Saturday, May 30, 2020

Izumi Takano Was Once Considered for Ryo's Love Interest

Izumi Takano, who can be found working at the Tomato Convenience Store in Wan Chai in Shenmue II, was once a candidate character model for the role of Nozomi Harasaki in the first game.

Izumi Takano at the Tomato Convenience Store in Shenmue II
Izumi Takano at the Tomato Convenience Store in Shenmue II
This was confirmed in a tweet last year by one of the former developers on the original Shenmue project team, who goes by the name of Morio Ashizuka. He wrote:
"I recall that the high school girl you fight in Shenmue II, Izumi Takano, was a rejected candidate character for Nozomi (if I remember correctly...). Which may be why Ryo looked at her so dreamily, lol. The reason the rejected Izumi Takano appeared in Shenmue II was due to strong campaigning by Mr. O from the Planning team. He is a big fan of ponytails!"
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Saturday, May 23, 2020

Suka Pass v1.3 Out Now | Fan-Made Shenmue Passport

The Shenmue World menu screen, recreated in Suka Pass
The Shenmue World menu screen, recreated in Suka Pass
Version 1.3 of the fan-made Shenmue Passport app Suka Pass, which we previewed here, has just been released and is available for download. A major new feature this time around is the All Moves Scroll section, giving information on all the kicks, punches and throws that Ryo has learned. And those who enjoy listening to the Shenmue music selection will also appreciate the addition of a progress bar to the music player.

A fine release trailer has been created by Jibby (check out his Jibmue YouTube channel here for more Shenmue vids) which highlights the new features:

SkillJim, from the Suka Pass project team, has also put together a comprehensive overview of the entire app:

The app is available for Android and iOS, and is of course completely free. Head over to the Suka Pass project site to download.

Link to download Suka Pass 1.3 (Project webpage)

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Thursday, May 21, 2020

Four Unused Drink Can Textures in Shenmue

Unused Drink Can Textures in Shenmue

Japan is known for its numerous drink vending machines offering anything from a cool beverage to a hot soup. For anyone visiting the real Dobuita Street, for an even more authentic Shenmue experience keep an eye out for the machine that still sells cans of Coke at 1986 prices!

Shenmue (specifically, the first game in the series) recreates this aspect of Japan faithfully with a number of vending machines scattered around its world, from Dobuita Street to New Yokosuka Harbor.

Although players will be familiar with the sodas and coffee seen in the game, there is in fact some evidence that other drink flavors were considered while the game was in development in the form of an image file containing some unused can label designs is present in the game files.

We will take a look at the image in this post, but first let's take a moment to mention the difference in labels that can be found between released versions of Shenmue.
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Saturday, May 16, 2020

Bailu Village Secrets Part 1: Ema at Man Yuan Temple | Guest Post by Dave Matthews

Bailu Village Secrets Part 1: Ema at Man Yuan Temple | Guest Post by Dave Matthews

Hello Everyone! First off I'd like to thank Switch for the opportunity to post on Phantom River Stone and to share this with you all!

This is going to be the first in a series of posts examining Bailu Village in detail. Shenmue 3 depicts Shenhua's childhood home as an idyllic, rural, mountain community with a long history; one in which just about everyone knows everyone else, and nothing much changes day to day. It's a small wonder then that the coinciding events of the attacks on the village stonemasons and the arrival of Ryo Hazuki is of such keen (if wary at first) interest to just about everybody.

One of the key features that made Shenmue so distinct when it first released was the fact that Ryo could talk to every NPC he came across. These NPCs often had unique ways of responding to Ryo that made them feel like real people with lives beyond their relevance to Ryo's journey. Shenmue 3 by and large continues this tradition. In Bailu alone every villager that Ryo can speak to (which is the vast majority of them) seems to have a unique response to almost every single topic of investigation. Often these unique responses shed light on the villagers themselves, their relationships with each other, and their life aspirations.
Bailu Village

In addition to conversing with the locals themselves, a number of physical locations throughout the village reveal even more details about its inhabitants; some of which are very easy to miss on a standard play through. It is these locations that I'm going to focus on starting today with Man Yuan Temple – and in particular the racks of wooden wishing plaques, known as ema, inside.

The History of Ema

The tradition of hanging prayer ema is actually a Japanese custom with historical roots in Shintoism. In the Nara period in Japan (AD 710 – 794) worshipers would donate horses as offerings to shrines in the hope that since the horse was revered as the vehicle of the gods (kami), the kami would be more likely to listen and answer the worshipers' prayers. Horses were prohibitively expensive for most Japanese people of that era however, and over time clay and wooden sculptures came to be used. These sculptures in turn evolved into wooden plaques with a picture (e) of a horse (ma).
A wooden wishing plaque (ema) with a picture of a horse.
A wooden wishing plaque (ema) with a picture of a horse.
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Friday, May 15, 2020

Suka Pass v1.3 Preview: All Moves Scroll

The Suka Pass fan-made app recreates the Shenmue Passport for mobile devices, and the development team has shared a preview of new features that will included in the upcoming release (v1.3).

One of the major features is a new section called the All Moves Scroll, which provides information on all the punches, kicks and throws in the game including the full descriptions of every move that were part of the original Passport. You can discover which moves "evolve" to a different form once they have been mastered, and observe both sets of animations.
Browsing the All Moves Scroll
Learning about a move

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Saturday, May 9, 2020

Poll Result: Patrons' Choice Topic for May 2020

Every month Phantom River Stone holds a poll among our patrons to choose a topic for the blog in the coming month. After tallying the votes (including accumulated votes from previous months), the the winning topic for May is...

"Izumi Takano in Shenmue II was once considered for the character model of Nozomi Harasaki".

Izumi Takano, who can be found working at the Tomato Convenience Store in Wan Chai in Shenmue II, was one of the candidate character models for Nozomi Harasaki in the first game.

We will take a look at this topic in more depth in an upcoming blog post.

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Monday, May 4, 2020

Ryo's Leather Jacket & Patches | Analysis

This topic was selected by the Phantom River Stone blog patrons via our monthly poll on Patreon and was available for early access.

Ryo is rarely seen without his trusty brown leather jacket (especially in the first two games), taking it off only to sleep, or to do some light sparring with Fuku-san in the Hazuki Dojo.

It is adorned with a number of patches - notably, the tiger on the back which faces the player for most of the game - but are these merely random designs? This is a topic that has been pondered by fans over the years, so

In this post we'll see how the jacket and patches were presented in early concept art, and consider the meaning or intention behind them, if any.

Ryo's Leather Jacket

It should be noted that the leather jacket itself was not present in early character designs

Shenmue has its roots in Yu Suzuki's original concept of a "Virtua Fighter RPG" (VFRPG) and this influence is apparent in the early artwork and development of the game including the character of Ryo who evolved from the Virtua Fighter character of Akira Yuki.

Going back to 1995, a series of Virtua Fighter artwork discs was released for the Sega Saturn, and the images of Akira show the white T-shirt and jeans combination that was inherited by Ryo.
Images of Akira from the Virtua Fighter CG Portrait Series (1995).

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