Game Review: Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love (Wii, PS2)

SAKURA_BOXSakura Wars is a popular long-running strategy RPG series from Japan made by Sega. Now, thanks to NIS America, stateside players can finally enjoy this game on Wii and PS2 (Wii version reviewed here). Set in an alternate reality in 1920’s New York City, a Broadway musical troupe secretly defends the city from evil by piloting hulking robot battle mechs!


Play as Shinjiro Taiga, a Japanese lieutenant who has just been transferred to the US New York Combat Revue team. Even though this game is set in the 1920’s, it’s an alternate reality where technology is far more advanced. Disguised as a Broadway musical troupe, Taiga secretly leads the group on missions to defend New York from tyrants bent on destroying the city. The team fights these mechanical baddies with their own transformable battle robots. But not only does Taiga have to lead the group in battle, he must also develop stronger relationships with each member of the group so they all trust each other and fight stronger as a team.


Sakura Wars’ gameplay is split up into two parts. One part is the battle phase, where you pilot your mechs to confront the enemy. These 3-D fights require a good amount of strategy and tactics, as you have a meter that goes down whenever you move, attack, heal, defend, or use a special skill. When it runs out, your turn ends. Place your characters properly and you can perform linked attacks with two teammates. Sometimes, the battles take to the skies and your bipedal mechs transform into fighter planes and can move around in 3-D space in the air. The turn-based strategy rules still apply, though.

Unlike other RPGs, in Sakura Wars you DON’T gain experience and level up after battle. This is where the other part of the gameplay comes in. To move the story along, you’ll play what’s similar to a digital novel or dating simulator, two types of games not as familiar to gamers outside of Japan. By talking and interacting with the characters on your team, you’ll be given choices of things to say to them. Choose the correct response and your colleagues will like you more. And the more your teammates get along and trust you and others, the more powerful their attacks will be in the next battle. You’ll have to keep on your toes, though, because sometimes you’ll only have a limited amount of time to pick your responses, or you might have to play a little mini-game or fetch quest around the city to move the story along.


While Sakura Wars is a pretty creative game, it does have some problems. If you don’t like the digital novel portion of the game, you’re out of luck as you’ll spend a good chunk of the adventure in this mode. If you don’t like reading mounds of text, then Sakura Wars may not be the game for you. Plus, both the reading and battle sections can last pretty long, and a few more pauses to save the game would’ve been welcome. Speaking of which, you may want to keep a few extra save files handy in case you mess up and say the wrong things to people. Since most US gamers aren’t familiar with the digital novel style of play, a little instructional about what to do in this phase would’ve been nice at first. And while the battle mode has a very thorough tutorial, it only explains the controls for the Wii remote and nunchuck. So if you’d rather use the Classic Controller, it may be a little confusing at first. Plus, maneuvering in the air is also cumbersome and tricky.

But even though Sakura Wars might not be for everyone, it is a well-made game with very high production values, full voice acting, and animated scenes. It’s about the closest thing you’ll get to a fully interactive anime film. The way the characters yell their attacks and wave their hands around over-dramatically is very Power Ranger-esque. They even advertise the next chapter in the adventure like the next episode of an anime cartoon. Fans of giant robots, strategy-based RPGs, and anime cartoons will definitely want to check out what Japan has been enjoying for more than a decade.

PS: The cowgirl from Texas in the funniest character in the game! But then, things from Texas are cool. Of course, I may be a little biased…

Kid Factor:

Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love is rated T for Teen with ESRB descriptors of Language, Fantasy Violence, and Sexual Themes Characters will curse in battle and in the story, but it’s not overly used. While your mechs shoot, slice, and make robots explode, there is no blood. The majority of your team is female, and some of their clothes and actions are a bit revealing at times. Plus, some of the choices of things to say to them can be a bit suggestive, too. Even though most of the game is fully voiced, strong reading skills are a must due to the mounds of text. For these reasons, Sakura Wars is best for teens and older anime fans only.

No Responses to “Game Review: Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love (Wii, PS2)”

  1. Sure do wish there was a version for 360/PS3.

  2. Great review as always.

    I waited 15 years to play a Sakura Wars game – ever since I saw the glowing reviews for the early games on the Sega Saturn, which were Japan-only. My 13-year-old-nephew likes this game, so I’m getting it for him for his birthday.

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