Showing posts with label What's Shenmue. Show all posts
Showing posts with label What's Shenmue. Show all posts

A Farewell to Hidekazu Yukawa (plus a round-up of all the Dreamcast games he starred in)

Yesterday, Yahoo News Japan reported that Hidekazu Yukawa, the senior managing director of Sega Japan during the early part of the Dreamcast's life, passed away from pneumonia in June of last year at the age of 78. His family had kept this sad news private until now, but it is reported that Yukawa had been sick for the past 5 years (source). Our condolences go out to his family and friends.

Yukawa is nothing short of Dreamcast royalty, so this sad news has understandably led to many words of tribute from fans (and even former colleagues, such as Yuji Naka) across social media. 

Yukawa became an overnight success in Japan after starring in a series of very amusing and surprisingly honest commercials (watch them here) where he rises up from the depths of self-doubt (and being bullied by PlayStation-loving children) to spread the good word of the Dreamcast and lead the fight as the senior managing director of Sega Japan. This bout of fame resulted in Yukawa's image being used on Dreamcast console boxes (pictured below), merchandise (such as the Yukawa keyring also pictured below) and print adverts.
Photo kindly taken for us by KingMonkey
We too wanted to pay tribute to Mr. Yukawa, and thought we’d do it in the best way the Junkyard knows how - by geeking out about Dreamcast games! After all, what's a better way to pay tribute to Yukawa than to boot up the console that he championed so mightily, and play one of the multiple games he starred in? Here they are:

Former Managing Director Yukawa's Treasure Hunt
Let's kick things off with Yukawa's very own Dreamcast game. This simple game was released exclusively in Japan near the Dreamcast's launch and was tied into a short-running competition. The game has you play as Yukawa himself, with the aim being to dig up various tiles to complete puzzles that make up images of Dreamcast-related memorabilia. During March 20th 1999 and April 11th 1999, players could submit their victories online to be entered into a raffle to win real-life Dreamcast goodies, or even ¥10,000. 

The servers for the game have since been shut down, so there's sadly no longer any prizes to be won, but the game is still playable. In fact, it's also now playable in English thanks to a team consisting of SnowyAria, EsperKnight and Mr. Nobody, who released a translation patch for it back in April. Go here to get that patch, and for a more in-depth breakdown about the game, check out Tom's article on it here.

Shenmue and What's Shenmue
What's a better game to contain a cameo of the man that sought to spread optimism about the Dreamcast than the game that was touted to save the console: Shenmue? Well, Yukawa makes multiple secret appearances in Shenmue, and a much more prominent one in the promotional demo What's Shenmue: Search for Yukawa (former) Senior Managing Director.
Image credit: Phantom River Stone
I always thought that Yukawa's inclusion in the regular version of Shenmue was limited to him appearing on a point of sale display for batteries in the Tomato Convenience Store. But thanks to a great article on Phantom River Stone, I learnt that Ryo can actually meet Yukawa twice, although certain conditions must be fulfilled first... 

A Quick Look At What's Shenmue

What's Shenmue? A good question. What is Shenmue? Is it a game? Is it an interactive movie? Is it a cultural phenomenon that has built up so much of a frenzied mythical status that nobody even remembers how flawed it was in the first place? However you look at Shenmue, the fact is that the legend now precedes that actual game, but it wasn't always like this. Back before Ryo Hazuki's quest had even begun, Sega wanted to announce that Lan Di was on his way to kick ass and take names and so they released What's Shenmue - a sort of playable teaser trailer/demo disc hybrid to give Dreamcast owners a small taste of what to expect. Last week I was lucky enough to find a copy of this game on eBay for the bargainous price of £9, and naturally I snapped it up with no questions asked. In a way, this is totally linked to my recent look at Former Managing Director Yukawa's Treasure Hunt, because What's Shenmue uses the former head of Sega as a pivotal character in the plot of the main demo...but I'm getting ahead of myself.
Upon booting What's Shenmue, you are presented with a small but perfectly formed menu. The first menu item leads to a sort of technical demo area where character models from the main game give a brief explanation of who they are, their roles in the quest and also some other features present in the final game. Mark, the only English speaking character explains that he works at the docks driving a forklift truck and that money and convenience stores are a large and integral part of Shenmue's game world. There are also demos featuring other characters, including Ryo himself (naturally) but these are all spoken in Japanese so I have no real idea what they're saying. I can probably hazard a guess that Ryo is saying something like: "Hi, my name is Ryo. That bastard Lan Di is going to pay for shooting up my ride. It's time to kick ass and wear a bandaid on my face..." Or words to that effect.