Thursday, December 3, 2020

Naoyuki's Stylish Motorbike Key Tag | SEGA Branding in Shenmue

Various branding can be found scattered throughout the Shenmue games. Right from the start of the first Shenmue, when Ryo explores his room and the contents of the desk and closet, the numerous small objects and items within give the world a lived-in feel; and such is the detail that many in-game items even have their own branding. In some cases, real-life licensed brands were used through agreements with the manufacturers, and in others they were made-up. And a small number proudly carry the SEGA brand.

In this post we'll go through some of the Sega-branded objects that can be found in Ryo's house and elsewhere in the first Shenmue game - some of which are obvious, and others which are only apparent upon the closest examination.

Genuine Sega Items

The most obvious Sega items are those which are manufactured or made under official license in real-life, such as the arcade games at the You arcade (we'll also include the Shenmue-specific variations such as the darts games), capsule toy machines, game posters such as the Virtua Fighter ones in Fukuhara-san's room, and of course the Sega Saturn console at the Hazuki residence.

Shenmue I & II Rebranding

A case of Sega branding that can be seen in the recent Shenmue I & II re-release of the game serves to replace the branding in the original Dreamcast version of the game: Ryo's wristwatch. This originally had a Timex brand on the watch's face but in the re-release, this has been changed to SEGA, presumably to avoid licensing complications. The watch's appearance and functionality were not changed however, and it is still instantly recognizable as a Timex.

Store-Bought Items

A number of items and snacks that Ryo can buy at places like the Tomato Convenience Store and Abe Store are Sega branded, including in some cases the actual Tokyo address of Sega Enterprises at the time the game was released.


Shenmue Chocolate

Canned Tuna

Shenmue Potato Chips

Objects in the Hazuki House

As Ryo rifles diligently through the various drawers and cabinets at his house, he will find other items that are also Sega branded. Every player will have enjoyed listening to music tapes on Ryo's portable Sega cassette player.

The Sega branding on the pencils that can be found lying around in multiple locations may not be readily apparent, as in many cases they are positioned such that the writing is obstructed when viewed from the standard in-game angle. With the help of a 3D model viewer we can confirm that SEGA is faintly written on the side of the pencils (enhanced in the image below).

Naoyuki's Motorbike Key

This last one is so subtle that I think it qualifies as an easter egg! In the classic scene where Ryo visits his friend Naoyuki late at night to borrow his motorbike for his rescue mission to the harbor, Naoyuki tosses him the key.

When the scene is viewed in-game, the key is scene only briefly, and at a distance.

However, if we examine it with a 3D model viewer, it is surprisingly detailed. It carries the SEGA logo faintly embedded in the key...

But there's more! Looking at the key tag shows another recognizable logo: the "YS" logo of Yu Suzuki, as seen in the game's introductory sequence on the Dreamcast:

I hope you enjoyed this brief look at Sega branding that can be spotted in the first Shenmue game. If you have spotted any other in-game Sega-branded items, please share in the comments!

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