Friday, July 9, 2021

Ryo Visits the Sun | Shenmue II Out of Bounds Hack (With Video)

In a blog post last year we took Ryo Hazuki on an adventure in the sky to visit the moon above Hong Kong (with the help of an out-of-bounds hack), and found that it was modeled as a three-dimensional object moving above the city. In today's post we'll be investigating another noticeable feature of Shenmue II's sky: the sun.

Does the sun move through the sky in the game, in the same way as the moon? How far away is it positioned, and how large does it appear close up? Let's find out.

  • Scroll to the end of this post to watch the video footage.

The Sun in Shenmue II

The first game in the series introduced its revolutionary Magic Weather system, and while a range of weather and light conditions were simulated, it didn't actually feature a moon or sun in the sky during normal gameplay (the moon did appear during a cut scene in the game).

In Shenmue II, on the other hand, the player's attention is drawn to the presence of the sun right from the start of gameplay, complete with an impressive lens flare effect that can be seen during the opening title sequence as Ryo's ship, the GenpÅ« Maru, docks at Workers Pier.

Lens flare effect in the opening sequence.

The ship slowly docks at the pier, bow first (left). Living up to its name, which means "Mysterious Wind", the ship mysteriously ends up facing in the opposite direction in the next cut of the sequence (right).

Our investigation this time starts with Ryo at this very same Workers Pier, armed with our handy boundary break cheat tool. (A side effect of applying the cheat is that the NPCs are removed from the area). It is early afternoon on a fine day, with light clouds in the sky and the sun shining brightly overhead.

Using the cheat tool, we adjust Ryo's position upwards, and the pier is soon left far behind. From this angle it is apparent that the skyscrapers and other buildings across the bay are simply a flat texture, and the defined edges of the sea and land area can also be seen.

The clouds overhead grow closer, and eventually Ryo passes through the enclosing surface on which they are drawn. Shortly after this, he passes through a second dark-blue sky box and the space around the sun is now a pale blue color.

The lens flare effect continues to be shown whenever Ryo is facing towards the sun.

We now attempt to move Ryo closer to the sun, using a combination of positional skips combined with running. Fortunately, as with the game's moon, it is not positioned too far away - however it is still not easy to catch!

Once we get closer, if we stand still we can observe that the sun is indeed moving through space - and quite swiftly, making it hard to stay in close proximity.

Confusingly, the sun does not change in apparent size as we approach, as you would expect objects to behave in a 3D world (which the moon did). This is because it does not have a model associated to it, but rather is a travelling light source. So even at the closest point Ryo reaches to it, it still appears as a small circle of light.

Here Ryo has reached a point close to the sun, although it does not appear any larger.

Another point of interest is to see what happens to the sun when night falls. We continue to have Ryo follow the sun, and one noticeable change is that the color of "outer space" changes gradually from blue through to dark orange as evening approaches.

Finally, as Ryo's watch shows a time of around 5:50 pm, the sun suddenly vanishes from sight. Its work has been done for the day! The significance of this timing is that this is the point where the sun has reached the horizon when viewed from ground level, meaning it is no longer visible to the player in any case.

The vanishing of the sun.

Simultaneously, the moon rises from the opposite horizon, to produce a scenic backdrop for night time exploring.

Watch the full video footage of Ryo traveling into space and visiting the sun, below.


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