering about how the map came to be created. Many questions come to mind, such as: was it something proposed by SEGA? How long did it take to create such a detailed document? What prompted the project at this particular time?

Armed with such pressing questions, I got in touch with the guide map's co-creator, Eriko Furusaki of the Tourism Planning Division within the Yokosuka City Economic Department, who very kindly agreed to give us some insight into how the map came to be.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

"Sacred Spot" Guide Map: Official English Version

The official English version of the Shenmue "Sacred Spot" Guide Map of Yokosuka has been released on the Yokosuka City website.

Download link

The map can be downloaded in pdf form here: (Wayback Machine link)

Shenmue "Sacred Spot" Guide Map (1/2)

Shenmue "Sacred Spot" Guide Map (2/2)

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Sunday, December 17, 2017

"Sacred Spot" Guide Map Translation: Road to Amihama

Guide Map Translation: Road to Amihama

The Shenmue-themed guide map of real-life Yokosuka that was released recently by the Yokosuka tourism board is full of information snippets and photos of real-day locations upon which the game was based. And being produced in collaboration with SEGA, the trivia contained is from the horse's mouth, so to speak.

The map is currently available in only in the Japanese-language, and while an English version is imminent, I decided to jump the gun and give blog readers a translated preview of a portion of the pamphlet. The portion we will look at is the real-life map of the route that Ryo takes from Dobuita to the New Yokosuka Harbor in Amihama, where he gets his forklift job.

We will be translating the areas of the guide map circled in red.
We will be translating the areas of the guide map circled in red.
At the same time, we will be able to see how close we got with our speculation and in-game observations covering several previous blog posts, to where the location of the harbor lies in real life.
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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Announcing: the Phantom River Stone Translation Service

If you would have something in Japanese you want translated into English - whether it is a few sentences, a whole article, or even a video, help is at hand!

I am pleased to announce the commencement of our Japanese-to-English Translation Service!

I decided to offer this service to combat the frustration situation of those who have a new magazine interview or a fascinating video in Japanese, and are dying to have an English version.

It's easy to arrange a translation - just drop me an email.


Translation will be carried out by yours truly (Switch), and will be treated with the same high level of care as for the items I translate for the Phantom River Stone blog.

My qualifications: I hold Level One (top level) of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, and have been living in Japan for several years. Over the years I have worked on a great many translations for the blog and fan projects.

Here is a sample of different kinds of translations I have covered:

The content for translation can be about anything - it does not need to be Shenmue-related, or even about video gaming.

The level of translation is also flexible: you may like to initially commission a high-level outline to get the gist of the content, before deciding whether to continue with a thorough translation.

Translation fee: by mutual agreement beforehand.

Commission a Translation

To arrange for a translation, contact Switch via email now!

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

"Temple Maiden" Model & Lakshya Digital | Kickstarter Update #77

Kickstarter Update #77

A mid-month Kickstarter Update has appeared out of the blue, bringing with it an exciting announcement regarding character model creation: namely, that the team at Lakshya Digital is now working on character production for Shenmue III. We are also treated to a new image that showcases one of their newly-created characters.

As we learned from interviews held with Yu Suzuki during Gamescom 2017, such as this 4Gamer interview, the original plans for the game have been scaled up: the number of non-player characters (NPCs) planned for the town of Choubu is likely to increase from 50~60 to as many as 200.

Clearly creating all characters in-house would burden the core development team immensely, so outsourcing to a quality outfit makes a lot of sense.

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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Where is Amihama in Real Life? (Part 2/2) | Route Information Signs

In Part One of this topic, we considered which part of Yokosuka is most likely to have served as the real-life inspiration for the harbor and warehouse area that Ryo visits in Shenmue. The placenames used in the game - New Yokosuka Harbor in Amihama - do not exist in real life.

Based on the clues gathered, the location that appeared to be the best fit was an area of the harbor that lies 15-20 minutes away from Dobuita, called Nagaura Port.

Related link:
In Part One, we identified this area as a candidate for Amihama in real life: Nagura Port
In Part One, we identified this area as a candidate for Amihama in real life: Nagura Port
But in fact, we have not yet exhausted all possible sources of clues.

In this second article, we will carry out an in-depth analysis of the road signboards that Ryo passes on his motorbike on the way to the harbor.

We will try plotting the placenames shown onto a real map (if they exist), to see if this helps to provide a confirmation of Amihama's location.
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Monday, December 4, 2017

Cédric Plays Shenmue III: "So Cool" | Photo

Shenmue III co-producer Cédric Biscay has met with Yu Suzuki at the development studio in Tokyo, and tried out the latest build of Shenmue III, with an upbeat verdict.

In his tweet he describes the game as "so cool" and has attached a photo of Yu Suzuki posing at his desk with a PS4 controller in his hands, smiling cheerfully.

The tweet message reads:
"We are playing The game and it is so cool ! #Shenmue3"
It is heart-warming to see Yu showing a relaxed and confident face, in what must be a hectic development period for the game.

Also posted was a group photo:

Group photo (from left: executive producer Harry Morishita, creator Yu Suzuki, co-producer Cédric Biscay).
Group photo (from left: executive producer Harry Morishita, creator Yu Suzuki, co-producer Cédric Biscay).
The tweet reads:
"What a pleasure to play the latest version of #Shenmue3 today.
Yes we will really have the game we are all waiting for ! @YSNET_Inc @yu_suzuki_jp  @ShibuyaProd"
Many thanks to Cédric on behalf of fans and backers for this brief, but uplifting, informal update.

Source: tweet #1, tweet #2
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Sunday, December 3, 2017

Download the Shenmue "Sacred Spot" Guide Map (Japanese)

The Shenmue "Sacred Spot" Guide Map that was recently announced as a collaboration between Yokosuka City and SEGA, is now available.

Related post:

This initial version is in Japanese, and according to the CocoYoko tourism page, an English version is in progress (no estimate of its completion is given). The length of the print run for the Shenmue map is not given.

The guide is in the form of a double-sided, folded pamphlet, densely packed with maps, illustrations, photos and shop information, all strongly tied to Shenmue.

Shenmue "Sacred Spot" Guide Map: first side

Shenmue "Sacred Spot" Guide Map: second side

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Friday, December 1, 2017

Shenmue "Sacred Spot" Guide Map Announced | Translation

Surprise - Sega is promoting Shenmue again!

The association for the promotion of tourism in Yokosuka (the Yokosuka Action Promotion Committee) has miraculously managed to gain SEGA's cooperation to produce a Shenmue-themed tourist booklet entitled Shenmue Chapter One: Yokosuka 'Sacred Spot' Guide Map.

It covers points of interest around the area in which Shenmue I was set, and will become available at 10:00 am on Sunday, December 3rd (JST), in both physical and online form.

The cover of the Shenmue Chapter One: Yokosuka 'Sacred Spot' Guide Map.
The cover of the Shenmue Chapter One: Yokosuka 'Sacred Spot' Guide Map.
A short description about the guide map has been published on the association's site that is currently in Japanese only, so below is a translation of the text into English. Enjoy!

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Monday, November 27, 2017

Where is Amihama in Real Life? (Part 1/2)

Where is Amihama in Real Life? (Part 1/2)

During the later part of Shenmue, Ryo seeks "gainful employment" at the New Yokosuka Harbor, in an area of Yokosuka called Amihama.

In fact, both of these placenames - Amihama and New Yokosuka Harbor - do not exist in real life. However with some detective work, we can investigate where the game's harbor would be positioned on a real-life map if it did exist.

The approach will be to gather as much information as possible from within the game (as well as any clues found elsewhere) and through a process of elimination track down the secret identity of Amihama.

From Dobuita to the Harborside

As fans who have visited Yokosuka in real life will know, the harborside can actually be accessed in a short 5-10 minute walk from Dobuita Street (to Verny Park). The US Naval Base at Yokosuka is also situated nearby:

Aerial view of Yokosuka. The harbor can be reached by a short walk (marked in orange) from Dobuita Street.
Aerial view of Yokosuka. The harbor can be reached by a short walk (marked in orange) from Dobuita Street.
While the location of the US Navy Base makes it natural for sailors to feature in the plot of first Shenmue game, the ease of foot access to the harbor in real life may seem to contradict its portrayal in the game, where Ryo must take a bus or other form of transport.

The need for transport in the game could be explained away as a contrivance introduced for plot purposes, but a more compelling possibility exists: that New Yokosuka Harbor is based on an entirely separate part of the harbor.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Ryo spotted joy-riding through Dobuita

On a recent visit to Dobuita Street, this crazy biker almost ran me over!

Ryo spotted joy-riding through Dobuita

(The photo was taken at the quieter end of Dobuita Street.)

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Monday, November 20, 2017

The Road to Amihama | Shenmue Realism

The Road to Amihama | Shenmue Realism

Amihama is the fictional name of the area in Shenmue where the harbor is located; it is where Ryo finds Warehouse #8, Mad Angels and learns how to operate a forklift, among other things.

The last post delved into the bus service in the game that takes Ryo to the harbor, such as where the bus-stop is located in real life and the similarities in signage with the actual bus system in Yokosuka.

Related post:

Later in the game, Ryo borrows a motorcycle and rides to the same destination, this time under player control in a high-speed dash to the harbor. Unlike with the bus ride, which does not show any scenery, with the motorcycle ride we get to see the entire stretch of road.

In this post we'll compare the appearance of the roads and urban landscape Ryo passes through, to actual roads in the Yokosuka area. Consistent with the Shenmue approach, Yu Suzuki and team have incorporated many recognizable features that are representative of the area.

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Monday, November 13, 2017

The Bus to Amihama | Shenmue Realism

The Bus to Amihama

In the first Shenmue game, Ryo makes good use of the bus service that runs past the end of Dobuita Street, to take him over to the harbor area at Amihama. Although it was created for the game, as with most things in Shenmue it is grounded in realism.

In this post we'll run through the information the game gives us about it, and see how closely it matches up to the present day.

Location of the Dobuita Bus Stop

To start off, below is a photograph I took recently in the vicinity of the real Dobuita Street, at a corner intersecting with the main road - called the Yokosuka Highway - running nearby.

Although this corner is not situated at the actual end of Dobuita Street, the location's similarity with a certain tobacco shop at the end of Dobuita Street in the game can be readily appreciated.

I expect to see Hirata-san coming out through the door at any minute.
I expect to see Hirata-san tottering out through the door at any minute.

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Monday, November 6, 2017

Evolution of the Shenmue Undub Part 3: Translating the Last 3%

Evolution of the Shenmue Undub Part 3: Translating the Last 3%

Over the past half-year (with support from the French-language fansite Shenmue Master and others), I have been working on translating the small percentage of subtitle lines in the Kogami undub that were still displayed in Japanese - as well as including a few other miscellaneous fixes.

The point has now been reached where the work has been completed, and once fully tested this updated version will be released to the community in the future.

This post goes over the various changes that have been made for this "100% translated" version.

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Friday, November 3, 2017

Cédric Biscay in Tokyo | Photo

Shenmue III co-producer Cédric Biscay of Shibuya Productions has shared a photo of himself with Yu Suzuki, during his visit to Tokyo.

Cédric is pointing at what looks like two rooster ornaments on the table - souvenirs to Yu? Or perhaps a new kind of Chawan sign...

Yu Suzuki with CédricBiscay
Yu Suzuki with CédricBiscay
The tweet text is as follows:
"Amazing time with my friend @yu_suzuki_jp ! #Shenmue3 cc @ShibuyaProd @YSNET_Inc
Although no special information can be gleaned (still working on decoding the rooster message), it's good to see Cédric and Yu Suzuki looking relaxed and catching on the Shenmue III project.

Source: Twitter
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Friday, October 27, 2017

2 New Additions to the Shenmue Community | Shenmue Blog & Shenmue Lounge

The Shenmue community has gained two awesome new Shenmue services, set up by fans for everyone's enjoyment.

One is a newly-launched blog from community member BlueMue, and the other is a new media channel featuring live-streams of Shenmue news & gameplay hosted by Peter Campbell, launching at the start of next week.

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Friday, October 20, 2017

Evolution of the Shenmue Undub Part 2: The Kogami Release

Evolution of the Shenmue Undub Part 2: The Kogami Release

This is the second part in our series about the Shenmue Undub versions. Last time we covered the original Undub release by Sm1th, and this time we will be looking at a version by Kogami.

The Sm1th version provided Japanese audio together with English subtitles almost perfectly for the cinematic scenes, but with some issues for the free conversation sections of the game.

It turned out that mixing the audio files from the Japanese Shenmue directly with the subtitle files from an English version would lead to issues since internally their structures did not correspond exactly.

These problems were resolved just a few months later in a separate Undub version that was put together using a similar but extended technique.
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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Evolution of the Shenmue Undub Part 1: The Sm1th Release

Evolution of the Shenmue Undub: The Sm1th Release

When Shenmue 1 was released, the spoken audio for the game outside of Japan came only in English. For international fans wishing to play with the original Japanese voices, there was no real solution for many years; even importing the Japan release was not much help unless you had a good understanding of the language, as this did not come with English subtitles.

Fans soon became interested in creating their own version of the game that would couple the original Japanese voice-acting with subtitles in English - in other words, an "undub" version of the game.

However this proved to be no easy task, and the situation did not change for more than 13 years after Shenmue's release.

Then, in late 2013, the break-through many had been waiting for materialized at last - the appearance of the Shenmue 1 Undub.
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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Shenmue Art Book Discount | Retro Import Gamer

If you have been considering adding the Shenmue Art Book to your collection, here is a chance to pick it up at a discount!

The 1998 Shenmue Art Book is a rarely-seen piece of original merchandise that contains a wealth of glossy photos, design diagrams and text (some of which we have shared here on the blog).

Our friends at Retro Import Gamer are currently listing the Shenmue Art Book with a Buy It Now price of just £184.99 - this represents a very reasonable level for this item, which also includes free postage within the UK.

And especially for Phantom River Stone blog readers, we have arranged with Retro Import Gamer a £10 discount on this item.

To qualify for the discount, simply contact them via Ebay with the answer to the following Shenmue trivia question:
  • Complete the password: "Father's Heaven" -> ?
Click here for the Shenmue Art Book listing on Ebay:

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Saturday, October 7, 2017

Earning Money to Meet Ren | Shenmue 2 Flowchart #2 Translation

Earning Money to Meet Ren

Introduction & Related Post

The "Making of Shenmue" section of the 1998 Shenmue art book contains snippets of actual design documents from the making of the first two games. We will be examining each of these in today's and future posts to see what information they reveal.

We previously investigated a flowchart covering the first part of play in Shenmue II, after Ryo arrives in Hong Kong:

The Second Flowchart Snippet

Today's flowchart snippet is found on the same page as the first, and as with the first it is partially obscured by various other overlapping diagrams and photographs. The section in question is highlighted in red:

The second flowchart snippet from the Shenmue Art book (enclosed in red).
The second flowchart snippet from the Shenmue Art book (enclosed in red). It's quite a jumble!
Image credit: David De Ville.
The context of the flowchart appears to be soon (but not directly) after the first, with Ryo having visited Man Mo temple and become acquainted with Xiuying.

Minor Spoilers
Plot elements relating to some of the initial events in Shenmue II will be discussed.

Click on each image to enlarge.
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Sunday, October 1, 2017

Shenmue 2 Concept Sketch: "Wharf Near Langhuishan" | Comparison with Released Game

In an interview last year, Yu Suzuki brought along with him copies of several design documents and concept sketches that had been created for Shenmue I and II. Images of these documents were included with the article text but weren't mentioned in the interview itself.

The document we'll be looking at in this post is concept art showing Langhuishan in Guilin, where Ryo heads after leaving Hong Kong towards the end of Shenmue II.


Ryo arrives at Langhuishan.
Ryo arrives at Langhuishan (Shenmue II cutscene).

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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Kickstarter Update #75: Face Animations & Subtitles Translation

Kickstarter Update #75 is out, in the form of a "Dev Room Report" video that demonstrates characters' facial expressions.

Here is the full video, which is just under a minute in length:

During the demonstration, we are introduced to two new characters. And in addition, some in-game subtitles are also displayed (in Japanese) during part of the demonstration.

Read on for full coverage of their meaning!

The update also notes that Backer Surveys are still being worked on, and that it will still be "some time" before they are sent out. However a rundown of the surveys can be expected soon.
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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

SEGA Dreamcast: Collected Works Kickstarter | Shenmue Special Edition

"SEGA Dreamcast: Collected Works" is a Kickstarter funded book project that aims to be the authoritative resource on the Dreamcast console.

As a sign of immense public interest, the Kickstarter project became fully funded in mid-September after just 50 hours! And with 15 days still to go, pledges are nearing 1.5 times its original goal of £68,000.

Cover rendering of SEGA Dreamcast: Collected Works
Cover rendering of SEGA Dreamcast: Collected Works
Produced in collaboration with SEGA, it will feature hardware and software development documents, photographs of prototypes and rare hardware, in-depth interviews with the original game developers, high-quality game images and more.

Numerous games from the console's library will be covered, including of course Shenmue. (Hopefully an interview with Yu Suzuki can also be arranged, as was the case with the earlier Mega Drive book).

Plus, at the higher end of the reward tiers is a Shenmue Special Edition - further details below.

Sample rendering of the book's contents.
Sample rendering of the book's contents.
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Friday, September 22, 2017

Gamescom 2017 Photo Report | Guest Post

We welcome yuc02 back to the blog with a photo report on his experience at the recent Gamescom 2017 event in Germany, as he got to catch up with other Shenmue fans not to mention meeting Yu Suzuki himself - and even found himself taking on the role of primary cameraman for several community interviews. He also had a special mission to fulfill on behalf of the Shenmue community...

All photos in this report were taken by yuc02. Click to enlarge).

Gamescom 2017 Photo Report

Hey guys, it’s yuc02 again!

I had the pleasure of going to Gamescom this year, obviously to see Yu Suzuki and the YS Net team, but also to hand him a very special gift.  It was a great few days and I just wished that more of you guys could have been there.  Here’s my take on the 3 days I was there.

Day 1: Wed 23rd August, 2017

After a (very) early start, I finally arrived in Cologne for the 2017 edition of Gamescom, the largest gaming show in Europe.  It was also my first ever games show, so it was quite daunting to see so many people (it wasn’t even the busiest day!)

The Gamescom venue in Cologne
The Gamescom venue in Cologne
Inside the halls
Inside the halls

Naturally I went to see the Deep Silver booth, to try and have a look at the meet and greet area (keep thinking Deep Purple for some reason :P)

It wasn’t massive, slightly tucked out of the way, and was surrounded by SEGA and other Deep Silver products, so was quite cosy! In a way it feels like Shenmue…

SEGA and Deep Silver booths
SEGA and Deep Silver booths in close proximity in the general-admission area
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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

YS Net Studio Visit by Koch Media with Blurry Dev Screenshot | Photos

Olivier Comte, the CEO of the French subsidiary of Koch Media, yesterday paid a visit to Yu Suzuki and the development team in Tokyo and has posted up some photos on his Twitter account.

Koch Media is the parent company to publishing label Deep Silver, recently announced as the international publisher for Shenmue III at the recent Gamescom event.

Olivier Comte with Yu Suzuki
Olivier Comte with Yu Suzuki (photo: Twitter)
Olivier also shared a photo of the studio showing the development team at work.

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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Zhu Yuan Da or Yuanda Zhu? | Character Names in Shenmue I vs II

One question that pops up every now and again in Shenmue forums and message boards is about the difference that can be observed in character names between the first and second Shenmue games when playing the English versions.

In this post we'll look at some of these examples, and then see how they relate to the order for names used in Japan and China.

(MINOR SPOILERS of character identities!)

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Friday, September 15, 2017

Shenmue 500K Interview with Yu Suzuki | Gamescom

Shenmue 500K Interview with Yu Suzuki

A new interview out of August's Gamescom event in Germany was released earlier this week by Shenmue 500K, covering Shenmue III and other topics.

The interview was conducted by Sílvia Vila Tarrés and James Hamill, interviewing Shenmue III's director Yu Suzuki together with the game's executive producer Hideaki Morishita.

The questions were asked on behalf of members of the Shenmue 500K Facebook group, and some highlights include:
  • Whether there will be a Tomato Convenience Store in Shenmue III (Yu is thinking about setting one up in one of the story's locations - check out the interview to find out which!)
  • How far the Shenmue prototype for the Saturn had progressed? ("Thirty percent").
  • An amusing windsurfing anecdote recounted by Yu, from the time of Shenmue I & II's development, featuring composer Takenobu Mitsuyoshi.

Impressions from the Audio 

On a personal note, it was my pleasure to help out on this interview by providing a translated transcription of Yu's responses from the audio recording (since taking video footage of the interview was not permitted).

What made an impression on me from the audio recording is the enthusiasm and humor that carried across in his voice, despite this being one of many scheduled meetings and interviews during the event.

Both Yu and executive producer Morishita-san also took great care in answering the questions, clarifying their meaning with the interviewer when needed, really reflecting their respect for the fan community.

Interview Link

The interview has been written up in a friendly, narrative style making the article a pleasure to read - and the photographs and animated pictures liven it up even further. The questions are also varied and feel fresh, branching outside the ones Yu was most commonly asked about by the general media at the event.

Head over now to the new Shenmue 500K website to read the interview here.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Recap: Shenmue III Japanese Media Interviews | Gamescom 2017

In addition to the Shenmue III teaser video and latest images that came out of Gamescom 2017, there were a great many interview articles published with Yu Suzuki which contain tantalizing details about the game.

During the event we posted up full translations of five interviews from the Japanese video game media to the blog, and now that the event is over it's a great time to recap the points of interest from each. (Some points have been omitted where repeated).

Even if you have read through these interviews before, you may find one or two points that may catch your attention anew.

(Don't miss the bonus fan-made teaser at the end!)

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Sunday, September 10, 2017

Ryo's Arrival in Hong Kong | Shenmue II Design Document Translation

Ryo's Arrival in Hong Kong: Shenmue II Early Flowchart

The "Making of Shenmue" section of the 1998 Shenmue art book contains snippets of actual design documents from the making of the first two games. We will be examining each of these in today's and future posts to see what information they reveal.

This is a great opportunity to gain some additional insight into the early stages of the design of the first two games.

The document we will look at in today's post is an early Shenmue II diagram that steps through the initial plot in Shenmue II, starting with Ryo's arrival in Hong Kong through to meeting Xiuying in person.

Minor Spoilers
Plot elements relating to some of the initial events in Shenmue II will be discussed.
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Friday, September 8, 2017

"Easter Egg" Characters Discovered in Shenmue III Teaser

When You See It...
Image credit: Shenmue Forever
A jaw-dropping discovery has been made in the recent Shenmue III teaser video by Shenmue Forever (via Twitter). It is so subtle that it went completely unnoticed until now, despite the intense scrutiny the video has received.

Yu Suzuki has been known to enjoy hiding Easter eggs within Shenmue III material in the past.

In late 2015, a presentation Yu gave at the Chuapp event in China also contained a small Easter egg. At the end of this video clip demonstrating the interior of a room in Shenmue III, the figure of Ine-san (the Hazuki residence's housekeeper from the first Shenmue game) can be glimpsed standing in the doorway. Yu's comment to the audience, with a smile, was "Fan service!"

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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Shenmue Art Book - Characters Section | Shenmue Merchandise

This post covers the Characters section of the Shenmue art book. Several key characters to appear in the the first two games are introduced, as well as one that notably still has yet to appear.

You will notice that some of the character descriptions match those in the Shenmue I and II English-language manuals. For the other characters, the translations from Japanese are my own.

Ryo Hazuki

"Having lost his mother at an early age, Ryo has devoted his entire young life to rigorous martial arts training under the guidance of a strict but loving father. Despite a tendency to be reckless and a bit too quick to fight, Ryo has a tremendous amount of potential and an iron-strong volition. Determined to uncover the mystery of his father's murder, he begins a journey that will eventually take him west to a land he has never seen... China. What fate lies in store for Ryo?"

Ryo Hazuki

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Monday, September 4, 2017

The Shenmue Art Book: Overview of Contents | Shenmue Merchandise

In today's post we'll look at one of the rarer pieces of Shenmue merchandise, and one that remains somewhat shrouded in mystery even today, ever since its publication back in 1998.

The item I am referring to is one that has become known to fans as the "Shenmue Art Book". This it not an official name, since the front cover simply reads "Shenmue". The YS logo of Yu Suzuki adorns the back.

Front and back cover of the Shenmue Art Book
Front and back cover of the Shenmue Art Book.

What Is the Shenmue Art Book?

It can be best described as a high-quality, full-color booklet consisting of 36 generously-sized glossy pages and is cram-packed with photos, concept art, maps, development flowcharts and text (in Japanese) relating to the first two Shenmue games.

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Sunday, September 3, 2017

Yu Suzuki Interviewed by Shenmue Dojo | Gamescom

The fansite Shenmue Dojo has released a brand new interview with Yu Suzuki which took place at the recent Gamescom 2017 event. (I was able to contribute in a small way by translating Yu's responses into English).

Although brief, the interview packs in a lot of information from Yu Suzuki on topics such as the reasons behind the timing of the teaser release at Gamescom, and his thoughts on the handling of colors in Shenmue III using Unreal Engine 4.

The interview was held by Peter of the Shenmue Dojo, who commented that it's "always an honour to be in the company of Suzuki-san".

Peter from the Shenmue Dojo with Hideaki Morishita & Yu Suzuki
Peter from the Shenmue Dojo (left) with the Shenmue III executive producer Hideaki "Harry" Morishita and director Yu Suzuki.
Following the interview, as a surprise gift to Yu Suzuki a superb piece of framed fan art was presented on behalf of all of the Shenmue community. The illustration, drawn by @r_wuying, shows Yu as a band member of one of his favorite bands, Van Halen.

Yu with his gift of fan art
Yu with his gift of fan art.

Link to the interview with Yu Suzuki

Read the interview and write-up by Peter at the Shenmue Dojo here.

Related posts: we have translated several interviews with Yu Suzuki at Gamescom, conducted by Japanese media.

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