Project Sakura Wars had a bit of a showing tonight thanks to its monthly livestream for July, which revealed two characters hailing from the Shanghai Combat Revue, as well as revealing the new action RPG gameplay that forms a core part of the game.
Today, we got the first look at the sequences where the protagonist meets Anastasia and Azami for the first time.
Sakura Amamiya’s character song, ‘Otome nandesu yo’
Next, the character song for main heroine Sakura Amamiya was revealed.
The ‘Five Divine Dragons’ of the Shanghai Combat Revue
While we’ve heard of the World Combat Revue War where all the Combat Revues across the world travel to compete in friendly competition, today we were introduced to two members of the ‘Five Divine Dragons’ hailing from Shanghai’s Combat Revue in China. In contrast to the Imperial Combat Revue, who were designed by Tite Kubo of Bleach fame, Yang Shaolong and Huang Yui have been designed by Yukiko Horiguchi, a former Kyo-Ani illustrator who is known for her character design work for the K-On! anime, Kokoro Connect, Tamako Market, and Lucky Star anime.
Yang Xiaolong (CV: Yuuichiro Umehara)
A young man acting as the leader of the Shanghai Combat Revue. He’s very straightforward and hates underhanded moves, and is a hot-blooded fellow who will say whatever he’s thinking to your face. He says everything with a refreshing smile on his face, so even when he’s saying a wry comment to you, it doesn’t feel malicious.
In combat, he boasts high attack power with his fighting skills. In everyday life, he’s an amazing cook who’s so good at making fried rice he’s called ‘The Rice User of Flames’.
Huang Yui (CV: Sumire Uesaka)
A cheery, honest, competitive, and active young girl. She’s very flexible and the best acrobat in the Shanghai Combat Revue. While she has a bright personality, she loves the Combat Revue more than anyone else, and as such is harsh on the Imperial Combat Revue in its downtrodden state. Even so, she has a slight recognition for Sakura Amamiya’s continual efforts without giving up, and so they get along well, with Yui acting as a senpai to Sakura.
Here’s a look at their introduction:
However, these aren’t the first times they meet – Kamiyama meets Yang during a Kouma appearance where he is saved by him:
Meanwhile, Kamiyama and Yui meet in a much more unfortunate manner:
Their Spiricle Fighters are the Wang Long, designed after dragons:
And here are the two Shanghai Combat Revue members in their battle wear:
In comparison, here’s Kamiyama and Sakura’s combat outfits:
During the explanation of the Shanghai Combat Revue characters, it was accidentally let slip that we might be seeing the London Combat Revue next.
Battle Part & Reasons Behind The Change
This time, the battle part is a real-time ‘dramatic 3D action’ game, rather than a strategy RPG. During the livestream, it was explained that seeing as this was the first game in the Sakura Wars series in 10 years, the development team felt that they needed to challenge themselves on this front. The shift in gameplay also had the support of Sega Chief Creative Officer (and Yakuza Studio head) Toshihiro Nagoshi, who also appeared on the livestream to explain.
According to Nagoshi, the team in charge of the game made and destroyed many different prototypes for the battle part, which eventually led to the change in gameplay style. In order to create something good, what is important is what sort of people are making it, and the goal for making it, said Nagoshi. In fact, Project Sakura Wars was supposed to be revealed earlier, but they cancelled that reveal for a while because it wasn’t at a level that could be shown off.
As for the battle system, Nagoshi feels that the series even in its original form wasn’t one that was completely rigid in its execution, and while the past games’ gameplay was a unique spin on the simulation genre, in order to create a Sakura Wars for today which could also act as a bridge for the future of the series, changes were made. Along the way, there was a lot of internal struggle within the staff on the change as well.
As for Project Sakura Wars producer Tetsu Katano’s side, he confirmed that at a point in time they did make a prototype for simulation battles, but then felt that they wanted to go for something more speedy, that felt like playing through the opening animation of Sakura Wars 3.
Another aspect was how to position Sakura Wars within a genre filled with fantasy mecha ranging from Gundam to FromSoftware’s gritty Armored Core. The Koubu were a key element that scaled better towards the more weighty end, and Katano felt that players would probably like to feel what it’s like to “control the Koubu directly”.
The game’s battle part lead game designer, Takayuki Okata, then took the stage to show off live gameplay:
During battle, you are able to switch between characters, with Kamiyama and Sakura’s gameplay shown off during the livestream. While the gameplay is easy to pick up, Katano said that they understand that gameplay with less variation only leads to monotonous gameplay experiences – something that Yakuza Studio head Nagoshi kept reminding him about in feedback sessions at least once a month.
Gameplay-wise, apart from standard hack and slashing, Okata showed off the ‘perfect dodge’ mechanic that leads into a finishing hit with triangle for Kamiyama, and bullet time for Sakura. There are also sections where “wall-running” will be needed. There are also special finishers that show a special animation beforehand. Damage is also affected by your bond with the partner character, boosted by how higher their bonds are.
Finally, the livestream ended with a new trailer and the game’s release date announcement. A first-print limited edition will release with a soundtrack CD of over 60 vocal songs encompassing all six games in the series, as well as an A4 sized 72-page artbook of illustrations from across the series.
Project Sakura Wars releases in Japan on December 12, 2019 for PlayStation 4. The game will release in North America and Europe in Spring 2020.