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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