Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Shenmue I & II Texture Differences

The rereleases are finally here! Time to take a closer look at what has changed in the first Shenmue.

This post is not about the big and obvious differences though, but the more minute texture details.

The Comparison is between Shenmue I & II on Xbox One X and the Dreamcast original on nullDC and both run at 1080p with 16:9 widescreen enabled. It is by no means definitive and complete in any way but it shows every difference that I could find while going around the game. All the screenshots are provided in full resolution and enlarge when clicked. 

First I want to bring up the Timex branding. No pictures on this here, since it's all too prominent and impossible to overlook. Ryo's Expedition watch now has a SEGA Logo on the face. The overall design is still the same and even the redone HUD closely resembles the now iconic design. Ryo's alarm clock also had a Timex branding in the original and that face is now devoid of any logo at all.

First real order of business here might be obvious if you've read one of my earlier posts. Taking a look at what happened to the bottles that had a real logo of "Glenfiddich" on them... So I went straight into Heart Beats Bar, the same place where I inspected the original bottles earlier.

"Glenfiddich" has now been replaced by "Golden Whisky", a made up brand that could already be found as a substitute in the original Shenmue II. But d3t went beyond just the text and made the rest of the label more generic looking aswell. They also took care of the texture for the bottles in the background.

It's a bit hard to spot because the HUD gets in the way, but the match box and pack of cigarettes also look different. The match box now uses the design of the likes that can be found at the Hazuki family altar or the Tomato Mart. The box of ABC Matches depicted in the original is taken from a real brand product in Japan.

Let's go into MJQ Jazz Bar to get a better look at that match box, aswell as another different pack of cigarettes and the aformentioned bottles again.

The bottle situation is the same for Bar Linda and Nana's Karaoke Bar aswell. Notice how not just the design but also the layout of the bottles in the background changed slightly in the latter.

Curiously the texture for the shelve full of bottles inside Bar Yokosuka remains unchanged and still has the blurry Glenfiddich texture on some of the bottles. Might be an oversight or they left it out as you cannot get nearly as good of a look at them as in the other bars.

Now with the all those drinks out of the way, let's go back to other details in those dwelling places and return to Heart Beats Bar. This picture on the wall of some Marie McDonald-esqe woman has been replaced by a photo of Lidia Bennett. She's the american woman dressed in green roaming around Dobuita and by the looks of it this was taken near the bus stop. Oh clever d3t, putting a screenshot of the game in the game.

In here is also a big jukebox and this has changed too. The difference is on the label but it's kinda hard to spot in the first shot. Do notice however that in the rerelease there is one extra record in the machine, which seems to be an oversight and must be a duplicate of the one already playing.

The label on the smaller machine is on the top and a lot easier to see. "Rock-Ola" is another actual brand and the machines resemble real life ones pretty well too, especially the "Hi-Fidelity Selections 200". Some of these have curiously already been changed in Shenmue II where the label just reads "Rock" which was then changed back again to "Rock-Ola" in the Xbox version. Seems they already tried to remove the brand name but picked up the old assets again by accident. Now there is nothing left of the brand name, expect the general layout and font style.

Back inside MJQ again take a look at those pictures on the wall. I guess they are covers of single records, at least that's about the size they appear to be.
Some faces have been changed for no apparent reason. It's a bit hard to make out on the far right in the second comparison shot but look at the one on the far left. That is undoubtedly the face of Yu Suzuki himself! Adam Koralik mentioned in one of his promotional videos that d3t have snuck some hommages into Shenmue I & II and this definately looks like one.

Since the bars are done and we're already on the topic of hommages let's head to the arcade.

There you can find that the Hang-On poster has been changed. The bikes look a lot smoother now, the photo of the cabinet is also different. The poster in the DC version is actually the official one that hung in real arcades back in the day. If you look reaaaally close you can see that the No. 1 bike has "Marlboro" and "Total" written on it, aswell as a bunch of other sponsorship stuff.

But what catches the eye a lot more and is actually the next hommage, is what's on that cocktail table arcade machine. In the original it is pretty hard to make out what game is supposed to be running on there, I haven't been able to figure that out. But in the rerelease it is instantly recognizable as Fantasy Zone, of which there is a poster on the wall directly obove the machine.
There are in fact real cocktail machines that run this game.

Next you can see that the out of order arcade machine has also been changed to feature a different game. The original was "Astro Blaster" a 1981 vertical shmup that is actually branded "Gremlin/Sega". Likely not taking any risks with the very hard to make out marquee, this was changed into "Astro Flash". That game is a 1985 horizontal shmup for the Master System, known as "TransBot" outside of Japan. In 1986 it got an arcade release on the Sega System E, a Master System based board with a dual graphics unit.


Now let's hit the streets and have a look around there.

Tom's Hot Dog Truck has a redesigned clown graphic on it. This has already been spotted in the trailers for the rerelease and since been nicknamed "Krusty". This new design with a more greenish hair color, different placement and an extra tuft on top might actually be an hommage to the famous Simpsons Clown.

All around Dobuita there are also some posters that show the image of a statue.
This statue is a depicition of Mary holding baby Jesus. This very piece of art can actually be found in the Thousand White Convent in Kowloon in Shenmue II. It's in a slightly different pose there but more importantly, it has been censored in the west so she doesn't hold Jesus anymore.
The rerelease now gets rid of Jesus and subsequently the whole statue in Shenmue I aswell and replaces it with a picture of a violin.

That seems to be a very random thing to put there as a replacement at first but if you give this post on Phantom River Stone a read you'll see that the poster is promoting a performance of Beethoven's 9th Symphony. It has always done so, very apparent by the unchanged text and with the instrument there it kinda makes more sense now.

The Liu Barber and Hair Salon has a new face on the poster in the window.
Pretty hard to make out through the glass but it can also be found on the inside.
The guy on the original was a rather photorealistic western man and has been replaced by a more asian stylized and asian looking person. Looks a bit like Ryo's friend Yuji.


Inside Ajiichi you can find some magazines on the counter with one clearly being about cars, having something like a mid 80s Camaro on the cover. The other might be about traveling, as it shows the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. This particular magazin is now just called Sega.

I found out that there is an hungarian magazine with the name "Mondo" that is running since 2007 and about Japanese culture. Sounds like something became full circle. It seems no one at Sega or d3t wanted to have the slightest bit of risk with this.

All the phone numbers in the rerelease have been shortened by removing the last digit.
This may have been done to prevent people from calling those numbers. After all Shenmue uses real Japanese phone number formatting with area codes and there were apparently statements to the players not to call those numbers on their real phones. At the very least this change makes the dialing process a litte bit quicker.

This is of course reflected in what Ryo writes in his notebook and even some audio has been truncated, since Master Chen's number is an important piece of the story and read aloud. But they were thorough enough and even changed what is on the whiteboard next to the door upstairs inside Old Warehouse #8, something that many players may have never seen.

An often overlooked fact is that Ryo's savings book features the actual "Sumitomo Bank" as the holder of the money. Outside of Japan this bank is of course barely known.
As it is one of the officially affiliated brands in the game, it must've been one of the first things to go and it got replaced by a much more generic design, which leaves the cover pretty empty.
Even the Japanese text on the white line reading "Mr. Ryo Hazuki" was removed sadly.

Finally let's get to what was already shown in the opening image.

Many cassette tapes have been altered for again very unclear reasons.
It might be that the originals have used a bunch of stock images of faces and with the uncertainty of something like this still being applicable nearly 20 years later, pretty much all of them everywhere in the game were changed.

Notably on "Antiquity Tree" the guy that looked a lot like Mark now is more generic, while on the other hand the "Flower Girl" now looks quite a bit like Shenhua, which makes sense but I think she resembles Xiuying even more. The man on the "Like a Feeling" tape is actually Yoshihito Nishii, the guy that always hangs out in the Slot House, pointing out the he hit the jackpot.

One thing to note is that the Engrish on "Antiquity Tree" has been fixed somewhat, as it now reads "judge" instead of "jyudge". This definately wasn't the goal of those redesigns however, because on "Flower Girl" you can still read "SYENMUE" and the legendary phrase "That eveyday must go to church" still remains on "Hip de Hop", which hasn't been altered at all (Which is a good thing).

Inside the Tomato Mart we can also see that there are some very interesting differences on the poster showcasing the prizes at the raffle. The Hang-On cassette tape and Saturn game look different and represents the changes made to the poster at the YOU Arcade.
Strangely the design of the tape for After Burner is also different, yet this change doesn't apply to the tape itself, nor is it present on the poster at the Harbor Lounge. The poster at the Harbor Lounge in fact also keeps the original design for the Hang-On tape.

That is all for Shenmue I.
It was to be expected and then made clear that any and all licensing would have to go for the rerelease and it looks like the team made VERY sure to find every bit that could upset any brand out there, though some bits have somehow slipped thorugh the cracks. Some of the changes are amusing hommages and others are surprising, with some being pretty bizarre.

Looking forward to what Shenmue II will have to offer in this regard. It is a whole different animal given it's sheer size and that it is based on the Xbox version which already had a TON of changes from the Dreamcast original.

1 comment:

  1. Looking forward to part 2! I really dig these kinds of posts.