To celebrate the 18 anniversary of the Dreamcast in America, we decide to talk about the console’s biggest game, Shenmue.
But to talk about Shenmue we decided to do it in a special way. We invited the voice actor Corey Marshall (Ryo Hazuki) to talk about Shenmue’s development for the first time to a Brazilian website.
Let’s go to the interview:
Titan Game Studios: Good morning, Corey, first of all it’s an honor to do this interview with you, we are very fanatics about Shenmue and this interview is very important for us.
Corey: Thank you so much for having me! It is an honor and a privilege to be speaking to all the of Shenmue Brazilian fans.
Titan Game Studios: To start this interview could you introduce yourself and tell us who Corey Marshall is?
Corey: Yes! As you know my name is Corey Marshall and most of you know me as the voice of Ryo Hazuki in Yu Suzuki’s creation Shenmue! I have done many things in my career as an entertainer from stage, film, and dance. ( yes many of you may not know I was a professional dancer at one point ) However being a voice actor for Shenmue has certainly been one of the highlights of my life.
Titan Game Studios: How did you get the invitation to work in Shenmue? Did you have any idea it would be such a big project?
Corey: There was an audition for Shenmue in New York City where I lived at the time. The notice stated that it would be for a video game and that I would need to record in Japan. So I did hope that it would be a big project. Similar to the Games that I know and love to play myself. I was not told any details at that point. It was not until later that they told me the name of the project. When they told me I would be recording for Sega I was definitely excited about that. Then I knew it was probably going to be something epic.
Titan Game Studios: Where the Shenmue voices were recorded? In Sega of Japan or in Sega of America?
Corey: As I just stated they mentioned in the audition notice that it would be recording in Japan. To be honest with you that is one of the biggest reasons that I audition for it in the first place. It said that I would have to record in Japan for 2 to 3 months. I thought I would love to live in Japan for that time. I had never auditioned for voiceover before. However I figured what have I got to lose? I have done a lot of stage acting before and had trained for TV and movies as well. So I knew that that kind of work would translate well into voice acting.
Titan Game Studios: How long did it take to record the voices for both games? did the team had a break before working on the second game? Or the second game was already in advanced progress waiting for the voices?
Corey: It took about four months to record the first game and three months to record the second. Indeed future projects for Shenmue were in the works well in advance. When I was recording the first game there were loads of information,story, and characters, for future chapters of the game. So while the actors got to take a break in between recordings for the first and second game the team were constantly and tirelessly working on the game.
Titan Game Studios: Once, I watched a Shenmue Making of and I had the impression that Yu Suzuki is very perfectionist pushing everyone from the team to their limits. Was He also so demanding with the voice actors if so, can you give us some example?
Corey: I know that Yu Suzuki wanted very specific actors for the rolls. I can say that he wanted a very specific sound for each character. I also know of the extent of the research that was needed for the game. Teams of people were sent to towns and countrysides to get data on how exactly it should look. Scrupulous notes and lots of pictures were taken. This was done for locations in Japan as well as China. You have to remember for the time this was quite unusual. He wanted to make sure that every detail was correct. He wanted to convey a very specific feel to the game. This was to ensure that the player was transported into this time and space. And I think they were very successful in doing so. As far as forgetting everything right? I had a script the size of a book every day. Even the lines that were repeated he wanted me to say them over again as if I was saying them to that person for the first time. It would be easier of course to record the same line once and then repeat that line digitally. However if I was speaking to a different person I needed to say that same line again. Just in case I said it a little different if I was speaking to an older woman or younger man etc. also the actors got to act together in the same room during important scenes. This was also an usual for voice acting. Again it’s easier to bring in acters individually let them record and go home. But every actor will tell you it’s better when you are acting off of somebody else right next to you. This brought a special dynamic to the scenes. The actors appreciated it and I’m sure the players that as well.
Titan Game Studios: What was your feeling when they announced that Shenmue 2 had been canceled for the Dreamcast in America? Do you think it was a good decision to release the second game on the first Xbox that was just a beginner at that time?
Corey: Ultimately I think they made the right decision. The proof is that we are doing Shenmue three today. It may have been the roundabout way of getting there but hey we’re getting there ! Who knows where we would be today if we did not end up on the Xbox platform (Introducing the game to a new audience). Do I wish the fate of Dreamcast were different? I do. I actually love the Dreamcast and wish I’d had an opportunity to continue. Sometimes hard decisions have to be made. I have confidence that weare moving forward to bigger and better things with Shenmue three. That is because of those hard decisions that have to be made in the past.
Titan Game Studios: As soon as Shenmue 2 was released, were there plans in-house to produce Shenmue 3 or did you already know that the third game wouldn’t be released so soon?
Corey: No I think we all thought the third game would be released in the same timeframe as in between one and two. As I stated earlier there has always been plans for future games. Yu Suzuki I think has a clear vision for the future of the game. From what I understand he already knows what he wants to do with Shenmue. It’s just what can we get done right now.
Titan Game Studios: In those 14 years between Shenmue 2 and Shenmue 3’s announcement at E3, there were several campaigns and petitions made by the fans worldwide. Do you believe that Shenmue is no longer just a game and has become a movement being a symbol of union?
Corey: Absolutely! I think you hit the nail right on the head with that one. Shenmue is a movement. It is a symbol. It shows what the power of the people ( The fans ) are capable of if we all come together and work toward a goal. Shenmue may not have as many fans as for example Star Wars but our passion runs deep. Shenmue fans have proven to me that they are capable of anything .
Titan Game Studios: Where were you when Shenmue 3 was announced at E3? I can imagine you have received a lot of messages that day.
Corey: I was actually returning home with my daughter. I wasn’t really expecting anything that day. However what you said is correct. As I was coming home my phone started to ping. Over and over again. As I was putting all of my belongings down. I thought wow this is either an emergency somebody is dying or it’s … could it possibly be … Shenmue? My wife met me at the door with her iPad in hand looked at me and said ” did you hear ” and then I thought oh it is. Yes heads were exploding everywhere and all the information started trickling to me. We watched the playback of the announcement and we’re both excited as well. I was excited because just like you all I’m a fan as well. I couldn’t wait to play the third rendition myself!
Titan Game Studios: After the third game hit the kickstarter goal, a lot of fans demanded YsNet to have the original voice actors working on the third game, how do you feel about that? How did you get the news that you would dub the third game?
Corey: Yes and thank you all for that! I am humbled by all the fans that wanted me back. I feel very lucky to be a part of something that means so much to so many. It seems that Shenmue fans are also very particular as well. Even though I have a ” unique ” approach to Ryo Hazuki’s voice people still wanted me. Sometimes to be quite honest with you I don’t know what to say. I just try to make something that people would like. I honestly don’t do it for me I do it for the fans. Sure it’s a job and I get paid money. However when I approach the microphone I think what do the players want from this game. What can I do to give them the greatest experience.
Titan Game Studios: Have you already started dubbing the third game?
Corey: No. However in the last few days I’ve been in contact with Yu Suzuki’s team and the word is ” soon “
Titan Game Studios: In Brazil, fans are very happy because Shenmue 3 will be the first game of the series with Portuguese subs (Our language) And we really want the first two games remastered with this option too. Do you believe Sega will relaunch the first two games?
Corey: I am personally unsure of this. As I stated before I believe Shenmue fans can do anything. If you want remastered and subtitled Brazilian fans unite and demand it! Brazil you can do it!
Titan Game Studios: What can we expect from Shenmue 3? Do you believe it will be a great game like the first two?
Corey: Yes I do believe it will be a great game. The reason why I believe this is because Yu Suzuki is the one who gets to realize his vision. It’s his story, his game, his vision that he personally gets to bring to life. If the rights of the game we’re given to someone else to try and flush out I may have had my doubts. With Yu Suzuki we are in excellent hands.
Titan Game Studios: Would you like to leave a message for the Brazilian fans?
Corey: Brazil I love you! In my many travels and exploration through the martial arts I have had the pleasure to meet many Brazilians. You are all a loving and wonderful people. ( At least everybody I’ve met ) I am ecstatic that Shenmue will be translated into Portuguese. Thank you all and I look forward to bringing Shenmue 3 and 4 and 5 and … to Brazil!
Thank you so much.