Thursday, August 29, 2019

[4Gamer] Interview with Yu Suzuki at Gamescom 2019 | Translation

We present a new interview with Yu Suzuki on Shenmue 3 from Gamescom 2019, this time from Japan's 4Gamer.

This is our translation of the interview, which begins from here.

4Gamer: Thank you for your time today. Please tell us first of all about the present status of Shenmue 3.

YS: The current state is that we're making various finishing touches and balance adjustments, and carrying out small bug fixes. Things such as modifying motions, improving the appearance and adjusting collisions. The balance adjustments are not just for the battles; we're also tuning the balance of the economy.

4Gamer: If the balance of the economy is broken, then that might lead the whole game breaking, mightn't it.

YS: Adjusting the balance is really tricky. Even when I build something expecting that 30% of new players will be able to clear it, when they actually test it out, only about 20% might manage to do so.

In any case, in terms of its level of completeness, I'd say "90% or above". If no bugs that stop the game from running (called "Class A" bugs) are found, then what we have currently could be released. That kind of level.

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Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Shenmue Passport Fan-Made App "Suka Pass" Now Available for Download!

Today marks the launch of Suka Pass, a free fan-made revival of the Shenmue Passport!

Shenmue Passport accompanied the original Shenmue game on the Dreamcast and gave access to various extra content that helped flesh out the world of Yokosuka including music, movies and detailed character bios.

The motivation for app was to revive and preserve the passport's wealth of content, and was created by members from these community groups: Phantom River Stone, SkillJim, Shenmue Forever and Shenmue Dojo. (In the future I plan to write some posts for the blog to give some insight into some of the some behind-the-scenes activities that went into bringing it back to life).

It runs on both iOS and Android devices (and looks great on tablets!) so as Tom says, click on the image or link below to download it now!

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Sunday, August 25, 2019

Fan-Made Shenmue Passport Releasing August 27th | Suka Pass

Last year saw the release of Shenmue I & II HD, bringing our beloved game series to the modern day and creating a generation of new fans for the franchise.

However, those familiar with the Dreamcast version missed a certain part of the original release which didn't make the transition forward to the modern day: namely, the Shenmue Passport.

Well, Shenmue fans will not be left without for much longer. A new fan-made app called Suka Pass (a contraction of "Yokosuka Passport") has been in development over the past year, and is now ready for release! 

The release date for the app is in three days' time, on August 27th - a nod to the previously-scheduled release date of Shenmue III, providing fans with something to tide them over until they get their hands on the new game.

You can pre-register over at the Suka Pass website to receive an email with download instructions once the app is released.

Find out more at the Suka Pass website

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Saturday, August 24, 2019

Famitsu Interview with Yu Suzuki at Gamescom 2019 | Translation has published an interview with Yu Suzuki on Shenmue 3 that was carried out at the recent Gamescom 2019 event. This is our translation of the interview.

Note: there is a (minor) story spoiler pertaining to general story content in Shenmue 3 which I have enclosed in a spoiler section.

The translation begins from here.

Currently In Progress: Debugging and Last Adjustments

Q: Is the content of this Gamescom demo the same as the one at E3 2019?

YS:  It has been touched up compared to the previous one. At E3, the gameplay time was set to 15 minutes making it hard to grasp the gameplay loop, so this time we've smoothed out that process and increased the play time to around 45 minutes.

Q: In terms of content, people will be able to experience gameplay at the start of Shenmue 3's story, in Bailu village..?

YS: Yes, you'll be able to play through things like events and the gameplay loop, at Bailu village. However, being a demo version, the content differs a bit from the release version.

I consider Shenmue 3 to be what people call open-world, but it differs from other open-world games so markedly that if you take the same approach as those when playing it, you won't get what makes it special; and I suspect that may lead to a conclusion that "different = bad".

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Friday, August 23, 2019

Yu Suzuki's Signing Sessions at Gamescom 2019

"Last day of the signing sessions"
While at Gamescom, Yu Suzuki held multiple signing sessions in the public exhibition hall, with long queues of fans forming to meet the master. This post contains a selection of some of the pictures shared on social media over the period.

Shenmue III promotion at the Deep Silver booth was most impressive. Above, large panels ensured it could be spotted from afar with an eye-catching image of the Stone Pit's cave with the giant carved mirrors and burning flames .

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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Analysis: New Shenmue III Screenshots From Gamescom 2019

Three new still shots of Shenmue 3 have been released, showing off more of the game's detailed environments.

Screenshot 1: Evening Dining in Bailu Village

The first screenshot is a night scene of customers seated at an outdoor table. In the background an elderly man (perhaps the proprietor) is seated at a table laden with sausages, cake and other food items. The customers are turned in his direction - they seem to be getting hungry.
Screenshot #1
The heavy wooden beam and hanging rope in the foreground can be recognized as being the Bailu village well, as seen in this capture from E3 B-roll footage earlier this year:
The Bailu village well

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New Trailer "A Day In Shenmue" Released at Gamescom 2019

Fan-snapped photos and hand-held recordings of a brand new Shenmue 3 trailer on show at Gamescom 2019 have been flying around the internet, and now a direct feed of the trailer is available - and it looks magnificent!

Titled "A Day in Shenmue", it includes scenes of combat, arcade games, exploration and even some interactions with Ren (the rain pouring down during this scene makes for a striking atmosphere). The voices of this version are in English.

We will be writing up an analysis of the trailer's content in a future post.

The trailer was also announced in a Kickstarter Update which included a photo of Yu Suzuki at the Shenmue 3 booth, where he will be continuing to hold signing sessions.

Source: news
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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Yu Suzuki Visits Aachen Old Town | Gamescom 2019

This is the week of Gamescom 2019, with a series of press events already having taken place throughout the day (with some glimpses of Shenmue 3 which we will cover in the next post!). The actual show properly kicks off on Tuesday August 20th, with the first day being for trade and media only.

Yu Suzuki has also of course traveled to Germany for the event, and after arrival took some time to visit the city of Aachen, located an hour's train ride to the west of Cologne. Koch Media has shared photos of his visit to the city's old town and historical center.

Based on clues in the photos, we can even identify some of the locations.
Yu Suzuki poses next to a sculpture of a horse.
This horse is one of a number of galloping horses in a bronze sculpture outside Aachen Central Railway Station.
Horse sculpture seen from the front
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Saturday, August 17, 2019

Nozomi Shows Off Her Fighting Skills: Another Hidden Easter Egg Discovered in Shenmue!

Our report a couple of months back on an easter egg that lets Ryo unleash a punch resembling Street-Fighter's "Shin Shōryūken" against Goro in a harbor QTE scene stirred up a storm of interest from fans, and that post has become our most-viewed post of all-time.

And now, the same legendary Japanese fan who tracked down that easter egg has shared a video of how to unlock a new one that lets Nozomi show off her previously unknown martial art talents in a free battle!

It is astounding that a 20-year old game still has new secrets to be discovered.

Don't take our word for it - watch below to see a side of Nozomi you never knew existed!

According to the fan who made the discovery, who goes by the handle nullpo, a hint about such an easter egg first surfaced in summer of last year (2018) - presumably also courtesy of the former developer who teased the existence of the Shin Shōryūken punch around that timeframe.

With not much more than this to go on, he has been spending his spare time over the last four months analyzing the game's code and eventually succeeding in identifying (and reproducing) the conditions to enable it.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Shenmue 3 Trial Version for Second Half of September

An exciting announcement has been made with news that the Shenmue 3 trial version reward on PC will be coming out in the second half of September.

The English version of the announcements explains that it will be a stand-alone act set in Bailu village and is estimated to last for about 1 hour, but will offer additional replay value with "lots of activities to experience" even after completing the main objective. It will also come with a pdf play-guide.

For comparison, here's an extract from the message in Japanese is as follows (my translation):
"In the trial version, which will be set in the game's first area of Bailu village, you will be able to play up to the completion of a specific scenario. The expected amount of available play time will be one hour, and replay will be possible after clearing the objective. You'll be able to try all kinds of different activities until the trial comes to an end".
Update: I got in touch with the Shenmue 3 team for clarification on whether the time limit replies to a single game or the entire trial, and they provided the following additional information:
First, you can replay the game as many times as you want, and there is no expiry date per say.

The in-game cycle goes from about 8:30AM to 9:00PM which takes about one hour to complete. At 9:00PM the trial ends, at which point you will have to start over from the beginning. Although we cannot make any promises on these next points, you could, for example, still play it next year.

The trial version will not be supported in the future, however, we believe it will remain in your Epic library.
(These clarifications will be notified officially "next chance").

Read the official announcement here.

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Sunday, August 11, 2019

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

Nagoshi's involvement with bringing an end to Shenmue's development (anecdote from 4Gamer interview with Hisashi Suzuki)

In the late 1990s, the Shenmue project continued on and on seemingly without an end in sight. Upper management became increasingly concerned about when it would be ready for release.

We'll be translating a section of a 4Gamer interview with Hisashi Suzuki (no relation to Yu), a senior executive at Sega who was on the Board of Directors from 1999. He recounts that the Shenmue project was eventually reined in with the intervention of Toshihiro Nagoshi (nowdays chief creative officer at Sega).

Watch for it later this month!

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Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Metron Stamp Rally '99: Shenmue Journey | Tokyo Metro, Japan

Today we welcome back contributor James Brown (visit his channel SkillJim on YouTube) with another guest post on a fascinating topic, this time talking about the Shenmue promotional stamp rally that was held in Japan back in 1999. Not only that, but he has obtained an actual rally book that is packed with stamps and information, and scanned its pages to share with everyone. Over to  James!

Back in 1999, prior to the release of Shenmue on the Dreamcast, Sega of Japan really went full force with various marketing campaigns to advertise Yu Suzuki's open-world epic. Along with events such as the Shenmue Premiere, tie-in's with brands like Timex and even convenience stores such as Lawson's was another event that took place that has never really been well-documented - at least not in English.
An article in Dreamcast magazine (July 1999) detailed the upcoming event
This event was known as the Metron Stamp Rally '99: Shenmue Journey, and was based around the Eidan subway network (which we'll refer to here as Tokyo Metro, to which it was renamed in 2004).

Events like these are quite common in Japan, and collecting ink prints made by rubber stamps is still quite a big thing today - you can find stamp and ink stations at many of the locations and tourist spots around Japan. These stamps are usually themed on the location in which they are found, and you can stamp your book, or sometimes with the provided paper, as a memento of your visit.

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Friday, August 2, 2019

ChinaJoy Conference: Yu Suzuki's Message to Fans [ENG captions with Transcript]

Shenmue 3 was one of the games featured at yesterday's 2019 China Digital Entertainment Expo & Conference ("ChinaJoy"). ChinaJoy is a digital entertainment expo held annually in Shanghai and is is the largest gaming and digital entertainment exhibition in China and Asia.

A Shenmue 3 promotional trailer was played, which was the one shown at this year's PC Gaming Show at E3: "The Hidden Art Returns" - but this time with Chinese captions.

This was followed by a pre-recorded video with a message from Yu Suzuki to fans. As well as giving an update on the activities being carried out in the lead-up to the release on November 19, he also talks about the freedom of play style that Shenmue offers to the player, and how this reflects on the personality of the player themselves

We've added English captions to Yu's video message, so check it out below (note that the video quality is degraded due to capture from the live stream):


Hello everyone. I'm Yu Suzuki, the director of Shenmue 3.

Shenmue is an open-world type of game set in China. I have always held great admiration for China's expansive scenery, history, martial arts and more. I have put all those feelings into Shenmue 3, and for me, it is a real honor to be able to bring Shenmue 3 to you.

Recently I have been focusing on checking how it plays. I'm having it play tested by many different people in order to fine-tune the game. What sets Shenmue apart from other games the most is that 10 players will have 10 different ways of playing. The player has a high degree of freedom so the games won't play out the same. And the player's own personality will really come through. A Shenmue that's yours alone, is here.

To express it another way, Shenmue is a mirror that reflects yourself.

I'd like people to take their time, and play through this game slowly.

Please wait a little while more until November.

Have fun at the ChinaJoy conference everybody!

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