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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