Sunday, June 2, 2019

Shenmue Passport: Hidden F355 Challenge Feature

Shenmue Passport: Hidden F355 Challenge Feature

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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.

Shenmue Passport: Accessing the Analysis Feature

As mentioned in our previous post, if your VMU has F355 driving data saved to it, and you start the Japanese Shenmue Passport disc, a new "F355 Challenge" menu item will become available.

Selecting this new option takes you to the following title screen which is headed "VM operator."

This is the gateway to a new menu screen specifically for examining the F355 Challenge data.

Shenmue Passport Manual Translation

From here, we'll translate information about each of the available functions in the analysis menu, as given in the Japanese-language version of the Shenmue Passport manual.

--- Start of translation ---

F355 Challenge

The arcade game F355 Challenge comes from the hand of Yu Suzuki, the same producer as for Shenmue. View your driving data using a memory card (VMU). By linking to the arcade game, the world of this realistic racing simulator will expand even further.

To use this, a memory card on which F355 Challenge play data is saved is required. The icon for this option will be displayed in the main menu only when the memory card is connected.

Insert a memory card with your main data in expansion socket 1.
If you have reference data, insert a memory card in expansion socket 2.

The F355 Challenge VM Operator main menu. The first option, "Course Selection", is highlighted

1. Course Selection

Select the course to be displayed:
  • Motegi, Suzuka (Short Configuration)
  • Monza
  • Sugo
  • Suzuka
  • Long Beach.

2. Driving Data

For your selected course, the driving line and graphics showing your speed, engine revs, and shift changes will be displayed. The driving line for the main data will be shown in red, and the driving line for the reference data will be shown in yellow.
Analog stick / D-pad & A-button: scroll graph
R / L trigger: zoom in / zoom out
X button: switch graph size
Y button: switch track display width

3. Replay

The F355 Challenge car will drive following the displayed driving line. A red F355 Challenge car will drive according to the main data, and a yellow F355 Challenge car will drive to the reference data.

Four views are available:
  • Driver's view
  • Front view
  • Top view
  • Rear view

Analog stick / D-pad left: rewind, right: fast-forward
R / L trigger: zoom in / zoom out
A button: switch viewpoint
X button: switch between expansion slots 1 and 2

4. Player Data

The following data can be viewed:
  • 3-letter "score name"
  • Player name
  • Participating region
  • Total number of plays
  • Distance traveled
  • Best lap per course

5. Gallery

View promotional images and other original images. Images can be unlocked on fulfilling certain conditions.
Gallery screen. Further images can be unlocked by fulfilling certain conditions such as completing a certain circuit within a specified time.
The first three gallery images, which are unlocked by default.

6. Theater

Secret vault of images of the development team. Can be unlocked on fulfilling certain conditions.

7. Network Connection

Access the official F355 Challenge home page.

--- End of translation ---

Final Comment

The conditions that need to be met to unlock the image gallery in the Theater section are not given, but it is just waiting to be cracked open with modern software tools to unveil the photos of a young Yu Suzuki & development team from that era!

I hope you enjoyed this brief overview of a feature that perhaps not many Shenmue fans are aware existed, especially those for outside of Japan. I'm planning to put up some video footage of the F355 Challenge analysis tool in action in the future.
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  1. It's actually insane the level of detail Yu Suzuki goes into like this. Taking driving statistics home with you from the arcade...who'd have thought that was possible!

    1. He has introduced so many groundbreaking concepts - a true visionary.

  2. I think the PAL version of the game has the analysis section unlocked by default, although I've not seen the gallery section before, so still cool :)

    1. Yeah, it's definitely a little-known feature! As far as I know the feature only works on the Japan version of the Passport disc (the menu graphic file is present on the discs for the US and EU versions, but the text has not been translated), but perhaps someone could give it a try!

  3. Hi,
    This is a great post!
    I am looking to find driving data or list of various record times per track.
    Do you know where this can be found? The link to the archived version of the sega-rd2site is no longer working.


    1. Hi, thanks for your comment! Hmm, I don't recall having found record time data before. But it looks like the (Japanese) web archive link is working again now.

      There are some record times submitted to Twin Galaxies you could check.