Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Shenmue Passport - Feature Article | 2000 Dreamcast Magazine Translation

We translate an article that was published in the Japanese Dreamcast Magazine back in February 2000, about the Shenmue Passport that came on disc 4 of the set of Shenmue discs. While some of its content (such as music and video clips) could be accessed offline, it also contained many features that took advantage of an internet connection such as global leaderboards and more. This article focused on explaining these network-specific features for the reader.

Note: some images are of reduced quality as they have been extracted from the scanned article. 

-- Start of article ---

Shenmue Passport

Shenmue's world is vast. However, even vaster than that is the world of the Internet. Shenmue Passport is a bridge that connects your Shenmue world to the world of the net. Don't miss the information published on the official site either!

The Internet Makes Shenmue Twice As Fun!

To all Shenmue players who are not connected to the Internet: unfortunately you're missing out! Why? Because 30% of the fun of Shenmue lies within this Passport.

For example, even if you get stuck in the game at night, you can get a hint right away. Or, learn more about the profile of characters that take your interest while playing. Or even see how your mini-game scores compare with users around the country... If you connect to the Internet, all of these things become possible.

Left: By reading in save game data, optimal support can be provided per user.
Right: Data is sent through the Internet so the content is always fresh!

Are You Online-Ready?

Online connectivity is a feature that comes built in with your console, so what a waste it would be not to be using it. So for those people who don't have network connectivity, we bring you a mini lecture. After setting up your environment as explained here, you'll be ready to use the Passport.

① Is your console connected to the telephone line?

First, connect your telephone line by plugging it into the modular jack at the back of the console. If there's no telephone line in the room, use an extension cord or move your console to a room that has one!

② Have you completed your user registration?

User registration is necessary if this is your first time connecting to the Internet. Insert the "Dream Passport 2" GD-ROM into the console and connect to the user registration server (see page 11 of the Dream Passport 2 guide booklet).

③ Is your VMU plugged in?

In order for your own data to be reflected, you will of course need save data from Shenmue. If you try running the Passport disc without it, you wont't be able to connect to the Internet. No need to panic - just play the game a little way through before trying to use it.

The Fun and Convenience Offered by Online Connectivity

"Nozomi's Messages" is Full of Unique Information!

One of the sections of the Passport that may be the most useful strategic guide is "Nozomi's Messages". If you're having trouble making progress, load up the Passport, connect to the Internet and visit Nozomi's Messages. It has helpful information and advice about things like characters and places that will help you progress. If you don't get any story progression even with this, a Clue page will become available which contains direct hints.
The Clue page appears only when you're at a loss. It contains very direct hints.

Text in the image: "You're looking for Amihama, right? Hmm... It's a place-name I don't know either. But the telephone number has the same area code, so that means it's somewhere in Yokosuka, doesn't it? You should ask Saijo-san at Bar Yokosuka. He's the person to ask if you want to know something about the city. Before he started the shop, Saijo-san worked at all sorts of jobs. One was delivering packages by truck. He used to boast to my grandmother that he can find his way anywhere in Yokosuka city just from an address."

Here are just some of the wealth of messages!

Text in image 1: "Gaowen Xia: There's a little boy and a little girl who always play in the sandpit at Suzume Park. I know the girl is Yuka from Komine Bakery, but I wonder where the little boy is from. Yuka calls him Gao, so I think his first name is probably Gao-something".

Text in image 2: "Sailors: Yokosuka has an American Naval Base, and there are lots of foreigners around. So there's a bit of an international atmosphere. At night, sailors are among the foreigners who come to drink in Dobuita. They have really large physiques, and they're somewhat intimidating, but Ryo doesn't seem fazed by them".

Text in image 3: "Master Chen & Guizhang: These two are father and son and are apparently from Hong Kong, but there looks to be more hidden in their backgrounds. Even the son, Guizhang, calls his father Master Chen. 'Master' indicates he is someone held in great respect".

Text in image 4: "Military Surplus Shop: This is a shop run by a cool young guy called Kurita-san. They say it sells things like cast-off military garments and so on from the US Naval Base in Yokosuka. What Kurita-san is always wearing isn't a military uniform, but a Yokosuka jacket. Yuriko from the Smiley Flower Shop says that Kurita-san has several of the same type of clothes and rotates them. Those two occasionally go out on a date..."

Text in image 5: "Jimmy: The name makes you imagine a blue-eyed foreigner, right? But that's not the case, which is what makes Dobuita so fascinating. He looks just like a Japanese. He may perhaps be Chinese, or it could be that he's Japanese. Apparently even Noda-san from Uokichi Seafood once used to call him 'Suka Jimmy. I'm not sure about now though."

Text in image 6: "Suspicious Man: he made a weird sound like 'Heeggh', right? He had extremely long arms and legs and despite this cold season wasn't wearing anything on his feet. He was a skinhead and bulging eyes and they say his name is Chai. But I don't know anything more than that. He seems to show up unexpectedly, so watch out, okay?"

Software Issues Can Also Be Resolved!

Something that can appear suddenly on the Urgent Messages page is "Troubleshooting". It might sound a bit over-the-top, but it's a section that can help resolve issues by carrying out a check on the server side of your save data. Amazing!

Avoid issues from the comfort of your own home. Hm, useful!

Text in the image: "If your score on the Slot House slot machines is abnormally high, or another such error occurs, you will become unable to register on the Network Rankings. In order to delete the data, follow the steps below, and retry."

An Unexpected Character in an Unexpected Location!

At the construction site in Sakuragaoka is a face that looks somehow familiar. Checking the Profiles page reveals that it is none other than [environment designer] Manabu Takimoto, who we have previously interviewed!
The personal information contained in the Passport is identical to that of the man himself.

Profile text in the image: "A famed architect who has designed a number of avant-garde styled buildings. The reason someone like this is working in Sakuragaoka is that..."

Note from Switch: Takimoto was also involved in Shenmue III with the role of Environmental Designer. Below is his interview video from the Kickstarter.

The Shenmue Triathlon is On Now!

Become a Shenmue Iron Man!

The Shenmue Triathlon is an event that has been running since the New Year. What it's about is a Shenmue speed run championship. Anyone who has completed the game once or more (in less than 100 hours) is eligible to participate. However, the registration method differs from the other rankings, so be sure to follow the registrations steps to enter.
Currently the top times registered are under 9 hours. Why not give it a go!

How to Register Your Own Cleared Time

① Select ""

Firstly, with the Passport connected online, select "" and visit the official website. If you haven't registered your username yet, before doing so you need to take part in the Network Ranking (any one of the games is fine).
Image result for シェンムーパスポート
"" is the lower button on the Shenmue Passport menu.

② Select "Shenmue Triathlon"

Once the page is displayed, press the X button and scroll down. Select "SHENMUE TRIATHLON" with the A button.

③ Select "Participate"

The Shenmue Triathlon page should open, containing details of conditions for entry, so read it thoroughly. Then press the "Participate" button at the bottom of the page.
"Participate in the Triathlon" button (circled in red).

④ All Done! See How You Rank

Your registration is now complete. Data for the top 1000 players is displayed, so search for your name. If you don't find it, then unfortunately you haven't placed. You can see your ranking at the end of the table.
The player's overall rank in this case is "232/3218" (circled in red)

The Official Site, So It's Packed With Content!

This is the official Shenmue site, run by AM2. As you'd expect from the official page, it is chock-full of content. As well as explanations of the game's content, it has information on all topics relating to the game, the actors and merchandise. There is also a BBS (bulletin board) where players can interact with each other, and you can check your mini-game rankings. And as a bonus, there are special visuals that can only be found here, such as the one on the top page of Nozomi welcoming you, dressed in her best.
Left: the top page. It can be accessed not only from your Dreamcast but also from your PC". Right: you can view the top 500 rankings nationwide for each mini-game. They are updated in real time through registrations from the Passport.

Note from Switch: the article's mention of an image of Nozomi "dressed in her best" on the website is likely to have been the following image (based on matching the row of colored pixels in the above screenshot).

Weekly AM2: Updated Every Week!

Do you know about "Weekly AM2", which has various news about AM2, the group that developed Shenmue? A new edition is released every Tuesday, and it has already proven quite a hit on the official site with its featured content. Check it out if you haven't yet.

The current topics are naturally focused on Shenmue. It covers a rich variety of content from news such as a report about a release event, to interviews with development staff like Okayasu (game director) and Mitsuyoshi (sound director), and even an article about a Shenmue ring-tone service.

i-mode Also Supported!

Mobile phones supporting i-mode* are the latest hot topic, and for these phones that support Internet connection a special i-mode version of the official web site has been made available. In terms of content it can be thought of as a miniaturized version of the main site, but with it you'll be able to do things like checking the Network Rankings on the go, viewing cute character visuals (as shown in the above photo) and enjoy it in your own way.
*Note from Switch: i-mode was a mobile internet technology announced in 1999, that was provided as an optional pay service for users of DoCoMo mobile phones. It consisted of a walled-off set of pages that allowed users to easily buy goods and services.

--- End of article ---

The original website and its i-mode version (which was at the link are no longer available. However some content can still be viewed on the Wayback Machine. Here is an archived version of the Weekly AM2 edition mentioned in the article.

And if you would like to see what the Shenmue Passport was about, a fan-created Shenmue Passport remake is available for mobile devices. Features are being added over time, with the aim to faithfully recreate the content from the original Passport. (It's free!)

Suka Pass main menu screen
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