Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love
|Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love|
North American Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love cover art.
Idea Factory (Wii)
Sakura Taisen World Project
|Release date(s)||PlayStation 2
Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love (サクラ大戦Ｖ 〜さらば愛しき人よ〜 Sakura Taisen Faibu: Saraba, Itoshiki Hito yo?, Sakura Wars V: So Long, My Love) is a tactical role-playing game with dating sim elements. It was developed and published by Sega, and licensed by Red Entertainment, as the fifth title in the Sakura Wars series for PlayStation 2 and Wii. It was released on the PlayStation 2 in Japan on July 7, 2005, and it was released on PlayStation 2 and Wii in North America on March 30, 2010 and on the Wii in PAL territories on April 2, 2010, becoming the first of the series' games to be localized for Western markets. First revealed at the Tokyo Game Show convention in 2002, Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love is a title of the Sakura Taisen World Project compilation.
Set in an alternate universe New York City during the late 1920s, the game's storyline focuses on a naval ensign, Shinjiro Taiga, as he is summoned from Japan to New York to lead a fighting troupe disguised as a musical troupe 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.
Like previous Sakura Wars installments, the game consists of two modes of gameplay: Adventure Mode and Battle Mode. In Adventure Mode, Shinjiro Taiga, the main protagonist, is controlled from a third-person perspective and can move around New York. However, characters can also accompany him while traveling around New York. Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love features the series' traditional Live & Interactive Picture System, or LIPS. Under this system, whenever an event or conversation occurs in the game, the player must choose Shinjiro's next action or dialogue choice in real-time within a limited amount of time. The four types of the LIPS system consist 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. Depending on the player's interactions with the Star Division, trust points will increase or decrease and can also affect their skills in combat; a lack of response within the time given for a decision also has an effect on Shinjiro's relationships with other characters. In turn, Shinjiro's relationships with each of the characters has an impact on the branching storyline and determines the ending. Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love also introduces a device known as the Cameratron, which the player can use as a camera to take photos and also functions as a time clock and radio.
The battle mode uses the Active and Real-time Machine System, or ARMS, which was first featured in Sakura Wars 3. A maximum of six characters may be used in battle. Under the ARMS system, the player controls each member's unit, known as a Star, can move using the action bar and use the action provided, such as Normal, Supermove, Healing and Joint as well as the Strategem, such as Shin, Gi and Tai. The Star can transform into Ground Form or Flight Form depending on the situation and the player can change areas in some battles In addition to standard, battle techniques, each character has a special ability. Players may save their game during eyecatches, where they can also track the party's status. The game also offers a quicksave feature (referred to in-game as "DISCONTINUE") that allows players to suspend their progress at any time and come back to it later.
The main protagonist is Shinjiro Taiga, a young naval officer from Japan with a rank of Lieutenant. He is selected to become the new captain of the New York Combat Revue's Star Division. The Star Division consists of Gemini Sunrise, a clumsy cowgirl from Texas; Sagiitta Weinberg (known as Cheiron Archer in the English-language version), an African-American lawyer and former biker gang leader; Rikaritta Aries (known as Rosarita Aries in the English version), a young markswoman from Mexico and a bounty hunter; Diana Caprice, a local birdwatcher and doctor who is as compassionate as a goddess and has lost her hope to live; and Subaru Kujo, a noble from a Japanese family who excels at Noh and other traditional Japanese dances.
Supporting characters include Ratchet Altair, a former captain of the European Star Division and captain of the Star Division until Shinjiro replaces her, she becomes the vice-commander soon after; Michael Sunnyside, the commander of the Star Division; Plum Spaniel (Cherry Cocker in the English language version) and Anri Yoshino of the Rainbow Division, who help the Star Division in battles; Yuichi Kayama of the Moon Division, who owns a Romando shop; and Wong Xingzhi, who is the designer of the STARs and owns a Chinese medical centre.
Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love begins with Shinjiro Taiga departing from Tokyo to New York City. Shortly after arriving there, Shinjiro witnesses a bank robbery being foiled by Gemini Sunrise, a samurai cowgirl. Shinjiro is arrested, but is vouched by Kayama and is led to the Little Lip Theater to meet Shinjiro's captain, Ratchet Altair, and the Star Division's commander, Michael Sunnyside. Taiga and Gemini meet each other in Midtown, and then head to a district known as "The Village." When Shinjiro enters his new apartment, he meets the theater's drink bar hostess, Cherry Cocker, and gift shop seller, Anri Yoshino. Ratchet then introduces Shinjiro to Subaru Kujo, a Japanese musician while in the garden. Shinjiro also encounters Cheiron Archer, a lawyer. Cheiron reveals that his uncle, Imperial Assault Force Commander Ichiro Ogami was to be in New York in place of Shinjiro. Just after Taiga finishes watching the musical Cleopatra, an emergency occurs. Shinjiro is assigned by Sunnyside to be an usher. He goes to Central Park and meets Diana Caprice, a local birdwatcher and doctor. Diana encourages Shinjiro not to return to Japan and to cope with the job. Eventually, Shinjiro becomes a member of the Star Division. The New York Combat Revue engages demon forces near the Statue of Liberty led by Ranmaru, a recurring antagonist in the game. During the battle, Ratchet is wounded, forcing her to let Shinjiro take over as the captain. After thwarting Ranmaru's invasion, Shinjiro becomes the NYCR's Captain-in-Training and Ratchet fills the role of Vice Commander.
Later, Cherion and a company called Steam Frontier plan to redevelop Harlem and Cheiron organizes a mock trial involving Shinjiro and Carlos, a member of the biker gang, the Centaurs, to evict the people of Harlem. Cherion and Steam Frontier lose the trial and Cheiron is revealed to be a member of the Centaurs, and realizes her feelings for the people of Harlem. Soon after, the city is attacked by Kokuryu, a self-proclaimed princess who wants to destroy the city. After killing Kokuryu to save Harlem, Shinjiro encounters Rosarita Aries, a bounty hunter from Mexico, and she joins the Star Division. As a perfectionist, she becomes devastated when Shinjiro is injured after an attack but learns that everyone makes mistakes, its how one deals with their mistakes that make the person. After successfully repelling an attack by Dokurobo, a demon commander, Rosarita establishes herself as a member of the Star Division.
The group formally meets Diana who they learn has a frail body and has lost her will to live. Diana has the power to glimpse into the future and see people's fates but Shinjiro eventually convinces her that even if the circumstances look dire, she can fight her destiny and give her a new path to follow. Diana joins the Star Division and helps the NYCR repel an attack by Yumedono, a vain woman who wants to engulf New York in insects. After losing a duel with Subaru, Shinjiro is forced to perform on stage as a new star called Peppermint. Subaru questions why Shinjiro is able to succeed even though he is flawed. Subaru opens herself up to the group eventually recognizing everyone's importance in her life, including Shinjiro's importance. The Star Division repels an attack led by Tsugarubi, who abhors women, stealing their life essence turning them into stone. Soon, after learning about the Five Star Warriors, Shinjiro recruits Gemini to the Star Division due to her ties to the Five Star Warriors. But in discovering that Ranmaru is one of their enemies, Gemini's sister, Geminine, who resides in her body as an alter-ego, plots to exact revenge for the death of her master Mifune. However, Shinjiro persuades Geminine not to go through with it. Afterwards, subduing an attack led by Ranmaru, Geminine decides to rest inside Gemini for a while after using too much of her influence to dominate Gemini's body.
As Christmas arrives, the New York Combat Revue prepares for their Christmas show "Over the Rainbow." Shinjiro goes on a date with one other member of the Star Division (either Cheiron, Rosita, Diana, Gemini, Subaru, or Ratchet). After performing their Christmas show, Azuchi Castle appears in New York. The leader of the demon forces is revealed to be Oda Nobunaga, "Sixth Heaven Demon Lord". The Star Division goes out to attack Azuchi Castle. They destroy the remains of Ranmaru's robot, only for Shinjiro to be severely injured by Nobunaga. When he recovers and helps the Star Division repel an attack on Little Lip Theater, the Sixth Heaven appears over New York. After acquiring the resolve to fight Nobunaga without sacrificing anyone to the Five-Ring Mandala, the only method to seal Nobunaga, Shinjiro is promoted to Captain of the New York Combat Revue Star Division as they go off to fight Nobunaga. The Revue uses the Ahab, the Star Division's airship, to attack Azuchi Castle. Inside, the party battles their way through Nobunaga's defenses and their dark clones. However, Shinjiro is inside his dark clone when he arrives near Nobunaga. He manages to escape the dark clone after many pleas from the Star Division and defeats it. Making a final stand against Nobunaga, the Star Division defeats him, but Nobunaga comes out alive and he looks into Shinjiro's feelings. After a conversation between the two, Nobunaga sees the error in his ways and requests that his soul accompanies Shinjiro's. After Shinjiro accepts the offer, Nobunaga disappears and his castle disintegrates into cherry blossoms. Later, Shinjiro takes a date to a New Year's party hosted by Sunnyside. The game ends with a cinematic with Shinjiro and one of the six girls.
|This section requires expansion. (December 2009)|
The North American localization and release of Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love by NIS America for PlayStation 2 and Wii was organized by Red Entertainment, the game's licensor, and Idea Factory. The localization featured some changes from the original Japanese version. For example, in an interview with RPGamer, Cheiron's Japanese name, Sagiitta, was changed in the English language adaptation, but the original Japanese language disc retains that character's name. Also in the interview, Nao Zook, NIS America's Press Release and Marketing Coordinator, said that the game was fitted onto two discs for the English and Japanese version due to the size required for both versions. For the Japanese version, NIS America wanted "to match the English text to the Japanese voice acting as much as we could" and also "to debug the Japanese voice over disc".
The music of Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love was composed by regular series composer Kohei Tanaka. The score consists of themes for each major character and location, as well as music for standard battles, fights with boss enemies and for animated sequences.
|This section requires expansion. (December 2009)|
In 2009, NIS America announced that Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love would be published in North America on both the PlayStation 2 and Wii. The North American PS2 version is a two disc premium edition that includes the English and original Japanese voice tracks as well as a collector’s item art cover. The Wii version is a single-disc release with English-only voice-overs. On December 11, 2009, NIS America announced that the game would be released on March 23, 2010 for North America, However NIS delayed the game for one week and the game was released on March 30, 2010.
|So Long My Love|
Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love has received positive reviews. IGN's Sam Bishop gave the game a 9/10 saying "It's safe to say this is probably one of the most re-playable games of its kind. Hundreds of dialogue choices, exploration and the odd bit of conversation will keep you coming back." While 1UP gave the game an 83 out of 100. Mikel Tidwell of RPGamer gives it "good" a 3.5 out of 5. He highlights that the game has great animation, characters and a story, but believes the gameplay suffers with the slow-paced battles and lack of save points and "free time" in between. Tidwell closes saying this game should have come out five years ago when in North America where the market was not as competitive as he believes people no longer have the time and patience to play through the game multiple times to get all the endings. Wiiloveit.com described it as a "strong RPG that's worth sinking your teeth into" that adopts a "very unique gameplay system". Gamespot gave 7/10 saying "This amusing strategy RPG is as close as you're likely to get to starring in your own anime." It praises on dialogue choice and anime portraits but suffers from slow, buggy combat and crude graphics.
The game was given the "Editor's Choice" Award by IGN.
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