Saturday, March 26, 2022

Interview with Yu Suzuki: Arcade1Up OutRun | 4Gamer Mar 2022

The following is a translation of an interview held with Yu Suzuki to commemorate the release of the OutRun sit-down cabinet by Arcade1Up. Topics included the original development of OutRun, his plans for the future, and the kinds of games he would like to create. Towards the end of the interview, he also talks about the possibility of Shenmue 4.

Arcade1Up's OutRun cabinet contains Sega's driving games, including the 1986 arcade game OutRun. The cabinet's second production run has been on sale in Japan from the domestic distributor, Shine, since February 18, 2022. The tax-inclusive price is 96,800 yen [approx. USD$815].

The driver sits in the seat provided, grips the steering wheel and shift lever, and presses the foot pedal to accelerate. This is a cabinet game machine for the home on which you can experience the feeling of playing OutRun, Turbo OutRun, OutRunners and Power Drift just like back in the day*.

*Rad Rally can be added by updating the firmware.

4Gamer had the opportunity to interview Mr. Yu Suzuki, who worked on numerous ride-on style games while at Sega, and who has started a huge movement in the arcade game industry. The legendary creator told us about anecdotes from his development days, his current situation, and his goals for the future.

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Friday, March 25, 2022

Shenmue x Yokosuka: Animation Promotion Announced


Yokosuka City has announced an upcoming promotion running from April through to June, in celebration of the adaption of Shenmue to anime form, in collaboration with the Shenmue Project and IGN Japan. The promotion will feature:

  • Updated Sacred Spot Guide Map
  • Livestream event with Masaya Matsukaze, Yu Suzuki, Yu Kiyozono, Esra Krabbe (29 April, 2022 at 6pm JST)
  • Exhibition of anime and game materials at certain shops associated with Shenmue
  • A shopping promotion (postcard collectibles)
  • An online gacha gacha with digital downloads
  • A gacha gacha on-site in Yokosuka

The promotion will be centered around Dobuita Street in Yokosuka, and will be split into three phases:

Phase One: 23 April to 13 May, 2022

Phase Two: 14 May to 3 June, 2022

Phase Three: 4 June to 26 June. 2022

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Saturday, March 19, 2022

Don't Miss Out! Issue 2 of Shenmue World Magazine on Kickstarter

Issue 2 of Shenmue World, the fan magazine created by Shenmue Dojo co-owner James Brown which debuted last year to immense acclaim and praise (including from Yu Suzuki himself), was launched a few weeks ago on on Kickstarter and now has only 10 days to go. If you have not yet secured yourself a copy, head over to back it now!

The magazine is already fully funded, having reached its goal within a day or two of going live.

As previous backers will know, not only do backers of Shenmue World receive the magazine - which is packed with Shenmue-related content such as articles, art, puzzles and interviews - but the also an extensive pack of goodies!

And James has outdone himself this time, with a load of incredible extras including a Shenmue The Gang Edition Blu-ray and a print hand-signed by Corey Marshall [limit of 550 copies], the voice actor of Ryo Hazuki in the Shenmue games. Other extras include an A3 folded poster of the magazine's cover art, cute sticker sheets, a set of 5 art prints.. and more.

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Friday, March 18, 2022

Ryo Opens a Mysterious Crate in Warehouse #8 | Hacks & Mods

The jaws of veteran fans dropped on seeing screenshots of an in-game cut scene that is little known to many, including myself: Ryo casually opening a large wooden crate in Master Chen's Warehouse No. 8 in Shenmue I. Images were shared by Japanese fan lu_lu_lu_uesgi  on Twitter from a livestream playthrough, with the tweet crediting the finding to a viewer on the stream with intimate knowledge of the game.

In this post we'll visit Warehouse No. 8 ourselves and open the crate in question - and also bring out a hacking tool to move the camera around and dig even deeper into the secrets of the mysterious crate!

After Ryo arrives at the warehouse, first walk towards the center of the room, passing around the large crate on the left.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Shenmue The Animation vs Real Life: Peninsula Hotel

Having arrived in Hong Kong, Ryo starts to look for a place to stay the night. Unlike in the game, where he had no money available, in the anime that is not the case; rather amusingly, Ryo optimistically tries to get a room at the Peninsula Hotel, a five-star luxury hotel located in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Perhaps it is just as well they were fully booked...

* Images supplied by Paddy Fuller

"I'm afraid we are fully booked."

In Shenmue II, the large hotel that can be viewed across the road from the Golden Quarter also has similar vibes, and the Peninsula is likely to have served as the inspiration.
Shenmue II re-release. In the Dreamcast version, the large white flags were Union Jacks, reflecting Hong Kong's British heritage.

Other Shenmue The Animation vs Real Life comparisons:

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Sunday, March 13, 2022

Anime Japanese Voice Cast Announced: Joy, Ren, Dou Niu & Wong | Shenmue The Animation

Fans in Japan will soon be able to join the rest of the world in watching Shenmue the Animation as its release in the Japan domestic market was confirmed for next month (April 2022). Also announced today were a further four members of the Japanese-language voice cast, for the characters of Joy, Ren, Dou Niu and Wong, together with release dates for download/streaming of the the anime's opening and ending theme music. We've translated the messages and announcement below.

Shenmue the Animation will be distributed in Japan from April. It was also announced that M.A.O., Osamu Taira, Shota Hayama, and Takahiro Sumi will appear in the anime.

M.A.O. [the stage name of Mao Ichimichi] plays Joy, a woman with a vivacious and open personality; Taira plays Wuying Ren, the head of the Heavens street gang; Hayama plays Wong, a boy in the Heavens; and Sumi plays Dou Niu, the boss of the Chinese mafia, the Yellow Heads. Messages from each of the four cast members have also been received.

Cast Announcement (Round Three) & Messages!

■ M.A.O. (as Joy)

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Thursday, March 10, 2022

Shenmue The Animation vs Real Life: Motorcycle Ride Tunnel

Ryo riding home with Nozomi is an iconic scene of the first game. The ride takes them back along Yokosuka's Route 16, in the section between the harbor and Dobuita Street through a number of road tunnels that pass below the hills.

To date we have posted comparison photos showing two of the real-life tunnel locations portrayed in the anime, as listed at the end of this post, and we can now add another. Details such as the stairs at the side, railings, signs and fence above the tunnel entrances match perfectly (although the shrubbery in the center is rather more overgrown in the comparison photo!).

Ryo and Nozomi's ride home towards Dobuita

While the sounds of the song "Wish..." and its glorious saxophone are sadly missing from the anime version, the scene still tugs at the heartstrings as Nozomi comes to a decision about her future plans: 

- "Oh hey, we still haven't talked about that advice you wanted."

- "Don't worry. It's okay now. I've already... made up my mind."

Other Shenmue The Animation vs Real Life comparisons:

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Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Poll Result: Patrons' Choice Topic for March 2022

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 winning topic that has been voted this time is:

"Subtitle the Full Video Footage of the 1998 Shenmue Premiere"

The Shenmue Premiere was an extravagant event first held in Yokohama in December 1998 - as well as in five other cities around Japan in the weeks thereafter - at which Yu Suzuki introduced his upcoming groundbreaking new game to the public. The free event lasted for two hours and included a live orchestra, videos and live gameplay.

The blog topic selected for this month will be about creating English subtitles for the full version of the Shenmue Premiere video footage that was later released.

Note: a short digest video of the event, which was around 13 minutes in length, was released by Sega on a Dreamcast Express demo disc, to which I added subtitles to in the past.

The full version, on the other hand, runs at almost 2 hours and contains a great deal more footage, in particular pre-release game scenes.

To date it has not received fan-made subtitles: its poor quality has made it hard to sit through, with a very choppy frame rate and low resolution - the good news on that front is that there have been recent projects by the Shenmue community to enhance the quality by swapping in higher-resolution clips and/or using AI upscaling.

Hence the subtitles, once complete, will be able to be paired with these improved visuals.

IOLI sings Shenhua's Theme live at the Premiere

Early footage of Xiuying

Interview with Yu Suzuki

Watch for an announcement on the blog for the completed subtitles once ready!

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Sunday, March 6, 2022

Shenmue the Animation | S1E6 Promo: Kid in Trouble

  *** Minor Spoiler for Episode 6 ***

In this promo for the upcoming Episode Six of Shenmue the Animation, we see that Ryo has set foot in Hong Kong and has apparently wasted no time in following up on the lead given to him by Master Chen: a letter with the name of Master Lishao Tao who lives in the Yan Tin Apartments. His search is interrupted by a small boy who pleads for Ryo to intervene and save him.

"New town, new country -still the same old trash!" mutters Ryo as he sets down his bag...

This is recognizable as the start of the bag snatching scene from Shenmue II, and Cool Z / J, Larry, Sam and Wong have all been reproduced nicely in anime form.

In particular, we see that Cool Z has a similar purple shirt with the word "DRAGON" on it, but without the dragon illustration beneath; and on a chain around his neck is a key, rather than a padlock that he has in the game.

Sam, Cool Z and Larry from the same scene in Shenmue II

We also get a better look at the book Ryo was holding on the boat in one of the early anime trailers, and see that it has the words "Cantonese Course" on it - Ryo is obviously brushing up on his language skills.

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Thursday, March 3, 2022

Suka Pass v1.7 Released: New Video Content!

A new update to Suka Pass, the fan-made Shenmue Passport app, has been released! It's ready for you to download on Android & iOS!

This time we've added some new video playlists on the Theater page. As well as the existing videos that were available through the original Passport, you'll notice that some new tabs have now been added.

  • Anime tab: heaps of promo and sneak peak clips for Shenmue The Animation. The opening and ending themes are also here, complete with karaoke-style lyrics, so you can practice singing along with the theme music when the next show airs!
  • Beta tab: Shenmue footage from before the game's release, including the contents of a promotional VHS that shows cut content including Ryo Hazuki riding a bicycle around Dobuita. The legendary Sega Saturn footage is also to be found here!

Even better, the video tabs will be kept regularly updated with new content.

It has been a pleasure as always working with SkillJim of the Shenmue Dojo to put together this latest update and we hope you enjoy it. We'd love to hear your feedback!

Download the new Suka Pass release.

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Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Shenmue The Animation vs Real Life: Yokosuka High School

In the game version of Shenmue, the school that Ryo and his friends attend, Yokosuka High, is mentioned (on occasion referred to by the abbreviation of "'Suka High"), but never shown on screen.

The anime, on the other hand, takes advantage of its flexible format to show the front of the school building and yard, in Episode One. It is modeled on the actual Yokosuka High School that lies a few kilometers south of Dobuita Street, and as the comparison below shows, the anime version is the spitting image of its real-life counterpart.

Not just the three-level school building but many of the shaped trees and bushes have been faithfully recreated - even the branches of the overhanging cherry tree, although being in winter it is not yet in bloom.

Other Shenmue The Animation vs Real Life comparisons:

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Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Shenmue the Animation | S1E5 Promo: Ryo and Guizhang vs the Mad Angels

 *** Minor Spoiler for Episode 5 ***

Episode Five of Shenmue the Animation will be releasing very shortly on Crunchyroll and Adult Swim!

Guizhang and Ryo team up to take on the enemy in this short promo clip for the upcoming episode.

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