Love is both a double edge sword the human heart can have.One side carries the passion to create something beautiful and everlasting while on the other hand; it carries high expectations that will be difficult to overcome. In the end, Sakura Wars 1 establish the success of a new IP both reception and sales. While Sakura Wars 2 continued the expanding respect from the series fans from its rich expansive cast and story. So where do they go next for their third outing? Paris of course!
For those who have been waiting on part 2 of this series(somewhat) retrospective, I was busy going through the massive back log games of 2017. Now wait no more as we will explore the third and fourth installments in the series alongside the anime adaptations that manages to catch the attention of western audiences. For those who missed out, I will share part 1 and part 1.5 of the article down here. With that out of the way, let’s start talking.
(Side Note: There’s 3 Openings to Sakura Wars 3. This is Part 1/3)
With the flop that was the Sega Saturn in the U.S, reasons being the lack of third party support from developers and complex hardware used at that time. It’s unanimously decided that they need to create a new console that is both friendly and powerful to developers, hence… the Sega Dreamcast.
Concept for Sakura Wars 3 quickly began during the development of Sakura Wars 2, with the ending leading directly to a third. Most of the members from the previous two games return for the third. With the Dreamcast giving strong reception and sales, the team would also take advantage of the hardware by reinventing the gameplay and graphics to surpass
metal gear previous Sakura Wars.
In between the development of Sakura Wars 3, Sega would re-release the previous Sakura Wars on the Dreamcast (think of this as the “remastered”version in 1990’s) and adapting the series into anime OVA’s and television releases.
So how can they surpass the previous installment? Red Entertainment co-develop alongside Overworks who receive huge praise on their 2000 Dreamcast video game Skies of Arcadia. Now with more staff on board, more time can be spent redefining the formula. Also the animated cut-scenes would be created by Production I.G (known for their work on Ghost in the Shell) by blending traditional animations and CG..
Sakura Wars 3: is Paris Burning? was released on 22nd March 2001 for the Dreamcast exclusively in Japan receiving positive reviews from critics and good sales.
Like usual, Sakura Wars is perfectly described as a series that blends the visual-novel dating sim with the newly revised take on Strategy Role Playing Game (which we will talk in a minute). Players would again assume the role of Ichiro Ogami, a young soldier with the experience of leading an all-female unit “Imperial Assault Force” against supernatural army that terrorizes Japan.
Being able to save Japan and getting closure to your team in the previous games, orders came under his superiors to travel to Paris and train a newly established all-female fighting unit “Paris Assault Group” and work a ta nightclub “Les Chatte Noir”.
Unlike the previous installments which mainly focuses in a theatre, players may now be able to explore “Mondmarte” and “Le Chatte Nori”from Ogami’s apartment which leads to new interactions. On the other hand,players are also introduce to five new leading ladies to keep you invested as they’re all equally memorable. Another return in Sakura Wars 3 is the updated Live Interactive Picture System (LIPS). As previously explained in Part 1, LIPS are segments that players are given multiple options during character interaction. These options can give a positive or negative effect to their mood in and out of combat. Another addition in the mix is “analog LIPS” where you have to use the analog stick to intensify a single answer (e.g. making your character use less/more force fixing something). Last but not least “Dinner Mode”allowing Ogami to take any of the five female members out on a dinner date, which can later affect character interactions..
Unlike the previous game where combat is done through tactical isometric grid, developers have revamped the gameplay to fit on new hardware under the new Active Realtime Machine System (ARMS). This allows players to run around 3D map freely within range and precisely attack an enemy in any given direction. Instead of given two actions per turn, each unit has a number of actions points that can be spent on various actions (attacking,healing or charging). This combat system would later be re-used in Sakura Wars 4 and 5. However it doesn’t end there as the team would later improve and re-introduce ARMS to the western audience on a little game Vallkyria Chronicles (2008).
In between the year 1999 and 2000, a lot of games developed in Japan have gained its strong reception, fan base and contribution that shaped future developers. Resident Evil redefined survival horror, Final Fantasy 7 made Japanese Role Playing Games acceptable in the mainstream audience and Metal Gear Solid delivered Hollywood story telling. So how did Sakura Wars reach the western market and still gain some interest without a single videogame release? The anime adaption of course.
To hype the upcoming Sakura Wars 3, Sega would market the series through anime, manga and an animated movie to be released upon the masses. Overtime, even the anime was given warm reception as it captures the essence of the game by putting the focus on the main female leads and their lovable development. To get in on the excitement the now defunct ADV Films would publish the series in the West. Soon on wards in 2001 Sakura Wars: The Movie was released taking place a few months after Sakura Wars 3. This would later be licensed in North America under Geneon.
Over the years the 25-episode anime Sakura Wars would bere-released under Sentai Filmworks while Sakura Wars: The Movie would bere-released in 2013 under Funimation Entertainment.
Ideas for the fourth game began during the final development stages for Sakura Wars 3. Sakura Wars 4 was originally going to continue Ogami’s international adventure being set in New York and later on a planned Division in Taiwan. However, when Sega discontinued the production of the Dreamcast, Sega would ask the team to move the game on the Playstation 2. But they disagreed, as they don’t want the final Dreamcast entry to be Sakura Wars 3. With that in mind Red Company and Overworks would create a celebratory finale of Ogami’s adventure for the Dreamcast.
Unlike previous development which usually last two years or more, the fourth game was completed in ten months. The team contacted all the main cast of the previous games to make a return as a “gift” to long time fans for following the journey from beginning till the end. Gameplay was mostly taken from the third with a few add-ons such as team attack and players can romance up to thirteen of the female cast combined.
Sakura Wars 4: Fall in Love, Maidens would be released on the Dreamcast on 21st March 2002 receiving critical acclaim from critics and being the best-selling Dreamcast game in Japan.
Like a movie trilogy, part 3 would be the conclusion to the Sakura Wars Retrospective as we will finally get to the failed Sakura Taisen World Project and the legacy the series left that somehow caught some gamers outside Japan through different means. Until then, I hope to see you again soon.