Project Sakura Wars

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Project Sakura Wars
Project Sakura Wars.png
Cover art for the Japanese release, featuring protagonist Sakura Amamiya
Developer(s)Sega CS2 R&D
Publisher(s)Sega
Director(s)Tetsuya Ootsubo
Producer(s)Tetsu Katano
Artist(s)Tite Kubo
Writer(s)
Composer(s)Kohei Tanaka
SeriesSakura Wars
EngineHedgehog Engine 2
Platform(s)PlayStation 4
Release
  • JP: December 12, 2019
  • WW: Q2 2020
Genre(s)
Mode(s)Single-player

Project Sakura Wars[a] (working title) is an upcoming cross-genre video game developed and published by Sega for the PlayStation 4. The sixth mainline entry and a soft reboot of the Sakura Wars series, the game is scheduled to be released in 2019 in Japan and 2020 internationally. It is also the first Sakura Wars game not to be developed by Red Entertainment. The gameplay combines overlapping action role-playing, dating sim and visual novel elements.

The game takes place in a fictionalised version of the Taishō period in 1940, where the World Combat Revue Organization fights against those who threaten peace around the world. Naval captain Seijuro Kamiyama is transferred to Tokyo, where he must lead the struggling Imperial Combat Revue through a worldwide tournament of Combat Revues and fight the demons once again.

Development of Project Sakura Wars began in 2016 after a positive fan response at that year's Sega Fes convention. A combination of new and returning staff were involved in development; these include veteran composer Kohei Tanaka, scenario writers Takaaki Suzuki and Jiro Ishii. Tite Kubo designed the main cast, while guest artists handled the supporting cast. The anime sequences were produced by Sanzigen. The game was first announced at Sega Fes 2018. It was the first mainline entry in the series since Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love (2005). An anime adaptation based on the game also by Sanzigen is coming in 2020.

Gameplay[edit]

Pre-release screenshot of LIPS gameplay with lead heroine Sakura Amamiya

Sakura Wars is a cross-genre video game set in Tokyo during a fictionalized version of the Taishō period. The player controls the main protagonist Seijuro Kamiyama and the all-female members of the Imperial Combat Revue's Flower Division, who must fight demons while participating in an international World Combat Revue tournament. Dubbed a "dramatic 3D action adventure" game, the player explores a fully 3-D version of Ginza, Tokyo usually through a third-person perspective and talks to various characters to trigger main story events and side objectives.[1][2][3] A variant of the Kinematron, called the Smatron, is a smartphone that allows Kamiyama to see a map of Ginza and speak with other characters.[3]

As with previous entries, the gameplay is split between adventure segments where Kamiyama explores Ginza and talks to the characters; and battle segments.[2] A returning gameplay element is the traditional "Live & Interactive Picture System" (LIPS); during conversations, the player is presented with multiple choices to select within a time limit. What response the player selects directly affects Kamiyama's relationship with the protagonists and impacts their later performance in battle segments. The version introduced in this game is "Analog LIPS", in which the player can move the camera around and highlight objects or people to trigger more dialogue.[1][3][4]

Synopsis[edit]

In 1930, two years after the events of So Long, My Love, the Great Demon War results in the annihilation of the Imperial, Paris and New York Combat Revues' Flower Divisions. With Earth at peace and the revues' actions becoming public, the World Combat Revue Organization is formed with several international divisions; a biennial international Combat Revue tournament has been organized.[5]

Ten years later in 1940,[6][7] the Combat Revue's commander Sumire Kanzaki (Michie Tomizawa) recruits Imperial Japanese Navy captain Seijuro Kamiyama (Yohei Azakami) to become the captain of the new Imperial Combat Revue's Flower Division in Tokyo, which consists of: Sakura Amamiya (Ayane Sakura), a swordswoman; Hatsuho Shinonome (Maaya Uchida), a shrine maiden; Anastasia Palma (Ayaka Fukuhara), a newly-transferred Greek actress; Azami Mochizuki (Hibiku Yamamura), a ninja prodigy from the Mochizuki clan; and Clarissa "Claris" Snowflake (Saori Hayami), a Luxembourgian noblewoman. The division once again faces a new demon invasion and participates in the upcoming tournament with Yang Xiaolong (Yuichiro Umehara) and Huang Yui (Sumire Uesaka) of the Shanghai Combat Revue, Arthur (Nobunaga Shimazaki) and Lancelot (Manami Numakura) of the London Combat Revue, and Elise (Nana Mizuki) and Margarete (Rie Kugimiya) of the Berlin Combat Revue–while trying to keep their home at the Imperial Theater open.[1][2]

Development[edit]

The Sakura Wars series had been inactive since the last major release, Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love, in 2005 (2010 internationally).[3][8] Series director Takaharu Terada would make yearly pitches to franchise owner Sega, but these were repeatedly declined. At the 2016 Sega Fes in Tokyo, in response to a fan poll about dormant series, Sakura Wars was voted the most requested revival. While actual development had begun shortly before Sega Fes, the positive fan feedback gave the developers the boost they needed to begin full production.[9] The staff included producer Tetsu Katano of Sonic the Hedgehog series fame and director Tetsuya Ootsubo. Katano was a newcomer to the series, but Ootsubo had previously worked with the series on Sakura Wars 3: Is Paris Burning?.[9] As so long had elapsed between So Long, My Love and production of this new game, and both the platform and most of the team were different, it was decided to make Project Sakura Wars a soft reboot.[3][9]

The game was developed by a team within Sega's CS Research & Development No. 2 division.[10][11] The basic gameplay was carried over, but extensively reworked and the world built entirely in 3D due to the greater hardware specs of the PlayStation 4.[9] The game's engine was based on Hedgehog Engine 2, a proprietary first-party engine created by Sega for the Sonic the Hedgehog series. The cutscenes were crafted using techniques perfected for Sega's Yakuza series. Alongside the 3D conversion, the team worked to make transitions between different areas and between gameplay and cutscenes as seamless as possible. During production, internal staff who were fans of classic Sakura Wars would often be critical of the current team's work, putting pressure on them to create a product worthy of the series.[12] The game will feature over 40 minutes of anime CGI sequences produced by Sanzigen. All other cutscenes were created in real-time using the game's engine.[3]

While there were a new cast and development team, the series romanticized steampunk setting remained intact. The narrative was described as a "Sakura Wars-esque fantasy".[3] Terada created the basic setting and scenario concept, the scenario draft was written by Jiro Ishii, while the main script was handled by Takaaki Suzuki.[1][3] Ishii was contacted in 2016 by Sega. Ishii was initially sceptical about his skill to manage the project due to the Sakura Wars franchise's prestige. He accepted as the one who approached him was 428: Shibuya Scramble producer Koichi Nakamura; Ishii recognized that the challenge of Project Sakura Wars was equivalent to the relationship between 428: Shibuya Scramble and its predecessor Machi.[2] During his work on the scenario, Suzuki offered suggestions to keep the game as historically accurate as possible.[3]

The main characters and their weapons were designed by Tite Kubo, a manga artist best known for the shonen manga Bleach.[3][7] Kubo had been suggested at an early stage, as the team wanted someone skilled at drawing traditional Japanese clothing for their characters. This wish traced back to the recurring protagonist archetype of a young Japanese woman in a kimono, first with Sakura Shinguji and then new female lead Sakura Amamiya. Kubo was contacted when full production began, and ended up not only designing the characters and weapons but made suggestions for the Koubu designs.[9] Kubo described the character designs as difficult and fun as they did not follow his usual style.[2] The characters were turned into 3D gameplay models by animator Masashi Kudou, who worked on the Bleach anime adaptation. Kubo vouched for Kudou originally, believing only he could carry over the character designs. The Koubu designs were by regular series mecha designer Mika Akitaka.[3] Other guest artists designed the supporting cast, with different anime artists for different Combat Revue teams and supporting characters.[13][14] The artists included Yukiko Horiguchi (K-On!),[13] Abec (Sword Art Online); working under their other pseudonym of BUNBUN, Ken Sugimori (Pokémon),[15] Fumikane Shimada (Girls und Panzer),[14] and Noizi Ito (Haruhi Suzumiya).[16]

While previous titles had used near-silent protagonists, as the 3D model would have more presence in player minds, it was decided that he should voice all his lines. Kamiyama's role was hard for Azakami, as due to the different LIPS responses he had five times more dialogue than any of the heroines. Sakura's role mirrored earlier principle heroines such as Sakura Shinguji and Gemini Sunrise, but with personality difference that would show her individuality despite emulating Shinguji's clothing and manners. Some characters, such as Sakura and Hatsuho, hearkened back to earlier Sakura Wars heroines while having altered personalities. Azami's loud clothing tied into both her personality and role in the narrative. Anastasia was intended to represent a mature and "sexy" archetype. Claris was included at Terada's insistence to fill the recurring "gentlewoman" archetype.[12]

Regular series composer Kohei Tanaka wrote the music. Because of his long association, Tanaka was happy to return and write for a new Sakura Wars game.[2] When conceiving the project, the team decided firmly that the music was something that should not be changed, as it had helped maintain the series' popularity through stage shows and concerts in Japan during its dormancy.[12] The developers aimed to have the largest number of vocal themes of any Sakura Wars game, ranging between 70 and 80. These included ensemble pieces and solo songs.[3] The main theme was a reworked version of the series' recurring theme "Geki! Teikoku Kagekidan". The theme was composed by Tanaka, with lyrics by series creator Oji Hiroi.[1]

Release[edit]

A new Sakura Wars title was first announced in April 2018 under the title New Sakura Wars. The announcement stated that the game would "inherit the DNA" of the series.[8][17] Its first public appearance was at Sega Fes 2019 in March of that year, to a positive fan response.[10] The announcement of a Western release coincided with this, making Project Sakura Wars only the second Sakura Wars game to be localized at that time.[1][7] The game is set for a December 12, 2019 release in Japan and Spring 2020 release in North America and Europe.[1] Development at the time was placed at between 50% and 60% complete; all the scenario and basic systems were completed and voice recording was nearly finished, with the next phase being bringing together the various elements and polishing them for release.[3] Speaking in a later statement, Sega said that they hoped to continue the series beyond Project Sakura Wars.[18]

Anime adaptation[edit]

Project Sakura Wars
Anime television series
Directed byManabu Ono
Written byManabu Ono
Tatsuhiko Urahata
Music byKohei Tanaka
StudioSanzigen
Original run 2020 scheduled
Wikipe-tan face.svg Anime and manga portal

An anime television series adaptation based on the game has been announced. The series is animated by Sanzigen and directed by Manabu Ono, with Ono and Tatsuhiko Urahata handling series composition, and Kohei Tanaka composing the music. It will premiere in 2020. The main cast will reprise their roles from the game.[19]

References[edit]

Citations
  1. ^ a b c d e f g Romano, Sal (March 30, 2019). "Project Sakura Wars announced for PS4". Gematsu. Archived from the original on March 30, 2019. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Wong, Alistair (March 31, 2019). "Project Sakura Wars Introduces Its Fresh Cast Of Combat Revue Members". Siliconera. Curse LLC. Archived from the original on April 2, 2019. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Romano, Sal (April 3, 2019). "Project Sakura Wars Famitsu developer interview tidbits, Oji Hiroi and Satoru Akahori comments". Gematsu. Archived from the original on April 3, 2019. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  4. ^ "Project Sakura Wars for PS4 Gets Screenshots and Details Showing Characters, Locations, and More". Twinfinite. June 26, 2019. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  5. ^ 『新サクラ大戦』気になるあらすじや舞台、天宮さくらを始めとする“新・帝国華撃団”、霊子戦闘機に関する情報が公開!. Famitsu (in Japanese). Enterbrain. April 19, 2019. Archived from the original on April 19, 2019. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
  6. ^ Wong, Alistair (December 21, 2018). "Sonic Team / Sega CS2 Developing The New Sakura Wars Game". Siliconera. Curse LLC. Archived from the original on December 22, 2018. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  7. ^ a b c Vitale, Adam (March 30, 2019). "Sega reveals Project Sakura Wars for PlayStation 4, will release in the West in Spring 2020". RPG Site. MIST Network. Archived from the original on March 30, 2019. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  8. ^ a b Hodgkins, Crystalyn (April 13, 2018). "Sega Reveals New Sakura Wars Game". Anime News Network. Archived from the original on April 13, 2018. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  9. ^ a b c d e 『新サクラ大戦』最速スタッフインタビュー! ゲームシステムは? 恋愛要素は? などなど気になる情報が続々明らかに!. Famitsu (in Japanese). Enterbrain. March 30, 2019. Archived from the original on March 30, 2019. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
  10. ^ a b ""セガはやっぱりおもしろい!"そんな声を目指して進むセガゲームスの社長インタビューを公開". Dengeki Playstation (in Japanese). Kadokawa Corporation. May 3, 2019. Archived from the original on May 4, 2019. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  11. ^ Mullen, Sam [@sam_mullen] (August 15, 2019). "Because Sonic Team ! = CS2, but is made up of people from what was known as CS2. Your understanding isn't incorrect but it's not something that can be unpacked in a tweet. Sonic Team isn't making Sakura Wars" (Tweet). Archived from the original on September 30, 2019. Retrieved September 20, 2019 – via Twitter.
  12. ^ a b c 『新サクラ大戦』開発者に徹底的に訊く! 「シリーズのキャラは?」「主人公の神山はどんな男?」 など疑問に答えまくるロングインタビュー!. Famitsu (in Japanese). Enterbrain. May 3, 2019. Archived from the original on May 5, 2019. Retrieved May 5, 2019.
  13. ^ a b Sherman, Jennifer (July 25, 2019). "New Sakura Wars Game's Trailer Reveals K-ON! Designer Yukiko Horiguchi, December 12 Launch in Japan". Anime News Network. Archived from the original on July 25, 2019. Retrieved October 1, 2019.
  14. ^ a b Pineda, Rafael (September 12, 2019). "New Sakura Wars Game's Trailers Showcase Designs by Girls & Panzer's Humikane Shimada". Anime News Network. Archived from the original on September 13, 2019. Retrieved October 1, 2019.
  15. ^ Wong, Alistair (August 22, 2019). "Project Sakura Wars' London Combat Revue Is Based Off The Knights Of The Round Table". Siliconera. Archived from the original on August 23, 2019. Retrieved October 1, 2019.
  16. ^ Matae, Alex (October 11, 2019). "Haruhi Suzumiya's Noizi Ito Designs 2 New Sakura Wars Game Characters". Gematsu. Archived from the original on October 12, 2019. Retrieved October 12, 2019.
  17. ^ 『サクラ大戦』復活! シリーズのDNAを受け継ぐ完全新作『新サクラ大戦(仮題)』プロジェクトが始動。舞台は太正29年の帝都・東京【セガフェス2018】. Famitsu (in Japanese). Enterbrain. April 14, 2018. Archived from the original on December 30, 2018. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  18. ^ Pineda, Rafael Antonio (April 19, 2018). "Sega Head: New Sakura Wars 'Will Not End With Just a Game'". Anime News Network. Archived from the original on April 23, 2018. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
  19. ^ Pineda, Rafael Antonio (September 13, 2019). "New Sakura Wars Game Gets TV Anime in 2020". Anime News Network. Retrieved September 13, 2019.
Notes
  1. ^ Japanese: 新サクラ大戦 Hepburn: Shin Sakura Taisen?, lit. "New Sakura Wars"

External links[edit]