Sakura Taisen V
In May 2009, Nippon Ichi America announced they will be bringing Sega’s Sakura Wars to the United States for the first time on the PlayStation 2 and Wii. A long and celebrated series that began in 1996, this is a pretty big deal for the few of us that have played and enjoyed them for several years.
But most people in the west (understandably) have absolutely no idea what all of the hulla baloo is about. “Why should I care? Isn’t this just another random JRPG?” At a glance, that’s probably what it appears to be, but it’s so much more.
In this thread, I’m going to explain why you should be interested, and why you would be well served to pick up this great title when Nippon Ichi releases it this January-March 2010.
What is Sakura Wars?
Sakura Wars (also referred to as Sakura Taisen) is a series of Strategy RPGs developed by Red Entertainment (Tengai Makyo, Thousand Arms), Overworks/Sega WOW (Skies of Arcadia, Valkyria Chronicles), and published by Sega (You know, Sega!). The series features character designs by renowned manga artist Kosuke Fujishima (Tales of Phantasia, Symphonia, the Abyss, and Vesperia), music by Kohei Tanaka (Alundra, Bionic Commando), and story by Ohji Hiroi (Moeyo Ken).
The concept is simple at first glance: Sakura Wars is a strategy RPG with an unusual twist for building your stats. In the game, you play as the captain of a specially created unit of female solders with high levels of spiritual energy to fight the forces of evil in large, steam powered robots. Sounds pretty cookie cutter so far? Good, ‘cause that’s as many cookies as we’re gonna cut!
What makes Sakura Wars so special then?
Lots of things, but for now let’s stick with gameplay. Unlike most RPGS where characters improve by gaining levels through experience earned in battle, in Sakura Wars your squad members improve in strength and mobility the more they like/trust you. A typical “episode” in a Sakura Wars game consists of two modes:
1) Adventure Mode: Walk through the theater/town, talking to the various characters in the story
2) Battle Mode: Get into them mechs and take down the bad guys.
The Adventure Mode is where the stat building occurs. As you walk through the theatre (your base) and the town itself, you’ll encounter the various members of your squad doing whatever it is the story feels like having them do at that particular moment. As you talk with them, you’ll come across questions or situations where you have to choose how to respond. Respond correctly, and the girl’s trust increases. Respond poorly, and you lose trust.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “That sounds like one of them dating sim hentai games!” Let’s get this out of the way: Yes, there are dating sim elements. No there is no hentai. But even THIS aspect of Sakura Wars is hardly standard fare; like everything else in this series, there’s a twist involved.
In most adventure games/dating sims/Elder Scrolls, when the window of choices pops up, you have more than enough time to read each response, think it through, and select the best choice accordingly. But that hardly seems interesting/realistic right? I mean seriously, what girl’s gonna wait there for hours and hours for someone to respond to a simple question?
Sakura Wars utilizes a system called LIPS for your options, and these responses are timed. Usually, you’re given no more than 3-5 seconds to respond. That’s 3-5 seconds to read each response, decide on the best one, and then select it. So you gotta be on your toes. Let’s take a look at the following screen:
See that bar around the text window? That’s the timer, and it’s going to fill up fast so you better respond quickly or your character will say/do nothing instead. BUT this also brings up another interesting choice; sometimes the best course of action is to say/do nothing.
Additionally, there are times where you’re given one choice, but must adjust the volume/intensity with which you state it to the appropriate level using the analogue stick.
There are also times where you’re given one long time frame to go through several timed options.
As you can see, it’s anything but cookie cutter. All of these interactive scenes in Adventure Mode serve two purposes:
1) Determine the stats of the characters in Battle Mode
2) Determine which ending you’ll get at the end (i.e. which girl you “win” with)
Now, you might say to yourself “Well, that’s easy then! I’ll just make every girl trust me and they’ll all kick ass in battle!” Not so fast buddy! It’s not that easy. All of the girls have various and sometimes conflicting personalities. Some girls are easier to please than others. And sometimes, you’ll converse with two “conflicting” girls at once, meaning you’re liable to gain one’s trust while simultaneously losing trust from the other. And you can’t afford too many weak links when you enter Battle Mode, or you can get your ass handed to you if you’re not careful. So it’s a giant balancing act, one that’s much more addicting and interesting than it seems at first glance!
And this is just the Adventure Mode. Now let’s talk about the Battle Mode! Here’s a screenshot of a typical battle scene in Sakura Wars:
For those who’ve played Valkyria Chronicles, you might notice a couple of similarities (or at the very least, you might have read some of us mentioning them in the official VC thread). This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise; this is the game Overworks developed immediately prior to Valkyria Chronicles. Unlike the grid-based competitors like Final Fantasy Tactics, Disgaea (or the first two Sakura Wars games I might add…), this Sakura Wars title features a free roaming battle field, with the Action Bar at the bottom of the screen determining how far you can move.
The major difference is that in Sakura Wars, the bar isn’t just for movement. It’s also used for actions like attacking (all mapped to a specific button, as shown). Each bar is split up into a set of partitions. Move a certain distance, and one partition will be drained. Thankfully, if you haven’t carried out any actions, you can also return to your starting position to refill your gauge. As you can see, this system requires careful management of the Action Bar. Maximize it to make battle easier. However unlike Valkyria Chronicles there are no real-time elements to the battle system; it’s a strictly turn-based affair.
There are some other notable similarities between Sakura Wars and Valkyria Chronicles (though there are arguably, just as many differences if not more)
- Both are set in an alternate version of the early 1900s (SW modeled after the 1920s, VC after the 1930s)
- Both feature similar gameplay flow of story sequences, followed by battle sequences (and a similar menu in-between these scenes for saving and reviewing your characters).
- Both feature one very highly powered technology that runs just about everything (SW uses steam, VC has “ragnite”)
- In both games you play as the captain of a squad, and in both games if this captain is killed in battle, the game ends (also like VC, the story characters don’t “die”, they retreat. Unlike VC, there are no non-story based characters in battle though).
- Both games are told in “Episodes” (or “Chapters” in VC)
A quick FAQ:
I’ve heard the game Nippon Ichi is bringing to America is actually the 5th game in the series. Am I going to be completely confused?
With the exception of a couple of cameos in the first 15 minutes, this is a pretty self-contained game. There’s no need to worry.
I’ve heard some people say this entry isn’t the best the series has to offer. So is this a bad game then?
To me, this argument is akin to saying Super Mario Bros. 2 is a pile of trash because 3 is better. It may be different, and maybe not as good depending on who you talk to, but it’s still a really good game and definitely worth picking up!
I don’t like JRPGs that have light-hearted unrealistic stories, big eyed characters, peppy music, turn-based battle, and colors other than green and brown. Will Sakura Wars change my mind?
No, no it won’t. However, if you do like quirky off-beat humor, lovable characters, colors, and are willing to check your disbelief at the door, it’s a fun and entertaining ride.
So this is coming to the PS2 and Wii?
The game was released for the PlayStation 2 in Japan. According to Nippon Ichi America’s Press Release, it’s coming to the US on both the PS2 and Wii, so you can pick whichever system you prefer.
What date is this coming out?
According to Amazon, the date's been pushed back to March 31st, 2010. Probably better not to compete with all the super big dogs this winter anyway. :(
What kind of review scores did it get in Japan?
Famitsu: 10, 10, 9, 8 (37/40)
Deigeki: 90, 85, 85, 85
Why oh why did you take the time to write all of this up? Do you work for Nippon Ichi?
I wish. I wrote all of this because I believe there are many people who will really enjoy this game if they simply know what it is before jumping in. Just doing my part to spread the word.
What are these “extras” that Nippon Ichi mentioned in their press release?
The game features an option called “The Long Day in New York,” where you can walk around the town and talk to various characters to view images and cinemas you’ve viewed, music you’ve heard etc.
Will the game feature the original Japanese voices?
According to this link here, Nippon Ichi is going the extra mile and releasing this as a 2 disc set!!! One disc will have the English Dub, the other will have the original Japanese language! And this is standard! As far as I know, this is the first time in videogame history that a company has released a game on multiple discs for the sole purpose of accommodating different languages (however please correct me if I'm wrong)
Two disc set? What's the cost?
PS2 is looking to be $39.99, Wii $49.99
Is there a website?
Just click right here! for the official US website: http://www.sakurawars.us/
Can I please see what the game looks like in motion?
Here’s a trailer:
NEW! English Trailer!
NEW: US Trailer! http://www.sakurawars.us/movie_hres.html
Credits go to RurouniZel and his post in Neogaf.
Yeah! Sakura Taisen V, the animation feels like a Tale's game.
According to wiki it got a 10/10/9/8 or 37/40 from famitsu that is a very good score!
I would've preferred Sakura Taisen IV.
I miss "Geki! Teikoku Kageki-dan" ;_;
But at least we got one of the games finally.
Is this actually confirmed no dobnt? Cause I will only truly become excited when I hear a release date...
But once it's confirmed that it's localized no doubt then all I got to say is.....
Still...I would have preferred they started off with the PS2 Sakura Taisen 1 remake, but I can understand why they felt to start with Sakura Taisen V. I pray that this does well so we can get the other games as well.
With today's economy, I wouldn't count on anything until an official announcement is made.
Me too as I've wanted at least one game to come here for soooooo long now.
I guess this game is confirmed for release http://kotaku.com/5245006/segas-saku...-not-from-sega
Now we just gotta hope the games do well enough so the other games are released too.
Wii + PS2
Still the announcement of a Wii version was a shocking and pleasant surprise.
I can kinda see why they choose ST5, but personally I think they could've start with the ST1/2 remakes on psp...
Personally, ST ended at 4 for me.
Sakura Taisen 5 is the only one I haven't played.
So I am really excited about this.
In the recent poll in famitsu, Sakura Taisen, is the most wanted sequel of all time in japan:
1 Sakura Taisen (aka Sakura Wars) Sega
2 Shenmue Sega
3 Okami Capcom
4 Gotchaforce Capcom
5 Xenogears Square Enix
6 Breath of Fire Capcom
7 Rockman Dash (aka Mega Man Legends) Capcom
8 Ogre Battle Square Enix
9 Chikyuu Boueigun (aka Earth Defence Force) D3
10 Kowloon’s Gate Sony Music Entertainment
11 Shinobido Spike
12 Demon’s Souls SCEJ
13 Rockman X (aka Mega Man X) Capcom
14 Chrono Square Enix
15 Z.O.E Konami
16 Mother Nintendo
17 Romancing SaGa Square Enix
18 Senjou no Valkyria (aka Valkyria Chronicles) Sega
19 Justice Gakuen Capcom
20 Medarot Imagineer
21 Subarashiki Kono Sekai (aka The World Ends With You) Square Enix
22 Shadow Hearts Aruze
23 Ore no Shikabane o Koete Yuke SCEJ
24 Panzer Dragoon Sega
25 Baten Kaitos Bandai Namco
26 Infinite Undiscovery Square Enix
27 Lost Odyssey Microsoft
28 Wild Arms SCEJ
29 OZ Konami
30 Jet Set Radio Sega
31 Dewprism Square Enix
32 Ougon no Taiyou (aka Golden Sun) Nintendo
33 Another Century’s Episode Bandai Namco
33 Estopolis Denki (aka Lufia) Taito
33 Fire Pro Wrestling Spike
36 Biohazard Outbreak Capcom
37 Eternal Arcadia (aka Skies of Arcadia) Sega
38 Shirokishi Monogatari: Inishie no Kodou (aka White Knight Chronicles) SCEJ
39 Panzer Front Enterbrain
40 Seiken Densetsu Square Enix
41 Front Mission Square Enix
42 Grandia Game Arts / Square Enix
43 Arc The Lad SCEJ
44 Bullet Witch AQ Interactive
45 Racing Lagoon Square Enix
46 Drag-On Dragoon Square Enix
47 Panekit SCEJ
48 Metal Wolf Chaos From Software
49 Tokimeki Memorial Konami
50 Famicom Tantei Kurabu Nintendo
This show's the great popularity sakura taisen has in japan. Hopefully Sakura Taisen 6 is created someday, famitsu readers want it.
I hope it gets released in Europe as well, because getting your Wii to play games from different regions is a pain in comparison to the ease of a boot disc.
I for one am pumped for this game, if it weren't for the fact that NISAmerica's track record of late isn't exactly the greatest. From untranslated blocks of text to game crashing bugs that wasn't in the original, I sure hope NISAmerica kicks up to gear with Sakura Taisen V. I've heard nothing but great praises of it, from Famitsu's 37/40 to RPGFan's import review of 90%, and I expect nothing less from the localized version. This is your chance for get back some points from me, NISAmerica!
And being slightly off topic...
I believe realizing it for the Wii was a smart step that NISA took. The Wii doesn't have lots of rpgs and much less RPG’s with dating sim elements.
If persona 3 was successful, wish follows a similar game play that sakura taisen uses, I am hoping it will do fine.
Also Sakura Taisen was the first game to combine dating sim elements and rpg ones, Persona 3, Luminous Arc, Riviera etc.. all those games followed. Sakura Taisen is a great franchise in Japan I just hope it does well in USA too.
Is ST considered to have rpg elements...always felt that it is dating sim + tactical sim
Also you can infer that if Sakura Taisen was in the top of the list, we can tell that there still a very strong Sakura Taisen fanbase in japan.
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