Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love is the fifth game in Sega and Red Company's long running Sakura Wars franchise. Like its predecessors, So Long, My Love mixes tactical RPG gameplay with adventure game elements where the player can build a relationship with different heroines. The title served as a reboot of sorts for the series, introducing a brand new cast in an American setting. Sega published the game for the PlayStation 2 in Japan on July 7, 2005 and NIS America eventually released the game in the United States in 2010 for the PS2 along with a new Nintendo Wii port developed by Idea Factory. This marked the first time a title in the Sakura Wars series was ever localized into English.
NIS America's release of Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love was published as a two-disc premium edition on the PlayStation 2 where the English and original Japanese audio tracks where contained on two separate discs. Besides the change in audio, the Japanese disc also featured several differences in its script, such as all of the characters keeping their original names in order to more closely match the Japanese audio. The Wii version was a single disc release that only contained the English voice track.
Gameplay in Sakura Wars is divided into two main segments - Adventure Mode and Battle Mode.
In Adventure Mode, Shinjiro Taiga, the main protagonist, is controlled from a third-person perspective and can move throughout various locales of New York and interact with other characters. Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love features the series' traditional Live & Interactive Picture System, or LIPS, which requires the player to participate in quick-time events that decide the outcome and consequences of interactions with other characters. During a conversation, various responses or actions may appear on screen for the player to choose or perform within a time limit. Failure to choose an option within the time limit is also considered a valid response. Furthermore, the player's actions over the course of the game not only determine the narrative direction and ending of the plot, but also the effectiveness of the party in combat.
Character progression in Sakura Wars does not occur in the traditional role-playing sense of earning points from combat towards higher experience levels; rather, the protagonist and his party members become more powerful over time depending on the strength of their respective relationships - therefore, Adventure Mode is the primary avenue through which the player bonds with the other party members in order to become more effective in Battle Mode.
Battle Mode consists of turn-based combat on a gridless field. Each party member's STAR (steam-powered mecha) is assigned a certain number of movement points based on his or her speed, which can be spent on actions such as movement or attacks. Additionally, when controlling the protagonist's command unit, the player can also issue special commands to the rest of the squad in order to activate special attacks or change tactical modes befitting the situation. Over the course of the game, more tactical options will become available as the player builds up his/her relationship with the other party members.
The nineteen year-old nephew of Ogami Ichiro, the protagonist of the previous Sakura Wars games. Second Lieutenant Taiga Shinjiro is summoned to the Imperial Assault Team's headquarters in the opening cutscene, only to be reassigned to the Star Division squadron of the newly established New York Combat Revue, an American sister organization of the Imperial Assault Team. Following the Star Division's first combat sortie in which Ratchet Altair, the current leader, is wounded, Shinjiro is appointed acting field commander of the Star Division. Born and bred into the Taiga samurai family, Shinjiro's personality is straightforward and reflects the traditional Japanese samurai ethic in a rapidly changing world, impressing and occasionally baffling those around him.
The protagonist of the prequel Sakura Wars V Episode 0, Gemini Sunrise is a self-styled cowgirl samurai from Texas that speaks with a Texan drawl and claims to find the bustle of New York disconcerting. When Shinjiro first transfers into the NYCR, Gemini is working as a cleaning girl in the Littlelip Theater, a front for the Combat Revue's headquarters.
Cheiron Archer (Sagitta Weinberg)
Pilot, attorney, biker gang leader, and star actress, Cheiron is a strong-willed woman of many talents and a member of the Star Division. Long before she became a lawyer, Cheiron was a gang member in Harlem. The discrimination she and her friends experienced compelled her to become a lawyer to fight for their rights; unfortunately, Cheiron's work affected her sense of morality and she is frequently conflicted between compassion and her desire for justice. Originally named Sagitta Weinberg, her name was changed to Cheiron in the English voice track disc.
One of the two original members of the Star Division, Subaru is the most enigmatic member of the Revue. Her history, age, and actual gender are unknown to the whole team, but there is no denying that Subaru is by far the most talented actress and pilot on the Revue at the time during which Shinjiro joins. Idolized by all, Subaru's ego is nonetheless far from arrogant, though she has little tolerance for those she sees as useless to the team.
A kind but frail doctor that spends much of her time in Central Park, Diana first meets Shinjiro in the park not longer after his arrival in New York.
Rosarita Aries (Rikaritta Aries)
Rosarita is a prodigious young gunslinger and bounty hunter from the frontier. With nothing but her revolvers, pet weasel, and ravenous appetite, Rosarita arrives in New York searching for her next job/meal, but is recruited to the team early on for both her childish appeal and incredible marksmanship. Originally named Rikaritta, she had her name changed to Rosarita in the English voice disc, presumably to more clearly reflect a Mexican background.
Sakura Taisen World Project
Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love was always meant to introduce the Sakura Wars franchise to an international audience and was one of seven games announced as part of the "Sakura Taisen World Project" in 2002. The project was meant to reinvigorate the franchise after the death of the Dreamcast and the finale of Ogami's storyline in Sakura Taisen 4. Along with the announcement of Sakura Taisen V and several spin-offs, ports and remakes, Red Entertainment also revealed plans to localize Sakura Taisen V Episode 0 and Sakura Wars V for a Western audience with the hope of expanding the franchise outside of Japan . Nothing ever came of these plans, however, and several of the World Project titles were eventually canceled in 2008, including an action adventure prequel game that took place before Sakura Taisen 1 called KOUMA and a "psycho trip action" title set during the Sengoku period named Sakura Himenishiki Emaki. Instead the franchise would remained in Japan until NIS America released So Long, My Love stateside in 2010.
The World Project titles included:
- Sakura Taisen: Atsuki Chishio Ni - 2003
- Sakura Taisen Monogatari: Mysterious Paris - 2004
- Sakura Taisen V Episode 0: Arano no Samurai Musume - 2004
- Sakura Taisen 3: Paris wa Moeteiru ka? (PlayStation 2 Port) - 2005
- Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love - 2005
- KOUMA (Canceled)
- Sakura Himenishiki Emaki (Canceled)
|1||Surface Warrior (Opening Vers.)||1:49|
|2||Surface Warrior (Title Background Vers.)||2:58|
|3||Little Lip Theater||3:39|
|5||Neon Lit Town||4:25|
|6||Welcome to Broadway||2:43|
|12||Another Clear Day in Manhattan||3:34|
|14||State of Emergency||2:46|
|15||Prelude to Battle||3:22|
|16||Ahab, Take Off!||2:27|
|17||New York Floral Assault Group, Ready Go!!||4:24|
|19||Those Fighting on the Flight Deck||3:30|
|20||Gang of Destruction||3:58|
|1||The Destroyed and Undestroyed||2:45|
|6||The Whole World Under Conquest||3:33|
|7||Victory Is in My Hands||1:20|
|8||Surface Warrior (Final Battle Vers.)||2:34|
|9||Loving New York||4:17|
|10||Kiss Me Sweet||4:16|
|13||Bounty Hunter Rika||1:33|
|14||One Day I Looked Up at the Blue Sky||1:59|
|17||Here Is Paradise||2:13|
|18||Movie - Cherry Blossoms Fluttering about the Imperial Capital||0:41|
|19||Movie - Hopeful New World||1:02|
|20||Movie - New York Is in Tumult!||0:51|
|21||Movie - Musical (Cleopatra)||0:51|
|22||Movie - Trash Chute||0:39|
|23||Movie - Star, Sortie!||0:59|
|24||Movie - Ahab, Take Off!||1:36|
|25||Movie - Change! Flight Form!!||0:34|
|26||Movie - Sagitta, Special Attack!||0:35|
|27||Movie - Rika Is Bounty Hunting!||0:47|
|28||Movie - To a Shining Future||0:36|
|29||Movie - Bonds||0:51|
|30||Movie - Shoot-out on the Brooklyn Bridge||0:49|
|31||Movie - Nobunaga, Departure for the Front||1:13|
|32||Movie - Sixth Sky||1:01|
|33||Movie - Mainland Anti-aircraft Machine [C.A.R.P.]||1:23|
|34||Movie - Together with My Hopes||1:09|
|35||Movie - The Skyscraper is the Color of Cherry Blossoms||1:18|
|36||Over the Rainbow Sunshine||6:21|