Hello and welcome to the first part of my play through of Sakura Taisen: Atsuki Chishio Ni! If you’re not familiar with the subject - it’s a Sega-owned series that started way back in 1996 on the Saturn and the main entries are a mix of (Japanese style) adventure game, with a bit of romancing and the odd SRPG battle thrown in here and there. While Sakura Taisen V is the only game that’s had an English translation so far (under the name “Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love”) and received a pretty lukewarm reception when it did, in its homeland it’s been a huge success, spawning anime and manga, stage shows, drama CDs and spinoff games on the Game Boy Color, PSP, DS and even arcade games!
As I mentioned briefly in my previous post, I’ve gone for the Playstation 2 remake rather than the original Saturn version (or the high[er] resolution Dreamcast/PC ports) as it not only looks better but it’s had tweaks to everything from the script to the battle system (I’ll cover that once we get to one), and in my opinion is all the better for it. Here’s a few screenshots of the Saturn and PS2 versions side by side, so you can judge for yourself:
The LIPS events have also had some new additions too, mostly coming from the improvements seen in Sakura Taisen 3. LIPS stands for “Live & Interactive Picture System”, which in real terms means choosing between regular adventure game options such as “Say hello” or “Ignore her” but with a time limit in place to try and instil some sense of standing before a real person who’s waiting for an answer. There’s plenty of variations on this theme throughout the game – I’ll describe them as they pop up.
That’s about all that was needed before we start, so with that out the way let’s get going!
Chapter 1: Teito: Flowers of the Kagekidan*
*Please take all translations I do with a healthy dose of “Roughly…/Along the lines of…/Paraphrased as…” – I don’t claim to be an expert. You may not like some of my translation choices as I go through the game – that’s absolutely fine (please see previous sentence) – just breath a sigh of relief that I’m only mangling a Let’s Play, rather than an actual translation of the script.
Ah, where it all began – Ogami’s letter detailing his transfer to the demon-whacking Hanagumi (Flower Company)! It’s funny to think that he was first handed that letter almost twenty years ago, and between now and then there’s been a billion* drama CDs, stage shows, figures, art books and ports, not to mention a movie and a flippin’ (now closed) restaurant! He’s to go to Ueno park and meet up with someone from the Hanagumi, but he doesn’t know who.
*number possibly inaccurate
The park’s in full bloom, and the person we’re waiting for is Shinguji Sakura – a relative newcomer to the job herself. Ogami’s reaction can be paraphrased as “They sent a GIRL?!”, as he’s surprised that a woman would be working such an important covert operation as the protection of Teito. Bless him, he’s going to be up to his eyeballs in colour-coordinated women-warriors before this series is over, and thankfully his shock at working with ladies lasts not much longer than this paragraph does.
Now I know I said in my previous post I’m rooting for Kirishima Kanna, but it seems rude to not be as nice as possible to Sakura the first time we meet – especially as Ogami’s only just arrived! So I chose the top option in the LIPS event “For now I’d like to know more about you” which flatters Sakura as well as rewarding you with this beautiful image to the right (just a note: any not-square images have been created by stitching together several screenshots, they’re not cropped) – and a little chat where the currently-stuffy Ogami asks about the Kagekidan’s (Floral Assault Troupe) weaponry capabilities. Sakura mentions the Koubu (these are the steam-powered armoured suits they jump into to fight demons, but you’ll see more than enough of those once the battles start to show up), but Ogami’s not really much wiser for it as their work’s all top secret.
Just as he’s getting used to his female coworker there’s another shock in store for Ogami – his new workplace is… a theatre?! He’s a bit surprised that not only does it look like a theatre from the outside, but on the inside there’s a normal-looking lobby, with no guards in sight: still, this is meant to be a secret base, isn’t it…
Now it’s time for Ogami to meet his second Hanagumi member - the adorable French girl Iris Chateaubriand and her teddy Jean-Paul. As with all small and cute characters she’s actually harbouring immense spiritual energy, which is why she’s with the group. There’s another LIPS even here, and the first one with an extra secret option if you can hold your nerve long enough for it to appear! This is the best choice for Iris as it causes Ogami to compliment her cute ribbon. You can view Iris’ double-screen introductory image here if you like.
After a little spat Sakura and Iris leave Ogami on his own – and he still hasn’t reported in to General Yoneda yet! But he soon finds himself (optionally) bumping into another team member – Kanzaki Sumire, the “top star” of the troupe, as she’s quick to remind everyone. We also get introduced to another style of LIPS event not seen in the original; in this one as Ogami wanders around the theatre he might see someone in a particular area (in this case, the food hall), and he has a limited period of time to decide whether he’ll stroll on by or go over and interact with them.
Sumire, “top star” that she is, mistakes Ogami for a waiter and wants to know if he’ll go and fetch her a clean fork. I decided that he would, because he needs to learn his place with the Hanagumi – and it’s right at the bottom! Sumire’s pleased with Ogami’s compliance, and eventually introduces herself properly once she’s worked out who he is. During this talk she also has a little whinge about Maria, who’s currently leading the Hanagumi, but Ogami does eventually find out where to find General Yoneda and trots off.
At last! Ogami finally arrives at Yoneda’s door, three strange ladies and some submissive choices later. But the Hanagumi ladies aren’t done with him yet, as he bumps into Maria Tachibana just as she was leaving Yoneda’s office. Maria’s the serious one, so there’s actually only one choice in her LIPS event that impresses her – and that’s Ogami not actually making any choice at all (definitely don’t ask her out for a date!) and just letting the time run out.
Now it’s time for a quick “click event” – where you’ve got free reign over a little cursor and can inspect or chat to whoever’s standing before Ogami. Yes, you can click their boobs – there’s even a cheeky face icon when you hover over the relevant area – but it’s not recommended if you ever want these ladies to do anything for you! Maria’s introductory image is here.
With Maria gone, Ogami gets to knock on Yoneda’s door and finally meet his superior. Ogami introduces himself in the most spectacularly formal way and finds… his commanding officer a *little* worse for wear on saké! Ogami has two options here – the best one is to admonish Yoneda’s mid-day tipple with Ogami’s Burning Hot Soul of Justice – which, after a bit of “You’re nothing like the rumours about you!” “Oh? What rumours are they?” and so on it turns out that Yoneda actually likes Ogami’s attitude and hands him his now-iconic uniform as well as a pocket watch (unique to the Playstation 2 version - a prop replica of this is included with the limited edition of the game) and sends him off to get changed and start his duties.
But what will those duties entail? Who’s been listening at the door? And can Ogami change into his uniform without forgetting to put his trousers on? All these mysteries and more will be answered in the next instalment!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post! Let me know if you have, and if you haven’t let me know what (practical) changes you’d like to see in the next one!