Girls, robots and explosions. What's not to love?
Published by Colorful CrAzYoNzZ
Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love
Ah, the “Roaring Twenties”. An era of fast cars, flapper girls and a booming entertainment industry. To be honest, this is my favorite time in American History. Before I start sounding like I’m writing a history report, let us dive into a game that brings to life the excitement of the twenties for the Wii and PS2 console: Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love.
Sakura Wars is a Strategy RPG, but in a whole different light than other games of this genre. Rather than being based on fighting or solving puzzles, this game focuses the most on dialogue and cut scenes to unravel the story. The choices you make have a heavy impact on game play!
This game is set in an alternate steam punk New York City during the late 1920s. If that wasn’t cool enough, the storyline focuses on a naval lieutenant, Shinjiro Taiga, as he is summoned from Japan to New York. His mission is to lead a fighting organization disguised as a musical troupe full of beautiful girls to defeat an evil warlord and his subordinates from conquering America as its kingdom. The gameplay includes elements from previous games in the series, such as the LIPS system and combat systems. The game is divided into two distinct parts, the Adventure Mode and Battle Mode.
In Adventure Mode, you play as Shinjiro and walk around the world. During this time, a clock in the top left-hand corner will tick, showing that time is passing. The objective of this mode is to explore the city, and also gather information from people in various areas. You can access different areas by going to a building and pressing A to enter, or when you arrive at the end of an area, press A when EXIT appears to go somewhere else. When you enter into a building, normally there is a person to talk with or something to investigate. At times, a character will ask your opinion on something, and you are given a chance to respond. Your time is limited, so you must choose your answer quickly. The point of these interactions affects your partner’s feelings, and if you make them like you, they will become stronger in battle. This system replaces the need to level up; the only way to improve your partner’s stats and improve combo attacks is to gain friendship. You can check your team mate’s feelings under “Condition” and “Friendship” in the menu that appears in-between segments of the game. The thicker the line is that connects two characters, the stronger their combos will be.
There is also the LIPS system, used during Adventure Mode, which consists of Normal LIPS, which is displayed when the player must make a decision from a choice of options; Analog LIPS, which the player can raise the action gauge up or down depending on the situation; Double LIPS, which gives the player a longer amount of time to make decisions; and Stick LIPS, where the player can manipulate the analog stick to raise a gauge depending on the situation. Stick LIPS are when the controls get a little crazy, as you must input a number of controls in a very limited amount of time!
Battle Mode is of course, the times when your characters face a fight. A maximum of six characters may be used in battle. Under the ARMS system, first introduced in Sakura Wars 3, the player controls each member's unit, known as a STAR, which is a giant robot-like machine powered by steam and the character’s Pnuema, or life-force. Each character has a unique set of moves, and each character can perform a number of actions, including a Special attack, Joint attacks (a combo attack where two or more characters attack together), and can even heal, charge, or defend. The STARS can walk around and battle on the ground, or transform their machines into airships and take their fight to the sky. Choose your actions wisely, there is an Action Gauge that only allows a certain amount of movement or attacks, and when it’s up, you can’t get it back, and the next player’s turn begins.
The controls for this game are fairly simple, but at times can become complicated. The game requires a Wii remote as well as the Nun-chuck extension for the Wii console. You can move around using the control stick on the Nun-chuck, press A to advance dialogue or choose a command, and B to go back or cancel an action or command. There are only certain things you can cancel on, though. If you press 1 on the Wii remote during Adventure Mode, you may change the clock at the top of the screen, called a Cameratron, into a camera or radio. This is pretty spiffy technology for the 1920’s!
I am devoting this paragraph to the characters! Sakura Wars has such a colorful cast of characters that make this game truly unique. Along the course of the game, you will meet Gemini Sunrise, a red-headed Texan who loves horses and samurai, Subaru(not the car) Kujo, a Japanese actor/actress who never reveals his or her true gender, Cheiron Archer, a short-tempered lawyer, Diana Caprice, a bird lover and mega drama queen, Rosarita Aries, a mere orphaned child with amazing gun skills, and let’s not forget the Rainbow Division consisting of Cherry Cocker and Anri Yoshino, whose sole purpose is to aid the Star Division in battle schematics. Your superiors are Ratchet Altair, the former Captain of the Star Divison, and an incredibly beautiful blonde, as well as Mr. Sunnyside, a Japan-crazed white businessman who is the Commander of the New York Combat Revue. There are other minor supporting characters, which are also a joy to interact with throughout the game.
The graphics are a bit stale, mostly in Adventure mode, where things are kind of fuzzy, which is to be expected, as this game was also released on the PS2 at the same time. However, many of the game’s scenes run like an anime. While playing this game, I felt as if I were watching an anime rather than playing a game. Most of the time, characters are talking and there isn’t much to look at but a picture of them with moving lips (such as with Phoenix Wright or a dating sim), but during cut scenes the animation is beautifully done. I find it really cool that the game plays this way, it is like I am creating and unraveling an anime through a video game!
The music in the game is great. It mostly has a jazzy feel, one of the hubs you can go to is actually a Jazz Bar, ran by a man named Satchmo (Haha). The theme son plays during many scenes, which was ok with me, because I really liked it. I'll post it here so you will have some background sound to go with your reading!
Overall, this game to me felt like an anime rather than an actual video game. However, I still call it a great game that is worth a try, although there isn’t much action to it. What disappointed me is it doesn’t really stay true to the 1920’s time frame. Why, some of the clothes Cherry wears would make girls of that time blush! I was really excited that it took place in my favorite era, but it really let me down. Still, I really liked this game and pretty much everything about it. Just remember that it is a Japanese SRPG, so prepare to be in it for the long haul and don’t forget to use your head!