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 ~Farewell, My Love~) is a single-player strategy role-playing game 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 PlayStation 2 in Japan on July 5, 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. 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 in Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love 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 the 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.
According to an NIS America press release, the plot description is:
- The first Sakura Wars game to reach North America, Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love takes the franchise to America with the franchise's first story set in America, following a new hero who joins the US version of the Hanagumi. Demons have appeared in New York, and its up to Shinjirou, Gemini Sunrise and a new cast of characters to take them out. The cast serves as performers during the day and warriors when called upon, continuing series tradition.
- Sakura Wars is a strategy RPG that features a unique sim-based story system. Character interaction plays a major role in a storyline that never follows a set course, and your responses to the various characters in the game can ultimately change the story content and even the final outcome. The battle system is divided into two main parts; ground combat and air combat. Ground combat takes place using two-legged mechanized suits, which transform into jet fighters to take the fight to the sky. Every mech unit in the game can transform from battle mech mode to jet fighter mode during combat.
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- Shinjiro Taiga
- A young naval Lieutenant from Japan who is selected to become the new captain of the New York Combat Revue's Star Division.
- Gemini Sunrise
- A very cheerful cowgirl who tends to be a bit clumsy. Her master's last words bring her from Texas to New York with her fellow horse, Larry. She is very interested in Japanese culture and tends to daydream often.
- Sagiitta Weinberg (Cheiron Archer in the English language version)
- A strong-willed African-American lawyer who practices out of Harlem. She is very intelligent and is recognized for her exceptional perseverance, toughness, independence and confidence. She serves as a sub-antagonist in Episode 2 as she works with Steam Forntier to demolish her hometown of Harlem. After facing her in a mock trial, Shinjiro helps remind her why she studied law in the first place and becomes closer with him.
- Rikaritta Aries (Rosarita Aries in the English language version)
- A Mexican markswoman and bounty hunter despite being only 11 years old. She is very energetic with an abundant appetite and obsession with food.
- Diana Caprice
- A local birdwatcher who is as compassionate as a goddess. She is a doctor in training who has initially given up all hope to live until Shinjiro comes and gives her the hope she needed to keep going, despite everything she's been through.
- Subaru Kujo
- Subaru's true gender and age are completely unknown, though the character tends to use pronouns such as "herself" when speaking in the third person. However, Subaru is defintely a noble from a Japanese family and excels at Noh and other traditional Japanese dances.
Supporting characters of Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love include Ratchet Altair, a former captain of the European Star Division and captain of New York's Fighting Troupe until Shinjiro replaces her, she becomes the vice-commander soon after; Michael Sunnyside, the commander of the Star Division; Cherry Cocker (Plum Spaniel in the Japanese 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 Xingzhi Wong (Gyouchi Oh in the Japanese language version), who is the designer of the STARs and owns a Chinese restaurant.
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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 Yuichi Kayama, the leader of the Moon Division, clears him and they enter 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 outside the theater, and later meets the theater's drink bar hostess, Cherry Cocker, and gift shop seller, Anri Yoshino. Along the way, Taiga meets Subaru Kujo, a Japanese musician while in the garden and Cheiron Archer, a lawyer. Later, just as Taiga finishes watches a musical based on Cleopatra, an emergency occurs and Ratchet orders Taiga to watch over the theater. After Shinjiro is assigned by Sunnyside to be a ticket clipper, he goes to Central Park and meets Diana Caprice, a birdwatcher. Eventually, Shinjiro is accepted as a member of the Star Division when he shows Ratchet the results of his progress. However, Ratchet is injured during a battle on the Statue of Liberty with Ranmaru, a recurring antagonist in the game, forcing her to let Shinjiro take over as the captain. After the player thwarts Ranmaru's invasion, Ratchet becomes the assistant commander.
Later, Cheiron organizes a mock trial involving Shinjiro and Carlos, a member of the biker gang, the Centaurs, to evict the people of Harlem, where the city is being burned by Kokuryu-hime. Eventually, Cheiron is revealed to be a member of the Centaurs, and realizes her feelings for the people of Harlem. After defeating Kokuryu-hime to save Harlem, Shinjiro encounters Rosarita Aries, a bounty hunter from Mexico, and she joins the Star Division. As a perfectionist, she becomes depressed when Shinjiro is injured after an attack but learns that everyone makes mistakes, its how one deals with their mistakes that make the person.
The group meets a young doctor named Diana Caprice who has a weak body and not much time to live which, unfortunately has her resigning to her fate. Shinjiro showed her that even if the circumstances look dire, she can fight her destiny and give her a new path to follow.
The Revue uses the Ahab, the Star Division's airship, to successfully infiltrate 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 successfully defeats him, but Nobunaga comes out alive and following a brief confrontation with between him and Shinjiro, Nobunaga looks into Shinjiro's feelings before disappearing. Sunnyside, Ratchet, Anri and Cherry watch as Nobunaga's castle disintegrates into cherry blossoms.
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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.
Prior to the game's release, a prequel was released in 2004. It was entitled Sakura Taisen V Episode 0 ~Kouya no Samurai Musume~, which translates to "Sakura Wars V Episode 0 ~Samurai Girl from the Wild West~" and revolves around the character Gemini Sunrise.
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|
Prior to the game's release, the prequel Sakura Taisen V Episode 0: Kouya no Samurai Musume sold 71,807 units in Japan during 2004. In 2005, the original PlayStation 2 version of Sakura Taisen V: Saraba, Itoshiki Hito yo sold 144,668 units in Japan, making it the 91st best selling game in the country that year. Combined, both Sakura Taisen V and its prequel sold 216,475 units for the PlayStation 2 in Japan by the end of 2005. Upon its 2005 release in Japan, Famitsu's panel of four reviewers gave Sakura Taisen V ratings of 10, 8, 10 and 9 out of 10, adding up to an overall score of 37 out of 40. This is the highest score that a Sakura Taisen game has received from Famitsu. It was also one of Famitsu's thirteen highest-scoring games of 2005.
Upon its overseas release in 2010, Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love also received positive reviews. IGN's Sam Bishop gave the game an "Amazing" score of 9 out of 10, stating that it is "safe to say this is probably one of the most re-playable games of its kind" with hundreds "of dialogue choices, exploration and the odd bit of conversation" that "will keep you coming back." He gave it ratings of 8.5 for presentation, 8 for graphics, 8 for sound, 9 for gameplay, and 10 for lasting appeal. The game was given the "Editor's Choice" Award by IGN. RPGFan's Patrick Gann gave it a 90% score, including 70% for graphics, 97% for sound, 92% for gameplay, 90% for control, and 90% for story. He praised the gameplay and script, and the quick time event dialogue choice system as "a lot of fun," but criticized the game for not being as good as its predecessors, nevertheless concluding that it is "a great game in its own right" and that "BioWare, with its strong emphasis on dialogue trees and "choice," could learn a thing or two from Sakura Wars." 1UP's Andrew Fitch gave the game a B+ rating. He praised the "multiple-choice responses" that demand "a response within five seconds", comparing them to the more recent Heavy Rain and noting they "affect relationships with teammates, influence battle prowess, and ultimately alter the game's ending." He criticized the "silly, slapstick anime" plot, but overall recommended the "mix of real-time, visual-novel storytelling and giant-mech strategy".
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. Destructoid's Josh Tolentino, however, states that despite being five years old, "its experience is quite unlike anything else out there." He praised the LIPS system for taking "the dialog tree several steps further, placing your choices on a timer (ala Alpha Protocol, though Sakura Wars did it first)", and the turn-based tactical battles which are enhanced by the "relationship-building", but criticized the dated "mid-generation PS2" graphics, giving it an 8 out of 10 overall. 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.
- ↑ Sakura Wars So Long My Love Official Site. Sakura Wars So Long My Love (2009). Retrieved on November 6, 2009
- ↑ SAKURA WARS ANNOUNCED FOR NORTH AMERICA AT LAST.  (2009). Retrieved on November 21, 2009
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Sakura Wars Announced for North America at Last (7 May 2009).
- ↑ Theater of War. Nintendo Power 246, page 66. October 2009.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 NIS America (2010-03-02). "DATE CHANGE: SAKURA WARS COMING MARCH 30, 2010". Press release. http://www.nisamerica.com/images/email/Sakura%20PressRelease100302_support.pdf. Retrieved 2010-03-02.
- ↑ Sakura Wars Wii Given European Release Date. Cubed3 (2010). Retrieved on 2010-02-08
- ↑ Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love. Entertainment Software Rating Board (2009). Retrieved on December 25, 2009
- ↑ http://www.oflc.gov.au/www/cob/find.nsf/3ee9cf339ddee09eca2575ca000be1e3/e252041d0aa18427ca25768e0057f1b1!OpenDocument
- ↑ Sakura Wars ~So Long My Love~ Interview. RPGamer (2010). Retrieved on 2011-03-30
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love - System. NIS America (2009). Retrieved on 2009-12-08
- ↑ Fisher, Brent (2002-07-04). Sega Announces New Sakura Taisen Title. RPGamer. Retrieved on 2009-10-23
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 Sakura Wars ~So Long My Love~ Interview. RPGamer. Retrieved on 2010-02-13
- ↑ Sakura Wars Premium Package Unveiled (8 July 2009).
- ↑ http://www.gamerankings.com/ps2/561890-sakura-wars-so-long-my-love/index.html
- ↑ Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love. Metacritic. Retrieved on 2011-03-30
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 Sakura Taisen, Garaph
- ↑ Top selling games japan consoles. the-magicbox.com (2008). Retrieved on 17 December 2013
- ↑ Famitsu Hall of Fame. Geimin. Retrieved on 7 February 2012
- ↑ http://uk.ps2.ign.com:80/articles/108/1080744p4.html
- ↑ http://ps2.ign.com/articles/108/1080744p1.html
- ↑ http://www.rpgfan.com/reviews/Sakura_Wars_PS2/
- ↑ https://web.archive.org/web/20110605043353/http://www.1up.com/reviews/sakura-wars-long-love-review
- ↑ http://www.rpgamer.com/games/sakura/sakura5/reviews/sakura5strev1.html
- ↑ http://www.destructoid.com/review-sakura-wars-so-long-my-love-173330.phtml
- ↑ Wiiloveit.com: Sakura Wars SLML Review
- ↑ Stella, Shiva. Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love Review. GameSpot.com. Retrieved on 2014-01-28
- Official Japanese website
- Official North American website
- Official website
- Official NIS America website