As a reboot of the Sakura Wars series, upcoming cross-genre video game Shin Sakura Taisen/ Project Sakura Wars has grabbed worldwide attention for its action role-playing, dating sim and visual novel elements.
At Tokyo Game Show 2019, QooApp found opportunities to get hands-on with this popular series, and its popularity really showed by the long queue at its demonstration area, which embellished with a stunning Sakura tree.
Published by Sega, the game is scheduled to be released on PS4 on 12th December, 2019 in Japan and 2020 internationally. A combination of new and returning staff were involved in development; including director Tetsuya Ootsubo, scenario writers Takaaki Suzuki and Jiro Ishii, while Bleach creator Tite Kubo (久保 帯人) as the character designer certainly draws some fans.
The stage is set in a romanticized version of 1940s Imperial Tokyo. 10 years ago, a cataclysm resulted in the devastating loss of the Imperial Combat Revue of Tokyo, the capital’s global defense force operating out of the Imperial Theater. The theater has since fallen on hard times and risks closure.
As captain of the new Tokyo revue, it’s up to you to mend the hearts of your troops and restore the Imperial Theater back to its former glory!
The demo splits between adventure segments where players can explore the Imperial Theater and talks to the characters; and battle segments.
It starts when the protagonist, Seijuro Kamiyama, newly joins as the captain of the Imperial Combat Revue’s all-female-member Flower Division. There, he meets the heroine Sakura Amamiya, who guides him through the Imperial Theater.
During the conversations, you are presented with multiple choices to select within a time limit. What response the player selects directly affect Kamiyama’s relationship with the female characters, and impact their later performance in battle segments. This returning gameplay element is known as “Live & Interactive Picture System” (LIPS), which allows players to feel as if you are right in the scene.
The demo allows players to freely discover and had dialogue with the characters in the Imperial Theater. When you enter different rooms, you will meet with different members from the Flower Division and trigger special dialogues. The main story is fully voiced, and most sub-events are voiced too.
I was lucky to meet Hatsuho Shinonome, Azami Mochizuki and Claris during the adventure segment. Each girl had unique characters setting and you would easily fall in love with them. Azami left me quite an impression as she suddenly showcased her ninja attacks when I entered the room. Although the love line with a 13-year-old girl sounds super weird, maybe we have the chance to see her grow up later in the game. And I can’t help but see her as Soifon from Bleach…
Another highlight is that you can actually move along the point of view of the protagonist, meaning that the characters will move around you instead of standing at a fixed position. This new “Analog LIPS” system, enable players to move the camera around and highlight objects or people in order to trigger more dialogue.
During a TGS live stage event on 14th September, a demo was showcased to demonstrate this unique function, where Seijuro have to select whether to move the camera to see Sakura Amamiya changing. If you move the camera to peep, she will get angry. When this happens, you won’t be able to talk with them for a while, meaning your trust levels won’t progress.
The demo continuous with the battle segments as players have to switch between Seijuro and Azam in their battle suits in order to reunite with other members from the Flower Division. The battle system is quick and super hyper. You can enhance the speed of the characters to make quick attacks and even slide along walls to arrive different locations. The ultimate skills of the characters are also strong enough to clear all your enemies.
The battle also has an unkillable Orochi/giant snake-like monster appearing at some point, making things more difficult. It provides a thrilling element as you have to calculate the right time to move the character or you will fall from the stage.
The dating feature is really a charm and I am genuinely impressed by the “Analog LIPS” system, which makes the scenario more interactive. Selecting the right option during conversation becomes crucial as it will affect the ability of the characters. But I can’t help but select the ridiculous answer, so that the romantic scene will suddenly become a comedy.
The battle system is easy to control and you would need different techniques to fully utilize the advantages of each characters. Although only Seijuro and Azami are available in the demo, you can switch with more characters as the game proceeds, making things easier.
A limited edition postcard is also presented to visitors who tried the playable demo in TGS 2019.
▍Stage Event on 14th September