Release Countdown to November 19th

Monday, September 16, 2019

[4Gamer] Interview with Yu Suzuki at TGS2019 | Translation

Japanese gaming website 4Gamer interviewed Yu Suzuki about Shenmue III at this year's Tokyo Game Show on 12th September 2019, and their article has been fully translated and made available thanks to blog contributor Daniel Mann.

About Daniel 

Daniel has been studying Japanese for a little over 5 years and since, has been occasionally flexing his new found muscle with various translations and scanlations. 

Daniel is also an avid Shenmue fan and has been following the series since the game first released on the Dreamcast back in the year 2000. A long time lurker of the Shenmue Dojo forums, he finally registered an account in 2018 (under the handle danielmann861).

These days, you can find him posting regularly. Feel free to say “hello.” He won’t bite (hard). We guarantee it!
The translation begins from here.

During the opening day of Tokyo Games Show 2019, a stage event for Shenmue III (PS4/PC) was held at the SEGA booth. Creator and Director of Shenmue, Yu Suzuki, took center stage where he proudly proclaimed: “At long last, we will finally release Shenmue III!”

4Gamer had a chance to sit down and chat with Yu Suzuki after the event…

4Gamer: Thank you for your time today. We had the opportunity to play the trial version of Shenmue III earlier, but found the considerably strict 45 minute time limit to be a little irritating…

Yu Suzuki: Really, was it that short? (Laughs) At this time, it is a trial version and it picks up just a little bit after the opening of the game. Beforehand, there will be a couple of tutorials and spots to help guide players to understand the course of events from Shenmue II, so I think it will be a little easier for players to pick up and play in the final retail version.

4Gamer: The game is just under 2 months away from release. We would imagine it’s a busy time for you with various promotional events and the like, but has the development cycle considerably settled down?

Yu Suzuki: You could say that. Our team is still hard at work continuing to polish the game. We are also further balancing parameters and currently bug fixing. We also have numerous QA testers checking for major game breaking bugs.

4Gamer: It has been four years since the announcement of the Kickstarter at E3 2015. Looking back on the past four years, can you name one moment in particular that stands out the most?

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Sunday, September 15, 2019

Hands-On Play of the Shenmue III Demo at TGS 2019

Through good fortune, and with the invaluable assistance of certain people for the arrangements, I was granted the chance to try out the demo for Shenmue III at the Tokyo Game Show. It's a game so many have been waiting for: one which represents years of hopes, disappointments and above all an undying belief from the fans that this game would one day come to fruition. And unbelievably, here I was about to guide Ryo around inside the world of Shenmue once again. This is a brief account of my experience.

Spoiler warning: this post describes some of the places and things that are encountered during the Shenmue III demo.


The Shenmue III logo was there on the screen with an image of Ryo and Shenhua standing together with the background of the cave. And these words were my invitation to enter the newly-realized world of Shenmue again, closing a gap of almost 20 years.

It was hard to believe I was there, in a room at the top floor of a hotel near the 2019 Tokyo Game Show event center, seated in front of one of four PCs in the room that were loaded up with the Shenmue III demo.

The set-up at my table consisted of a PC, screen, Xbox 360 style controller, headphones and a full-color guide booklet for Shenmue III of around 30 pages. Standing against a wall nearby there was also a large vertical banner summarizing the most useful actions (photography of this was not permitted).

I was informed that play time had been set to a 45-minute limit (the same as at the recent Gamescom), and without further instruction I was left to begin. I placed the headphones on my head, took up the controller and felt immediately at home as the notes of a piano playing the Shenmue theme over an orchestral accompaniment flooded into my ears.

The adventure is about to begin
And then I pressed a button and the screen faded out. The demo play had begun!

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Saturday, September 14, 2019

Shenmue 3 Merchandise Online at the SEGA Store

Two new items of Shenmue 3 merchandise were announced recently by SEGA Japan for the Tokyo Game Show 2019, and these are now also available on their online store.

The T-shirt is 3000 yen (sizes: M/L/XL) and the forklift keychain is 900 yen.

  • Estimated delivery is the end of September.
  • Overseas shipping is not available from the online store, so a forwarding company may be needed.

Link to Store: Go to the store page (Shenmue items)

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Monday, September 9, 2019

[IGN Japan] Yu Suzuki on How Shenmue Differs from an Open World | Translation

This is a translation of an article recently published by IGN Japan's Esra Krabbe, who spoke with Yu Suzuki at Gamescom 2019.

Yu Suzuki on How Shenmue Differs from an Open World

"It's just a train, but it's bigger than an open world!"
When I entered Yu Suzuki's room in the business area at the Gamescom games event held in Cologne, Germany, he greeted me with a slight nod, an amiable expression creasing his eyes.

On telling him how excited I was after seeing the newly-released Shenmue III trailer, he smiled with a touch of pleasure.

"If I do say so myself, Shenmue is quite fun."

These words carry a great deal of weight, as it must be because Shenmue III has ended up as a title Suzuki can promote with confidence that he was able to make such a declaration.

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Poll Result: Patrons' Choice Topic for September 2019

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 September's topic. After tallying the votes (including accumulated votes from previous months), the winning topic was...
"Kiss off twit!" The original Japanese for insults in Shenmue
During Ryo's investigation on the hunt for his father's killer, he often ends up in situations where his calm yet persistent questioning is not exactly welcomed (not that he lets this dissuade him from continuing his mission).

Despite the tough appearance and hardened attitude of some of the characters Ryo meets, their tough talk occasionally does not hold up to close scrutiny:

In this article we'll review some of these not-so-intimidating phrases and compare them to their equivalent lines are in Japanese.

Watch for it to come to the blog in a future
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Sunday, September 8, 2019

Shenmue Documentary Updates: B-Roll Filming & Insert Booklet

The Shenmue Documentary crew has been hard at work on crafting the documentary, and has recently released some new updates on what is currently in progress.

The discovery of some classic Yu Suzuki arcade machines at the local bowling alley provided the perfect opportunity to capture some "b-roll" footage for the documentary, to be interspersed among the interviews.

The character from whom Ryo Hazuki evolved: Akira Yuki in Virtua Fighter
And in the most recent update, project creator Adam Sipione shared some prototype images of the insert booklet that will accompany the Bluray version of the documentary. Inspired by Ryo's notebook in the game, it will contain a mix of photos and journal entries from their trip to Japan at the end of last year.

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Shenmue III on the SEGA Stage: TGS 2019 Schedule

SEGA has published their stage event schedule for the Tokyo Game Show next week, and Shenmue III is included!

Shenmue III Stage Presentation

The Shenmue III presentation will take place at TGS 2019 on:
Thursday September 12th at 11:45 am JST
Thursday September 12th at  3:45 am BST
Wednesday September 11th at 10:45 pm EST
for a 30-minute slot. This is the first Business Day of the event, however although it won't be open to the general public, it will be live-streamed at the links below.

Live-stream Links

Live-stream links for the SEGA stage on September 12th:

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Friday, September 6, 2019

Shenmue III Merchandise from SEGA at TGS 2019

SEGA Japan has just revealed their merchandise line-up for the Tokyo Game Show 2019, and it includes no less than two Shenmue III items for fans!

Shenmue III T-Shirt

The first item is a black T-shirt which has the Shenmue III logo on the front and an illustration of - what else - Ryo driving a forklift truck. The merchandise page does not indicate if there is anything else on the rear of the shirt.
Sizes available: M, L, XL
Price: 3000 yen (incl tax)

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Thursday, September 5, 2019

The Changing Beauty of the Hazuki Cherry Tree

The Shenmue series is beloved by fans for its ability to draw you into its world with attention to the smallest details that really make you believe in it as a living, breathing world. And a new video by James Brown illustrates that perfectly, showing off the incredible depths in the game implemented by Yu Suzuki and team.
The cherry tree that stands in the Hazuki garden is brought to the player's attention in the starting prologue, which occurs during a thundery winter day, where it's calm domain is violated by Lan Di and his henchmen who dig up the earth to locate the Dragon mirror that has been buried there. After that, while it makes further appearances in a childhood flashback and dream sequences, it's appearance during game play may escape the player's notice.

James has captured its gradual season transformation that is portrayed in detail as time goes on, emphasizing its role as a time keeper in the game. Not only that, but other areas of the garden also undergo changes with the arrival of spring flowers popping up.

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Tuesday, September 3, 2019

"What is Shenmue 3?" | Fan-made Trailer

A wonderful trailer for Shenmue III has been put together for Shenmue Day (the 3rd of every month) by Shenmue Dojo member yuc02.

yuc02 is a past contributor of articles to this blog, and who also organized and produced a banner on behalf of the community, adorned with signatures and logos, that is now hanging proudly in the YS Net office.

This new trailer crafts together trailer footage, concept art and photos. Watch it here:

There is also a Japanese version:

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Thursday, August 29, 2019

[4Gamer] Interview with Yu Suzuki at Gamescom 2019 | Translation

We present a new interview with Yu Suzuki on Shenmue 3 from Gamescom 2019, this time from Japan's 4Gamer.

This is our translation of the interview, which begins from here.

4Gamer: Thank you for your time today. Please tell us first of all about the present status of Shenmue 3.

YS: The current state is that we're making various finishing touches and balance adjustments, and carrying out small bug fixes. Things such as modifying motions, improving the appearance and adjusting collisions. The balance adjustments are not just for the battles; we're also tuning the balance of the economy.

4Gamer: If the balance of the economy is broken, then that might lead the whole game breaking, mightn't it.

YS: Adjusting the balance is really tricky. Even when I build something expecting that 30% of new players will be able to clear it, when they actually test it out, only about 20% might manage to do so.

In any case, in terms of its level of completeness, I'd say "90% or above". If no bugs that stop the game from running (called "Class A" bugs) are found, then what we have currently could be released. That kind of level.

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Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Shenmue Passport Fan-Made App "Suka Pass" Now Available for Download!

Today marks the launch of Suka Pass, a free fan-made revival of the Shenmue Passport!

Shenmue Passport accompanied the original Shenmue game on the Dreamcast and gave access to various extra content that helped flesh out the world of Yokosuka including music, movies and detailed character bios.

The motivation for app was to revive and preserve the passport's wealth of content, and was created by members from these community groups: Phantom River Stone, SkillJim, Shenmue Forever and Shenmue Dojo. (In the future I plan to write some posts for the blog to give some insight into some of the some behind-the-scenes activities that went into bringing it back to life).

It runs on both iOS and Android devices (and looks great on tablets!) so as Tom says, click on the image or link below to download it now!

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Sunday, August 25, 2019

Fan-Made Shenmue Passport Releasing August 27th | Suka Pass

Last year saw the release of Shenmue I & II HD, bringing our beloved game series to the modern day and creating a generation of new fans for the franchise.

However, those familiar with the Dreamcast version missed a certain part of the original release which didn't make the transition forward to the modern day: namely, the Shenmue Passport.

Well, Shenmue fans will not be left without for much longer. A new fan-made app called Suka Pass (a contraction of "Yokosuka Passport") has been in development over the past year, and is now ready for release! 

The release date for the app is in three days' time, on August 27th - a nod to the previously-scheduled release date of Shenmue III, providing fans with something to tide them over until they get their hands on the new game.

You can pre-register over at the Suka Pass website to receive an email with download instructions once the app is released.

Find out more at the Suka Pass website

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Saturday, August 24, 2019

Famitsu Interview with Yu Suzuki at Gamescom 2019 | Translation has published an interview with Yu Suzuki on Shenmue 3 that was carried out at the recent Gamescom 2019 event. This is our translation of the interview.

Note: there is a (minor) story spoiler pertaining to general story content in Shenmue 3 which I have enclosed in a spoiler section.

The translation begins from here.

Currently In Progress: Debugging and Last Adjustments

Q: Is the content of this Gamescom demo the same as the one at E3 2019?

YS:  It has been touched up compared to the previous one. At E3, the gameplay time was set to 15 minutes making it hard to grasp the gameplay loop, so this time we've smoothed out that process and increased the play time to around 45 minutes.

Q: In terms of content, people will be able to experience gameplay at the start of Shenmue 3's story, in Bailu village..?

YS: Yes, you'll be able to play through things like events and the gameplay loop, at Bailu village. However, being a demo version, the content differs a bit from the release version.

I consider Shenmue 3 to be what people call open-world, but it differs from other open-world games so markedly that if you take the same approach as those when playing it, you won't get what makes it special; and I suspect that may lead to a conclusion that "different = bad".

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Friday, August 23, 2019

Yu Suzuki's Signing Sessions at Gamescom 2019

"Last day of the signing sessions"
While at Gamescom, Yu Suzuki held multiple signing sessions in the public exhibition hall, with long queues of fans forming to meet the master. This post contains a selection of some of the pictures shared on social media over the period.

Shenmue III promotion at the Deep Silver booth was most impressive. Above, large panels ensured it could be spotted from afar with an eye-catching image of the Stone Pit's cave with the giant carved mirrors and burning flames .

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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Analysis: New Shenmue III Screenshots From Gamescom 2019

Three new still shots of Shenmue 3 have been released, showing off more of the game's detailed environments.

Screenshot 1: Evening Dining in Bailu Village

The first screenshot is a night scene of customers seated at an outdoor table. In the background an elderly man (perhaps the proprietor) is seated at a table laden with sausages, cake and other food items. The customers are turned in his direction - they seem to be getting hungry.
Screenshot #1
The heavy wooden beam and hanging rope in the foreground can be recognized as being the Bailu village well, as seen in this capture from E3 B-roll footage earlier this year:
The Bailu village well

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New Trailer "A Day In Shenmue" Released at Gamescom 2019

Fan-snapped photos and hand-held recordings of a brand new Shenmue 3 trailer on show at Gamescom 2019 have been flying around the internet, and now a direct feed of the trailer is available - and it looks magnificent!

Titled "A Day in Shenmue", it includes scenes of combat, arcade games, exploration and even some interactions with Ren (the rain pouring down during this scene makes for a striking atmosphere). The voices of this version are in English.

We will be writing up an analysis of the trailer's content in a future post.

The trailer was also announced in a Kickstarter Update which included a photo of Yu Suzuki at the Shenmue 3 booth, where he will be continuing to hold signing sessions.

Source: news
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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Yu Suzuki Visits Aachen Old Town | Gamescom 2019

This is the week of Gamescom 2019, with a series of press events already having taken place throughout the day (with some glimpses of Shenmue 3 which we will cover in the next post!). The actual show properly kicks off on Tuesday August 20th, with the first day being for trade and media only.

Yu Suzuki has also of course traveled to Germany for the event, and after arrival took some time to visit the city of Aachen, located an hour's train ride to the west of Cologne. Koch Media has shared photos of his visit to the city's old town and historical center.

Based on clues in the photos, we can even identify some of the locations.
Yu Suzuki poses next to a sculpture of a horse.
This horse is one of a number of galloping horses in a bronze sculpture outside Aachen Central Railway Station.
Horse sculpture seen from the front
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Saturday, August 17, 2019

Nozomi Shows Off Her Fighting Skills: Another Hidden Easter Egg Discovered in Shenmue!

Our report a couple of months back on an easter egg that lets Ryo unleash a punch resembling Street-Fighter's "Shin Shōryūken" against Goro in a harbor QTE scene stirred up a storm of interest from fans, and that post has become our most-viewed post of all-time.

And now, the same legendary Japanese fan who tracked down that easter egg has shared a video of how to unlock a new one that lets Nozomi show off her previously unknown martial art talents in a free battle!

It is astounding that a 20-year old game still has new secrets to be discovered.

Don't take our word for it - watch below to see a side of Nozomi you never knew existed!

According to the fan who made the discovery, who goes by the handle nullpo, a hint about such an easter egg first surfaced in summer of last year (2018) - presumably also courtesy of the former developer who teased the existence of the Shin Shōryūken punch around that timeframe.

With not much more than this to go on, he has been spending his spare time over the last four months analyzing the game's code and eventually succeeding in identifying (and reproducing) the conditions to enable it.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Shenmue 3 Trial Version for Second Half of September

An exciting announcement has been made with news that the Shenmue 3 trial version reward on PC will be coming out in the second half of September.

The English version of the announcements explains that it will be a stand-alone act set in Bailu village and is estimated to last for about 1 hour, but will offer additional replay value with "lots of activities to experience" even after completing the main objective. It will also come with a pdf play-guide.

For comparison, here's an extract from the message in Japanese is as follows (my translation):
"In the trial version, which will be set in the game's first area of Bailu village, you will be able to play up to the completion of a specific scenario. The expected amount of available play time will be one hour, and replay will be possible after clearing the objective. You'll be able to try all kinds of different activities until the trial comes to an end".
Update: I got in touch with the Shenmue 3 team for clarification on whether the time limit replies to a single game or the entire trial, and they provided the following additional information:
First, you can replay the game as many times as you want, and there is no expiry date per say.

The in-game cycle goes from about 8:30AM to 9:00PM which takes about one hour to complete. At 9:00PM the trial ends, at which point you will have to start over from the beginning. Although we cannot make any promises on these next points, you could, for example, still play it next year.

The trial version will not be supported in the future, however, we believe it will remain in your Epic library.
(These clarifications will be notified officially "next chance").

Read the official announcement here.

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Sunday, August 11, 2019

Poll Result: Patrons' Choice Topic for August 2019

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 August's topic. After tallying the votes (including accumulated votes from previous months), the winning topic was...

Nagoshi's involvement with bringing an end to Shenmue's development (anecdote from 4Gamer interview with Hisashi Suzuki)

In the late 1990s, the Shenmue project continued on and on seemingly without an end in sight. Upper management became increasingly concerned about when it would be ready for release.

We'll be translating a section of a 4Gamer interview with Hisashi Suzuki (no relation to Yu), a senior executive at Sega who was on the Board of Directors from 1999. He recounts that the Shenmue project was eventually reined in with the intervention of Toshihiro Nagoshi (nowdays chief creative officer at Sega).

Watch for it later this month!

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Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Metron Stamp Rally '99: Shenmue Journey | Tokyo Metro, Japan

Today we welcome back contributor James Brown (visit his channel SkillJim on YouTube) with another guest post on a fascinating topic, this time talking about the Shenmue promotional stamp rally that was held in Japan back in 1999. Not only that, but he has obtained an actual rally book that is packed with stamps and information, and scanned its pages to share with everyone. Over to  James!

Back in 1999, prior to the release of Shenmue on the Dreamcast, Sega of Japan really went full force with various marketing campaigns to advertise Yu Suzuki's open-world epic. Along with events such as the Shenmue Premiere, tie-in's with brands like Timex and even convenience stores such as Lawson's was another event that took place that has never really been well-documented - at least not in English.
An article in Dreamcast magazine (July 1999) detailed the upcoming event
This event was known as the Metron Stamp Rally '99: Shenmue Journey, and was based around the Eidan subway network (which we'll refer to here as Tokyo Metro, to which it was renamed in 2004).

Events like these are quite common in Japan, and collecting ink prints made by rubber stamps is still quite a big thing today - you can find stamp and ink stations at many of the locations and tourist spots around Japan. These stamps are usually themed on the location in which they are found, and you can stamp your book, or sometimes with the provided paper, as a memento of your visit.

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Friday, August 2, 2019

ChinaJoy Conference: Yu Suzuki's Message to Fans [ENG captions with Transcript]

Shenmue 3 was one of the games featured at yesterday's 2019 China Digital Entertainment Expo & Conference ("ChinaJoy"). ChinaJoy is a digital entertainment expo held annually in Shanghai and is is the largest gaming and digital entertainment exhibition in China and Asia.

A Shenmue 3 promotional trailer was played, which was the one shown at this year's PC Gaming Show at E3: "The Hidden Art Returns" - but this time with Chinese captions.

This was followed by a pre-recorded video with a message from Yu Suzuki to fans. As well as giving an update on the activities being carried out in the lead-up to the release on November 19, he also talks about the freedom of play style that Shenmue offers to the player, and how this reflects on the personality of the player themselves

We've added English captions to Yu's video message, so check it out below (note that the video quality is degraded due to capture from the live stream):


Hello everyone. I'm Yu Suzuki, the director of Shenmue 3.

Shenmue is an open-world type of game set in China. I have always held great admiration for China's expansive scenery, history, martial arts and more. I have put all those feelings into Shenmue 3, and for me, it is a real honor to be able to bring Shenmue 3 to you.

Recently I have been focusing on checking how it plays. I'm having it play tested by many different people in order to fine-tune the game. What sets Shenmue apart from other games the most is that 10 players will have 10 different ways of playing. The player has a high degree of freedom so the games won't play out the same. And the player's own personality will really come through. A Shenmue that's yours alone, is here.

To express it another way, Shenmue is a mirror that reflects yourself.

I'd like people to take their time, and play through this game slowly.

Please wait a little while more until November.

Have fun at the ChinaJoy conference everybody!

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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Analysis: Examining the In-Game Rewards Screenshots (Part Two) | Shenmue 3

Welcome to the second part of our examination of the reward images that were released with the recent Kickstarter announcement.

Save Shenmue Hall Interior

There was one more screenshot of the interior of the Save Shenmue hall, showing a full-size forklift truck standing on a pedestal (stamped with #31 and YSNET), the model first seen in a screenshot in April's Famitsu interview with Yu Suzuki. Also displayed is a toy forklift driven by a chibi Ryo figure, a larger version of the one in the Shenmue 1 "Gruppa" capsule toy set.

Some more pieces of Shenmue concept art can be seen adorning the walls: one of Ren, one of as Akira (Ryo) as a high school student (interestingly, the image is horizontally flipped compared to the tweeted version) and one of Ryo next to a flowering tree. The last two illustrations were shared by Yu Suzuki on Twitter in July 2015 at the time of the Kickstarter campaign.
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Saturday, July 27, 2019

Analysis: Examining the In-Game Rewards Screenshots (Part One) | Shenmue 3

A new Shenmue III update has been released, and it is packed with images of how the Kickstarter / Slacker Backer rewards will look in the game itself, as well as photos of the physical rewards.The images of the in-game rewards are worth particularly close examination as they appear to have been snapped directly from the game.

There's a lot to go over so I'll spread it across two posts.

In-Game Reward: Telecom Card

The first reward shown is the international phone card (part of the Kickstarter $80 reward tier). The original description of this reward was: "This item will unlock phone conversations and flashback scenes available only to Kickstarter Backers".

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Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Yu Suzuki's Attendance at Gamescom 2019 Announced

YS Net has announced that Yu Suzuki will be attending this year's Gamescom event - together with a nice VMU-style graphic of Yu above the Gamescom logo.
Gamescom is an annual event held in Cologne, Germany, and this year will run from Tuesday, Aug 20, 2019 to Saturday, Aug 24, 2019. The first day is for trade visitors & the media, with the remaining days being public days.

Regarding Yu's activities at the event, the update confirms that:
  • Yu will be hosting a meet & greet in the public area, and
  • He will be holding media interviews in the business (non-public) area
While further details on plans for Shenmue III at the event are not known, Gamescom was the event at which The Prophecy trailer was released last year, and with Yu Suzuki's presence confirmed at this year's event it will be a good opportunity for promotion of the game as we come up to 3 months before its release date on November 19th.

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Monday, July 15, 2019

Translation of Wan Chai's "South Carmain Qr." and Other Quarters | Shenmue 2

Shenmue II's South Carmain Quarter: home to Lotus Park and the district in which the Yin Tan apartments are located. The district name has a nice ring to it in English - but it does not quite match the meaning of its original name.

This post will look at how closely each of the English translations for the district names in Wan Chai reflect the meaning of the characters in Chinese (in fact the characters also exist in Japanese, although the meanings are not necessarily identical between the languages). Special thanks to yuc02 for consultation on some of these meanings.

I took Ryo on a stroll around Wan Chai, snapping photos of the names of the various Quarters for further study.
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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Poll Result: Patrons' Choice Topic for July 2019

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 July's topic. After tallying the votes (including accumulated votes from previous months), the winning topic - by a wide margin - was...

"Yu Suzuki's Research Trip to China: Part Three"

In 1994 Yu Suzuki spent two weeks in China gathering material for his upcoming Virtua Fighter II game, and his findings also greatly influenced his creation of Shenmue.
  • In Part One, we translated blog posts about the trip by Kazunari Uchida, the person who accompanied Yu Suzuki.
  • In Part Two, we translated Yu Suzuki's own comments about his trip, and how his findings would be useful for the development of the Virtua Fighter series.
With Part Three we will start translating the first of a number of "diary" style articles documenting the China trip, again written by Kazunari Uchida, which were published in 1994 as a series in the Japanese Beep! MegaDrive Magazine.

Watch for it later this month!

For early access to this and other articles published on the blog, support us on Patreon!

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Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Yu Suzuki at Japan Expo 2019: Ryo Hazuki Concept Sketches

Continuing on from our previous post about Yu Suzuki's on-stage interview at the Japan Expo 2019 in Paris, this time we'll look at the section of Yu's presentation where he introduces several early Shenmue candidate sketches for Ryo Hazuki and talks about the process of finding the "right" Ryo.

Link to the previous Japan Expo 2019 post:

Sketches of Ryo Hazuki

A number of concept sketches of Ryo Hazuki were displayed on the large screen behind Yu Suzuki, who made comments about each one. The sketches were created during the early design stages for Shenmue in the mid-1990s.

I've translated Yu Suzuki's words from the video.

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Monday, July 8, 2019

Yu Suzuki at Japan Expo 2019: Childhood Anecdotes

Yu Suzuki attended the recent Japan Expo in Paris last Saturday, July 6th. In this post, we'll recap the part of his "Masterclass" presentation where he spoke about his childhood and gave several amusing anecdotes.

Signing Session

In the morning, Yu held a signing session, and at which these gold-and-red Shenmue III fans featuring dragon and phoenix motifs were distributed:
Shenmue III fans were distributed
The main event was in the afternoon, with Yu Suzuki's stage "masterclass" during which he covered topics such as his childhood, his career and of course Shenmue.

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Sunday, July 7, 2019

Illustration for Tanabata, the Star Festival | Shenmue III

Yu Suzuki has tweeted out a Shenmue-themed illustration to mark Japan's Tanabata Festival, with the words: "July 7th. Today is Tanabata."

The Tanabata Festival (七夕, "Evening of the seventh") is a Japanese festival about a legend of the stars in the sky held on July 7th at night. A young married couple, Orihime (the "Weaving Princess") and Hikoboshi (the "Boy Star") angered Orihime's father who separated from each other by the Milky Way. He allowed them to meet each other only once a year, on the seventh day of the seventh month of the calendar. Legend also holds that if the day is rainy, they are unable to meet and will be forced to wait another year.

In the illustration we see Ryo as Hikoboshi and Shenhua as Orihime, with the Milky Way stretching out behind them.

The plant in the illustration is a shoot of bamboo with colorful paper pieces attached to it. In present-day Japan, people generally celebrate this day by writing wishes on small pieces of paper, and hanging them on bamboo, sometimes with other decorations. The bamboo and decorations are often set afloat on a river or burned after the festival.

Something that ties this legend into Shenmue is that Orihime's father is named Tentei, the Heavenly Emperor; in Taoism, this name can also refer to Polaris, the North Star. In past interviews, Yu Suzuki has revealed Tentei to be the mysterious leader of the Chi You Men. So the Star Festival may be more meaningful in the world of Shenmue than it may first appear...

Link to tweet

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Thursday, July 4, 2019

Yu Suzuki on Ryo Hazuki and the Concept of Time (IGN Japan) | Translation

This is a translation of an article that was recently published IGN Japan journalist (and former "Shenmue Respect Champion"), Esra Krabbe.

The World's Most Oblivious Young Man, Ryo Hazuki, and the Concept of Time: Yu Suzuki Talks About Shenmue's Protagonist.

young man who is a blank canvas - able to take on any hue.

I first played Shenmue 1 when I was a junior high school student. Ryo Hazuki was someone I really looked up to, even to the point of wishing I could be him.

But as an adult I realized something: Ryo is still immature in a lot of ways, and his character is one whose growth is yet to come.

I have been fortunate to interview Ryo's creator, Yu Suzuki, about Shenmue 3 on several occasions, and I had the urge to find out how Suzuki sees the character of Ryo Hazuki, and what kind of person he is to him.

Suzuki didn't reply to my question immediately, and instead sank into deep thought. I regretted my question - perhaps I had asked something too general - but resolved to remain silent and wait for Suzuki's response.

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Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Shenmue 3 Kickstarter Update: PC Version Options & "Greater than Shenmue 2" Scale

A new Kickstarter Update has been released by YS Net containing two main topics which we will summarize in this post. One is regarding the PC versions of the game, and the other is an overview of features that have been included in the final game.

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Thursday, June 27, 2019

Analysis Part Two: Shenmue III Scenes from PS4 Kiosk at Walmart

Welcome to the second half of our analysis of the Shenmue III teaser that was unexpectedly discovered by Shenmue fan Cebman at a US Walmart on a PS4 demo kiosk earlier this month.

If you have not yet read the first post, go here to read our analysis of Part One.

Here is the full video as a refresher (note that the release date at the end of the teaser is incorrect: it shows the old release date of 27th August; which now changed to 19th November. Footage credit: praj from the Shenmue Dojo.

And now let's continue on with the analysis of the final scenes.
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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Mini-Interview with Yu Suzuki at MAGIC 2019 | Museo Dreamcast

A short fan-community interview with Yu Suzuki has been newly released by Spanish-language site Museo Dreamcast (=Dreamcast Museum). The interview was held in March at MAGIC 2019 and was apparently arranged on the spot.

The questions asked were:

  • Which of the SEGA systems is your favorite? Why?
  • Do you have good memories of the development of Ferrari F355 Challenge?
  • Given the technical limitations of the Saturn, did you benefit from from a bigger creative freedom when Shenmue was moved to the Dreamcast?
  • Were you worried before Shenmue 3 was presented at E3 (2015)?
  • Will you start developing Shenmue 4 right after releasing Shenmue 3?

Yu's positive answer to this final question points reflects his undiminished enthusiasm for the series and his desire to continue on with Shenmue 4 and beyond.

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Thursday, June 20, 2019

Yu Suzuki Interview & "True Shenmue Experience" Shenmue III Demo Report by A9VG | Guest Post Translation

Chinese gaming site A9VG has released a hands-on impressions report on their Shenmue III time-limited play-through at E3 2019, together with a brief interview with the game's creator, Yu Suzuki.

The review gives details of the combat and training system such as leveling up of moves and their timing, and concludes that Shenmue III "serves up the true Shenmue experience."

The translation is again from the hand of yuc02 who can be found hanging out over at the Shenmue Dojo. 

(Screenshots added from Shenmue III footage released at E3 by IGN Japan).

Shenmue 3 E3 Demo Play-through Report and Yu Suzuki Interview - Fans Should Not Be Disappointed

Shenmue is a game series that conjures up sweet memories for its old fans. In the Dreamcast days, many people were amazed by this game, but for various reasons, Ryo Hazuki’s story has yet to be concluded, leaving people with a deep sense of regret. This is why Shenmue 3 has been met with so much anticipation.

During this year’s E3, journalists from The Game Bus and A9VG played Shenmue 3 for 15 minutes, and gained an initial impression of the game.

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Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Gamersky Report on Shenmue III from E3 2019 | Guest Post Translation

Today's post is a translation of a report by Chinese gaming site Gamersky on their recent 15-minute demo play-through at E3 2019. The translation is by Shenmue Dojo member and frequent post contributor yuc02.

(Screenshots added from Shenmue III footage released at E3 by IGN Japan).

E3 2019: We played Shenmue 3, where we chopped some wood and picked up herbs in a Chinese village

In a very-low key manner, the much-anticipated and delayed Shenmue 3 appeared at E3. We had the honor to sample the game during the show.

The demo version contained a Chinese village (Bailu) that we were free to explore.  I was able to investigate details, have conversations, play mini games, or progress the main storyline.  Because the demo was only 15 minutes long, I asked the staff there for their suggestions, in order to see the best and most interesting parts of the game given the time available.
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Saturday, June 15, 2019

[ENG Captions] Gamespot Interview with Yu Suzuki

At this week's E3, Gamespot carried out a short interview with Yu Suzuki before an audience, with the topic of course being Shenmue 3. To help capture Yu's words more accurately, I've translated his responses and added them as captions to the video in place of the live interpretation.

A written transcript of the interview follows the video.

Interview Transcripion

YS = Yu Suzuki

Q: What is your current vision for Shenmue III?

YS: My vision for Shenmue has not changed at all from what it was 20 years ago. I have an ideal in mind, and aim towards that by considering what is feasible with the technologies of the time.

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Friday, June 14, 2019

Haunting Music & New Art in the S3 Character Concept Theme | PlayStation Store

Pre-orders for Shenmue III for the PS4 are now open on the PlayStation store, and with it comes a Shenmue III Character Concept Theme pre-order bonus, for both the Standard and Deluxe editions.

Firstly, there is a beautiful (though short) and haunting new piece of piano & violin music that is a variation of the Shenmue theme. It has been shared via youTube by VG Life:

Next is a glimpse of one of the wallpaper images (image credit: Alfonso Martínez on Twitter), which shows concept art of five characters from the game:
Shenmue III Character Concept Theme for PS4
Update: a video of the theme has been posted on YouTube:

We can see a number of familiar faces from past trailers and development previews.
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Thursday, June 13, 2019

"Shin Shōryūken" Hidden Move in Shenmue Unlocked After 20 Years By Fan in Japan

Amazing. A fan has successfully created a hack to unlock the previously-rumored "Shin Shōryūken" move (as used by Ryu in Street Fighter III) that developers put into Shenmue but which can't be produced through normal control input. Once unlocked, Ryo uses it against Goro in the harbor blackmail QTE scene.

The existence of the move was first made known last year by a former AM2 developer who revealed that staff came up with it during development as an easter egg (with an immensely-tricky input sequence) but apparently Yu Suzuki, as producer, stepped in and put a stop to it before the final release - although the code was just disabled not removed, waiting to be dug up 20 years later!

Watch the move in action below.

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