Saturday, October 21, 2017

Sakura Taisen 1

 The Storm of Romance under the Cherry Blossom of Taisho Era! It has been three years since i get into Sakura Taisen and i really enjoyed every moment that i commit with this series. It was no doubt that Sakura Taisen is a legendary series and doubt there will be another one to reach its level. With my complete journey over the first game i think the series seserve a proper article just like the one i wrote for Sakura Taisen 3. For the first 2 Sakura Taisen i played them on PSP which is great experience for being able to play such great series on the go.

Sakura Taisen 1 Heroine CG

Sakura Taisen 1 Ending CG

 Sakura Taisen series is a Hybrid Simulation Strategy videogame series published by Sega in mid 90s. In short it was a Visual Novel blended with bits of action, taking Fantasy/Scifi flavor mixed into Taisho era. Probably it was not the first of its kind but it definitely popularize the Hybrid Visual Novel genre with its amazing presentation approach toward one of the better era that modern Japan Had. With its winning formula, Sakura Taisen was a huge success in Japan and later spawn great sequels until the end of Dreamcast lifetime. Sakura Taisen is no doubt one of the Sega's most beloved series by many mainly due to its stellar cast and music. With Dating-sim RPG series like Persona or Riviera owes alot with Sakura Taisen. Sakura Taisen is what a Visual Novel would look like if it got sufficient backing with resources and talent aplenty. For me it were Kouhei Tanaka's Music arrangement and Kosuke Fujishima's Heroine design that wins me over this series and i don't think there are many works that are able to top what those both guys did in Sakura Taisen.

 Sakura Taisen 1 is the beginning of Ichiro Ogami Journey to be the leader of Teikoku Kagekidan, an Elite Task Forcethat fights against Demonic Threats that looms over Japan. Being an Elite Graduate from Navy, Ogami's assignment to Teikoku Kagekidan was not as straightforward as he thought. As Ogami being assigned to what appears to be a theare with all female performers. And instead of fighting he is assigned as ticket clipper which would be of his training. But it turns out that the Theatre was a front of the Teikoku Kagekidan Hanagumi, an Elite Super-Sentai Esque whose fighting members mostly comprised of Females. By wielding Steampunkish Mecha called Koubu that run on Spiritual Power, they fight against the Demons and anything that threatens the Peace of Japan.

  Even though Ogami is assigned to be Hanagumi's Leader, it won't be easy task for him in the beginning as the Hanagumi member are comprised of girls with colorful personalities. In the first game Ogami spends most of his time to gain his fellow member's trust and molds them into cohesive effective fighting force. And during his attempt to achieve this goal, Ogami eventually get close with one of the Hanagumi's girl. In my Sakura Taisen 1 Playthrough i finished all of the route in this following sequence: Iris>Sakura>Sumire>Maria>Kanna>Kohran. In Sakura Taisen 1, Sakura is probably the easiest girl to gain affection for she is the main Heroine while Kohran's is the hardest as her story arc is in the second game.

  In the First Game, Ichiro Ogami and Hanagumi will be facing Hive of Darkness as their adversary.  There is nothing much Compared to the anime counterpart as the Hive of Darkness jobs really badly in the game. I think antagonist is easily one of the weakest part in the series as the second game antagonist gets really Silly.

 For the majority of the part, Sakura taisen is a visual novel game as Ogami spends his free time in the Theatre to get along with the Hanagumi girls better. But to spice things up, Sakura Taisen incorporated time based interaction known as LIPS to make the game look more interactive. The relation of Ogami and the Heroines proves crucial in the game as the Hanagumi perform better if they trust Ogami sufficiently. The game also added plenty of Minigames that is not too bad of distraction.

  As for the second half of the gameplay, Sakura Taisen incorporated Strategy RPG in their game. The strategy game is not overly complex but decent enough as you lead the Hanagumi in their Koubus to fight against the Demons. For most of the part, Sakura Taisen strategy game is quite easy as long as you properly gain the Hanagumi's members trust. And Once one the Heroine's affection toward Ogami is high enough, Ogami and the Heroine is capable of pulling off  Powerful AoE attack which is not as silly yet compared to later series. Some of the boss are capable of almost one shotting your unit, but Ogami's overpowered protect ability is more than enough for a deterrent. In terms of usefulness, Sakura and Maria are the most reliable Hanagumi member as they perform really well even though they dont have high affection points.

 As a Game Sakura Taisen might not look that impressive especially in the present, but it was the beginning of the journey of an amazing Visual Novel series if shortlived which lasted only for 7 Years. While Sakura Taisen's days of glory are long gone already it is a genuinely good series if not perfect and got considerable amount of loyal follower leaving a lasting legacy in Video Game Hallmark. One day i will inevitably complete my journey for this series but i think the fond memories that i have with Sakura Taisen will last for a lifetime

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