Sakura Taisen series

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Taleweaver
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Sakura Taisen series

#1 Post by Taleweaver » Wed Jun 01, 2011 2:31 pm

Got me "Sakura Wars: So long, my love" for my Wii this Monday (a bargain sale), and I'm already hooked. It may not be a "real" dating sim, or a "real" VN, but it sure is a real B-game, so I guess it belongs here.

For those who don't know Sakura Taisen: It's a steampunk mecha round-based strategy/dating sim crossover. The time is the 1920s, demons are threatening peace and order in Japan, France and the U.S., and beautiful women (and always one man) in giant steam-powered mecha fight them. Sounds cheesy? It is, and at the same time also absolutely great in terms of mood, storytelling and character interaction.

You always play the man in a team where everybody else is a woman, and not only do you get to befriend (and later date) said women, the better you perform (i.e. the better you are with the relationship part), the better your teammates start fighting. Their "motivation" rises, and their team-up attacks are stronger if they like the person they are performing their attack with. Good interaction in the VN part makes the strategy part easier, bad performance makes them harder and sometimes can make missions almost impossible. (So you'd better be nice to those ladies!)

Anyone else into the series? Any comments on the concept?
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Re: Sakura Taisen series

#2 Post by DaFool » Wed Jun 01, 2011 3:18 pm

Well it would have helped the developer if you had bought the game upon release (although it's published by NIS America). Then they wouldn't have fallen to making social browser games, that's what has become of the franchise.

It takes some willpower, but I generally buy niche games new, and blockbusters like LA Noire can wait until they become greatest hits -- they're not going to disappear, and they're going to make millions anyway.
Any comments on the concept?
That aside (and I apologize for the extreme tangent), the premise is practically similar to the Record of Agarest War series (which sucks imho) and Ar Tonelico series (which are absolutely awesome, though hybrid datesim-JRPG not strategy RPG). Didn't you just get a PS3 to play Heavy Rain? Then you should absolutely get Ar Tonelico Qoga. The Dive Sessions are essentially the dating sim/vn element which help power up your Reyvateils for battle.

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Re: Sakura Taisen series

#3 Post by Taleweaver » Wed Jun 01, 2011 4:41 pm

DaFool wrote:Didn't you just get a PS3 to play Heavy Rain?
Nope. I played it on a friend's PS3. I'm not buying any more consoles at the moment; I'm spending enough time with my Wii already - I really shouldn't have bought Sakura Taisen before working a little more on my current project >.<

Anyway, Sakura Taisen! It's funny how quickly a harmless smalltalk conversation can become a full-fledged "bash the hentai baka" sequence in those games T_T
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Re: Sakura Taisen series

#4 Post by gekiganwing » Wed Jun 01, 2011 7:07 pm

I pre-ordered the PS2 premium edition of Sakura Wars 5 (which included a hardbound artbook), and also bought a copy at retail on day one. Unlike several Sega games from 2010 that didn't get any advertising, this game had an ad campaign... so it was depressing to hear that only a few other people purchased it.

While I enjoyed Sakura Wars SLML, at the same time I felt a bit let down. For almost every part I liked, there was some drawback...

* I liked the not-very-serious story. But at the same time, I wasn't sure if the writing found a balance in between "so ridiculous it's awesome" and "too absurd."

* The visual novel segments were enjoyable, but I felt the game included too many mandatory quick-time events, and there would often be no warning of what had to be done.

* The romance game elements were definitely there, but they didn't seem meant to be a challenge. I got the idea that a player could ignore relationship status until decisions had to be made in the seventh chapter.

* I'm not a big strategy RPG fan. But I felt those segments were okay -- not too tough or easy. I kind of wished the battles were spaced more evenly, rather than all together at the end of chapters.

* Also, I was amazed that the English version let the player pursue a relationship with Rika. She was about eight years younger than Shinjiro!

* I think what I enjoyed most were the walking-around-town segments.

People who played the all the untranslated Sakura Wars games have said that the fourth game was a letdown, and the fifth game was a slight return to form. Kind of like Suikoden, which had three good-to-great games followed by a disappointing fourth game and a decent fifth game. Oddly enough, both series had a DS game that wasn't well regarded... and both series currently seem doomed to obscurity.

As far as I know, no team has plans to create fan translations of the first three Sakura Wars titles (Dreamcast or PC versions). So if you don't plan to learn written Japanese, or find the Russian versions which were translated by Akella, then your best bets are to read the text translations on GameFAQs, or look for the anime/manga spinoffs.

Every now and then, I wonder what it would be like to create an OEL game inspired by the Sakura Wars franchise. I've thought about what game elements should be emphasized, and whether the setting should be similar or very different. One of my plotbunnies is a thematically similar game that would use the sort of graphics and game mechanics you'd find on 8-bit or 16-bit consoles.
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Re: Sakura Taisen series

#5 Post by Taleweaver » Thu Jun 02, 2011 3:33 am

gekiganwing wrote:Every now and then, I wonder what it would be like to create an OEL game inspired by the Sakura Wars franchise.
That may happen faster than you think...
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Re: Sakura Taisen series

#6 Post by GLACIER » Thu Jun 02, 2011 4:24 pm

gekiganwing wrote:People who played the all the untranslated Sakura Wars games have said that the fourth game was a letdown, and the fifth game was a slight return to form.


The two were criticized for different reasons. Sakura Taisen 4 was a rush job just so Sega could reuse the ST3 engine and milk the popularity of the characters one last time. The main complaints were that it's short and poorly thought out (character interactions being minimal and badly done). However, some fans seem to have given it a free pass - after all, it featured the cast they knew and loved.

Sakura Taisen 5 was a more complete game with a new engine, proper length, and fleshed out characters. However, players didn't seem to like the new story, characters, and artwork much (a death blow to any visual novel), which kinda led to the end of the series in Japan. Definitely, there was more negativity surrounding the release of ST5 than any previous game (even if the overall quality may have been better than ST4), and the audience shrunk.

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Re: Sakura Taisen series

#7 Post by Taleweaver » Sun Jun 05, 2011 4:18 am

I'm just through with Diana's part in ST5, and man, was that woman annoying! Behind her benevolent and shy looks, Diana must be the biggest prissy in written history. She asks you to take her to calm places, you take her to a calm place, she says "I haven't been her since I was sick, thank you for reminding me of what I've lost" and decides to hate you! She says to take her to a fun place, you take her to a jazz club and she's like "I don't think I can relax in here." Geez, if you wanted to relax, why not say so? The worst thing, however, is that she holds it against you whenever you're trying to help her with physical tasks even though she sits in a damn wheelchair! Don't you WANT people to be friendly with you, woman? AAAAGH!

Thankfully, I'm past her stage now. Let's hope she's at least useful in battles and all of this wasn't a big waste of time. If it was, the first quiet places I'm going to take her in my next playthrough are going to be a skyscraper construction site, a Harlem back alley and Chinatown...
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Re: Sakura Taisen series

#8 Post by papillon » Sun Jun 05, 2011 4:24 pm

The worst thing, however, is that she holds it against you whenever you're trying to help her with physical tasks even though she sits in a damn wheelchair! Don't you WANT people to be friendly with you, woman? AAAAGH!
Not having played the game I cannot comment on her particular character, but irl people are sometimes irked at unrequested help. Even if your legs don't work, there are usually a lot of things you are capable of doing for yourself, and it makes most people feel better to achieve things on their own. If the options are "Assume she's helpless and do things for her without asking" it's reasonable that she's irked at you. If she asks for your help and then gets mad at you for providing it, well, she's probably a big grouch. :)

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Re: Sakura Taisen series

#9 Post by Taleweaver » Sun Jun 05, 2011 4:39 pm

papillon wrote:If she asks for your help and then gets mad at you for providing it, well, she's probably a big grouch. :)
"Oh, I love going to the theater, but I can't because my wheelchair won't go up the stairs."
"I could carry you upstairs."
"What, like a sack?!"

Yup. That's part of the dialogue, in a nutshell.

Fortunately, Diana is some sort of universal super-healer, so yes, she's useful. Guess I won't annoy her during my next playthrough.
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Re: Sakura Taisen series

#10 Post by Auro-Cyanide » Mon Jun 06, 2011 12:38 am

Oh, this kind of game sounds interesting... WHY IS THE WII THE ONLY PLATFORM I DON'T HAVE!

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Re: Sakura Taisen series

#11 Post by papillon » Mon Jun 06, 2011 12:42 am

There's a PS2 version as well...

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Re: Sakura Taisen series

#12 Post by Auro-Cyanide » Mon Jun 06, 2011 1:20 am

I don't have a PS2 anymore T^T I have my PS3, Xbox, PSP, PC and DS but I gave the PS2 to the little kid that used to live next-door because we only had so much room around the TVs. Damn my charitable soul >_>

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Re: Sakura Taisen series

#13 Post by LVUER » Mon Jun 06, 2011 2:36 am

Then it's time to "borrow" your PS2 back (^_^)
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Re: Sakura Taisen series

#14 Post by flowerthief » Sun Jun 19, 2011 11:26 am

Sakura Wars V...I've been meaning to get to that one. Maybe once I get my ps2 back.
I remember enjoying the first two games in the series a good deal, and they were an influence on my first original public game (an interactive fiction). Then I forgot all about the series for some reason.

"Baragumi" in the second game cracked me up, if anyone knows what I'm talking about XD

Btw, that whole series makes up like half the list of best-selling galge of all time. It also regularly makes those reader-voted Famitsu lists of best games of all time of any genre. So it's a travesty that we only got one of them in English.
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Re: Sakura Taisen series

#15 Post by ririruetoo » Sun Jul 31, 2011 10:55 pm

I really enjoyed So Long My Love, I really wish they would release more of the series in English...
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