Sega has finally brought back Sakura Wars after over a decade of silence, and while the new game includes a different cast and mechanics, it certainly retains the DNA of the franchise.
To know more about the game and hunt for hints about the future of the series, Twinfinite interviewed director Tetsuya Ootsubo and producer Tetsu Katano.
We hear about the brand new Sakura Wars and more, including comments on the possibility of additional platforms or re-releases of the older titles of the series.
Giuseppe: Sakura Wars has been out for a while in Japan and for a few weeks in the west as well. Have you drawn any conclusions about the reception of the game? Is Sega happy about how Sakura Wars performed?
Tetsuya Ootsubo: I’m very delighted that many people across the world in Japan, Asia, and the West have had the opportunity to experience the new Sakura Wars.
We’re listening closely to your feedback and we hope to have more chances in the future to share this series with everyone.
Giuseppe: Can you offer your insight on the challenges involved in bringing back a series that hadn’t received a new mainline game in almost fifteen years?
Tetsuya Ootsubo: The biggest difference from fifteen years ago is the hardware specs and how much they’ve evolved. Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love was a PS2 game (and also Wii in the U.S.) with event scenes illustrated primarily with 2D graphics.
Now that we have access to the power of the PS4, we were able to focus our energy on a lush, appealing graphical style.
Giuseppe: Seeing Sumire Kanzaki as the leader of the new Imperial Combat Revue was a nice surprise for many veteran fans. Has she always been “the one” for the role or when the story was drafted there were other possible candidates that you can share?
Tetsuya Ootsubo: Right from the start of development, we intended to include a character from the earlier games to serve as a bridge between the past and present.
We did consider other characters, but with the events of the previous games in mind, we ultimately decided that there was no better fit to be the general manager than Sumire.
Giuseppe: Is there any hope for the game to be released on other platforms like PC, Xbox One, or Nintendo Switch, or maybe even next-generation consoles?
Tetsuya Ootsubo: We’d love to expand the audience for the game! We’re actively researching to see where there is high demand and determine what actions will be feasible.
Giuseppe: What is the new or renewed element (or elements) in this new Sakura Wars that you think worked best?
Tetsuya Ootsubo: We’re proud of what we were able to accomplish in character presentation. In the past games, the story scenes were almost always presented as static 2D portraits, but in Sakura Wars we were able to depict the characters as detailed 3D models.
Giuseppe: Considering the reception for this “new beginning” for the series, would you personally like to continue it with a new game? Do you think we can hope for a sequel to be greenlit by Sega?
Tetsuya Ootsubo: The development team would love to continue the series, and we’re pushing to make it happen. We appreciate all your support.
Giuseppe: If you were to create a hypothetical sequel, would you stick with action combat, or would you prefer to go back to turns, maybe with a system similar to Valkyria Chronicles, which was inspired by Sakura Wars to begin with?
Tetsuya Ootsubo: I’m really happy to hear that you know Valkyria Chronicles. Many Sakura Wars development staff also worked on the VC series, and they’re great games. For those who haven’t played them yet, I hope you enjoy them!
For Sakura Wars, we did change the combat to be more action-focused, but we also understand that many people still enjoy the tactical RPG genre. We’re continuing to research what our next steps should be in order to give fans the best possible experience.
Giuseppe: Has there been any consideration about remastering the first five games of the Sakura Wars series, or otherwise offering them for modern platforms?
Tetsuya Ootsubo: Regarding remasters and/or remakes, it’s true that the older titles can’t be played on modern equipment, so if there is sufficient demand for it, we are open to the idea of revisiting the earlier games.
Giuseppe: Seen from outside, Sega appears to have changed a lot over the past few years. The company certainly seems more daring. Can you provide insight into this from the perspective of a developer working for Sega?
Tetsu Katano: This is just my personal opinion, but I feel like the people at SEGA have always had a daring streak. It may be that enough of those people have moved on up to leadership positions that it’s starting to be visible from the outside as well.
SEGA to me is a company full of people who want to have fun, and I hope not only that this is reflected in the enjoyment we can bring to fans, but also that like-minded fun-seekers will continue to join us here at SEGA.
Sakura Wars is currently available for PS4.
If you want to learn more about the game, you can read our review and take a look at my dedicated article explaining what the series is all about and why you should care. Incidentally, The latest DLC featuring loungewear costumes has been released today.
You can also enjoy the recently-released music videos including the clip dedicated to Sakura, one focusing on Lancelot, another showing Claris, one showcasing Yui Huang, another starring Atsuho, one showing Anastasia, one starring Azami, and the latest featuring Elise.