Release Countdown to November 19th

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

[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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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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Yu Suzuki and Shenmue III Banner | E3 2019

Yu tweeted out a photo of himself at E3 2019, with a large promotional banner of Shenmue III and its November 19 release date displayed at the top of the escalators behind him.

His tweet reads: "E3 Day Two. 11.19.19 is a nice sequence!"

Link to tweet

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Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Ryo Wins a Chibi Chai | Shenmue 3

At Bailu village, Ryo comes across a Shenmue I chibi toy capsule machine. The front label shows the complete set of chibi figures: Nozomi, Guizhang, Ine-san, Chai and even Ryo himself on a forklift!

Ryo puts in his 10 yuan and wins one that looks remarkably similar to a creature he propelled into the ocean at New Yokosuka harbor. (Judging from his remark, he is barely able to suppress his shock.)

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Shenmue III Gameplay Footage from E3 2019: Combat, Mini-games & Capsule Toys

The moment many Shenmue fans have been waiting for has arrived! We get our first substantial look at gameplay footage of Shenmue III posted up by IGN Japan, which newly-captured at E3 2019 where the international media is being given hands-on access to a demo of the game, in 15-minute slots.

On watching this footage, it is abundantly clear that there are Shenmue vibes in abundance: from the style of the conversational interactions Ryo has with characters to the return of old favorite games like Lucky Hit; right down to the sound effect that plays on acquiring a capsule toy.

Note that the sound in this footage is English voice-over and sound effects only, but music has been turned off - it will of course be present in the full game. Some of the areas will be familiar from descriptions by the press of the gameplay shown in private screenings of the game at MAGIC 2019 earlier in the year.

Video 1: Amusement Area

After purchasing some tokens, Ryo tries his hand at the Lucky Hit, Roll It On Top and... Turtle Racing!
"When the turtles start racing, if you press the indicated buttons correctly, you can cheer one on. The turtle will flash and speed up a bit. But if you press the wrong buttons, it will slow down! If you cheer as hard as you can, the chances of your turtle winning will be slightly raised. But things won't always go your way, no matter how hard you cheer."

- Yu Suzuki (Famitsu Interview, April 2019)

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Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Shenmue III Collectors Edition, Deluxe Edition & Pre-Order Bonuses

In this post we look at the details announced regarding the following editions of Shenmue III:
  • Collectors Edition, announced by Limited Run Games
  • Standard Edition
  • Digital Deluxe Editions
together with the pre-order bonuses for the PS4 version on the PlayStation Store, as well as the PC version on the Epic Games Store.

Shenmue III Collectors Edition

Limited Run Games has announced they will be distributor of an exclusive Shenmue III Collectors Edition for North America, in very small numbers: 4000 for PS4 and 1000 for PC.

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PC Version is a Timed Exclusive for Epic Games | Kickstarter #102

The release of a new Shenmue III trailer was not the only news coming out of the PC Gaming Show on Monday: it was also announced that the PC release of Shenmue III will be distributed exclusively on the Epic Games Store. (However a Steam version will still be coming, as detailed below).

Epic Games is the developer behind the development software used to make Shenmue III, Unreal Engine, and they opened a digital store front in December 2018 as a competitor to Steam.

Although it was not explicitly stated in the announcement, a FAQ on Deep Silver's Shenmue III site confirms that this is a timed exclusive:  the game will still be released on Steam, but at a future date

The Shenmue III Steam page release date now reads "Planned Release Date: coming soon" from its earlier November 19th date.

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New Shenmue III Trailer: "The Hidden Art Returns" Unveiled at the PC Gaming Show 2019

A brand-new Shenmue III trailer was unveiled at Monday's PC Gaming Show, with Yu Suzuki introducing it himself on stage in English with the words "The wait is almost over!"

The trailer is called "The Hidden Art Returns" and starts with Ryo undergoing training with a grandmaster on a bamboo raft at the Niaowu port, who explains how kung fu has been passed down through the ages despite being banned at times. The second part of the trailer shows Ryo confronting thugs, chasing them through the streets and facing an ambush in a warehouse.

Here is a clip of Yu Suzuki introducing the trailer, captured from the Twitch stream. Acting as interpreter is Shenmue III executive producer Hideaki "Harry" Morishita.

A Japanese-voiced version of the trailer has also been made available:

There is a lot of interesting detail in the scenes, which we'll run through in a separate analysis post.
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Monday, June 10, 2019

Happy Birthday Yu Suzuki!

June 10th is Yu Suzuki's birthday - Happy Birthday to Yu!

You are an inspiration to people throughout the world, and we are thrilled that the Shenmue series continues on.

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Sunday, June 9, 2019

Analysis Part One: New Shenmue III Scenes from PS4 Kiosk at Walmart

Analysis Part One: New Shenmue III Scenes from PS4 Kiosk at Walmart

Previously-unseen footage of a Shenmue III teaser has recently been discovered at a Walmart store. It was first discovered by Cebman who was visiting the games section and selected Shenmue III at a PS4 demo kiosk. To his surprise, the teaser that played contained a number of new scenes from the game. The video ends with the old release date (before its change to 19th November) and so it represents an accidental leak of a video created prior to the rescheduling. However, it does contain some exciting snippets of scenes so in this post, we'll run through and examine each of the new scenes in detail.

Thank you to yuc02 for contributing to this post and for confirming Chinese character meanings.

  • The release date advertised at the end of the teaser shows that it was created for a release of 27th August; the release date has now changed to 19th November. 
  • All scenes in the video are marked "Work in progress. Game not final."
  • Images in this post are of reduced quality as they are screen-grabbed from a hand-held recording of the monitor.
The video may be viewed here if you have not yet seen it, or to refresh your memory before we walk through it. (Video footage credit: praj from the Shenmue Dojo. Image stabilization has been applied).

Read on to see what tiny details are hiding in these scenes.
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Saturday, June 8, 2019

Yu Suzuki on Shenmue III: Extra interview Content | Translation

Earlier this year in April, we translated Japan's Weekly Famitsu magazine interview with Yu Suzuki about the latest state of Shenmue III, from an issue of the printed magazine.

Related links:
Soon afterwards, Famitsu published a web version of this interview on which excluded some parts and also contained some additional content. We've translated the extra parts below.

The interview starts off with Yu Suzuki demonstrating pre-recorded footage of his Shenmue III gameplay in Bailu village.

YS = Yu Suzuki

Q: By the way, were the motions for walking and so on motion-captured with Masaya Matsukaze this time?

YS: No, it was someone else.

Yu explains that this time, Masaya Matsukaze's performance in the game is solely for voice acting.

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Friday, June 7, 2019

Deep Silver's Shenmue III Pre-Order Page & River Li Image

Deep Silver has opened a new and sleek-looking Shenmue III pre-order page on their website, which can be accessed at It provides links to a number of retailers around the world, based on the country and system selected. Languages supported on the page's drop-down are English (UK), English (US), German, Spanish, Italian and French (but not Japanese, which is expected as Deep Silver is global publisher excluding Japan).

While the media section of the page does not contain any new slides (and the "View Trailer" link currently plays the Prophecy trailer from Gamescom 2018), there are a few points of interest worth highlighting.

New River Li Image

The site gives an outline of the types of locations in the game:
"Shenmue III lets players explore a gorgeous, charm-laden, and danger-filled China. From festive towns to dark and dank enemy lairs".
"Festive towns" would obviously point to Niaowu, with its brightly-lit lanterns. While no specifics are given, could the "dark and dank enemy lairs" mentioned in the site's description refer to the Chi You Men's den in Baisha..?
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Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Poll Result: Patrons' Choice Topic for June 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 June's topic. After tallying the votes (including accumulated votes from previous months) it was a draw between topics, so Switch cast the deciding vote. And so the winning topic was...

"Was South Carmain Quarter in Wan Chai slightly mis-translated into English?"

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

In this post we'll look at how the English translations of the district names match up with their original meaning in Chinese characters.

Watch for it later this month!

For early access to this and other articles published on the blog, check us out on Patreon. Link to Phantom River Stone on Patreon.
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Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Shenmue III Participation at E3 | Kickstarter Update #101

Hot on the heels of the previous Kickstarter Update regarding Shenmue III's revised release date comes Kickstarter Update #101, announcing that Yu Suzuki will be attending E3 2019 (June 12 - June 14). The news reads as follows:
E3 is just days away and we are planning to be in attendance. Together with Deep Silver we are now finalizing all the details.
S3 at E3
Shenmue III is scheduled to have a room in the business area open to the media. Expect to see S3 info from media around the world! (Yu Suzuki is not planned to participate in the exhibit hall events.)
E3 2019 Official Site
Thank you always for your support!
This confirms the news leaked via Twitter by a member of the press last month that Shenmue III would be playable by the press at E3.

As per today's announcement, although the game will be exhibited only in the event's business area (which is not accessible by the general public), we can look forward to reports on the gameplay by the global media attending.

Link to announcement: Kickstarter Update #101
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Shenmue III Release Date Revised to 19th November | Kickstarter Update #100

YS Net and Deep Silver yesterday released an announcement regarding a revision to the release date of Shenmue III. The revised release date is 19th November. The full text is as follows:
04 June 2019
A Message from Yu Suzuki & Deep Silver
Hello Everyone,
Today Yu Suzuki & Deep Silver would like to give a message concerning the release date.
Shenmue III will now release on 19th November 2019.
[before] August 27, 2019
[new] November 19, 2019
Whilst almost ready, the game simply needs a little more refinement before being truly finished.
We feel that the extra time we have will help us deliver the true Shenmue experience players around the world deserve!
We thank you for your patience and understanding,
Yu Suzuki & Deep Silver
This delay will no doubt come as a disappointment to fans who have been counting down the days to the previous release date since being decided in August of last year.

A complicating factor is is how this change in release period may effect Shenmue III sales and general awareness among players, in a release period where other, big-name releases may steal the limelight and headlines (Death Stranding, for example, is currently scheduled earlier in the month on November 8th).

However, out-weighing this in my eyes is that if extra work is required on the game, then spending the extra time is the right decision. The alternative - releasing before the critical eye of the public a game that lacks polish, or worse, one that suffers from obvious bugs from the outset - could seriously damage its reputation. After such a long wait for this game, it would be a shame for it to be compromised for the sake of a few months and I trust that Yu Suzuki has our best interests in mind.

As a side-note, when the original release of Shenmue in Japan was delayed in 1999, the What's Shenmue demo was distributed on the originally-scheduled release date to people who had pre-ordered. I would love to see something similar done for the timing of the "Shenmue III demo" reward for backers, but this would of course depend on developer resources.

No mention was made in the announcement of plans for next week's E3 (June 11 - 13), although we know that Shenmue III will be playable by members of the press. The change of date will no doubt affect the way in which Shenmue III gets marketed at Gamescom 2019 (August 21-24), and other later events also now come into the picture such as Paris Games Week (October 30).

Link to announcement: Shenmue III Kickstarter Update #100
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Sunday, June 2, 2019

Shenmue Passport: Hidden F355 Challenge Feature

Shenmue Passport: Hidden F355 Challenge Feature

The topic for this article was selected by patron vote during our monthly topic poll. To help support the blog and vote for a topic you'd like to see, check out our PRS Patron page.

Shenmue and  F355 Challenge, another game created by Yu Suzuki, have several elements in common as we looked at in the previous post.
One of these is an hidden menu item that can be accessed only in the Japanese version of the Shenmue Passport (with a VMU holding F355 Challenge driving data) that allows players to graphically review their driving performance.

In this post, we'll translate the manual that accompanies the Japanese Shenmue Passport disc to outline these driving analysis functions.
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Friday, May 31, 2019

Shenmue's Ties to F355 Challenge

Shenmue's Ties to F355 Challenge

This topic was voted as the Patrons' Choice topic for May and was available for early access. To help support the blog and get some great perks, check out the PRS Patron page.

Shenmue was released for the Dreamcast in Japan at the end of 1999, the same year in which Yu Suzuki's racing simulation game F355 Challenge was brought out in the arcades.

As its name suggests, this game features the Ferrari F355 Challenge sports car, with the goal being to race against other drivers across a number of circuits. All cars in the game are the F355 Challenge model.
F355 Challenge (Twin)
In addition to the arcade version (which came in Twin and 3-screen "DX" configurations), a version for the Dreamcast console followed in August 2000.

With Yu Suzuki at the helm of both, it is perhaps not surprising that F355 Challenge has a close relationship with Shenmue. A number of connections can be found between the two games, which we will look at in this post.

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Thursday, May 30, 2019

Gio Corsi Visits Yu Suzuki & YS Net in Tokyo | Shenmue 3

Earlier today, Gio Corsi, Director of Third Party Productions & Developer Relations at PlayStation, visited Shenmue III's director Yu Suzuki at the YS Net offices having flown into Tokyo earlier in the week. Gio tweeted out this group photo, tagging the official Shenmue 3 account:

Link to tweet
With Gio and Yu are two other executives from Sony: John Drake, Director of Portfolio Strategy for Global Third Party Relations, and Executive Producer John Sanders.

The Shenmue III Kickstarter of course received great promotion at its launch from the Sony stage at E3 in 2015, and Team Yu has written a useful summary of how Sony's Third Party Productions came to be involved with Shenmue III here on Facebook.

Ever since, Gio Corsi and Yu Suzuki have shared photos showing visits during the game's development such as in September 2016 (Tokyo)December 2016 (California) and May 2017 (Tokyo).

Today's meeting is sure to feed speculation among Shenmue fans as to whether anything may be planned in Sony's next State of Play update (timing to be announced), for example. A major event, E3, is also imminent (11-13th June, 2019) however while it is known Shenmue III will be there, Sony has announced well in advance that they will not have a presence at E3 this year.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Enter to Win a Shenmue III T-Shirt! | Multiple Fan Sites Participating

Win a Shenmue III T-Shirt from Phantom River Stone

There are now under three months to go until the release of Shenmue III on August 27, and what better way to celebrate than with an exclusive Shenmue III T-shirt thanks to co-producer Cedric Biscay and his company Shibuya Productions!

How to Enter

We are running two separate T-shirt give-aways: one on Twitter and another on Facebook. The T-shirts are available in M or L.

Click the links below for entry by following the simple conditions that are posted:

Shenmue III T-Shirt Competitions On Other Fan Sites

What's more, several Shenmue fan sites are running separate Shenmue III T-shirt give-away draws, and fans are welcome to enter them all. Be sure to give them a follow on social media too!
Winners for all competitions will be announced on June 3rd, which is of course Shenmue Day (which takes place each month on the 3rd). Good luck!

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Sunday, May 26, 2019

When Was the By-Chapter Release Approach Announced for Shenmue? | Translation

During the early period of Shenmue promotion, the upcoming game was presented to the public simply with the title of "Shenmue", and distinction was not made between content from Shenmue I and Shenmue II.

However by the time of its initial release, it was clear that the game was now divided into chapters. This topic was brought up over at the Shenme Dojo forums, and I thought it would be interesting to dig a little into how and when this decision was announced by Sega back in the day.

It turns out that the concept of Shenmue being released in chapters was formally announced by Sega at the 1999 Tokyo Games Show which was held from 18th~21st March. An announcement was also made at the event regarding a revision to the release time frame (to the 5th August 1999; previously "spring") - although the final release date would end up as 29th December.

Let's look at a couple of the reports in Japan at the time.
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Thursday, May 23, 2019

Brianna Knickerbocker Interview: Recording for Shenmue 3

In February earlier this year, Brianna Knickerbocker was announced as the voice actor in English for one of the lead characters in Shenmue III (to be released August 27): Shenhua.
Brianna has extensive experience voicing characters in anime, video games, films, and TV series going back more than 10 years, as can be seen from the filmography on her IMDB page. Brianna was also awarded the title of Breakthrough Actress of the Year in the 2015 Anime Dub Awards held by Behind The Voice Actors, a voice-acting community site.

With the release of Shenmue III coming up in just a few months, it was the perfect time to take the opportunity to hold the very first interview with Brianna by the Shenmue community, and we were delighted to accept her offer. The questions in the interview were gathered from Shenmue fans across various social media fan sites and represent the topics you most wanted to hear about - perhaps you will spot your own submitted question!

And now, onto the interview with Brianna which starts below.


Q: We're excited to have this opportunity to learn about you and your role as Shenhua in Shenmue 3! To get started, could you tell us a little about your background and how you came to work in the voice acting field? 

Brianna Knickerbocker (BK): Randomly enough, I originally moved to LA to pursue fashion design. I remember crying in my car at lunch during a trial day at a fashion company. It was horrible, I hated every second. So I quit that same day! I went on Craigslist searching and searching for what I was going to do next and saw an acting gig, submitted, and booked it (it was just some random short film, but that's how I found acting). I signed up for an acting castings site where I could apply for more acting gigs, saw a voice over gig and applied thinking it would be fun. I booked it and it all took off from there!
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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Weekly News Round-up: Shenmue Shorts #60

Shenmue Shorts is our weekly news round-up and selected fan community highlights.

News in #60 includes an interview with Yu Suzuki by SEGA Saturno & an overlooked coffee cup?! Read more on these and other news in Shenmue Shorts #60
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Sunday, May 19, 2019

Capsule Toy Machine Labels | Shenmue 3

Capsule toy machines are a familiar sight in the first two Shenmue games, and details released to date have confirmed (such as in this April 2019 Yu Suzuki interview by Famitsu) that capsule toys will continue to play a role in Shenmue III; for example as collectible items for obtaining complete sets or as a way for Ryo to make some cash at the pawn shops.

A couple of Shenmue III screenshots seen so far have shown capsule toy machines. The first of these was in the screenshot of a ferry interior revealed at the press conference for MAGIC Monaco 2019 in February, which had a couple of capsule toy machines sitting to one side under the stairs.

In this screenshot, the illustration on the closest capsule toy machine shows what looks to be a fire-fighting themed toy set, with fire extinguishers and a fire ax. A figure in a purple top leans at an angle (which some fans have pointed out recalls the hero in Space Harrier) while holding a fire extinguisher and hose.

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Saturday, May 18, 2019

Sneak Peak: Shenhua's Voice in Shenmue 3 | Brianna Knickerbocker

Last month questions were gathered from the fan community for an interview with Brianna Knickerbocker, who will play the voice of Shenhua in English in Shenmue III. (We have now received back her responses to your questions, and we're readying it for publication on the blog).

One of the interview questions was to ask Brianna on behalf of the fans if she would be able to give a small preview of Shenhua's voice - and this she has kindly done!

In this new video clip which she has posted up on her YouTube channel, she voices a piece of the the prophecy poem that Shenhua recites in the first two games. Brianna also gives a message to Shenmue fans.

Although only a short sample, her voicing for the character of Shenhua promises to be a perfect fit, and we can't wait to hear more in future Shenmue 3 trailers or gameplay.

Our interview with Brianna will be posted up later this month.

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Sunday, May 12, 2019

Famitsu Postcard Set Prize (2000) | Shenmue Promo Item

In early 2000, Shenmue had just been released in Japan and the February edition of the Famitsu Dreamcast magazine contained a 100-page special feature on the game, as well as bonus items such as a set of Shenmue postcards & name cards that came as an insert in the magazine, which we have previously covered in an earlier post.
One of the magazine inserts
In addition, readers could win a set of five limited-edition Shenmue postcards that were available only by lucky draw to 10,000 people across three Famitsu-published magazines circulating in Japan at the time: Famitsu Dreamcast, Famitsu Bros (a strategy/hints magazine) and Weekly Famitsu.

The reverse side of each of the cards was printed with a space for the sender's message, with logos from the three Famitsu publications promoting the draw showing at the bottom.

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Saturday, May 11, 2019

SEGA Saturno Interview with Yu Suzuki | Shenmue 3

The MAGIC 2019 event in March featured a stage presentation by Yu Suzuki, and an exciting new Shenmue 3 trailer was released called Ryo & Master (see our commentary/analysis posts: Part One, Part TwoChinese Writing Analysis).

Representatives from the Shenmue fan community were also busy behind the scenes carrying out interviews with Yu Suzuki at Monaco. Several fan interviews have now been released:
Now our friends at the Spanish site SEGA Saturno have released their own interview held with Yu Suzuki. Phantom River Stone is very happy to have helped prepare the English translation from the interview audio source.

The questions are interesting and detailed, as befitting true fans of the games. Yu did, however, want to keep a few cards up his sleeves in terms of the topics to be discussed: the location of Baisha was one such topic for which a polite request was received to skip to the next question.

One of the highlights of this interview for me was a question asking about whether Yu had any funny Shenmue 3 development anecdotes to share. It turns out that there was one that caused all the NPCs in the area to gather together in a most unusual location:
"The number of characters around was extremely small - they were nowhere to be found. I wondered where they could be."
Read the interview in English at Sega Saturno to find out more!

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Monday, May 6, 2019

Children's Day Illustration and Cultural Notes

Yesterday, Yu Suzuki tweeted out a Shenmue-themed illustration in celebration of Children's Day, featuring Ryo and Shenhua (and a little yellow bird).

Children's Day is a day on which families in Japan celebrate the healthy growth and happiness of children. It is also a national holiday and is held on May 5 every year.
Children's Day illustration, tweeted by Yu Suzuki. The vertical writing at the left side reads "Kodomo no hi" (=Children's Day in Japanese), while the horizontal writing reads "Tango no Sekku" (explained later in this post).
In the illustration, Ryo is riding atop a blue-colored carp, recalling the image of a character from Japanese folklore who is often associated with Children's Day: Kintarō, a child with superhuman strength who once fought a giant carp, among his many adventures.
Kintarō, a folk hero from Japanese folklore, is said to have fought a giant carp.
In fact, the carp on which Ryo is riding here is in the shape of a windsock known as a koinobori (carp streamer). These streamers are commonly flown above houses with children for Children's Day and can be of various sizes, from smaller ones under a meter on the balconies of inner-city apartments to large ones of many meters in length that are strung up on poles in more open areas.
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Sunday, May 5, 2019

Yu Suzuki's Research Trip to China Part 2: Textures & Bajiquan | Translation

Yu Suzuki's Research Trip to China Part 2: Yu Suzuki Comments on Virtua Fighter Development | Translation

This topic was selected by Phantom River Stone patrons in our monthly poll for a topic choice.

In the early 1990s, Yu Suzuki made a seminal trip to China. His objective was to research and gather material for his upcoming Virtua Fighter 2, and this research also influenced his concept for a "Virtua Fighter RPG" which eventually came to be known as Shenmue.
In this post we translate comments Yu Suzuki made on return from his trip in Beep! MegaDrive magazine, in which he talks about his motivation for travelling to China to help prepare for developing the next Virtua Fighter game, Virtua Fighter 2, as well as the state of development on Virtua Fighter 1 for the Sega Saturn.

A note regarding the year of the trip: in his GDC 2014 presentation, Yu Suzuki gave the year of the trip as 1993, however based on the information in this magazine article published soon after the trip was made, it actually took place in early 1994.

The translation starts from here.

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Friday, May 3, 2019

Poll Result: Patrons' Choice Topic for May 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 May's topic. After tallying the votes (including accumulated votes from previous months) the winning topic was...

"Hidden Shenmue Passport Feature: F355 Challenge save file analysis"

Shenmue Passport is an extra disc of features that accompanied the original release of the first Shenmue game. Some of these features, such as information videos and a music player, were able to be accessed from the main menu, while the main section required a dial-up connection to enter (for more information about the Passport disc, and how to browse it without a connection, see the following post).

The Shenmue Passport disc also contained a "hidden" feature which related to one of Yu Suzuki's racing arcade games that was released for the Dreamcast in 2000: F355 Challenge. If a VMU containing save data from the game was present, the Passport disc would show a new menu entry as shown below at the top.

We will be looking at what this feature is all about. Watch for more later this month!

For early access to this and other articles published on the blog, check us out on Patreon. Link to Phantom River Stone on Patreon.
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