We had the opportunity to ask a few questions about Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love and NIS America's Nao Zook was super nice to help us get some answers. So if you're looking for some insight on this long awaited title, look no further than the below questions:
Q: For someone new to the Sakura Wars franchise -- which has been active in Japan for many years -- how would you describe it to them?
Sakura Wars is a Japanese Strategy RPG with an anime-style story progression. There are a total of 8 chapters, and each chapter consists of the Adventure mode and the Battle mode. The story takes place in New York, 1920’s. You play as a young Japanese Lieutenant, Shinjiro Taiga. Right after graduating from Navy school, Shinjiro was assigned to take a role in the New York Combat Revue as the Star Division leader and protect the city of New York from evil entities.
The members of Star Division are all female, so you know there will be DRAMA! And as Shinjiro, a newly assigned leader, you must build good relationships with them to have a stronger team bond, which will allow you to inflict more damage in battle. Yes, relationships are key here. You’ll be fighting in a cool Mech, both on the ground and in the air, but it won’t be enough to defeat stronger enemies. So you gotta please the ladies! In the Adventure mode, there is a system called LIPS, Live Interactive Picture System, where you are given questions or tasks by your teammates and depending on your answer or how well you complete the task, the relationship between you and the member will become either stronger or weaker.
This game has a very unique presentation, so please be prepared for something unique and different from what you usually think when you hear “Strategy RPG”! If you like watching Anime, this game will be a hit for you
We prepared a premium box for the PlayStation 2 version. It comes with a poster, pamphlet style art book, and a Japanese voice over disc (English text) as bonus items! For those who are not really sure about this game, but want to check it out, we have a regular package for the Wii. It comes with the English voice disc and is offered at $29.99!
I think I went on too much here… sorry! But I hope you are interested in the game now
Q: Sakura Wars V - Farewell, My Love came out in Japan in 2005. The upcoming release of /Farewell/ is the first Sakura Wars game released in North America, why has it taken this long to bring the series here?
There are many speculations about the reasons why the Sakura Wars series had not made it to North America, and we don’t really know why. However, all I can say is that we were ecstatic when we found out that we could work with RED and Idea Factory to bring Sakura Wars to the fans in North America!
Q: What changes can be expected, if any, from the Japanese version of the game?
A few characters’ names and terminology have been changed. Other than these changes, everything is the same. However, the Japanese Voice Disc, in the PS2 premium box, has all the original Japanese names for those characters whose names were changed in the English disc. So the text in the Japanese Voice Disc will match with the Japanese voice over. This bonus item is a treat for enthusiastic Sakura Wars fans
Q: Any plans to localize the other Sakura Wars games? If so, would you plan to bring them to both PS2 and Wii, or just one of the two?
At this moment, we don’t have any plans for the other Sakura Wars games.
Q: Generally speaking, what's involved in localizing a game like Sakura Wars V? How long did it take to prepare /Farewell/ for North America?
Not just Sakura Wars, but all the titles we localize will go through this process; 1. Translation 2. Script editing 3. Voice recording 4. Programming 5. Debugging 6. QA & Mastering 7. Manufacturing.
The longest process in the localization period is the translation and editing part. When we localize a huge game like Sakura Wars or the Ar tonelico series games it easily takes more than 6 months to complete both translation and editing.
It took roughly 1 and a half years to 2 years to localize Sakura Wars, but this is a very rare case. I think it took about 3 years if you start from the process of getting a license for this title. But usually, depending on the game size, it takes about 8 to 12 months for the localization. While our localization team is working on the game, our production team makes the packaging, manual, website, bonus items, etc.
Q: Are the Sakura Wars games basically separate from one another, like most Final Fantasy titles? In other words, since most North American players have not played the other Japanese-only Sakura Wars games, will they be lost in /Farewell/ or does /Farewell's/ story provide enough background information on its characters and plot to be cohesive?
Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love has an original story and original characters. So players new to the series will be able to enjoy it without getting lost! However, there are several cameo characters from earlier entries, so for those who have known about Sakura Wars for a while can get a small grin when they see these characters.