Monday, October 24, 2022

Tak Hirai Comments on the Shenmue Saturn Version

Lead programmer for the first two Shenmue games, Tak Hirai, has shared some insights into the development of the games in some tweets today. Since they were in Japanese, we have provided English translations.

When asked about the legendary Shenmue Saturn version, he responded:

"The rendering was created by me with much effort. The program was quite revolutionary with a branchless structure. The source code - as well as the graphics - is something I'd love to show the coders of the day".

He also shared a photo of himself during development of Shenmue around 1998 / 1999 at age 27. As lead programmer on the project, Tak said that his dev environment was sizeable but the air conditioning didn't work properly (note the paper fans ready for use!).

Regarding the Shenmue Saturn version, Tak Hirai's prefaced his comment with a light-hearted note that he thinks the "statute of limitations" (on discussing the Shenmue Saturn version) should have expired by now - so hopefully we will be able to hear more from him in future on this topic.

Source tweets: Tweet1, Tweet2

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Monday, October 10, 2022

Poll Result: Patrons' Choice Topic for October 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:

"Tweeted anecdotes from former developer on the original Shenmue project, Morio Ashizuka"

"Morio Ashizuka" is the pseudonym used on Twitter by a former developer who was deeply involved with development of the first two Shenmue games, in particular character animations and motion capture. He tweets prolifically about video games, SEGA and other topics - along with occasional fascinating insights and anecdotes from the day.

Some of the amazing details from Morio Ashizuka's tweets that we have included here on the blog in the past include:

Cover of one of the "The Legend of Akira" script books (Chapter Four: Guilin) tweeted by Ashizuka. Source tweet

In this upcoming post we'll be translating a selection of other Shenmue-related tweets from Ashizuka that shed further light on the game's development process.

Watch for it to come!
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Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Shenmue Anime Real-life Location Photo Report: Yokosuka Arena

The depiction of the high school karate tournament that Ryo attends in Shenmue The Animation was based on a real-life multi-purpose sporting venue known as the Yokosuka Arena. Previous posts on this blog have shown how remarkably closely the stadium interior and building exterior were reproduced for the anime.

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Yokosuka Arena and obtained permission to go inside the main hall itself. I was pleased to discover that even minor backdrops in the anime such as the stairs leading up to the seating were faithfully portrayed in the anime, as you will see in the additional comparisons below.

Although this view was not shown in the anime, the Yokosuka Arena complex consists of several buildings, with a futuristic elevated pedestrian skybridge joining separate areas together. The main stadium, where the karate tournament took place, is at the far side behind the skybridge:

When I visited, there was a Tai Chi class taking place in the main stadium, which helped to provide a suitable Shenmue atmosphere:

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