Wednesday, September 29, 2010


So I'm now part of the Anime society at my Uni, Glasgow Caledonian's 'Cali Otaku' society.  I've only been to the first 2 meetings of the year but I'm somehow already the club's Secretary. It was more or less down to me knowing the president from last time I was at uni in Glasgow. I met him through Glasgow Uni's Anime & Manga Society and mentioned to him the other week that I might be interested in either of the current commitee positions if he needed someone. The Uni's student association requires commitees of all it's societies and clubs it seems, at least if they wish to be funded by the association. So getting the positions filled was essential to the survival of the club.

There weren't that many people interested in being on the commitee, leaving me and another guy to get the 2 free positions, secretary and treasurer. We weren't really bothered about which position we each got, so I got given the secretary position even though I don't know that many people in the club yet. 

I think I'll be quite good at the position though, as I am fairly organised with my notes, timekeeping and writing. 

Anyway, they have series which run for the entire academic year (one screening per week) as well as some series which were decided upon today. Its something they've been doing for a few years from what I've heard. The members bring in 2 pilot episodes of anime or other shows like live action stuff. After they've all been shown, the members vote on what shows they would like to see shown throughout the year.

We ended up deciding on High School of the Dead (which I just finished on my own the other week) and Toaru Kagaku no Railgun. I voted for Railgun as well as Pani-Poni Dash. My choices after that would have been Hellsing (which I've seen, but is pretty damn awesome) or some Live action thing that was about a guy whose thoughts can be heard out loud. It was a cool idea, I can't quite remember the name of it right now...

Anyway, I don't know what the purpose of this post is. Just a bit of what is going on. I might post some more about uni stuff and how the club goes, as I'm slightly skeptical whether I will enjoy it or get on with people there. I may rant about stuff in the future.

Also, I may do an Anime Impressions post on High School of the Dead, as I'll end up seeing the first 12 episodes twice overall it seems... sigh T_T I dunno, I did enjoy it but at the same time I didn't like the way the story slowed down and ended rather dissapointingly. Edit: I forgot I did an early impressions post of it already a while back. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Some PAL game release updates.

So it seems waiting (for long periods of time) is the right way to do things if you are a PAL gamer with interests in anything remotely niche as I've found out recently.  

Deathsmiles (360) For a long time after the US release it seemed like this game wouldn't be coming to Europe. I had considered importing it, but after reading up on the game, it turns out this one was region locked on the 360. Which is strange, because the developer Cave had intentionally left the region locking off a few of their releases to help the import community out. The strange thing is, I've not played many of these kind of games, and never played anything by Cave before, but after reading about it and seeing some video footage, I was really interested. Plus, the fact that this was the first one by the developer to actually come out in America was ringing alarm bells, and I had hoped it would come out in Europe and PAL regions as well. Well, it seems it will be. It hasn't been confirmed by Rising Star yet, but it will apparantely be coming out some time next year from them. I hope it isn't just a rumour, but I've found a few mentions of it online. Here's hoping! Gothic lolita characters, crazy bosses and 2D bullet hell shooter goodness-I'm sold!

Lunar: Silver Star Harmony (PSP) This one is confirmed to be coming over to our PSN sometime fairly soon I believe. First I heard of it was when I checked PSN the other night to find a demo up. I'd been interested in seeing what this game was like but after hearing mixed things, I decided the high price for importing might not necessarily be worth it if I didn't like the game that much. So I quickly decided to download the demo and then go searching for some news online. I've still not yet tried the demo (I'll play it and update this post once I've finished it) but it seems once the game is released on PSN (and it should be noted that it will be PSN only here) you will start your game with bonus gear of some kind if you decide to get the full game and still have data from the demo. So I'm definitely interested in this one as well. I'll try the demo and see if it will be my thing. It will be out in PAL regions on the 13th of October.

Blazblue: Continuum Shift (PS3/360) Us PAL gamers had to wait a fairly long time to get the first Blazblue game, and while we've not had such a long wait this time around, it seems excruciating at times how long we have to wait. I can't really describe why I feel so maniacal about Blazblue...I didn't play that much online on Blazblue: Calamity Trigger mainly because I sucked, but I had a lot of fun with the multiplayer both online and with my friends in person. I got the original game on the 360 but I'm perhaps leaning towards the free online play of the PS3 version this time around. It would probably suit my sporadic use of the online features slightly better. I have seen a few imported PS3 copies in one of the shops around here, but I'm going to wait and pick up the special edition when it comes out here.

I'm hoping they clear up some of the stupid things from the story mode. To 100% complete character's story modes you need to lose to each opponent, as well as finishing some in certain ways ie. with Distortion Drives or whatever they were called. The story was about as clear as mud as well, but hey...I had some fun with it. The first game had really nice graphics, music and characters. Hopefully this one will build upon the first's successes.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow (PS3/360) This is probably one of my most anticipated games coming out for the rest of the year, and it was nearly going to sneak under my radar until I did this post because I don't have as much time to play games or trawl gaming news sites now that I've started uni. Anyway, I have high hopes for this one and I really don't want it to be just another generic God of War clone. With the talent involved in the making of the game, I'm really looking forward to its PAL release date of October 7th, or some time after that when I end up grabbing it. It comes out October 5th in North America and apparantely December 16th in Japan. I don't know the reasons behind that, or if its true to be honest.

Other than those, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona was released recently on the PSN, along with Front Mission 3. The SMT franchise gained a substantial amount of fans outside of Japan in the past year or so with Persona 3 and 4 getting released, and this is where the Persona series started. I've heard mixed things about the game but I am tempted to pick it up, and its good to see games like this coming out here, even if it is just on PSN. 

On another note, I took a look in one of the independent game shops in Glasgow and as always, saw lots of awesome stuff. On the import front they had SMT: Strange Journey, SMT: Persona (PSP), SMT: Devil Survivor, Disgaea Infinite, Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories and quite a few other titles I was interested in. I'm still looking out for Lucifer's Call (Nocturne) but I'm never gonna find it. I may ask them to order it in for me some time as a last resort.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Now Playing - "Reload this!"

Now that I am two weeks into my uni course I'm starting to get an idea of how the timetable will be and what we will be doing throughout this semester at least. I'm enjoying it so far, even though it does look quite hard in places. Geometrical Optics is going to have some tricky physics type questions I think. Anyway I've had some free time but not a huge amount of time for games really, although I do have a long weekend just now (I've got Thursday-Monday off because of a Bank Holiday or something) and I've been playing some games during the last week or so. I've got some impressions on some relatively recent releases actually.

I played some of the Halo: Reach (360) multiplayer on Saturday and today when my friends brought it over. Took ages to initially set up as I hadn't configured my Xbox's online settings (I just got it back from being repaired.) but once we got it set up we played a bit of the multiplayer online. At first, I wasn't too impressed as there are a lot of things different to Halo 3 (and ODST I guess, but its closer to that than 3.) The main things putting me off were the health system similar to ODST, getting used to the new weapons and their slightly different gameplay and the armour abilities being rather annoying at times. Although, they all seem to have their strengths when used right. So they are kind of balanced from what I can tell after a few hours of playing and watching my friends use them. 

The weapons feel much more tactile I guess (don't know if that is the right word), it actually feels like you are firing the weapon, with recoil and sound effects of really good quality. The sniper rifle was initially pretty strange for me, as the targeting reticule expands vastly after firing. So the recoil from the first shot basically stops you from getting another easy shot in straight succession-the result from what I can tell so far is that it is slightly harder to kill with it. But I got used to it pretty quickly, actually getting MVP on like the 2nd Team Snipers game I played. No-scopes ftw! They've also tweaked the meleeing to make that less abusable. I found myself shooting until the enemy's shields were down enough, meleeing and getting surprised how many times they would still be alive afterwards. So the shoot the shields down+melee combo from 3 seems to be a bit less easy to pull off. (Which is good) BR is also fairly different, it still has a scope but it fires less bullets with each shot it seems. Its called DMR now, dunno what that stands for... Still seems like a very strong weapon. Pistol seems to be going back to the Halo 1 & 2 days as well, its very fast and good at mid-long range. ODST had a similarly strong pistol..and I just hope they haven't made too many broken weapons. 

What else...the veto system is gone from online. Now you vote on one from a selection of maps/games. The major flaw being the fact that if you are playing with more than 1 player on the xbox, all your votes go to the same selection. Terrible. Bring back the veto system. Along with the server issues, that is one thing that definitely needs to be adressed in the next patch or update.

Anyway, despite all those minor things, I got used to the game and had some fun with my friends on it. I'm kinda tempted to pick it up at some point..but there are so many games that are in that same boat...and in fact so many games I have and still have to start. 

I've put in a fair chunk of time to Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep (PSP) now and have been enjoying it for the most part. I'm 13 or so hours into Terra's story and liking the characters. Terra seems to have a bit more depth than say Roxas or Sora, at least so far. Its got some fairly cheesy dialogue, but then again, it is a Disney-Square Enix franchise, and its been pretentious and cheesy since the early days. If you didn't get a substantial helping of cheese you would probably feel ripped off in some way. 

I'll start with some things that annoy me about it. Firstly, it seems a bit more bland than KH and KHII. I liked in the PS2 games how the worlds were slightly longer stages, you had cameo appearances from main characters from the disney films in question and the enemies and bosses had a distinctive feel related to the world depending on what Disney world you were in. For example, the Heartless and Nobodies in Agrabah actually fit in with the world. In Birth By Sleep, they basically reuse a lot of the same Unversed enemies. They don't seem to have a different appearance in each world. So it does feel a bit bland, short and boring at times. Its also missing the characters joining your party I think. They were one great thing about the KH games, as well as the party's appearance changing in each world. (Halloween Town designs for Sora etc were some of my favourites.) 

Secondly, it really stretches the PSP to its limits in some areas, where you get some slowdown occurring. This might be a good thing as it shows they've really pushed the boat out, but for me it is a negative, as they could have accounted for this. When you get the option to choose between 16bit and 32 bit in the config menu and 16 bit is the default, that is an indicator that perhaps a different engine, or textures or whatever should have been used. I'm no games designer but something seems wrong there..just slightly though. I've not had too much slowdown on my current settings.

I don't like that there doesn't seem to be that many cameos from Disney characters though. I'm fairly far through Terra's story and really haven't seen anything of Mickey and anyone else. They added a distinctive flavour to KH and KHII, adding a lot to the feel of the worlds and the story. I think there should have been more cutscenes, not just ones focussing on Terra and his flashbacks. I guess I am less than a 3rd through the game though, so we shall see how it goes.

What else? Well, I am enjoying the game..which is a good thing. =p I'm liking that they've tried not too overcomplicate things with all this nonsense about nobodies, organisation XIII, Heartless, different worlds, experiments, masked guys. As good as Kingdom Hearts II was, it was bloody confusing. I dunno, I'm guessing they will start throwing some plot twists in there towards the end game of BBS, but so far I'm not hugely impressed with the story, but at least it is easy to understand. Xehanort is one of the most stereotypical 'Disney' villains I've seen...I could tell from a mile off that he was a bad guy. I'm still interested to see what is going to happen with him, the others and Terra. Must play more.

I would say that I like the Kingdom Hearts games, but I don't know if I would call myself a fanatic... Urgh...I don't want to start flame wars or anything. I just wanted to get across my initial feelings on Birth By Sleep. Even though I've highlighted some of it's shortcomings, I still think its a good game so far. I'm having a blast playing it so far.

Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey (DS) I've been putting an hour or two into this here and there, and slowly getting through the second sector, codenamed Bootes. I'm enjoying it so far, its got a distinctive SMT vibe going on, with some gameplay aspects from other games in the series. Some are quite dated, like the negotiation system which frustrates me greatly at times. I don't like that you can only have 10 or so Demons at the same time as well..I'm terrible at deciding on which to fuse and which to keep...but I'll get used to that, 10 is more than enough really. I really don't like when your demons level up and want to learn new moves. Its the same as in Nocturne I think, the old move will be replaced, not always with an improved one. You can't tell what move is going to be learnt, but then again you can just stop them from learning the new move to start with..It seems clunky and unneccessary(I can never spell that word.) So I'm around 10 or so hours in and think I'm getting near the end of the Bootes sector. I found a sidequest I want to do though; it involves escorting some of the decoy squad back through the dungeon, and fighting a rather nasty boss. When I last played it got a cheap Mudo (instant death) spell on my main character giving me a game over after I had hacked away at it for a good 5-10 minutes. So I've not played it since then..apparantely that is a SMT recurring theme across many of the games, instant deaths...

I will go back to it some time soon, as I'm enjoying what I've seen so far. I'm just catching up to around the same play time in Kingdom Hearts (although I've put in more time to BBS than SJ now, probably to do with the pacing.)

Friday, September 24, 2010

New Xbox! =D

I got my Xbox 360 fixed finally! Hopefully no more Red Rings for moi! T_T

Dunno if I'll even have enough time to play it though, with uni and all. Think I'll check and see if my Gold subscription is still on, might jump online for a bit. =p

Rather randomly, I got to Radiant Garden in Birth by Sleep. Its pretty cool how you get to see what its like before the main 2 games when it is known as Hollow Bastion. I always liked that area, its nicely designed and has really cool music, which they have kept a similar track for in BBS. Here's 3 of them, Radiant Garden and Hollow Bastion songs from the OSTs:

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Now Playing - "Whats Tibetan for RPG?"

I've had a fairly hectic week so far as I just went back to uni on Monday 13th. I didn't think I'd have many classes until this coming week, but the uni has started doing things a bit differently and having lectures and everything else in the first week. So we were thrown in the deep end a bit but I got used to the routine fairly quickly. I didn't have much time for games but because I didn't have my laptop through with me I wasn't able to do a post last week so this one will cover stuff I played for the last 2 weeks.

I was playing a lot of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS3) on Hard and Crushing difficulty. I managed to finish Hard mode without too many problems, and surprisingly didn't find it boring or stale (this was my 2nd time playing it.) I enjoy the pacing and variety between the stages. They have you doing different things throughout the game. There are a few places where I don't particularly like going through, like the bit with the tank going through the village streets for example... Its a really fun game, both multiplayer and story mode and a fairly easy one to platinum if you are into that sort of thing. There are a few tricky trophies in there, killing 75 enemies in a row without dying and beating it on crushing, for example. I'm not much of a trophy whore, never really been that into getting them all unless I like the game enough to play more of it. I reckon I will try and get the rest of the medals, trophies and unlockables in this game though. Its definitely a must have for PS3 owners, I know most have already played this by now, but anyone out there who hasn't, I'd recommend this once more. Also, if you guys have any suggestions or recommendations for games that are similar (in terms of overall enjoyment factor) I welcome them. But I should note I'm not the greatest platformer fan. I know Uncharted 2 does things differently to what it used to be like, but it still feels limited compared to what Assassin's Creed did. I liked some aspects of AC, but it really dissapointed me overall and as a result, I've not tried the 2nd one. I probably will when its dirt cheap, its in the same boat as Bayonetta, Dante's Inferno and the Bioshock games for me.

I've managed to find around 13 or 14 hours somewhere to put into Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey (DS) and I've really liked it so far. The game world has really drawn me in, from the environments and quality of the script describing things and building up the story to the music, which is something else. Its really powerful operatic stuff, with some kind of gregorian chanting(?) on a lot of the tracks. Very deep and dark and really adds to the seriousness of the game. Perhaps the way the characters react to certain situations is a bit flat, but then it would get old if they were questioning things every two seconds. Teams like the ones in the game would probably be prepared for the unexpected from the outset. The Demon Negotiations are probably the most frustrating bit for me, as I#m trying to register as many as I can. It seems very trial and error and even then it is very unpredictable and hard to succeed at. 

It looks like there is a lot to do, but I am making progress probably quicker than I did with DDS and Devil Survivor (the only other SMT games I've played) as the gameplay difficulty seems to be fairly balanced. It doesn't seem overly easy, but sometimes you will get randomly and cheaply owned by either getting surprise attacked, critted or having all  the enemies pwn your main guy at once. Definitely enjoying it so far though.

Other than those main games, I played little bits of A Witch's Tale (DS) and Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies (DS). My first impression of A Witch's Tales is not very good so far, the combat is really poor. Battles go on way too long and even normal enemies can wipe you out from time to time. It actually started out as an action RPG in Japan I believe, and for some reason was changed to a turn based RPG for English audiences. I like the style and characters, it has a slightly Nightmare before Christmas/fairytale world and I quite like it even though at times it does feel a bit childish, like it was intended for younger audiences. Graphically, it doesn't look particularly great but its nothing horrendous. I'm willing to let it slide perhaps, when or if I go back to the game. I put the cart away after only putting in around 2 or 3 hours to it..that was partially down to wanting to play Strange Journey though. Dragon Quest IX's postgame stuff is as hard as always, I've not quite made the jump up because I don't know exactly where to go first or what missions to do first. I do want to play more of it but its kind of impenetrable to me currently. I really liked playing through DQIX and want to give it some more of my time at some point, even though it might actually be impossible for me to 100%, depending on whether or not I can get Treasure maps some way other than going to events like PAX or whatever in America... T_T

I finally got my hands on Kingdom Hearts: BBS! Hopefully I'll find some time to try it out (and not drop SMT:SJ as a result.)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Now Playing - "You mocking the power of vegetables?!"

Earlier in the week I was just playing Valkyria Chronicles (PS3) in an effort to finish it before the weekend. For the 30 or so hours it took me, I was pretty addicted at times to this strategy rpg. I think the story and a lot of the characters were what kept me really intrigued by it. At times some of the battles are just downright frustrating and cheap, and I kind of felt bad abusing some of the gameplay features, like reselecting scouts to cover massive distances and capture bases, leapfrog units from base to base, use snipers or lancers to take out targets from distance by reloading until they got the hit I wanted etc etc. There are many flaws to the battle system I think and I feel they really should have reworked some stuff for the sequel, but I've heard it hasn't changed that much in the places where it really should have. Still, this game is way up on my list of strong PS3 games. It plays very much like a manga or comic reads in some ways, with some very nice cutscenes driving the exposition between battles. The bulk of the game is probably in these cutscenes in fact. This is good for the characterisation, the characters are fleshed out a lot and grow a lot throughout the game, conflicts giving way over time as people's views opened up and they got to know each other. Rosie and Isara's relationship was one that really interested me and tugged at my heartstrings in a critical plot point roughly midway(?) the game. So sad at times this game ;_; 

I love the cel-shaded style of the game. The characters are pretty well designed and some of the cutscenes look absolutely amazing. In fact I have my eye on one of the artbooks for it. Its a massive book, at around 400 pages I believe. Hey, I didn't realise there was an anime of VC :O Might have to check that out, and hopefully the sequel soon. I might try and get the new PSP game for my birthday. 

I started a new game on Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS3) on Hard difficulty as I was enjoying playing the multiplayer (plus PSN seems to be quite inconsistent recently) and me and my friends put in an hour or two, getting to chapter 4 or 5. I really like this game's exciting, smooth and dynamic platforming. As a shooter, it is not quite as good as some other straight up shooters on the market at the moment, but it is still a really well polished, well presented game. I might check out the original game at some point, but I know its going to be a few steps backwards from this one.

I've been kind of casually playing Etrian Odyssey (DS) on and off, grinding up and getting near the end of the 1st stratum. I can tell I'll get to the stratum boss with some semblance of confidence and get absolutely pwned and put in my place. This game seems to do that a lot. FOE FOE!! I might stop playing this and start up Strange Journey, who knows...

We played some multiplayer on Blazblue: Calamity Trigger (360) and Super Street Fighter IV (360) over the weekend when my friends were over, but we couldn't get online thanks to the crappy wireless adapter. Thats one reason I would consider getting one of the New model 360s, but then again I don't like the look of it, I wouldn't have any saves on it and I'd have to pay whatever stupid amount they are. But anyway, Blazblue can be a lot of fun, even though I suck at it. I'm definitely getting the new one when it comes out here..I was actually tempted to get it when I saw an import copy for the PS3 in one of the shops I was in. Still, I'd probably rather wait for the EU version so I can get nice preorder stuff, or the limited edition, we shall see =p I started to pick up Noel and Jin more, as Rachel wasn't working out too well. I'm not sure who I will use in the new one because I heard Rachel has been nerfed completely...

I was going to pick up Valkyria Chronicles II, but one of the shops we went to had a lot of imported psp and ds games. It was between Lunar PSP, Disgaea Infinite, Valkyria Chronicles II (which is out here) and SMT: Strange Journey. I went for Strange Journey in the end, as I had a lot of fun with Devil Survivor and DDS. I've still not played any of the Persona games...heresy I know!

I'm not exactly sure what to play next, as I'll be going to uni a week on Monday. So I might not have my 360 or PS3 available for a while. Probably best to pick up a DS or PSP game, one that is good for short blasts during any free time I might have between classes would be best. I've got a few games that I've started and put on hold for a while now, Valkyrie Profile Lenneth, Breath of Fire III PSP and I'm wanting to play through Golden Sun: The Lost Age (perhaps the first one as well, but I think my cart is corrupted in some way)

Anime Impressions - High School of the Dead

After a long period of being not that into anime or manga, I've slowly started watching some stuff again. Its kind of complicated why it fell out of favour with me, but the show I've been trying to force myself back in with (half-heartedly at least) is High School of the Dead; an ongoing series that a lot of people seem to be talking about.

So after I was showed some snippets by my friend I was quite interested in this, and so far I've watched the first episode. So because I can't comment on the majority of it, this will be my very initial impressions of it.

The opening, wow. XD Fanservicey to the max, I approve of this. I don't know if it portrays quite what the first episode was like though. I can't quite imagine the rest of the show leaning towards fanservice in a different way from what they did in the #1. Its basically just an occasional thing, they don't seem to go over the top on panty shots and whatnot. I hope it doesn't turn into a RosarioXVampire thing or anything...the 2nd season of that looked ridiculous. Like, I think over emphasis on random needless fan service can detract from anime at times. So far in this one, I've not seen too much to be worried about. Wow, in trying to find a pic from google the majority are really NSFW lol...

Ok so I was wrong, in ep2 they just introduced the Nurse, Miss Shizuka who seems to have impossibly big boobs and seems to be all about fanservice so far XD

Its a nice, brutal-a good introduction back into anime for me. I usually tend to go for either mecha shows, vampire, sci-fi stuff and the occasional comedy anime and I don't think I've ever seen a pure zombie anime. I don't know if there are many to be honest. I'm quite a fan of live action zombie stuff, so at least so far it seems like a breath of fresh air. It might get old as the series goes on, I'll have to see. Seems like good mindless fun and I'll enjoy watching the rest of it.

There are many places to stream it online, I'm currently using I may have to acquire the episodes so I can play them on my big TV though...

Here's some more info for you: 



Thursday, September 2, 2010

Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love Review

OK, time for another review! This time it is on a Wii title that I was willing to pass on when I first heard about it, as it didn't exactly sound like my thing. The more I saw of it however, the more curious I became, and by the time it was announced for European audiences by publisher NIS America, I was curious enough to want to pick it up. I had read a few reviews and heard positive things about it, so what did my experience of this first of the series to be brought outside of Japan turn out to be?

Well, I was pleasantly surprised by this light hearted strategy rpg that is as full of anime cliches as it is cheese and mechs. For my first experience of the series, I was very satisfied and in future would definitely pick up other games in the series if they are ever readily available in English. Importing the titles for me isn't that appealing. Not because I am afraid I wouldn't like the games, its just down to the amount of dialogue and text that would be a bit of a barrier to enjoying the games. My Japanese is only the most basic understanding, so I would need to use a guide for understanding the stories. 

Before I start, I should note that this review is for the Wii version of the game, as we didn't get the PS2 version over here in Europe. I'll try and keep this review spoiler free as well.

Story and Characters

The story takes part in an alternate universe full of steampunk mechs and strangely advanced technology, this really got me interested in the game, but unfortunately wasn't utilised as well as it could have been, apart from the mechs and some other technology. More emphasis seems to fall on the characters and how they interact with each other. The story follows Shinjiro Taiga, an ensign that travels to 1920s New York to lead a fighting troupe disguised as a musical troupe to defeat an evil warlord and his subordinates from conquering America as its kingdom. Yeah, it sounds like something from Power Rangers or some ridiculous anime and at times it basically is. If you go into this expecting a deep, dark, serious story you will probably be dissapointed. Or at least, you won't get that, but hopefully you will enjoy it regardless. I had a lot of fun with it.

The characters are probably where the focus of the game lies. The amount of dialogue and character building throughout this relatively short (20 or 30 hrs) RPG is quite impressive. Shinjiro is at first not taken seriously by the rest of the squad. He came over to America in place of his father or uncle, who was some kind of legend in the military. So he has to prove himself worthy, and does so slowly throughout the game. Within the game, of the 8 chapters, there are 5 or 6 which are mainly devoted to telling backstory of one of the other girls in the squad as they either join the squad or have some problem that needs to be solved. Through these chapters, you learn more about the character's past and it uncovers a lot about them. 

Gemini Sunrise
A very cheerful cowgirl who tends to be a bit clumsy. Her master's last words bring her from Texas to New York with her horse, Larry(?!). She is very interested in Japanese culture and tends to daydream often.
Sagiitta Weinberg (Cheiron Archer in the English language version)
A strong-willed lawyer who practices out of Harlem. She is very intelligent and is recognized for her exceptional perseverance, toughness, independence and confidence. She serves as a sub-antagonist in Episode 2 as she works with Steam Frontier to demolish her hometown of Harlem. After facing her in a mock trial, Shinjiro helps remind her why she studied law in the first place and becomes closer with him.
Rikaritta Aries (Rosarita Aries in the English language version)
A Mexican markswoman and bounty hunter despite being only 11 years old. She is very energetic with an abundant appetite and obsession with food.
Diana Caprice
A local birdwatcher who is incredibly compassionate. She is a doctor in training who has initially given up all hope to live until Shinjiro comes and gives her the hope she needed to keep going, despite everything she's been through.
Subaru Kujo
Subaru's true gender and age are completely unknown, though the character tends to use pronouns such as "herself" when speaking in the third person. However, Subaru is definitely a noble from a Japanese family and excels at Noh and other traditional Japanese dances.

There are a few supporting characters in Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love include Ratchet Altair, a former captain of the European Star Division and captain of New York's Fighting Troupe until Shinjiro replaces her, she becomes the vice-commander soon after; Michael Sunnyside, the commander of the Star Division; Cherry Cocker (Plum Spaniel in the Japanese version) and Anri Yoshino of the Rainbow Division, who help the Star Division in battles; Yuichi Kayama of the Moon Division, who owns a Romando shop; and Xingzhi Wong (Gyouchi Oh in the Japanese language version), who is the designer of the STARs and owns a Chinese restaurant. Unfortunately, many of these supporting characters aren't developed as much as they could have been I felt. Yuichi, for example, remains way too mysterious. 

You might be able to tell from these characters that the game has an intensely Japanese feel to it, and you would be correct on that. Despite being set in America, the Japanese culture seems to be deeply ingrained in the game. I found that strange at times but appreciated it as we don't get many games like this. The characters are very strong and over the top and really make this game succeed in my opinion.


In Sakura Wars: So Long My Love, the gameplay is split into two sections-Adventure Mode and Battle Mode. Adventure mode is where you will spend time with the other characters, talk with them and look for various things around the city, all the while building your friendships and relationships with the other members of the New York Combat Revue's Star Division, who, as it turns out, are all girls who you can eventually go out with. Yeah, it definitely feels like a harem anime at times. There is quite a bit of variation in Adventure mode. You will usually have some kind of goal or deadline, before which you should try and accomplish or find something. Outside of that, you will usually have a lot of leeway; you can do things as you see fit. You will have to make a lot of choices, and these come in the forms of multiple choice responses to questions or conversations. Sakura Wars uses the "LIPS" system, seen in many of the other games in the series. There are four types of the LIPS system, these consist of Normal LIPS, which is displayed when the player must make a decision in a certain time period. If you run out of time, you will get a hidden response(usually not a good one); Analog LIPS, which the player can raise the action gauge up or down depending on the situation ie. to shout if you raise the gauge, or speak quietly if you decrease the gauge; Double LIPS, which gives the player a longer amount of time to make important decisions; and Stick LIPS, where the player can manipulate the Analog Sticks to follow commands on screen and raise gauges depending on the situation. As you go through the game, your relationships between Shinji and the other characters grow for better or worse depending on the choices you take, and this is how your characters become stronger in battle. If you are getting on well with a certain character, they will get boosts to their stats in battle; do more damage, take less damage and so on. For me, that was quite an interesting idea in a strategy rpg-there is no grinding to keep up, instead it ties the Adventure mode and the Battle mode together really well. It also puts some degree of challenge into the game. If you screw up a lot of the questions, and this is fairly easy to do in some chapters, where it seems like you are supposed to fall out of favour with the character the chapter focuses on, then you will find it hard to keep that character alive in battle. One thing that frustrated me a lot was that when the character falls in battle, they dislike you even more. I could rage on the stupidness of that...sure I am in control of their actions, but it was their fault they didn't like me to begin with, so they hate me even more when they get themselves killed in battle? @#"%! off! Anway, it didn't really get to the stage that the characters hated me, there are always plenty of options to get them back on your good side. And I can see that they were trying to make the game a bit more tricky.

Battle mode is where you and your team pilot their mechs in a strategy RPG battle system. There is no grid, but similar to say Valkyria Chronicles, when you select a unit, they will have a limit to how many actions they can perform in that turn. There are quite a few options you can choose from: normal attacks, joint attacks, unique supermoves for each character, healing, defending and perhaps some others that I can't remember. There are overall mission strategems that Shinjiro can select on his turn. These skew your characters in one of three directions in terms of stats. You can also transform into the mobile forms of your mechs for aerial battles in certain battles. Sometimes this is used for moving between areas of the battlefield and at other times you need to fight battles in these forms. This adds a whole new layer of depth to the battles and I appreciated this function. I mean, transforming mechs! How can that not make a game better?! =D 

The game is relatively easy once you get used to it. I actually died on the first battle, but after that I got used to it and didn't have many problems until one or two battles right at the end that I had to retry a few times. 


Graphically, this game isn't the best titles I've seen on the Wii, far from it. The only times that this really bugged me at all was during the battles, when it doesn't look particularly good in places. I mean, the graphics don't look terrible but they aren't exactly very standout either. They are kinda basic polygonal mechs with not the most detail in their designs, but hey, I wasn't that bothered about them. The graphics, while not the best, didn't particularly detract from my experience of the game. Some of the attacks in battle are nice and flashy, which is good. The character portraits are fairly well done for the most part. 

It does have some gorgeous anime cutscenes, there are a fair few more than a lot of other RPGs out there which only usually have one or two. Still, I would have liked more of these cutscenes.


The soundtrack to this game fits well with what you would imagine 1920s New York to sound like, and is fairly consistent all the way throughout. Perhaps there are not quite enough tracks, but I thought some of the tracks felt a bit overused. I was starting to get sick of the same songs after a while, even though the game isn't particularly long. Little things like that can begin to grate on my nerves subconsciously for me, at least.

The songs in there are fairly upbeat and catchy, with others that are a bit more serious during certain scenes. Kohei Tanaka's work on this game fits pretty well.

Overall: 8/10

This is a fun, light hearted game that is probably best enjoyed if you are a fan of anime, strategy rpgs, mechs and perhaps dating sims or visual novels. Its a bit of a mix of all of those things and the result is very Japanese and very enjoyable. It may seem on the short side at 20 or so hours, but there is a lot of replayability in there if you want to try and get all the endings. I think there is one for each of the main girls in the story. I'd recommend this Wii title, I liked what I saw of it. 

I'd give it a 8/10. The only reason I'd drop 2 marks would be for perhaps the shortcomings in the story and some of the areas feeling a little bland and lacking depth, ie. some battles.