Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love - PS2 - Preview
Love is important. If you ever think it’s not, just watch some TV – in between the 60-minute dramas and soap operas that tell us to follow our heart, there are 30-second commercials promoting online dating services, expensive hotlines, and Valtrex (for relationships that give you more than ever-lasting affection). Not unexpectedly, love found its way into video games a long time ago. For Navy Lt. Shinjiro Taiga, the leading star of Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love, obtaining it might be the most important thing he does – next to saving the world, of course.
Sakura Wars tells the story of a man, several women, and an ongoing crime spree. No, this doesn’t sound like the premise of a new Law & Order spin-off, and that’s precisely the point. Rather than depressing the player down with an endless line of murders, Sakura Wars sprinkles the crime scenarios on top of what could be described as a basic dating simulator. Thus, any one of the attractive women Shinjiro meets could turn out to be the love of his life. But he’ll never know it if he can’t think of the right thing to say.
Using two separate phases, the gameplay is a bit more simplified than an RPG. The first phase scraps all but the slightest hint of gameplay in favor of developing the story. As Shinjiro, your job is to listen carefully to your boss, comrades and other key characters and respond appropriately by selecting one of the available responses. The best one is typically sandwiched in between two other weaker comments, but you only have a few seconds to decide. Plus, words that may impress one character could tick off another.
Simple mini-games are thrown into the story phase, requiring the player to use his or her thumbs to spin the analog sticks and execute other motions. It’s not rocket science, but it was clearly designed to give your hands something to do while your brain gets lost in the story and your eyes get lost in the pretty anime ladies.
The second, battle-intensive phase drops Shinjiro and his allies into a familiar world of destruction caused by mobile suits. Sakura Wars’ combat is purely real-time, allowing players to run around the environment and bash opponents – via button-mashing – as they would in an action/RPG (or more appropriately in this case, a hack-n-slash action game).
Though you do not have direct control over your allies’ mechs in the first chapter (but will be able to control them in the following chapters), you can still utilize their strength by executing a joint attack. To pull one off, maneuver around an enemy until he is standing between the attack path of Shinjiro and one ally."
Coming to PS2 and Wii in the new year, Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love will give fans of dating sims and simplistic RPGs something to look forward to.