Posts tagged ‘Sakura Taisen’


In the immortal words of Paul Phoenix…

by wfgodbold

Bring it on, ya aliens! (also, be careful; the embiggened screenshots may have mid-game thpoilerth)

I’m about ready to wrap up my first* playthrough of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and you’ll be happy to know that Earth has been saved from the alien menace.

This time.

Firaxis’s update makes XCOM play a lot like Valkyria Chronicles;** your soldiers can move and then shoot/defend/item/grenade/etc. Different classes (assault, heavy, sniper, medic) use different weapons and have different special abilities. This makes it a lot easier to keep track of who does what – in X-COM, I had to change the characters’ names to indicate what they were best at, which led to soldiers like Col. Wolfgang Krauser 70TU 80AIM.***

The red armor is three times faster than the usual armor.

The strategic layer is more streamlined, too. I would have preferred being able to have multiple available teams (if you build multiple Skyrangers) so that you don’t have to choose between missions. More UFO attacks wouldn’t hurt, either. As the game progresses, it seems like you do a lot of waiting at the geoscape for something to happen (whether it’s an abduction, a terror mission, a council mission, or a UFO). In the original X-COM, the longer the game went on, the more frequent the UFO attacks became, until you ended up getting overwhelmed.

I know 1994 was a different gaming era, but I think that really added to the tension.

Taken as a whole, the updates are generally good. The game is still hard, the aliens are still unforgiving, and your soldiers still die heroic (and sometimes, unheroic) deaths. I’ll probably play Classic next, and then I might even give Impossible a try.

I let a third of the civilians die and it rates my performance as “Good.” Yeah, this is X-COM.

You know, when I have copious free time (which means I can pencil it in for December, I guess).

*For certain values of “first.” I restarted my Classic difficulty Ironman game several times while trying and failing to get a grip on the changed systems, before finally caving in and dropping the difficulty back to Normal (though still Ironman).

**Which played a lot like Sakura Taisen, which in turn played a lot like X-COM: UFO Defense. The circle is now complete!

***Yes, I know Wolfgang Krauser is an SNK character. It seemed like most of the random soldiers I got ended up being German with random German names, and this was all I could think of.


I really should stop doing these tab clearing posts

by wfgodbold

But they’re great for when I don’t really want to devote a whole post to any one thing (and for when I can’t come up with a substantial post on a real topic!).

Thinkgeek is selling an Aperture Science 1970s era coffee mug. Right down to the retro form factor!

Bill Amend has put together a few Foxtrot collections formatted for the iPad.

The Japanese have gone and made an anime series about a moe anthropomorphization of Nyarlathotep. Because nothing says eldritch horror like taking the Crawling Chaos and turning it into this.

Nihon Falcom has added more details to the Nayuta no Kiseki official site. They’re marketing it as an action story RPG (whatever that is), and have posted character profiles and some battle screenshots.

Sega, Capcom, and Namco are collaborating on a Super Robot Wars style crossover mashup SRPG, Project X Zone. It’ll have Ryu and Ken (Street Fighter), Shinguji Sakura and Ohgami Ichiro (Sakura Wars), Kurt and Riela (Valkyria Chronicles 3), Jin and Xiaoyu (Tekken), KOS-MOS and T-elos (Xenosaga), and Yuri and Estelle (Tales of Vesperia). And that’s not even an exhaustive list!

And finally, Looper comes out this fall, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis in an action-packed SF time travel flick. The trailer looks pretty good:


Earthbound Warriors (Title background version) (地上の戦士(タイトルバックバージョン))

by wfgodbold

Sakura Wars V: So Long, My Love is the most recent main game in the Sakura Wars franchise, and was the first to be originally developed and released on the PlayStation 2 (it was also ported to the Wii). This game was also the first game in the series to be localized for release in the United States; most likely because the game itself is set in New York City.

The game opens with Shinjiro Taiga, a new graduate of the Imperial Naval Academy, reporting to the theater in Ginza (in a scene that mirrors Ohgami’s transfer to the Imperial Assault Force in the first game), where he meets Ohgami, the commander of the force (and his uncle).

Ohgami informs Taiga that he is being sent to study abroad in the US, and the inexperienced young man is sent to join the New York Defense Force, based out of the fictional Little Lip Theater on Broadway. Like his uncle, Taiga’s cover identity is as the ticket puncher.

The New York Defense Force is just starting out, and so throughout the game, the roster will fill out with new recruits until all six members have joined. Along the way, the characters pilot their Star model mecha against the evil forces of Nobunaga Oda, Japan’s all-time favorite villain.

The following track is an instrumental rendition of the game’s main theme, and plays while the title screen is displayed.


Flowers dancing in the capital (花、帝都に舞う)

by wfgodbold

Sakura Wars 4: Madiens, Fall in Love brings the Tokyo and Paris focus of the Sakura Wars games to a close; this is the final game with Ichiro Ohgami as the player character.

Instead of having ten or twelve chapters, Sakura Wars 4 is only four or five chapters long; it attempts to make up for this by increases the number of endings attainable (to 13, from 6 (ST1), 8 (ST 2), and 5 (ST 3)). Unfortunately, the only reason to replay the game that many times is to see the ending for each of the girls; the main plot in the game doesn’t change.

This left a bitter taste in my mouth, especially after how much better the other games were. While it was nice to see the storyline brought to a conclusion, with General Yoneda’s retirement and the installment of Ohgami as commander of the Imperial Assault Force (he had previously only been the squad leader), I expected a more substantial game for his last hurrah.

That doesn’t make the music any less enjoyable; the opening to the game is a combination of the Sakura Wars 1/2 openings with the Sakura Wars 3 opening, only sung by Ohgami instead of Sakura or Erica. I’ve chosen to spare you that (even though the animation is nice), and have picked a background music track from the game itself, instead of the opening theme.


Beneath the Flag (御旗のもとに)

by wfgodbold

Sakura Wars 3: Is Paris Burning? was the first game in the series to change the setting away from Tokyo (and the first to be developed for the Dreamcast). Sakura Wars 3 departed from the grid-based battlefields used in the first two games, and replaced them with a free-roaming system (that system was used in the remake of Sakura Wars 1, and has been mostly unchanged since).

The game picks up at the end of Lt. Ohgami’s voyage to Paris, and he’s looking forward to meeting the Paris Defense Force. Unfortunately for him, his cover job is the same as it was in Tokyo; he’s the ticket puncher for the Les Chattes Noires dinner theater. Just like the Imperial Assault Force’s cover identity was the Imperial Opera Troupe, the Paris Defense Force also sings and dances the night away undercover as performers at the dinner theater.

The game’s plot wasn’t as well done as the plots of the first two games, but the characterization made up for its shortcomings. Several Parisian landmarks make appearances during the game; one battle takes place outside the Notre Dame cathedral, and the Arc de Triomphe conceals a gun large enough to launch mecha to wherever they are needed.

The heroes and villains make their required appearances in the opening movie, along with some very nice CG of the mecha in action.


Fight on, Imperial Assault Force! (がんばれ!帝国華撃団)

by wfgodbold

Sakura Wars 2: You Shall not Die was the follow up to the successful first game; instead of having to face down an ancient evil slumbering beneath the streets of Tokyo, brought forth by the machinations of a secret society, the big bad in the second game ended up being an officer in the Imperial Army.

This is probably the closest I’ve seen any anime, manga, or game come to criticizing the militarism that was on the upswing in Japan at that time period (remember, the series is set during the reign of an alternate Taisho emperor (太正 instead of 大正)); it does this by having the nefarious army officers orchestrate a coup. It’s only through the efforts of Ohgami (a naval lieutenant, remember) and the Imperial Assault Force that his plot is foiled and the government remains free of army influence. The reign of the Showa (昭和) emperor (Hirohito), the Taisho emperor’s successor, became known (both preceding and during WWII) for the great influence the army wielded in the government; the navy, instead of trying to take over the government, was interested more in upholding the Japanese constitutional monarchy..

In a way, the goals of the antagonist in ST2 mirrored the goals of the army in 1930s Japan; both were seeking a return to the way things had been done during the Edo period, when a Shogun was the de facto ruler of the country, and the emperor merely a figurehead.

Second Lt. Ohgami manages to stave off the army coup, and preserves the status quo; he’s rewarded with a promotion, and is sent to study abroad in France. The game closes with the troupe waving farewell to Ohgami, who watches from the passenger liner as it leaves port.


Sortie! Imperial Assault Force! (檄!帝国華撃団)

by wfgodbold

Sakura Wars: In Hot Blood (the original Saturn release was not subtitled) was the first in a series that achieved cult popularity in Japan; it had four direct sequels and a handful of spinoff games. Not bad for a series set in a divergent 1920s steampunk Japan (even the oddly shaped mecha run on steam (and spirit power, of course)).

The main character, Ichiro Ohgami, has just graduated from the Imperial Naval Academy and his first assignment is to report to the Imperial Theater, in the Ginza district of Tokyo. Upon doing so, he’s crushed to discover that instead of serving his country as a second lieutenant, he’s going to be punching tickets for the Imperial Opera Troupe (an all-female theater group inspired by the real-life Takurazuka Revue).

Eventually, though, his misconceptions are rectified; the opera troupe is a cover for the Imperial Assault Force, a group of young women who pilot steam and spirit powered mecha against the demons that have been plaguing Tokyo. Ohgami’s day job might have been punching tickets; when the city is under attack, he pilots his own mech and commands the rest of the squad.

Originally combat consisted of tile-based strategic battles, but with the PS2 remake, the grids were done away with in favor of a more dynamic system; mecha were able to move in any direction, instead of being limited to positions on the grid.

When not engaged in combat (which occurs once or twice per chapter), the player controls Ohgami as he makes the rounds in the theater and talks to the rest of the cast. Depending on the dialog choices you make, the other members of the troupe will grow to trust you (and so become more powerful for the combat sections) or distrust you (making them less powerful and the combat more difficult).

The opening for the games plays out like the opening of an episode of anime; each of the characters makes an appearance, as do the villains; this is continued throughout the game. After each chapter, a next-episode preview style animation plays, giving a hint of what’s to come.


SEGA, you are dead to me

by wfgodbold

You take one of the most beloved franchises you have, and then you go and do this to it?

All you had to do to sell beaucoup copies of the new Sakura Taisen game  was make it a real Sakura Taisen game; not a half-assed roguelike or a mediocre 3rd person hack and slash, but a regular game in the same vein as the first five main games (well, except maybe the fourth one).

You tricked me into buying the DS dungeon crawler, but I’m through.  If you want me to buy another Sakura Taisen game, you had better get back to the series roots.

And making the next game an online browser game with worse graphics than the SEGA Saturn releases had is not the way to do that.


Again, SEGA? Really?

by wfgodbold

Do you hate your fans that much?  I mean, sure, making Valkyria Chronicles into a PSP series is one thing, but giving up consoles completely and going to a browser based experience for the next Sakura Taisen game?

Did your dog die and are you taking it out on us?

I mean, sure, Kimi Aru ga Tame was terrible, but at least it was still on a console.  And it’s not like no one wants a real Sakura Taisen game; in a Famitsu poll from last year, it topped the list of games people want sequels for.

The offshoot games (Mysterious Paris and Kimi Aru ga Tame, mainly) haven’t done as well as the main titles do; they’re practically completely different games, and if they keep making niche titles instead of a real Sakura Taisen VI, then SEGA will be killing the franchise with the death of a thousand cuts.

On the other hand, given what they’ve done to Sonic the Hedgehog, maybe they *want* to kill their beloved franchises.


It’s semi-official!

by wfgodbold

SEGA is announcing Valkyria Chronicles 3 at this year’s Tokyo Game Show.

It’s no Sakura Taisen VI, but at this point I’ll take what I can get; hopefully VC3 will be on the PS3 again instead of on the PSP like VC2 was.

I’ll buy it and enjoy it either way (assuming they don’t completely screw with the franchise like SEGA did with Sakura Taisen V: Episode 0 or Mysterious Paris (man,those were some bad games)).

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