Monday, December 31, 2018

[Pinned] Announcement: Phantom River Stone is on Patreon!

It is hard to believe that over two years have passed since the Phantom River Stone blog launched. We've made more than 200 posts on our favorite subject: translations of community interviews, magazine articles and design documents, notes about everyday items and culture reflected in the game, photos of real locations around Yokosuka... just celebrating the awesomeness that is Shenmue.

In order to sustain this rate of output, and dedicate the time needed for the translations and posts, I wanted to offer a way for blog readers who wish to help contribute to do so.

And so, I am excited to announce our new Patreon page for Phantom River Stone!

If you're not familiar with Patreon, it’s an easy way to give those who find the blog of interest, a way to support it directly.

Plus, you will receive some great rewards in return, such as exclusive "behind the scenes" content, early access to blog posts before anyone else, and monthly voting on a future blog topic. We also have a Discord channel for chatting about Shenmue and blog posts & I look forward to chatting with you there.

There are several different reward tiers, which you can check out in detail on the new Patreon page.

Thank you for considering becoming a patron of the blog, and regardless of whether you are in a position to offer financial support, thank you for being a reader of the blog!

Click to open the Phantom River Stone page on Patreon!

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Sunday, December 30, 2018

2018 End-of-Year Interview with Yu Suzuki []

A couple of days ago, released a short end-of-year interview with Yu Suzuki as one of a number of figures interviewed across the games industry.

And now, Japanese website has put out a similar survey, and we have translated Yu Suzuki's responses below. He touches on the same theme as for the Famitsu interview, but with a slight variation in his wording which helps to clarify his earlier comment.
Q1: Among the games that were released in 2018, which title were you most interested in (or had the greatest impact on you)?
YS: I was so focused on the development of Shenmue, that I had absolutely no time to play other games.

Q2: Of the entertainment content that was released or announced during 2018, which one left the deepest impression?
YS: "Ready Player One," a movie which has VR as its theme. After being involved in HMD (head mounted display) type VR games in the arcades in 1991, with the passing of time VR is now booming again.
The way the future of VR is portrayed in this movie is done with just the right amount of humor, and is a touch I like.
Q3: Which figure personally caught (or is catching) your attention in 2018?
YS: Mr. Donald [Trump] and [Japanese prime minister] Mr. Abe.
They were the ones who concerned me most, in various ways.

Q4: What is your New Year's Resolution for 2019, and could you also give a message for 4Gamer readers?
YS: Shenmue III is scheduled for release in August.
I believe that the balance between the user cycle and the economy will be another new point of attraction for open worlds.
I want to deliver the leisurely-paced world of Shenmue to everyone soon.
As in the interview, Yu raises the same theme of "Balance" again, specifically in regards to balancing the user cycle (player interactions) with the economy that exists within the game world. Based on the context of his comment, it appears that this is an aspect that Yu has refined for Shenmue III.

With less than eight months to go until its release, there is not too much longer to wait before we will be able to experience it for ourselves.

Translation by Switch
Source (Japanese):
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Friday, December 28, 2018

Yu Suzuki's Keyword for 2019: "Balance" []

Japanese website has published their traditional annual survey of members of the games industry, this time interviewing a total of 119 game creators. They were asked for a single "keyword" to summarize their direction for 2019, and their New Year's Resolution.

Yu Suzuki again participated, and here are his replies:
Q: What is your keyword for 2019?
YS: "Balance". I'm looking forward to what's to come for open-world user cycles and games that are perfectly-balanced economically.
Q: What is your New Year's Resolution?
YS: Once Shenmue III is successfully released in August 2019, I hope players will spend a leisurely time inside the unique world of the new Shenmue.

Q: What will you be keeping an eye on in 2019?
YS: I can't think about anything other than Shenmue. (laughs)
Yu's comments about his chosen keyword, "balance", no doubt reflect themes of interest within the context of his development of Shenmue III.

The phrase "user cycle" can refer to the patterns of interaction over time that a player has with a game (such as how frequently and for how long they play) as well as their actions within the game.

Regarding the comment on the economic aspect, my initial speculation was that here Yu may have been referring to the challenge of attaining balance between development budget and game sales. However in a subsequent interview published by 4Gamer, Yu's comments indicate that he is talking about the balance between the user cycle and the economics within an open-world game itself.

Not surprisingly, it is clear that Yu is completely focused on Shenmue III, as he and team work towards its release date of 27th August 2019.

Related Links

These are Yu Suzuki's end-of-year interviews from the past two years:
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Thursday, December 27, 2018

Shenmue Fan Meeting in Yokosuka: Summary & Highlights

Earlier this week, on December 24th, a group of Shenmue fans packed into a venue in Yokosuka, Japan for a Shenmue fan meeting, organized by Yokosuka City and IGN Japan.

Interest shown during the pre-registration period was so high that the originally-planned 80 places was increased by 50% to a total of 120, with attendees being selected by a draw.

The MC of the event was Esra Krabbe from IGN Japan, with on-stage guests including Masaya Matsukaze (the voice and motion-capture actor for Ryo Hazuki in the Japanese versions) as well as guests Eigo Kasahara and Hiroshi Noguchi.

Various Shenmue themed stand-up cut-outs (Ryo, Nozomi, Kurita-san, and a forklift truck) were set up at the venue. They are also part of the Shenmue Sacred Spot campaign and on other days are stationed at shops around Dobuita.

The talk show was also live-streamed to IGN Japan's YouTube channel (link to video). The chat took place in Japanese - and happily, English captions are being prepared.

In this post, we will summarize the live-stream footage from the event, with some highlights.

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Monday, December 24, 2018

Snowy Dobuita: Shenmue vs Real Life | Video

Shenmue I conjures up images of icy streets and snow falling gently on Yokosuka. Earlier in the year I captured some footage of Dobuita and the surrounding areas after a light overnight fall of snow.


At several points along our stroll, we compare how closely the real locations compare to the way they are depicted in the game (using footage from the Dreamcast version), with the similarities being striking even today. As a bonus, the end of the video contains a collage of still photos.

End of Year Message

Thank you to everyone following the Phantom River Stone blog. I look forward to bringing you more analysis, articles and videos next year. And a special mention to all our patrons for your amazing support - you help to keep the blog going!

Happy Holidays!

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Saturday, December 22, 2018

Shenmue III: Yu Suzuki Talks On Stage in Xiamen [Video | ENG Subs]

On December 16th, Yu Suzuki took to the stage to talk about Shenmue III to an audience of gaming fans at the G-Fusion Tour event that was held in Xiamen, Fujian province in China (as announced at the end of November).

As with the recent Tokyo Game Show, animation producer Hiroaki Takeuchi also took part.

The following items were announced during the stage talk:
  • There will be a version of Shenmue III released with Simplified Chinese subtitles.
  • The distribution of Shenmue III in China is to be handled by Tencent (on the WeGame platform) and Oasis Games (for PS4).
Also during the talk, a slightly modified version of the "The Prophecy" trailer for Shenmue III was shown, with Chinese subtitles, to a warm reception from the audience.

We have added English translated captions to the video which can be viewed below. Or, if you prefer to read a written version, a full transcript of these follows.

Video (ENG subs): Yu Suzuki & Hiroaki Takeuchi on Shenmue III

Watch the video of the talk below: 


Yu Suzuki (YS): Everyone, I'm Yu Suzuki. I'm glad to be here today.

Hiroaki Takeuchi (HT): Nĭ hăo! My name is Hiroaki Takeuchi.

Q: We've heard that you've come to China several times. Is this your first time in Xiamen?

YS: I've been here once before, about 3 or 4 years ago. I came to research the circular tower-like structures of the Hakka people, which look sort of like missile bases.

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Friday, December 21, 2018

1998 Shenmue Premiere 20th Anniversary [Video | ENG Subs]

Today, 20th December 2018, marks the twentieth anniversary of the Shenmue Premiere, an extravagant event that was held in Yokohama in 1998 - as well as in five other cities around Japan thereafter - at which Yu Suzuki introduced his groundbreaking new game, Shenmue, to the public.

The free event lasted for two hours and included a live orchestra, videos and live gameplay. Every attendee also received a bag packed full of Shenmue items such as a T-shirt, CD single and Shenhua figurine to take home with them. For those who wanted more, many other items of Shenmue merchandise could be bought in the lobby.

Premiere Video (Digest)

In the following months, Sega released a ten-minute digest video of the Yokohama premiere.
A frame from the Magic Weather demonstration.
The digest video touches on the following:
  • A snippet of the live-orchestra performance of the Shenmue theme.
  • The characters in Shenmue
  • Magic Weather (using a test environment with multiple "Water Dragon" and other shops)
  • In-game conversations
Enjoy watching a young Yu Suzuki showing off the features of his game in the video below (with English captions that I created a few years ago for the Shenmue Dojo):

This video was included on the first volume in 1999 of Sega's Dreamcast Express series of demo discs, among with several other videos and demos.
The cover of the Dreamcast Express Vol.1 disc, on which the Shenmue Premiere digest video was included.
A full-length video of the premiere event was also made available but unfortunately the extreme compression used at that time rendered it almost unwatchable; we hope that perhaps someday the original recording may be unearthed from Sega's vaults.

One of the MCs at the event, actress Reiko Chiba, is still a good friend of Yu Suzuki to this day. A few years ago, she posted a photo of herself at dinner with Yu and animation producer Hiroaki Takeuchi on Twitter.
Yu Suzuki, Reiko Chiba and Hiraoki Takeuchi (link to tweet)

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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Shenmue III English Voice Recording Now Underway

English voice recording for Shenmue III is now underway! Voice actor Corey Marshall, who is reprising his role as Ryo Hazuki for the game, recently revealed via Twitter that he has started recording, sharing a photo of himself in the recording studio together with Yu Suzuki. This follows the news earlier in the year in the June Kickstarter Update of the start of the Japanese voice recording.
Corey's tweet contained a warm message expressing his feeling of honor at Yu's visit:
Link to tweet
Thanks to the studio lights, Corey's stance in the photo was given a super-worldly glow, to which Corey jokingly remarked, "You’d think the other name for Shenmue 3 is ‘Ryo Hazuki: The Immortal Iron Fist’."

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Monday, December 10, 2018

Shenmue Documentary Filming in Yokosuka | Photo Report

Shenmue Documentary Filming in Yokosuka | Photo Report

The documentary project "A Gamer's Journey: The Definitive History of Shenmue" was successfully funded on Kickstarter in August, and its creators have spent the past week in Japan, carrying out numerous interviews and filming footage for the documentary.

Switch recently accompanied the project originator, Adam Sipione, and his crew on a filming trip down in Yokosuka. This post is a photo report of the day.

Travelling Down to Yokosuka

It was a cool early-December morning when I joined the documentary crew in boarding a southbound limited-express train down to Ryo Hazuki's hometown of Yokosuka. The purpose of the visit was to gather "b-roll" (supplemental) footage of the area, capturing on film snippets of Shenmue's vibe that can still be felt there today.

Just under an hour later we stepped out onto the platform at Yokosuka-chuo station and, passing through the ticket gates, made a bee-line for the tourist information center conveniently located in the building opposite. Pleasingly, there was a large Shenmue I & II poster* displayed prominently at the front of the information desk.
* Currently there is a Shenmue promotion running whereby a minimum purchase made at participating shops around Dobuita qualifies for one of several Shenmue-themed coasters. Details: Shenmue Coaster Collectibles & Dec 24th Fan Meeting in Yokosuka | Shenmue Sacred Spot Campaign
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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Poll Result: Patrons' Choice Topic for December

Every month Phantom River Stone holds a poll among our patrons to choose a topic for the blog in the coming month. The results are in for December's topic, and the most highly-voted topic (including accumulated votes from previous months) was...

"In-game restaurant menus around Dobuita."

Although in Shenmue Ryo isn't able to eat at any of the restaurants around his home town, each of them is created in great detail, right down to the menu boards and lists of what food is available at each.

For this topic we'll investigate the various menu items and their prices at the restaurants around the Dobuita area, and see exactly what is on offer.

Watch for the article later this month.

If you're interested in reading it early, check us out on Patreon - the $2 tier will get you early access as soon as its ready, plus access to all early-access posts for the month. Or become a patron at a higher tier and participate in voting for your choice of monthly blog topic. Link to Phantom River Stone on Patreon.

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Saturday, December 1, 2018

Introductory Letter from Master Chen | Unused Textures in Shenmue

Unused Textures in Shenmue: Introductory Letter from Master Chen

Today's topic was selected by the Phantom River Stone blog patrons via our monthly poll. If you'd like to have a say in what subjects we cover next, consider supporting us on Patreon!

In this post we will examine some textures relating to envelopes and letters that were not used in the final release version of the game, but which were discovered hiding in the game files.

In particular we will focus on one particular letter that plays a key part of the story: the introduction letter from Master Chen that Ryo receives at the end of the first game, containing the name and address of a master in Hong Kong who will be able to assist him.

At the start of Shenmue II, Ryo starts holding the "letter" (really just a note):

Ryo checks Master Chen's note upon arrival in Hong Kong, at the start of Shenmue II.
Ryo checks Master Chen's note upon arrival in Hong Kong, at the start of Shenmue II.
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Thursday, November 29, 2018

Yu Suzuki to Speak About Shenmue III on 16th December | Video [ENG Subs]

Yu Suzuki has announced that he will be in China on 16th December to give a presentation about Shenmue III, at the invitation of WeGame, China's biggest PC games distribution platform. The event's name is G-Fusion Tour and the venue is in Xiamen, a sub-provincial city in south-eastern Fujian province.

Yu Suzuki recorded a video greeting to the fans in China, extracted below, to which we have added English subtitles:

Fujian province, in which the venue city is located, has a special meaning to Shenmue fans as it is home to the Fujian Tulou, multi-level rounded buildings that feature in the concept art for the city of Baisha in Shenmue III.

Concept sketch of Baisha, showing Tulou
Concept sketch of Baisha in Shenmue III, showing Tulou

Tulou in Fujian province.
The event's website promises that there will be interesting stories and that "good news" will be announced. We look forward to what Yu Suzuki may reveal in his presentation on the 16th.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Fan Photos of Shenmue at Network Jungle II Event in 1999

Shenmue was featured at "Network Jungle II: Digitaliland," an expo for games making use of networking and digital communications held in Tokyo in 1999, to promote the game in Japan ahead of its release.

One of the stage events had members of the public competing to "dub over" lines from Shenmue. One participant spoke as Ren using a regional Kansai dialect, which must have caused some hilarity among the audience.
The voice/mo-cap actors for Ren (Takumi Hagiwara), Shenhua (Hazuki Ishigaki) and Ryo (Masaya Matsukaze) in the Japanese versions introducing the dubbing competition
Later Yu Suzuki also took the stage together with Hiroaki Takeuchi, and Sega Managing Director Hidekazu Yukawa (of "What's Shenmue" demo fame).
From left: Hiroaki Takeuchi, (former) Managing Director Yukawa and Yu Suzuki.
From left: Hiroaki Takeuchi, Sega Managing Director Hidekazu Yukawa and Yu Suzuki.
Most images that can be found online of this event are rather low-resolution (understandably, due to bandwidth considerations at the time), so it's fascinating to get another glimpse from someone who was actually there.

Photo credit: @kohji_nakazawa via Twitter
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Saturday, November 24, 2018

The Hazuki Family Altar - Part Two | The Realism of Shenmue

The Hazuki Family Altar - Part Two | The Realism of Shenmue

Today's topic was selected as the Patrons' Choice topic for November by the Phantom River Stone blog patrons via our monthly poll. If you'd like to have a say in what subjects we cover next, check out our Patreon page here!

In this second part we wrap up our examination of the Hazuki Family Altar, this time investigating each of the individual items that decorate the altar and lie in the drawers. To start from Part One, click here.

The Family Altar in Shenmue

The Hazuki altar in Shenmue has been created with amazing detail, accurately reflecting many of the typical religious items to be found. Here are some brief notes on a few of these.

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Friday, November 23, 2018

A Message from Nozomi (Megumi Yasu)

This week's Famitsu magazine contains a message from the voice actress of Nozomi, Megumi Yasu, in the Japanese version of the first two Shenmue games:
"I should be able to do it a little better now..! I look forward to it, if I have the chance (haha)."

The ability for Ryo to call Nozomi by phone is planned for Shenmue 3 as part of the "S3 World Telecom" reward tier, so there's a chance that she may be asked to reprise her role.

Thank you to @shenmueguide for this news (via Twitter).

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Thursday, November 22, 2018

Comments on Kickstarter Update #93: Final Campaign Tallies

Comments on Kickstarter Update #93: Final Campaign Tallies
With less than 10 months to go until the Shenmue III release on 27th August 2019, a new Kickstarter update for Shenmue III was released today. It has been a while since the last one - around two months - which is not surprising as the development team is hard at work, with Yu Suzuki even sleeping over at the office, as he revealed during September's Tokyo Game Show.

The final totals for backer funding across the Kickstarter and Slacker Backer campaigns has now been confirmed:
Backers: 81,087
Funding Total: $7,179,510
The team expresses their thanks to all backers, saying: "Seeing the final numbers, all of us here can't help but feel all over again the immensity of the support everyone has given to make this project come true! Thank you!"

Also shared were photographs of some of the rewards being prepared. Here is our quick breakdown of the images presented.

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Shenmue I & II Releases in Japan Today

Today (November 22nd) is the release of Shenmue I & II in Japan, exclusively for PS4, three months after its international release.

Shenmue I & II Released in Japan Today
This fantastic image was drawn by @r_wuying (link to tweet).
Twitter is buzzing with tweets of anticipation and excitement, both from former players of the games and those who are excited to try it. Not being available on Steam in Japan, this will be the first time for most there to experience the new version.

The beautifully-packaged Limited Edition comes with a double-CD "Sound Collection" soundtrack (Japan only).
Photo credit: Nin-Nin Game
Gaming magazines and sites have also published articles such as this one from Famitsu [Japanese] introducing the game to newcomers and highlighting improvements made over the originals.

Shenmue-related events are also helping to stoke the Shenmue excitement, with collectible coasters being given away at selected shops in Dobuita, and a Shenmue fan meeting arranged in December.
A positive reception in Japan will hopefully translate to robust sales, and stir anticipation for Shenmue III which will release on 27th August of next year.

Link to the official Shenmue I & II site for Japan
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Saturday, November 17, 2018

The Hazuki Family Altar - Part One | The Realism of Shenmue

The Hazuki Family Altar - Part One | The Realism of Shenmue

Today's topic was selected as the Patrons' Choice topic for November by the Phantom River Stone blog patrons via our monthly poll. If you'd like to have a say in what subjects we cover next, check out our Patreon page here!

Shenmue I naturally weaves many facets of Japanese culture into the game, such as the way Ryo takes off his shoes indoors, or the different types of period telephones that Ryo can use around the area.

Today we'll look at another example of Shenmue I's faithful recreation of Japanese culture within the game: the Buddhist altar that can be seen in the Hazuki Residence.

The importance of the altar to the Hazukis can be appreciated by the fact that there is a whole room dedicated to it. And during the game it is not just there for show; as Ryo we able to interact with it ourselves, and furthermore other characters in the story also interact with it as we will cover later in this post.

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Thursday, November 15, 2018

Shenmue I & II Two-Hour Talk Panel with Masaya Matsukaze

Shenmue I & II Two-Hour Talk Panel with Masaya Matsukaze

The two hours of SEGA Japan's talk panel live stream discussing Shenmue I & II passed by in a flash, and did a great job of promoting its Japan release exclusively for PS4 on November 22nd. The stream included memories and comments from the guests, a quiz, and anecdotes from those who developed the original games.

Masaya Matsukaze, Ryo's voice/motion-capture actor for the Japanese version, was MC for the session and was accompanied by two of the original developers of the games: Eigo Kasahara and Hiroshi Noguchi (original roles: Planning Director and Real Time Movie Designer); they two have also been handling the localization of Shenmue I & II for the domestic market in Japan.

The guest panel consisted of members of the Japanese media, with editors/journalists from Weekly Famitsu, Dengeki Game Media, 4Gamer and IGN Japan.

A shorter stage discussion was held on the SEGA stage at the Tokyo Game Show in September with the same participants, but this time much more time was allotted.

Here is a selection of video grabs to give the flavor of the session.
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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Shenmue Coaster Collectibles & Dec 24th Fan Meeting in Yokosuka | Shenmue Sacred Spot Campaign

Shenmue Coaster Collectibles in Yokosuka | Shenmue Sacred Spot Campaign
In a follow-up to their production of a Shenmue-themed guide map for the Dobuita Street area and environs last year, Yokosuka City and SEGA Japan have teamed up again with a new promotion called the "Shenmue Sacred Spot Campaign" to mark the upcoming release in Japan of Shenmue I & II on the PS4 on November 22nd. The promotion runs from December through to February of next year.

This time, original Shenmue-themed coasters are being offered in exchange for a minimum purchase at one of the participating locations. Not only that, but there are full-size cardboard cut-out figures of characters stationed around the area, and a new Shenmue promotional map of the area has been produced. Plus, on December 24th there will be a fan meet-up with special guest Masaya Matsukaze, the voice of Ryo Hazuki in the Japanese version of the games.

Here's the information you need to know.

Shenmue Sacred Spot Campaign Map: Download

The promotion is based on locations around the town of Yokosuka, such as shrines, parks and shops, that evoke the 1986 setting of the first game in the series. This new campaign map highlights the sites of interest.

Promotion Details & Period:

Receive an original coaster for every purchase of 500 yen (including tax) or more at participating shops and restaurants. There are 12 designs in total, distributed randomly.

The promotion consists of two stages, with the available designs differing for each:
  • Stage One (6 designs): 4 December 2018 (Tue) to 11 January (Fri).
  • Stage Two (6 designs): 12 January 2019 (Sat) to 24 February (Sun).

Participating Locations:

There are a total of 9 locations participating in this campaign, listed below. (Tap a name to open the location in Google Maps).

Shenmue Photo Spots

Full-sized boards of characters from Shenmue as well as a forklift, will be set up at various locations on Dobuita Street - stop by to take some souvenir photos.

On their website, Yokosuka City encourages everyone to take this opportunity to come along and enjoy the world of Shenmue!

Shenmue Fan Meet-Up / Talk Event with Masaya Matsukaze

On December 24th, a Shenmue fan meeting & talk event with Masaya Matsukaze & other guests will be held in Yokosuka. The event is jointly sponsored by IGN Japan (Esra Krabbe will be MC) and Yokosuka City. Live-streaming is planned. Attendance is limited to 80 people, with registrations open now at this link.
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Friday, November 9, 2018

Shenmue I & II Discussion Live Stream on Nov 14th (Japanese-Language)

Sega Japan will be streaming a 2-hour talk panel on Shenmue I & II on Wednesday November 14th at 8pm JST.

The MC will be Masaya Matsukaze (Ryo Hazuki's Japanese voice / mocap). Hiroshi Noguchi and Eigo Kasahara (developers on the original games & now working on the Japanese localization of I & II) will also make an appearance. The discussion will be in Japanese.

The panel guests are members of Japanese media who are self-professed fans of Shenmue, including IGN Japan, 4Gamer, Dengeki and Weekly Famitsu.

An on-stage discussion with the same participants was held at the 2018 Tokyo Game Show, but the 30-minute slot was felt to be too short, hence the longer time allowance.

YouTube live stream:

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Out of Bounds in China: Automated Cheat Tool for Shenmue Two

Out of Bounds in China: Automated Cheat Tool for Shenmue Two

In this post, we present our automated tool for Shenmue II that will let Ryo step right through walls, fences and boundaries as if they didn't exist. It is a companion tool to the one for Shenmue I (which can be found here).

The Download Link can be found near the end of the article.

What Is It?

The tool is a short script built in the Cheat Engine (an open-source memory scanner, editor and debugger) that scans through memory to identify boundary data for the current area, and clears it out. Bingo - the boundaries are removed.

The original method for removing collisions in the Dreamcast version was developed by Giorgio and BlueMue of the Shenmue Dojo.

The tool also has an extra function to adjust Ryo's position within his current area. The following keyboard shortcut keys can also be used:
  • Insert / Delete: move Ryo forward/back in the X direction
  • Home / End: move Ryo forward/back in the Y direction
  • Page Up / Page Down: adjust Ryo's height (note, disable collisions first)
Read on for instructions.

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Thursday, November 8, 2018

Poll Result: Patrons' Choice Topic for November

Every month Phantom River Stone holds a poll among our patrons to choose a topic for the blog in the coming month. The results are in for November's topic, and the most highly-voted topic (including accumulated votes from previous months) was...

"Unused textures found in What's Shenmue: introductory letter from Master Chen."

At the end of Shenmue 1, a cut scene plays in which Master Chen hands Ryo an envelope and tells him that it contains the address of a master who will be of help after he arrives in Hong Kong.

Several years ago, the modding & hacking community discovered some unused graphic textures relating to this envelope and its contents sitting on the What's Shenmue demo for the Dreamcast, and we will take a look at them in the blog later this month.

If you're interested in reading it early, check us out on Patreon - the $2 tier will get you early access as soon as its ready, plus access to all early-access posts for the month. Or become a patron at a higher tier and participate in voting for your choice of monthly blog topic.
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Monday, November 5, 2018

SEGA Japan's Dreamcast Bingo Give-Away

SEGA Japan has updated their website with a new page added to the hardware history section about the Dreamcast console.

The Shenmue games are among the selection of historical Dreamcast software titles mentioned, with the description text reading:
"The end of the year saw the appearance of an epic creation whose development had carried over from the era of the Sega Saturn: Shenmue Chapter 1: Yokosuka.
This work, which went on sale at the end of 1999, built on technology cultivated for the Virtua Fighter series, and played out its story with 3D-rendered characters in the 3D-built town of Yokosuka, on a scale that was a first for its time. The open world concept it presented had not existed until then, and it is said to have had a great impact on the game industry in subsequent years".
The Shenmue games are given a mention on SEGA Japan's page on the history of the Dreamcast console.
The Shenmue games are given a mention on SEGA Japan's page on the history of the Dreamcast console. 
In conjunction with this new article on the Dreamcast, SEGA Japan is running a "Dreamcast Bingo" give-away on Twitter - and it features the face of a familiar character!

Here is our translation of the Bingo board:

 Instructions to go into the give-away draw are as follows:

  1. Follow the SEGA Japan twitter account.
  2. Download the official Japanese Bingo board image from their tweet and circle/mark it with all squares that apply. Getting Bingo is not mandatory for entry!
  3. Tweet out your marked version of the Bingo board image together with the hashtag #ドリキャスビンゴ

There are three prizes of a set of Dreamcast merchandise up for grabs. Entries are accepted until November 12th JST.

Note: As far as I have been able to determine, there are no stipulations regarding entry being restricted to Japanese twitter accounts, but it is likely the prize would be delivered only within Japan (for example, to the address of a forwarding company).
The Dreamcast merchandise prize set (3 sets)
The Dreamcast merchandise prize set (3 sets)

Related links (Japanese):

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Sunday, November 4, 2018

Yu Suzuki: Shenmue III Latest Information (TGS 2018)

Yu Suzuki: Shenmue III Latest Information (TGS 2018)

View the video below the article text.

At the 2018 Tokyo Game Show on September 22nd, Yu Suzuki and Shenmue III animation director Hiroaki Takeuchi spoke for a short time on the topic of Shenmue III. 

The Shenmue topic was a special section within a larger presentation about a VR game created by JPPVR (and their software subsidiary VReS) for which Suzuki is general producer. Sitting next to Suzuki and Takeuchi is Taichi Shibuki, the CEO of VReS.
Kicking off the talk segment is a showing of the latest Shenmue III trailer, "The Prophecy," with its announcement of the release date of 27th August 2019, giving it some additional exposure to the Japanese domestic audience.

Apparently Takeuchi had been invited casually by Yu to join him for the stage session without knowing details of what it would be about, and he does a good job of heightening the sense of excitement for the game's upcoming release.

Partway through, Takeuchi switches to the growling voice of "Mr. X", a fictional masked character that he used to play in the 1980s, appearing in Young Jump magazine and the video game magazine GTV. (Alas, these efforts are largely ignored by the announcer!).

Yu touches on the current activities of the game's development, indicating that the battles are being fine-tuned. He also states that he won't be travelling to China as wants to "avoid being beaten up" - a reference to his 1994 research trip for the original Shenmue games where he was famously dealt an accidental blow from his friend Master Wu Lian Zhi during a martial arts demonstration.

Something that leaves a deep impression is the extent of the dedication that Yu has to the development of Shenmue III. He reveals that he often works through the nights and catches up with naps during the daytime. Takeuchi even cracks a joke about his reduced alcohol intake compared to the days of Shenmue I & II!

One of the highlights of the talk for me is when Yu Suzuki expresses the joy he gets from being able to create Shenmue III: "After it's over, I want to go back and start creating another, as soon as I can."

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Saturday, November 3, 2018

Result Announcement: Shenmue I & II Guide Map Give-Away

Congratulations to the winner of Phantom River Stone's Shenmue Guide Map give-away draw, for which all patrons were automatically entered:

The lucky winner is Irfaan (FlagshipFighter)!

We will be in touch soon to collect delivery details.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Dobuita Street on Japanese TV Show "YojiGoji Days"

Yokosuka was featured yesterday in TV Tokyo's YojiGoji Days, a daily show with information about daily life in Japan. The on-the-scene reporter was retired boxer and celebrity Yoko Gushiken, who visited some familiar locations in the Dobuita Street vicinity.

Gushiken called into a Yokosuka jacket ("Sukajan") shop called First Shokai, whose owner has been hand-making jackets here for around 40 years.

First Shokai: "Sukajan" on display
First Shokai: "Sukajan" on display
Gushiken asked to see an actual jacket being worked on...

"I'd like to see one being stitched".
"I'd like to see one being stitched".
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Sunday, October 28, 2018

Excite QTE 2 - An AM2 Creation

When playing on the Excite QTE 2 machine at the You Arcade, you might have noticed that the side of the machine has the name of the machine inscribed upon it:

It can't be seen very clearly from the usual angle, being wedged up against the QTE Title machine next door to it, so with the help of our Shenmue I cheat tool we were able to step around to get a better view of it, revealing...

Down at the bottom is a logo of the team Yu Suzuki formerly headed at SEGA, AM2, on the side of the machine!

Since it doesn't appear on the game's screens itself, it's a little detail that is easy to miss.

P.S. Only a few days left - become a patron of Phantom River Stone this month at any tier and  you'll be automatically entered into the draw to win a Shenmue Sacred Spot Guide Map!

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Saturday, October 27, 2018

Yu Suzuki Tells Arino-Kacho About Shenmue 3 at the Tokyo Game Show | Subtitled Video

Yu Suzuki Tells Arino-Kacho About Shenmue 3 at TGS 2018 | Subtitled Video

At the recent Tokyo Game Show held in September, Yu Suzuki appeared on the stage of VR company JPPVR, chiefly to introduce a new game for which he is general producer (see our earlier post for more information). Yu was present at the stage presentation on consecutive days, with the first being on September 20th.

However this didn't mean that the topic of Shenmue III was ignored; on the contrary, while on stage Yu took the opportunity to play the latest trailer, "The Prophecy", from Gamescom in September which had until now not been officially shown in Japan.

He is asked by comedian Shinya Arino, representing his TV show GameCenter CX, a leading question about what has become of Shenmue. Yu smiles and replies, "I'm making it now!" and plays the trailer.

Here is the video clip, with our English subtitles added:

This video was available early to Phantom River Stone's early-access patrons. If you'd like to support more content like this, click the button below. Plus, join this month at any tier and  you'll be automatically entered into the draw to win a Shenmue Sacred Spot Guide Map.

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Friday, October 26, 2018

Shenmue III Now on Steam (with New Images)

Shenmue III Now on Steam (with New Images)

Following the announcement of the Shenmue III release date in August's trailer, the game now has its own store entry on Steam.

Store page for Shenmue III on Steam
Store page for Shenmue III on Steam
A list of supported languages is provided, although with the game still being under development, any information on the page should be considered subject to change.
Supported languages table
Supported languages table
Furthermore, the page contains two images we have not seen before; the first being the header image on the right-hand side, showing Shenhua and Ryo, with the carved mirrors from the cave behind them. (The image below is the large version, retrieved courtesy of Sappharad).

Steam header image (large version)
Steam header image (large version)

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