Sunday, March 31, 2019

Segata Sanshiro Theme Song at SEGA Fes 2019

Last year at the annual SEGAFes event in Tokyo, Shenmue fans were delighted with the announcement of the Shenmue I & II re-release for PS4 and PC (rewatch a captioned video of the 2018 announcement). After Day One of this year's event, has there been anything so far for Shenmue fans? In fact there were a couple of things - if only small references.

During the opening "SEGA Fan Meet-Up" stage event, the SEGA's CEO, Hajime Satomi, briefly brought up a slide of games that are celebrating their 20th anniversary since release in 2019. One of those was Shenmue, which was released for the Dreamcast in Japan at the end of 1999.

At a later event, SEGA also brought on stage their lovable mascot character for the Saturn console, Segata Sanshiro, played by actor Hiroshi Fujioka who has several links to Shenmue.

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Thursday, March 28, 2019

Community Interview with Yu Suzuki on Shenmue 3 | Shenmue Dojo and Team Yu

A great fan community Shenmue 3 interview with Yu Suzuki has been released. The interview was carried out by Team Yu & Shenmue Dojo at the recent MAGIC 2019 event. Phantom River Stone was involved in a small way too by providing an English translation of the interview.

The article is informative and entertaining and provides useful context to Yu's answers, with reference to previous answers he has given. Yu also reveals a "nod" to the feel of the previous games in the upcoming game which should bring a smile to fans' lips.

>> Read the interview here at the Shenmue Dojo forums.

Ryo's new ability to change his wardrobe

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Sunday, March 24, 2019

Is Joy related to Master Chen? | Analysis

Joy's Connection to Master Chen & Guizhang

This topic was selected by the Phantom River Stone blog patrons via our monthly poll on Patreon.

From playing Shenmue II, one might gain the impression that Joy is related to Master Chen, from certain conversations in which she refers to him as "Uncle Chen". Does she mean this literally?
A conversation in which Joy speaks of "Uncle Chen."
A conversation in which Joy speaks of "Uncle Chen."
Before dealing with this question directly, it makes for a good opportunity to review various pieces of information from within and outside the game that can be found regarding their relationship, including some optional conversations that might be missed on an initial playthrough.

Let's start by examining the profiles of Joy and Master Chen, as well as Master Chen's son Guizhang.

Joy's Profile Description

Joy's profile on SEGA Japan's Shenmue I & II site
Joy is the same age as Ryo at 18 years old. Here is an excerpt from her profile description, translated from Sega's Shenmue I & II website:
Her father, Chunyun Liang, presides over the harbor's trading business and is someone people trust deeply. Joy is his only daughter, and as a result, she is looked up to by many people at the harbor.

Like Ryo, Joy lost her mother when she was a child. Because of this, her father indulges her. She is acquainted with Master Chen and his son in Yokosuka, and they contact each other from time to time.
So Joy knows Master Chen and Guizhang, however the phrasing used, "acquainted with," sounds somewhat formal and doesn't hint at a family connection.
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Friday, March 22, 2019

[Video | English Captions] Yu Suzuki's Shenmue 3 Talk at MAGIC 2019

Earlier this month on March 9th at the MAGIC event in Monaco, Yu Suzuki gave a stage presentation about Shenmue III during which he revealed fresh information about the game. While we posted a summary of highlights at the time, a video of the presentation with English subtitles is now ready.

The video can be viewed below, and a written transcript of the presentation follows the video.

The moderator of the presentation was David De Ville and the interpreter was Kenji Kojima. We would like to thank them both for the excellent job they did on stage, as well as all their many hours of unseen efforts behind the scenes.

Shenmue Master kindly provided the video footage. Thank you to Yokosuka from the Shenmue Dojo for the question translations. Yu Suzuki's responses were translated by Switch.

Transcript of the Presentation

Shenmue 3 Kickstarter and Announcement at E3 2015

Q: First of all, I would like to return to a key element, since Shenmue 3 was born on the Kickstarter platform. Kickstarter is what allowed us to see Shenmue 3 as it is today. It's good to remind ourselves of the two Kickstarter records that Shenmue 3 broke. The first one is the fastest $1 million pledged for a Kickstarter video game, in just 1 hour 44 minutes. The second is the most-funded Kickstarter video game ever. Let's applaud this great achievement!


YS: Thank you.

Q: I am curious to know what you thought about the Kickstarter campaign. What are your memories?

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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Virtua Fighter CG Portrait Series | Guest Post by James Brown

Today's guest post was authored by James Brown (Twitter: @skilljim, YouTube: Thanks to James for the great write-up!

Back in 1995 Yu Suzuki with his AM2 team and SEGA released a 10-disc series of stand alone SEGA Saturn discs called the Virtua Fighter CG Portrait Series. Each of the discs contained computer-generated art and a unique music track, some even featuring vocals from the iconic Daytona singer himself, Takenobu Mitsuyoshi!

Each disc focused on one specific Virtua Fighter character, and there was also a bonus 11th "not for sale" disc that was based on the character Dural (and could only be obtained in exchange for sending the spine cards of the previous 10 discs to Sega).

All the discs are shown here below:
The complete set of 11 discs in the CG Portrait series
Each of the discs feature a wealth of fantastic early 3D concept art that still looks great today -  a testament to Yu Suzuki and his vision for realism.
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Saturday, March 16, 2019

Steven Spielberg's Reaction to Virtua Fighter RPG Helped Greenlight Development

A photo of Steve Spielberg visiting Yu Suzuki and the development studio during the 1990s has emerged online, in an written interview by Japan's 4Gamer with the then-business-director of AM2 ( Hisashi Suzuki - yes, another Suzuki!).

With Steve Spielberg was Mark Cerny, who was not working at SEGA at the time but was accompanying Spielberg for another project.
Sega Development Studio tour. Top: Hisashi Suzuki (AM2 business director), Yu Suzuki (AM2 development head), Hisao Oguchi (AM3 development head), Steven Spielberg, Mark Cerny. Bottom: Mie Kumagaya (AM3 developer) and Steven Spielberg's son.
Due to Spielberg's enthusiastic comments ("wonderful!") on being shown Virtua Fighter RPG, Shenmue's early form, apparently SEGA's CEO was put in such a good mood that he greenlit the start of full-on development.

A second photo of Yu Suzuki with Steven Spielberg and son has been previously shared before online:
Yu Suzuki with Steve Spielberg and son, most likely taken during the same visit as the previous photo.
It's interesting to identify that this photo is likely to have been during the same office visit, based on the matching clothing.

The 4Gamer article contains other interesting anecdotes about Yu Suzuki and Shenmue so we hope to be able to provide a translation of these parts on the blog in the future.

Source: 4Gamer (Japanese)
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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Shenmue Postcard & Name Card Set (2000) | Shenmue Merchandise

Today we'll take a look at a Shenmue item I hadn't seen before, which was produced back at the time of the original release of Shenmue as a bonus for readers of Japan's Famitsu DC magazine in early 2000.

The bonus was an exclusive insert of detachable post cards & name cards featuring the Shenmue CG art from Shenmue's original promotion. The illustrations are: Shenhua in an exquisite headdress, Ryo striking a fighting stance, Ryo & Nozomi on a motorcycle and Shenhua standing in falling snow.

The idea was that the reader would remove the card they wished to send from the sheet, fill it out and send it like a normal postcard.

Sheet 1:

Sheet 2:

The "name cards" are smaller-sized cards containing spaces for a contact's name, address, birthday, blood type (believed by some to give insight into a person's personality) and telephone/fax machine number, with lines for notes on the reverse side.

The text at the top of the first sheet reads:
"Special Shenmue postcards and name cards, exclusive to Famitsu DC. March is graduation season. Why not send one to that special someone, with a few words of congratulation and appreciation".
The second sheet also has some words of encouragement to get posting:
"Shenmue: at last, that day has arrived to play it. Why not write a message with your memories of this great year and hopes for the new year to come, and send a special Famitsu DC postcard to your friends and acquaintances!"
The reverse side has all the necessary markings for filling in a message, address and post code.

I wonder whether any magazine readers actually went ahead and posted a card...

Thank you to Retro Import Gamer for providing the photos for this article. They have this set available right now at their Ebay store, in excellent condition. All items ship from the UK.

View the Shenmue Postcard & Name Set on Ebay
Or view other Shenmue items listed on the Retro Import Gamer website.

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Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Observations on "Ryo & Master" Shenmue 3 Trailer | Part One

A new Shenmue 3 trailer was shown at MAGIC Monaco, giving us the chance to see Ryo interacting in several different situations around Bailu village. In this post, we'll highlight some of the details, especially the smaller, easy-to-miss ones, with an assumption that the reader has already watched the trailer through (if not, the link follows).
The observations will be spread over a series of posts, this being the first.

Note: some of the images in this post have been upscaled / filtered.

Sound and Music

Two main pieces of music play in the trailer, both from the original games' soundtrack. The video initially opens to the majestic crash of cymbals from the opening notes of the original Shenmue main theme, which accompanies the scenes. When the action turns to fighting, the music changes to the well-known piece known in English among fans as "Earth and Sea" (and officially as "Continent and Sea" as Sega Japan recently clarified). Finally, the main theme reprises with an erhu solo at the end.

Sound effects also can be heard: the chirping of birds, the scrape of a sliding door being pulled open, the tread of boots on ground as well as various whooshes and swishes during the fighting sequences. Not forgetting the anxious cluck of the chickens as they dash out of the way.

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Sunday, March 10, 2019

New Shenmue 3 Trailer: "Ryo and Master" From MAGIC Monaco | Kickstarter Update #98

A new Shenmue 3 trailer was shown during the Crazy Time session at MAGIC Monaco yesterday, which has been named "Ryo and Master".

The scenes appear to take place entirely Bailu village and its surroundings. The video, which is just over two-and-a-half minutes long, shows Ryo interacting in various ways with characters, including a training scene with the titular master, snippets of conversations and combat. There is also a dream sequence showing Lan Di and a frightened Shenhua. The characters are voiced in Japanese, with English subtitles.

The trailer was also announced as Kickstarter Update #98, with a brief message to backers indicating there will be more information to follow:
"We know we have not put up a development report for a while, but please rest assured that production is steadily moving forward, and we hope to share more info with you very soon!"
We will be putting up an analysis of some of the finer details of the trailer on the blog soon.

Watch the new trailer below:

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Saturday, March 9, 2019

Yu Suzuki's Shenmue 3 Talk Highlights | Magic Monaco 2019

Image credit: Koch Media UK via Twitter
Yu Suzuki held an on-stage talk on Shenmue 3 at today's MAGIC Monaco event, and revealed some new details about the game. Long-time blog contributor yuc02 was at the event, tweeting live updates and images from the talk for Phantom River Stone.

Here is a collection of the tweets, summarizing highlights from the talk.

The start of the talk was slightly delayed due to the previous session running on, but it was then time for Yu and team to get set up!
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Thursday, March 7, 2019

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

"Learning Japanese through Shenmue: Lesson Two"

It has been a while but it's coming back! Last year we piloted our first Shenmue-themed Japanese lesson, which introduced the various Japanese writing systems (see the screenshots below). In the second lesson we will be introducing some simple greetings in Japanese which can be heard in the game.

We'll be putting together the second lesson later this month. In the meantime, why not refresh yourself with the first lesson:

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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Monday, March 4, 2019

Japan's Doll Festival (With a Shenmue Touch)

March 3rd was the Doll Festival celebration in Japan (also known as Girls' Day), for which ornamental dolls are put on display. It is a special day for families to celebrate their young daughters, praying for their success and happiness.

Yu Suzuki and the Shenmue team have joined in the spirit with a celebratory Shenmue-III-themed illustration.

Ryo and Shenhua celebrating the Doll Festival.
Yu Suzuki also wrote a message accompanying the illustration.

The text reads:
"One day late, but yesterday, March 3rd, was the Doll Festival.🎎 Perhaps in America it's still going on?
#Hinamatsuri #girls festival #doll festival #japaneseday #shenmue3"  

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Saturday, March 2, 2019

Exclusive Shenmue III T-Shirt at MAGIC 2019

Images have been revealed of the limited-edition Shenmue III T-shirt to be made available exclusively at the MAGIC 2019 event in Monaco on March 9th where Yu Suzuki will be holding a Shenmue 3 presentation. The announcement was made by Shenmue III co-producer CĂ©dric Biscay, who is also president and CEO of Shibuya Productions, the company behind the annual MAGIC Monaco event.

The T-shirt has a black base, with a small white MAGIC logo on the front, and a large illustration also in white on the back, showing Ryo Hazuki with his back to the viewer, the tiger motif on his jacket visible. Overlaid at the bottom of the illustration is the Shenmue III logo, with some copyright text beneath.

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