Monday, March 9, 2020

Submarine at New Yokosuka Harbor | Shenmue One Cut Content

The presence of sailors in the first Shenmue game is an accurate reflection of the influence of the US Navy Base that is located at the harbor in real-life Yokosuka. The warship docked at the far side of the harbor was also modeled on an actual ship that served in Yokosuka, and makes for a memorable sight as Ryo goes about his forklift job.
There was in fact originally going to be another large navy vessel in the game that might have increased this impact, namely: a submarine, which was to have been stationed along the warship.

Its inclusion would have been true to life, as submarines can often be seen around the real Yokosuka harbor.
A submarine at Yokosuka harbor.
The decision to remove it was likely made quite close to the game's final release, as it appeared in promotional footage as late as the release year.

What's Shenmue VHS

Let's first look at the "What's Shenmue" promotional video, which was released in 1999 (it shares its name with the playable demo). In this, a couple of brief glimpses of the submarine in the harbor can be seen, as captured in the following screenshots:

From the What's Shenmue video: the submarine can be seen in a wire-frame model of the harbor (left) and also in the distance as the camera moves over the harbor (right).

Frigate with the submarine alongside

Shenmue Beta v0.4

The submarine can also be seen in the v0.4 beta version of Shenmue, in one particular area that is accessible using the Debug menu, albeit one that was unused and in an incomplete state, as it lacked various textures and other assets. A screenshot is shown below.
Screenshot from Shenmue Beta v0.4 (Scene 01, area MF99 set in the Debug menu). Some textures are missing in the image, but the submarine shows distinctly.

From Above and Up Close

In 2019, the sharpest image of the submarine to date was provided by Shenmue Dojo user Glumok on the Dojo forums, who shared some amazing map images of the Shenmue world (created from "a mix of regular and beta assets" from the retail game files), using hacking tools developed by the talented Shenmue modding community.

The first image is a top-down "satellite" view of the New Yokosuka harbor area, showing the submarine alongside the warship, taking up just over half of the ship's length. 

The second image reveals a close-up view of the sub's 3D model, showing the texture of its hull and the finer details like the radio antenna that have been modeled.

Update 2021/02: 

The submarine can be seen again in the below unused image file that remains in the release version of the game. It seems to have been created as a potential on-screen map, such as those in Shenmue 2, as suggested by the filename ("NAVIMAP") and the fact that there is a second image together with it of a red dot that would presumably have been overlaid to identify Ryo's current location.

Perhaps the on-screen map idea was scrapped in favor of encouraging the player to investigate using the map signs posted around the area, as well as the warehouse numbers painted on the roads.

The submarine can also be seen in this unused image, towards the top. (The file is located in the folder Scene/02/MFSY/NAVIMAP.SPR_PVR#02 of Shenmue's second & third discs).

The reason the submarine was removed from the final game is up for speculation, but it is definitely something I'd like to ask someone from the original development team if I ever have the chance.

A Modern Reimagining

(Added 10th November 2023) The talented Joe Kitchen has produced the amazingly realistic render below of a submarine in New Yokosuka harbor.

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