alex9234’s Sunday Review
Welcome back to another episode of Sunday Review, and today, I’m reviewing a game that I just completed at 2 in the morning! Literally! This review is for Travis Touchdown, as I recall Travis being interested in checking out Sakura Wars. Sega had a huge hit on their hands with the first Sakura Wars in 1996, and just two years later, they put out it’s sequel, and it was an even bigger hit than the first game, so much so that it is still, to this day, the best selling game in the franchise. This game is Sakura Wars 2, which came out on the Sega Saturn in 1998.
Sakura Wars 2 takes place two years after the original game, and once again follows Japanese Army ensign Ichiro Ogami, who reunites with his comrades in the Flower Division after a naval voyage in South America. Just after Ogami’s return, the Flower Division are then confronted by what would be their new enemy – a group of black magicians who call themselves the Black Demons, and they are led by the villain of the first game – Aoi Satan. After defeating Satan, the group learns that Satan’s true identity is Shinnosuke Yamazaki, who was a former comrade of Flower Division commander Ikki Yoneda. Yamazaki was thought to be dead, but had vanished without a trace and became corrupted by evil forces. Yamazaki is then killed by the leader of the Black Demons – a mysterious masked man named Oni-Ou. A few days later, Yoneda gets shot by an unknown assassin, and ends up in the hospital. And to make matters worse, Ogami and the Flower Division come under political fire from another enemy, Keigo Kyogoku, a former Japanese Army officer turned brutal and vicious politician who desires to wipe out the Flower Division, reactivate a dormant magical weapon and transform Japan into a totalitarian dictatorship with him as the absolute ruler…
The gameplay of Sakura Wars 2 is very similar to that of it’s predecessor, so those who have mastered the first game should have little to no problem getting used to the gameplay in this game. Like the first game, gameplay segments include dating sim, strategy RPG and visual novel elements. Gameplay is divided up into periods where Ogami explores the Imperial Theater and interacts with the main characters, and strategy RPG sections that are turn-based and happen on a grid-based battlefield.
In the social segments, Ogami can navigate the theater for a limited amount of time between battles. In these sequences, you usually talk with the main heroines, but sometimes with the other main characters, and other supporting characters. When talking with the main heroines, conversations are based on the LIPS (Live & Interactive Picture System) system, as when one of the heroines asks you a question, the conversation options are displayed with a time limit for you to select a response. <strong><u>Do keep in mind that time limits can be as short as 5-10 seconds!</u></strong> In this game, the LIPS system has been upgraded, and there are selections that only become available when the time limit is halfway up. Plus, there are LIPS segments where you have to accomplish a task within a certain amount of time. Depending on what type of response you select, the character you’re talking with may respond positively or negatively, which will impact their relationship with Ogami and other future interactions, or in some cases, the character you’re talking to may remain neutral on the matter, and won’t effect their relationship with Ogami. Other actions include holding the cursor over parts of the characters’ portraits to trigger monologues and other responses from the character you’re with (yes, you can even do you-know-what!!! 😉 ). All of the main heroines have different personality traits that must be taken into consideration while talking with them.
When you’re patrolling the theater at night, you can explore the theater for a limited amount of time and talk with the other heroines. Plus, you can use this opportunity to get brownie points with a girl that you want to end up with at the end of the game. There are also various minigames that you can play with certain heroines, which is another way to improve your relationship with a certain girl.
Lastly, is the battle section. It is strategy RPG based, it is also turn based, and is confined to a grid-based battlefield. All characters pilot steam-powered mechs known as Koubu. Each Koubu unit has one turn, but during each turn, you can perform two actions. These actions include “Attack” (つうじょう), “Move” (いどう), “Defend”(ぼうぎょ), “Deathblow”(ひっさつ), and “Heal”(かいふく). Different units have a specialty incertain skills, such as support actions, melee attacks, and long distance attacks. Ogami has a special skill where he can defend (and notreceive any damage) one of the heroines for up to 3 turns, and this is a very good way to win over a girl of your choice. Though your characters don’t level up, successful performances during the LIPS sections with the heroines and other supporting characters will raise their motivations, grant status increases, new skills, and improved combat skills.
You can only save the game when you reach a checkpoint called an “Eyecatch”. During these segments, you can not only save your game, but check on how well Ogami’s relationship is with all the heroines.
And like the first game, this is compatible with the Sega Saturn mouse.
Ichiro Ogami – Age: 21 – Ogami is the main character of the first 4 Sakura Wars games. As a graduate of the Imperial Naval Academy, Ogami was chosen to take over the top secret flower division when he proved himself capable during a test of a Koubu unit at sea. Ogami’s personality is shaped by the player’s actions throughout the game. He also appears as a playable character in both Project X Zone games on the 3DS.
Sakura Shinguuji – Age: 19 – Sakura once again returns as the lead heroine in the sequel, and is also the lead heroine in the 4th game. Hailing from the northern Japanese town of Sendai, Sakura is the daughter of famous warrior Kazuma Shinguuji and the wielder of his sword, and is a kind and gentle girl who loves her fellow squad members. Though she is unmatched with a blade, she has a strong fear of lightning. Sakura also appears as a playable character in both Project X Zone games.
Sumire Kanzaki – Age: 18 – Sumire is another member of the Flower Division. She is the rich daughter of the head of a massive corporation, and proclaims herself to be the Flower Division’s “#1 Star”. She is very arrogant and entitled, probably because she had been spoiled ever since her childhood, what with her father and grandfather being total workaholics. Despite her attitude, Sumire is at most times very kind and cares very much for her fellow squad members, though she has a love-hate relationship with Kanna. She is also a highly skilled Koubu pilot and is highly capable of wielding a naginata (lance).
Maria Tachibana – Age: 21 – Maria is the vice-captain of the Flower Division. She was the squad’s leader before Ogami took over. She was born to a Russian diplomat and a Japanese mother, but she was orphaned during the Russian Revolution and she joined the revolutionary forces at the age of 14. She was traumatized by the loss of her squad captain so much that she shut out her emotions and became a merciless sniper who earned the nickname “Kazuar” (Russian: Казуар, which means cassowary). She then moved to the United States in 1920, where she found work as a professional killer for the Russian Mafia, but thankfully, she ran into the Flower Division’s vice-commander, Ayame Fujieda, and was recruited into the division. She is good at cooking and loves reading books. She is also a skilled Koubu pilot, and she specializes in long-range attacks with her Koubu’s machine gun.
Kohran Li – Age: 19 – Kohran is another member of the Flower Division. Hailing from China, Kohran is the Flower Division’s resident mechanic who loves experimenting with the Koubu and performs repairs on the Koubu units when necessary. She loves creating new inventions, though most of her inventions are failures and always seem to explode in everyone’s faces. She also speaks in the Kansai dialect, and has a very distinct voice.
Kanna Kirishima – Age: 21 – Kanna is another member of the Flower Division. Hailing from Okinawa, Kanna is the master of a Martial Arts style passed on by members of her family, and said style allows her to easily kill a bull with her bare hands. She also has a fear of snakes after being bitten by one while training in Okinawa as a child. She gets along well with everyone, though she has a love-hate relationship with Sumire and the two of them constantly get into fights.
Reni Milchstrasse – Age: 15 – Reni is one of the newest members of the flower division. Hailing from Germany, Reni Reni is a bit of an odd character – she is cold, distant, and emotionless, which is due to her very troubled past during World War I. She only thinks in militaristic terms in how to best bring about victory in battle, and is unwilling to back down to save the lives of innocent bystanders. Though she does open up to everyone later in the game, she remains very antisocial for the first half of the game.
Soletta Orihime – Age: 17 – Orihime is another new member of the Flower Division. Hailing from Italy, she is the proud daughter of a noble Italian family, and was a former member of the Star Division – an experimental squad of Koubu pilots that was established before the Flower Division and is based in Europe. Like Sumire, she is very arrogant and entitled, and often believes that she can win battles without the help of others. She also has a hatred for Japanese men (she has a reason for it, which is revealed later in the game), and she verbally abuses Ogami on a regular basis.
Ikki Yoneda – Age: mid-40s – Yoneda, who is also a Russo-Japanese war veteran, is the commanding officer of the Flower Division. He manages the theater as well as just about everything involved with the stage productions. He acts as a father figure for the squad, and is highly fond of all of them. He is also a major alcoholic, and is almost always drunk whenever Ogami tries to meet him.
Kaede Fujieda – Age: mid-20s – Kaede is the new vice-commander of the Flower Division. She took over for her sister, Ayame Fujieda, as Ayame was (SPOILERS!) killed in the final battle against Aoi Satan in the first game. Kaede is similar to her late sister in many ways. She aids Yoneda in running the Flower Division, provides tactical support to Ogami and the other members in battle, and she also gives Ogami personal advice, as well as advice on how to resolve conflicts between members of the division. She also cares very much for Ogami and the other members of the division like her sister did, though she isn’t as flirty with Ogami as her sister was.
As soon as I finished the first Sakura Wars, I immediately started progress on the sequel, and after completing it at 2 in the morning today, I enjoyed it very much. In fact, I think it’s better than the first game. It improves on the original game in almost every aspect. The story is fantastic and is a lot more gripping than the first game, and is also more lighthearted as well. The plot twists are also phenomenal, and there are a ton of epic moments as well. It’s also a lot longer than the first game – it took me about 20-25 hours to finish the first game, and this one took me about 35 hours. Character development is also improved upon, as we get to hear more about each character’s background than in the first game.
The combat sections have also been improved, as there is now an option to move your characters back to their previous spot in case you didn’t like where you put them on the map, combo attacks can be performed with certain characters, the boss fights add a new degree of challenge, and boss fights now occupy their own separate battles, as all your characters will be restored to full health before the battle. The soundtrack is also much better than the first game’s – though some tracks from the first game make a comeback in the sequel, the boss battle music is so much better, and all of the heroines have new themes.
As for flaws, it’s very hard to find problems with Sakura Wars 2. The only problems I can think of with this game is the save system, which is still as inconvenient as the first game’s, and the long loading times. Other than that, Sakura Wars 2 is a masterpiece, and arguably the best game in the series. Do yourself a favor and play this game. Seriously, you won’t regret it.
My score: 9.75/10