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 Yan Tin 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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