I figured it was about time the resident Sakura Taisen fanatic wrote a review of my second favorite game (well, it is now, after Xenogears). It's none other than the abfab Sakura Taisen 2!
The sequel to one of the best-selling games of 1996, Sakura Taisen 2 picks up about a year after the first game ends. Oogami Ichirou is called back from training (I think he was in South America…or maybe it was France…but it's unimportant!) by Ikki Yoneda, director of the Imperial Opera House…but to those unfamiliar with ST, the Opera House is just a front for one of the most powerful branches of the Japanese navy: the Teikoku Kagekidan Hanagumi, an elite branch comprised mostly of young girls with various psychic abilities, who do battle in steam-powered mechs! Hey, it IS the 1920's, after all! Anyway, Yoneda warns of a new enemy, the Black Demon Society, so the Hanagumi must be called into action again!
The game itself appears to be a pretty standard anime-style dating sim. Oogami-san wanders around the Opera and talks to the various girls. A LIPS system is in place and when a girl asks you a question, you are given a few responses and a limited time to answer. Answer in a way that pleases the girl, PONG!, you've scored a point! Answer wrong…uh oh, you lose a point w/that girl and she makes a mean or unhappy face! Of course, the real strategy is to score points w/the girl you've set your heart on.
But this is only half of the game! Once or twice an episode (the game is divided up into episodes, each w/their own unique goal and little side story), the Hanagumi and their mechs are launched into a strategic, turn-based battle! Depending on his points with that person, or whoever that particular episode centers around, Oogami may be able to do a devastating (and not to mention nice-looking) combo attack! And many of the various characters can do little combos w/each other (unlike the first game, which only Oogami could).
All the character design was done by Kosuke Fujushima and the story was written by…the guy who did the Tengai Makyos. The game was developed and produced by RED (developers and producers of Tengai Makyo). Each girl looks different and has a distinct personality…some even have different dialects! Returning from the first game are Shinguuji Sakura, Kanzaki Sumire, Maria Tachibana, Kirishima Kanna, Iris Chateaubriand, and Ri Kohran. New to the second game are two former members of a defunct division, similar to the Hanagumi, called the Hoshigumi. Leni Milchstrasse is a German 'Wunderkind', i.e. prodigy child. Quiet and reserved, this is the only male member of the Hanagumi other than Oogami and Yoneda. Soletta Orihime is the snotty half Italian, half Japanese girl, who swears up and down that Japanese men are the scum of the earth!
And the point to this game? To beat the bad guys and win your girl! ^^ Yeah, a bit stereotypical, but tons of fun if you like anime, dating sims, or strategy…the music is really good too! And the voice acting? Yokoyama Chisa a.k.a. Lucia plays main girl Sakura. Tomizawa Michie (Hino Rei from Sailor Moon) is my favorite, Sumire. And the one girl that does the voice of Diana in Sailor Moon plays Iris…also one of the girls from Sabre Marionette J is Maria…and Kohran is played by the girl who was the one purple-haired girl with glasses from Utena…anyways, it's a stellar cast!
So buy buy buy this game! Especially since the PC version of the first game is finally coming out and you want to go right on playing after you beat the first one, don't you? Also, the soundtracks are very worthy of purchase…the character image songs are so good! And the animation alone is worth the look! The character design is beautiful!