Saturday, July 13, 2024

Unused Shenmue Map #2: Island Town

In this second part of our maps feature, we will be looking at another map from the 36-page art book that was available at the Shenmue Premiere events around Japan in late 1998 / early 1999. 

Cover of the Shenmue Premiere Art Booklet

In Part One, we looked at a map that could be identified as Suzhou.

This time, we turn our attention to a second unknown map that appears further down on the same page of the Shenmue art booklet. This one is displayed in black ink and depicts a town situated on - or, more accurately, around - an island.

Inspecting Unused Map #2: Island Town

This map is distinctive and appears to show an island location surrounded by a tightly-packed city of buildings built out upon water. Tall mountain peaks rise up from the island:

Page detail: island town map

As with the first map, certain buildings and features have been labelled with Japanese text and there are small black star indicators dotted around the water's edge.
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Thursday, July 4, 2024

Poll Result: Patrons' Choice Topic for July 2024

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:

"Interview with Shenhua actress Hazuki Ishigaki in Dobuita"

In this post, we will be translating a feature about Hazuki Ishigaki, the voice actress for Shenhua in the Japanese version of the first two Shenmue games, from a magazine at the time.

Ishigaki was 21 years old at the time, and whose acting and voicing career started a couple of years earlier, with appearances on Japanese TV and radio prior to her work for the Shenmue games. Online information suggests that she retired from acting around March 2004.

The magazine feature was published in the Japanese Dreamcast Magazine of October 1999, and contains a series of Q&A as well as Shenhua cosplay photos taken on location around Dobuita St, Yokosuka. 

Although this was still a few months before the release of the first Shenmue game at the end of that year - and well before Shenhua would be properly seen in-game in the second game - the character of Shenhua would already have been a familiar sight to gaming enthusiasts from promotional material and magazine articles.

The introduction states:

"Thank you for waiting, Hazuki-chan fans. Shenhua couldn't wait any longer for her turn to come, so she has come to the streets of Yokosuka! What discoveries await her in this foreign land?"

Coming soon to the blog!

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Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Unused Shenmue Map #1: Suzhou City

During the 1998/1999 Shenmue Premiere showings in various cities across Japan, ahead of the game's original release on the Dreamcast, a 36-page art book was available as merchandise. It featured concept art, photographs, design diagrams, and other materials related to the game's development.

Cover of the Shenmue Premiere Art Booklet

In past posts on this blog we have analyzed some of the fascinating snippets of early design documents that can be glimpsed in this booklet, such as:
This booklet makes creative use of charts and drawings as decorative images to accompany the pages describing the making of the game.

Unseen Maps in the Art Booklet

On one page of the booklet, two maps can be found that don't match any of the places Ryo has visited so far in his journey. One map sits at the top left in blue ink, and the other, which lies to the right further down the page, is in black. (The maps are partially obscured by an image of an early map of Aberdeen/Wan Chai, and a photo of a computer monitor displaying a map of Dobuita).

The page containing the mysterious maps

In this post, the first in a two-part series, we will start to examine the maps and labels in detail to uncover hints about Ryo's initially-planned or potential future travels.

Image credits: thanks to James Brown for providing the booklet page images
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