Hot Japanese Imports: Sakura Taisen

August 10, 2009 - 4:28 pm No Comments

Section: Exclusives, Originals, Features, Columns, Japanese Imports, Consoles, PS2, Consoles-Other, PCs, Windows, Handhelds, DS, Handhelds-Other, Game-Companies, Developers, Publishers, Genres, 2D, Role-Playing, Sim, Strategy

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Sakura Wars Sakura Taisen 1&2 PSPA long time ago, back in January 2009, Important Importables covered dating games for guys. The game Sakura Wars was brought up in the comments, along with a question why it wasn’t mentioned in the game round up. Today, Sakura Wars, better known as Sakura Taisen in Japan, gets the respect it deserves.

So what’s Sakura Taisen? It’s an odd series from Sega that defies genres. It’s generally geared towards men, but has a devoted female fan following as well. Personally, when I think of Sakura Taisen, I always think Japanese steampunk musical theater. It makes sense, trust me.

See, the series is set in the early 1900’s. The original games were set in Japan, but later ones also featured task forces in Paris and New York. Demons have started appearing around the world. The only way to really take them down is using steam spirit armor, which can only be powered by people with strong spiritual power. Though men “can” power the armors, women are the main warriors.

Each game follows secret task forces of women who are musical theater performers by day and warriors when demons appear. There is the Japanese Imperial Assault Force, which is made up of the Hanagumi, Kazegumi, Tsukigumi, Baragumi, Hoshigumi and Otomegumi divisions. They perform at the Grand Imperial Theater. The Paris Assault Force was established next, has a base at Les Chattes Noires and only has a Hanagumi division mentioned in the series. The last group is the New York Fighting Troupe, made up of the Hoshigumi and Nijigumi divisions at Broadway’s Little Lip Theater. While each game will primarily focus on one group, it isn’t uncommon to see character cameos.

Sakura Taisen Wars 2 Dreamcast

How does a standard Sakura Taisen game play?

If you’re willing to be patient, you may just find out on your own. RPGamer discussed Sakura Taisen with NIS America interview, and was told that the fifth game in the series, Sakura Taisen 5: Saraba, Itoshiki Hito yo, also known as Sakura Wars 5: Farewell My Love, would be released on the PS2 in North America sometime in 2009.

There are five “standard” Sakura Taisen games. The first is Sakura Taisen, which was also remade on the PS2 as Sakura Taisen: Atsuki Chishio ni. It first appeared on the Sega Saturn, but was also ported to the Dreamcast, PC, PS2 PSP and cell phones. Sakura Taisen 2: Kimi Shinitamou koto Nakare appeared next, on the Sega Saturn, Dreamcast, PC and PSP. Next came Sakura Taisen 3: Pari wa Moeteiru ka on the Dreamcast, PC and PS2. Then, there was Sakura Taisen 4: Koi Seyo Otome on the Dreamcast and PC. Finally, there was the PS2 game Sakura Taisen 5, which was mentioned before.

(Note: Sakura Taisen 1&2 for the PSP may be a good place for beginners to start, since it is a Sega the Best title and contains the first two games in the series.)

The standard games are one part visual novel and dating game and one part strategic RPG, and the game tends to move forward in “episodes”. During the novel portions, players will talk to the various female mech pilots, building relationships and trust with them. This not only affects the ending of the game, but also the characters’ performances in battle. If the characters trust the player, they’ll be stronger and better fighters. If they don’t trust the player, they won’t be as good. Players also have to be careful about orders issued in battle, as making bad decisions (like letting a character collapse) will cause hard feelings between the character and the player.

Dramatic Dungeon Sakura Taisen Wars DS

Are there any non-standard Sakura Taisen games?

I’m glad you asked, even though you really didn’t. While the core Sakura Taisen games are a combination of visual novel and RPG, there are quite a few Sakura Taisen games which don’t follow that standard formula.

Most recently, there was a DS Sakura Taisen rogue-like dungeon crawler called Dramatic Dungeon Sakura Taisen: Kimi Arugatame. It featured all the characters from the Imperial, Paris and New York casts as fighters and was somewhat similar to the original games. That is, the visual novel and dating elements were still there, but the strategic battles were replaced by rogue-like dungeon crawling with three of the characters at a time.

Then, there are Sakura Taisen games that are considered supplements to the main storyline, but don’t offer the same strategic RPG style battles. Sakura Taisen GB put the adventure on the Game Boy Color and offered a Sakura Taisen side story with battles similar to a standard RPG. It’s sequel, Sakura Taisen GB2, offered a Sakura Taisen 2 side story with RPG style battles.

There were also two PS2 games like that as well. One was Sakura Taisen Monogatari: Mysterious Paris, which was a visual novel designed to act as a bridge between Sakura Taisen 3 and 4 and primarily focuses on the Paris Assault Force characters. Sakura Taisen 5 Episode 0: Kouya no Samurai Musume focuses primarily on Gemini Sunrise and is a prequel to Sakura Taisen 5.

Finally, Sakura Taisen has inspired some more unusual spin-offs that have appeared mostly on the Dreamcast and Sega Saturn. (The only exception is the PS2 pachinko game Jissen Pachinko Hisshouhou! CR Sakura Taisen.) There were two puzzle games, Sakura Taisen: Columns (SS) and Sakura Taisen: Columns 2 (DC). There was also the Dreamcast game Sakura Taisen Online, which let players compete in various card and board games. Then there were quite a few miscellaneous games that had to do with putting on shows, adventure games, relationships and such, like Sakura Wars: Steam Radio Show (SS), Sakura Taisen Hanagumi Tsuushin (SS), Sakura Taisen: Kinematron Hanagumi Mail (DC), Oogami Ichirou Funtouki: Sakura Taisen Kayou Show “Kurenai Sekieki” Yori (DC) and Sakura Taisen: Tekigeki Graph (SS).

To be honest, the Dreamcast and Sega Saturn games are so old, it’s difficult to find accurate information on them, other than the fact that they were always grouped into the miscellaneous game genre category.

COMING NEXT WEEK: Important Importables looks at a few stories that would make fantastic visual novels.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week Important Importables talked about Doraemon.

Read [RPGamer] Site [Sakura Taisen] Site [Play-Asia] Site [YesAsia] Site [NCSX] Site [Himeya Shop] Site [Strapya World]

Full Story » | Written by Jenni Lada for Gamertell. | Comment on this Article »

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