Sakura Wars, After Two Decades, Finally in English!

This happened a little while ago. It only took 23 years for fans to get their hands on the game that started it all! Just in case you missed it (if nobody else posted it). I think it counts as a Visual Novel with dating sim elements (but very innocent, it’s like a prolonged and slow build up to a conclusive “I like you” more than anything else, the main story doesn’t deal with that, though it affects character arcs) but a relatively unique one at that with the various time limits and other such features that spice up dialogue selection. There are some battle segments which aren’t a common VN feature but they are few and far between, like once per chapter or similar (it’s set up like an anime with episodes and even a “coming up next” preview at the end of each), without leveling or items even though it resembles an SRPG. Only your dialogue choices which may affect the morale of the team members can increase or decrease their battle stats, as well as specific story progression points. Lots of nice art, animated scenes and a cool setting/story!

This is a launch trailer to celebrate the release of the Sakura Wars fan translation patch for the Sega Saturn version of the game. This marks the very first time that the original entry in this long-running franchise will be playable in English since it was initially published in Japan over two decades ago!

Instructions on how to apply the patch are included in the Readme file.

Trailer Credits: Edited by TrekkiesUnite118 and Bowl of Lentils VO by CrouchingMouse Narration Script by Eien1No1Yami and cj_iwakura The trailer was made to look similar to Sakura Wars’ original 1996 Japanese television commercial. The clean animated footage and animated English logo were provided by/edited by TrekkiesUnite118 while the trailer itself was put together by myself (Bowl of Lentils). The script was written by cj_iwakura, which was based off a translation of the Japanese ad created by Eien1No1Yami, and the voice-over was recorded by CrouchingMouse.

Sakura Wars is a Japanese steampunk media franchise created by Oji Hiroi and developed and owned by Sega. The first game in the series was released in 1996, and has since spawned five other main entries and numerous spin-off titles since then. The series—set during a fictionalized version of the Taishō period—depicts groups of women with magical abilities using steam-powered mecha to combat demonic threats.

The original Sakura Wars was an ambitious title for the then-in-production Sega Saturn. The first game’s overlap of the tactical role-playing, dating sim and visual novel genres prompted Sega to classify it as a “dramatic adventure”, a moniker which has endured during the series’ lifetime. Both Red Entertainment and Sega co-developed most of the games until 2019, when Sega became the sole developer. While the series has seen continuity in the main actors who could both act and sing as well as composer Kohei Tanaka, several other designers, programmers and animation studios would be employed through a number of games.

The series has sold over 4.5 million copies as of 2010, and garnered both critical and popular acclaim. The original Sega console games have been voted among the most popular for the Saturn and Dreamcast. The Sakura Wars franchise includes numerous anime productions, manga, and other media projects such as stage shows. With the exception of Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love and Project Sakura Wars, the video game series has not been released in English. Several of the anime series have been localized for English territories.

Here are some screenshots I took, the first set is with the SSF emulator and the last few with the RetroArch Beetle core which is a core port of the multi-system emulator Mednafen that I also used in the past as it’s wonderful for Saturn. Sorry for the letterboxing, I couldn’t bother removing it, I’ve figured out how to take RA screens without the black bars since. I’m also using the mattias CRT shader there, I like it as an all purpose shader so I don’t have to change it per system or per game, for 2D or 3D, old or new, etc.

1 Like

It’s difficult to overstate how big this franchise was for Sega in Japan. Which makes it all the more odd to see the latest sequel perform poorly in Japan, despite a pretty heavy marketing push from Sega. I wonder if the new art style and the move to real-time action rather than strategy gameplay was a good move. I imagine a FFVII-like remake of the first game would actually have performed better.

I’m sure changing genres and apparently not doing a very good job at it played a part. I loved everything I had seen (except that one absurd character but oh well) of it up until the action gameplay was revealed. It would have been awesome if it adapted the Valkyria Chronicles engine to suit its needs and setting or something. It’s kind of similar to how they treated Shining Force in later years perhaps. Not very well.

If they remade the first, it would be the second time it’s remade. There’s a remake for the PS2 which brings presentation closer to the most recent game, 5, the first/only one we got in English as So Long, My Love. Or rather in line with Sakura Wars 3 and 4 on Dreamcast. Apparently when Dreamcast died they had plans to have the whole series on PS2 (and possibly release it worldwide on top of that) but the first game didn’t perform so hot so they never remade the second, but PS2 still got a port of 3 and then much later the new entry, 5. It’s weird to look at the release history. Sakura Wars 1 for Saturn, 2 for Saturn, 1 and 2 remastered but not really remade for Dreamcast, 3 done for Dreamcast as a full series upgrade, 4 done but with the initial plans scrapped due to its imminent death so it turned into a sort of homage to the series up to that point with all characters making an appearance or something, 1 remade for PS2, 2 skipped, 3 ported, 4 skipped, 5 made for PS2 and finally released in the West for both PS2 and Wii with the PS2 version being the only one to offer a second disc with the Japanese VA. Peculiar and interesting. No console has all entries before this new one as a result. On the Dreamcast at least you get the whole original saga arc with the same protagonist and can also use your saves to carry over certain things from your choices and decisions. But none of it in English. There was also a PSP release containing the first two games, similar to the Dreamcast enhanced editions and slightly enhanced yet again for its widescreen screen. Oh, there were also PC versions for the first two games, and they actually got western releases, but only in Russia(n)! There are some mobile releases too and anime movies, series and ovas also.

Before this fan translation I only played a bit of 5 on Wii and watched the anime series. I like what I’ve played of this more, it feels modern and snappy as these games go, the cast is pretty good and the setting awesome. I’m not sure if I like the story more than in the anime, that seems to have taken various liberties with the setting, yet by being an anime series without choices it strayed away from the dating and focused on the friendships and character developments which works better (but that’s in the game too).

Here’s a trailer for the new game’s English release date announcement…