Friday, July 27, 2018

Ryo Hazuki Interviews Attendees at E3 | Video

Some interviewees were flustered, some had witty replies... but Ryo Hazuki's cool demeanor never changes.
In June, YouTuber Adam Koralik managed to get together with two Shenmue voice actors, Corey Marshall (the voice of Ryo Hazuki in the first two games, and confirmed for Shenmue III) and Lisle Wilkerson (who voiced Yuan, Joy and Xiuying in Shenmue II) at the E3 event in Los Angeles.

They recorded a hilarious video of Corey interviewing various attendees in character as Ryo. He does a magnificent job of keeping a straight face the entire time. Lisle also reacts as Joy when the three chat at the end.

Watch the video below, hosted on Adam's channel.

Become a Patron!

Examining the Warehouse Battle Scene | Kickstarter Update #85

Examining the Warehouse Battle Scene

A Brief Recap of Kickstarter Update #85

Accompanying Kickstarter Update #85 was a brand new battle scene image, and in this post we will be polishing up our spectacles to see what details it contains.

But just before we dive into it, here's a quick recap of some of the main points the recent Kickstarter Update brought us:
  • A $450 Toy Capsule Box Set reward is now available as an upgrade or add-on via the Shenmue 3 page on the Fangamer site. With this reward, you get all four capsule toys that will actually appear in the game: Ryo, Shenhua, Chai and Forklift. The $250 reward is included.

    (July 28th update: Fangamer has indicated to a backer that the illustration in this $450 upgrade / add-in will be signed by Yu Suzuki, as was the case with the Kickstarter campaign reward. See this post on the Shenmue Dojo forums).
  • Regarding the content of the PC & PS4 physical disc versions of the game, the following information was given: "Development is moving forward to have all necessary data to play the game contained on the disc. Please rest assured that the disc will not be just a prompt for an internet download." It was noted that an internet connection will be needed for game updates and reward activation.
  • Over $7 million in pledges have now been received. The total pledged amount through Kickstarter and Slacker Backer combined is now $7,063,329 (as of July 20th). This means that the stretch goal of "AI Battling" has officially been reached. To read more about what this goal entails, see our post The AI Battling Stretch Goal.
For the full text of Kickstarter Update #85, visit the official page.
Become a Patron!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Shenmue Documentary Kickstarter Launched!

Shenmue Documentary Kickstarter Launched
"A Gamer's Journey: The Definitive History of Shenmue has launched a Kickstarter campaign, and support is pouring in from fans after only the first day! Phantom River Stone gives an overview of the project and campaign.
A definitive documentary on the history of the Shenmue franchise is in the making! And now with the launch of its Kickstarter campaign, as fans we have the opportunity to make sure it can achieve everything it set out to do.


A Gamer's Journey: The Definitive History of Shenmue was first conceived back in 2014, and over the course of the next several months the project originator and Shenmue fan, Adam Sipione, spent his own time and money planning, networking with people, and travelling to far-away cities to capture interviews with fans and community members. At that time, there was no official indication that Shenmue III was soon to be born...

Then things changed dramatically in 2015 with the stunning announcement of Shenmue III, immediately influencing the documentary's scope and direction. As a result, rework and refilming of interviews to date was needed, as the project could now include the celebratory story of the franchise's continuation thanks to the passion and heartfelt persistence of the fans.

Adam teamed up with Fauxpop Media and Definitive Films, who are experienced at making definitive documentaries for other franchises. Past film creations have included "Turtle Power: The Definitive History of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and "Power of Greyskull: The Definitive History of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe".

Furthermore, Adam and team also received whole-hearted support and approval for the project from Yu Suzuki and YS Net.

Become a Patron!

Monday, July 23, 2018

SEGA's "Return to Dobuita Street" Video (feat. Adam Koralik & Imran Yusuf)

Shenmue I & II: Return to Dobuita Street
Phantom River Stone checks out the recent video released by SEGA which features Adam Koralik and Imran Yusuf in real-life Dobuita, and adds a few comments about some of the locations visited.
Earlier in the year, SEGA brought two Shenmue fans, YouTuber Adam Koralik (link to Adam's YouTube channel) and comedian Imran Yusuf (official website), over to Japan and filmed a video in Ryo's hometown of real-life Yokosuka on Dobuita Street and the surrounding area.

The day of filming, 13th April 2018, was the day before they attended the SEGA Fes 2018 event held in Tokyo at which the Shenmue I & II collection was announced for modern platforms. (The collection is scheduled for release on August 21st for most countries; in Japan an official date has not yet been announced as of this post).
The video oozes professional quality (which comes as no surprise) and contains a mixture of real-life footage, on-location commentary from the two and some in-game footage from the upcoming collection. Watch the video below, hosted on Adam's channel:
Become a Patron!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

The Changing Face of the Abe Store: Beta vs Release

The front of the Abe Store used to look somewhat different from the way it does in the final release. In fact, at one time it was not even called the Abe Store! In this post, Phantom River Stone examines the changes.
Any piece of software undergoes many iterations of changes during its development, and Shenmue 1 was no exception. We can sometimes get a glimpse into some of these differences through material such as design documents or concept art - or by viewing footage of an earlier build of the game prior to its release.

Fortunately for us Shenmue fans, a beta version of the first game is available within the community and in today's post we'll be looking at the way in which the facade of Ryo's local candy store, the Abe Store in Sakuragaoka, has undergone some changes compared with the final release version.
  • As will be be familiar to most people, beta software refers to software that has finished in-house ("alpha") testing, and is created for a group of external testers to play under real conditions. Often design changes are made as a result of feedback from this testing.
Here is a comparison of two screenshots showing the front of the Abe Store: the one on the left should look familiar as it is from the release version, while the one on the right shows the pre-release beta version. (Beta version still from a video by James Reiner).

The Abe Store: final release (left) vs beta (right).
The Abe Store: final release (left) vs beta (right).
A few differences are immediately noticeable. Let's run through them in turn.

Become a Patron!

Friday, July 20, 2018

Yu Suzuki Selected as CEDEC 2018 Special Award Winner for Contributions to Game Development

News flash from Phantom River Stone!
In recognition of his pioneering and revolutionary contributions to the game industry, Yu Suzuki has been selected as the winner of the prestigious Special Award of the CEDEC Awards 2018. CEDEC, the Computer Entertainment Development Conference, is an annual event based in Japan for game developers, and this year it is to be held next month across 3 days in the city of Yokohama.

The Special Award, decided by members of the CEDEC steering committee, is given for "overall contributions to game development". The reason for the award to Yu Suzuki from the official site reads as follows (our translation):
"Yu Suzuki, as a creator, has produced a multitude of big hits from revolutionary ideas, from the development of ride-on arcade games such as Hang On, After Burner etc through to the 3D CG hardware fighting game Virtua Fighter. In addition, in the home console arena he took on the creation of what could be called the forerunner of open world games, Shenmue, and has had a massive influence on technological innovation in game development. The achievements throughout his career as a pioneer have opened up new possibilities, and are highly regarded throughout the world."
Our warm congratulations to Yu Suzuki on his achievement!

Source: CEDEC website [Japanese]

Become a Patron!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Clouds, Smoke & Street Lights: an Examination of the Kickstarter Update #84 Video

The recent Shenmue III video, with its message for backers from the little girl at Bailu village, was full of animation and small details. Phantom River Stone goes through the video with a fine-toothed comb.
A new video clip set in Bailu village was included with the recent Kickstarter Update on the Backer surveys. It features the little girl we have seen in a few previous updates, most recently talking with Ryo in the THQ Nordic presentation - but now we are able to hear her voice for the first time, and there is even an Easter egg in the background! In this post we comb through the clip to examine the small details it contains.

Related posts:

The New Video Clip

First, here is the clip, which has a play time of around 40 seconds.

A Peaceful Scene at Bailu Village

The opening shot shows fluffy white clouds set against a brilliant blue sky. In the foreground we see the wooden pole of a street light with heavy electric cables running from it, and metal foot-holds running up it for repair workmen. The apex of a tiled house roof is visible, and at the bottom left, the tip of a rocky Guilin mountain in the far distance.

Become a Patron!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Cédric Biscay Visits Yu Suzuki in Tokyo | Photos

Earlier this week, Shenmue III co-producer Cédric Biscay of Shibuya Productions shared a few photos taken at Yu Suzuki's development studio YS Net, during his visit to Tokyo for the Shenmue III project.

"We are working hard with Yu san ! #shenmue3 #tokyo #Japan"
Yu Suzuki with Cédric Biscay. On the wall behind is the Guiness World Record certificate for "the most money pledged for a Kickstarter videogame" achieved by the Shenmue III Kickstarter in 2015.
The tweet text is as follows:
"We are working hard with Yu san ! #shenmue3 #tokyo #Japan" (link to tweet)
Become a Patron!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The "AI Battling" Stretch Goal | Shenmue III

The "AI Battling" Stretch Goal | Shenmue III
Phantom River Stone gives a brief recap of what we know about the "AI Battling" stretch goal and clarifies some information given in the English version of the recent Kickstarter Update, based on the Japanese text.
Pledges for Shenmue III, combining the Kickstarter and the Slacker Backer campaign pledges, have grown to an impressive total of $6,901,625 as of the last official update on June 22, 2018 (source:

Total amount pledged to Shenmue 3 as of June 22, 2018
Total amount pledged to Shenmue 3 as of June 22, 2018 (Kickstarter & Slacker Backer pledges combined)
Significantly, a further $100,000 of pledges would take this total to the next stretch goal from the Kickstarter campaign: "Battle System Expanded: AI Battling" at $7 million.
Become a Patron!

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Leaving the Cave? | Analysis of a New Shenmue III Image

Leaving the Cave? | Analysis of a New Shenmue III Image
Phantom River Stone analyzes an image from Shenmue III that was displayed on a monitor in a photo posted recently by Haruka Terui to her personal blog.
An intriguing image from Shenmue III was displayed on a monitor in a photo posted recently by Haruka Terui to her personal blog. Haruka will be voicing Shenhua in Shenmue III, as announced earlier this month in a Kickstarter Update:
The image in question appears on the monitor screen in the photo below, which shows Haruka together with Masaya Matsukaze, who continues in his role as Ryo Hazuki in the third game. (Based on a comparison with the photos contained in the earlier Kickstarter Update, this photo was taken at the same recording session).

Masaya Matuskaze (left) and Haruka Terui (right), the voices for Ryo Hazuki and Shenhua Ling in Shenmue III.
Masaya Matuskaze (left) and Haruka Terui (right), the voices for Ryo Hazuki and Shenhua Ling in Shenmue III.
Let's take a closer look at what's shown on the monitor, and some of the main points of interest that can be identified:
Become a Patron!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Shenmue I & II Release Date + Latest Details

Shenmue I & II Release Date + Latest Details
Phantom River Stone summarizes the latest details announced about #Shenmue I & II ahead of its August 21 release, together with a new trailer & screenshots.
Coinciding with the July 3rd Shenmue tweetathon (organized each month by Team Yu), SEGA has officially announced the release date for the Shenmue I & II rerelease as August 21st 2018 (available for Xbox One, PS4 and PC) and has also supplied more details about the games.

Build-up to the Announcement 

The launch date announcement had been somewhat anticipated by fans, with several factors in the days building up to it, such as the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) publishing their rating of "Teen" (for 13 years and above), and hints in social media from SEGA Europe such as their tease to fans regarding the July 3rd tweetathon: "This one will be extra special!"

SEGA also tweeted the short video clip below of Shenmue's chase scene with Jimmy, in 16:9 format and notably containing an updated QTE prompt:
Become a Patron!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Shenmue I & II Rated by the ESRB

Shenmue I & II has now received a rating by the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board), a sign of progress for the preparation for its release, the date of which is pending announcement. Console manufacturers require games that are published on their systems in the U.S. and Canada to be rated by ESRB, hence it is a key step prior to release.

The rating that has been given is "Teen", which corresponds to ages 13 and up.

The Rating Summary is worth a read for its rather detailed description. Spot the "shout-out" to Joy!

Link: ESRB Rating for Shenmue I & II
Become a Patron!