Project Sakura Wars Developers Discuss Collaboration with Studio Sanzigen and Bleach's Kubo Tite, Age Rating, Story and Returning Elements

New Sakura Wars' staff detailed the game's development, reasons behind the title and more in a Famitsu interview. The game's cast tweeted comments as well.

March 30, 2019

Following the reveal of New Sakura Warsfirst trailer and its first story and characters details at Sega Fes 2019, Famitsu published an interview with the new game’s producer and the series’ traditional developers: New Sakura Wars Producer Tetsu Katano, Sakura Wars series director and scenarist Takahara Terada, and Sakura Wars series Development Director Tetsuya Ootsubo.

Here’s a summary of the interview:

As explained during the stage event, all of New Sakura Wars‘ story content and the BGMs are already done. The 3D modeling of the characters and backgrounds are done as well. The game’s dubbing is nearly complete too. But the game’s development rate as a whole is between 40% and 50%.

Concrete plans for New Sakura Wars started after the series won 1st place in the popularity fan poll of Sega Fes 2016.

The game is titled New Sakura Wars instead of Sakura Wars 6, as while it takes place after Sakura Wars 5, Sakura Wars 5 first released in 2005, two generations of consoles ago. The game feels more like a reboot, and has new core staff too, with Bleach‘s Kubo Tite as the main character designer for example, hence why the “New/Shin” in the title.

Kubo Tite was picked as the main character designer as the staff thought he was the best choice to depict Sakura Wars‘ Japanese styled clothes and katanas. Kubo Tite was really eager to work on the series and meticulously designed the characters’ weapons. He actively participates in the development and proposes many ideas for the game as well.

The world depicted in New Sakura Wars isn’t very different than the one shown in the previous games, even if 12 years passed since Sakura Wars 5’s story. No new technological breakthroughs happened during that timeframe and it’s still a Steampunk world. The only big thing that changed is how the world is much more aware of the Combat Revues, with many more Combat Revues existing in many cities of the world.

The “World Combat Revues Great War” mentioned in the story summary is a sports-like tournament where the Combat Revues from around the world gather to test each other’s strength. At the start of New Sakura Wars‘ story, it’ll be the third time this tournament happens, and it’s held in the Imperial City, Tokyo. However, certain incidents will happen, and the tournament won’t be as peaceful as usual.

During the “adventure” part between battles, the game’s environments are fully explorable in 3D. The characters’ 3D models are used during dialogues as well, and basically, the 3D map you explore is the same 3D environment you see during dialogues.

Like in past games, combination attacks between the characters will be unlocked as you raise their trust. Each one of the girls also has their own endings as usual.

The LIPS system or Live & Interactive Picture System is still there obviously. The “touch mode”, which is officially called “Click Mode”, is back as well. In previous Sakura Wars games, the LIPS system was how the player had many different ways to act in a situation. Most of the time it meant selecting an answer before time run out. However, the system tried to reflect the protagonists’ train of thought as realistically as possible, with new choices appearing as time passed. Sometimes, not selecting anything was the “correct” thing to do. Meanwhile, the Click System would let you “answer” by selecting parts of the background or a part on the 2D portrait of the character you talked to, like their eyes or mouth.

This time in New Sakura Wars, the staff is planning to add new elements to the LIPS and the Click System. The Click System’s new additions weren’t detailed in the interview, but one of the new elements the staff might add to LIPS is linking it with the camera. As the game’s characters and environments are in 3D during dialogues, this means you could “select” an answer using the way you move the camera. The 3D also means that protagonist Seijuro’s point of view can shift during the same scene.

The previous games had sexual fanservice scenes if you tried things like peeking at the girls in the shower, at the risk of dropping their trust levels. Using the 3D camera, they could do more than before now for these kinds of scenes. Producer Tetsu Katano joked saying they’ll try to go as far as possible while not making the game’s age rating go up.

As a reminder, games with the highest age rating (CERO Z/18+) get less store publicity in Japan as they can’t be sold without age confirmation. Unless it’s a huge franchise like Resident Evil, Japanese developers avoid getting that rating on their games at all costs. Developers tend to avoid getting the second highest rating, CERO D/17+ as well. New Sakura Wars‘ rating is still unknown as the game’s development isn’t finished yet. Sakura Wars 3 had a CERO C/15+ rating, while Sakura Wars 4 and Sakura Wars 5 had a B rating/12+. For comparison sake, Catherine Full Body got a CERO C, so New Sakura Wars will either get a B or C.

Some cutscenes will be “anime”, insinuating 2D animated scenes like in the past games will be included. Meanwhile, some other cutscenes will be in 3D. Animation Studio Sanzigen, which specializes in 3DCG animation that looks like 2D, is working on New Sakura Wars’ 3D cutscenes. There will be over 40 minutes of footage of these 3D cutscenes in total.

Besides the interview, more comments from the game’s staff, and from Sakura Wars‘ traditional staff, have been published on Twitter or by Famitsu. Some of New Sakura Wars‘ seiyuu have been tweeting comments as well following the game’s announcement.

New Sakura Wars‘ story writer Jiro Ishii said in his comments than when writing 428: Shibuya Scramble, he tried to surpass another legendary visual novel, Machi. Now with New Sakura Wars, he will try to surpass the original Sakura Wars series.

Sakura Wars‘ original creator Hiroi Ojii said he is looking forward to how the game will turn out.

Saber Marionette‘s author Satoru Akahori, who also worked on Sakura Wars 1 to 5 as one of the scenarists, said he is looking forward to what kind of story Jiro Ishii will bring, and how he’s happy to be able to enjoy Sakura Wars purely as a fan for the first time in his life.

SIE Japan Asia President Atsushi Morita said Sakura Wars is among the game series he’ll never forget, how of a pioneering franchise it is on many levels like how it’s one of the first “multimedia” franchises, and how he’s happy to see it come back after more than a decade.

Bleach’s anime adaptation’s Animator and Character Designer Masashi Kudo is working on New Sakura Wars as Character Visuals Artist. His job as a Character Designer on Bleach’s anime basically meant he had to adapt Kubo Tite’s original designs to make them animated more easily. His role on New Sakura Wars is probably similar. He noted that he already worked with Sega in the past on Bleach games and that he’s very happy to be working with Kubo Tite again.

Youhei Azakami tweeted that it’s an honor to be voicing the new captain protagonist, Seijuro Kamiyama.

Maaya Uchida, who voices Hatsuho Shinonome, tweeted that she’s always been a fan of Sakura Wars. She even sang the series theme song, Geki! Teikoku-Kagekidan, during one of her anniversary concerts, so she’s extremely moved to have voiced one of the new girls.

Hibiku Yamamura, who voices Azami Mochizuki, tweeted that she always loved singing Geki! Teikoku-Kagekidan since her childhood, so the fact that she got to voice a character in Sakura Wars is like a dream.

New Sakura Wars launches on PS4 this winter in Japan, and in Spring 2020 in the west. The game’s western release is temporarily titled Project Sakura Wars.

Iyane Agossah

Living near Paris, Iyane (He/Him) is the head of Japanese content at DualShockers. He speaks Japanese, has been loving anime and Japanese games for over 25 years and plays Genshin Impact for its story and exploration. You can reach him on Twitter at @A_iyane07.

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