Dubbed a "dramatic adventure" game and taking place across multiple episodes, the gameplay segments incorporate tactical role-playing , dating sim and visual novel elements. Depending on the type of response, the character may respond positively or negatively, impacting their relationship with Ogami and future interactions.
Other actions within LIPS include holding the cursor over parts of a character's portrait to trigger internal monologues and varying responses from the characters. Each unit has their own turn, with each turn allowing two actions. These actions include "Attack", "Defend", "Move", "Deathblow" a critical strike that can kill a normal enemy in one hit , Charge store energy for a more powerful action during the next turn and Heal which restores health points to a chosen unit.
Different units specialize in different skills such as support actions, melee attacks, or ranged attacks. Units have varying movement abilities based on available space and unit statistics , as well as a separate attack range based on their weapon type. Actions taken during LIPS sequences with members of the Flower Division directly impact battles; skillful performances during LIPS segments raise a character's Motivation, granting statistic increases and improving combat ability.
He is met by Sakura Shinguji and led to a theater and meets the Imperial Theater Revue's main actresses: Meeting the theater's manager Ikki Yoneda, Ogami learns he has been assigned as a ticket taker.
Initially bemused and hurt by his assignment, it turns out to be a bluff to decide his worth. Central to the unit is the Flower Division, a group of women with magical abilities which defends Tokyo against demon attacks using steam-powered armor called Koubu. The city is being attacked by demons controlled by the Hive of Darkness, a group of black magicians led by the powerful Kuroki Satan and his master Tenkai. Tenkai, who sacrificed himself years earlier to prevent Tokyo falling to demons, begins launching successive attacks on the city and then on the Imperial Assault Force itself.
After Tenkai and the Hive of Darkness are defeated, Kuroki Satan reveals himself as the true villain. Dubbing himself "Aoi Satan", he is in fact the true Satan , responsible for controlling the demons and resurrecting Tenkai as his servant. After turning Yoneda's deputy Ayame Fujieda into a demon using her suppressed feelings for Ogami, Satan summons a great fortress from the sea near Tokyo, intent on releasing the population of Hell to overrun humanity.
Using a powerful airship, the Imperial Assault Force launch a concentrated attack on Satan's fortress. They successfully unite their spiritual power to banish Satan back to Hell. Ayame's demon form is destroyed at the cost of her life, and after bidding farewell she ascends to Heaven as an angel. He becomes embroiled in their personal conflicts and issues. Backstage fiascos include Sakura bringing down the stage during a performance of Cinderella through her clumsiness, and Kanna and Sumire clashing on stage during a scene from Journey to the West.
During these events, Ogami becomes close to each member and can pursue a romantic relationship. With his help, the Theatre Troop forms strong bonds and becomes an effective force both in battle and on stage. After Satan's defeat, the final scene varies depending whether Ogami romanced a member of the Flower Division and which member he chose.
Production[ edit ] Concept and development[ edit ] Oji Hiroi created the concept for what would become Sakura Wars in He saw a Japanese stage production of the play Shanghai Rhapsody and was impressed by the spectacle of the acting troop he saw on stage.
This concept evolved into his wish for Tanaka to score a video game focused on the theater. It was described as an "example plan" rather than a practical project. While distinct from the final Sakura Wars the proposal shared an alternate historical setting with steampunk technology, a female lead and mecha combat. This resulted in the strategy elements almost overriding the game's other aspects. Influences from contemporary anime were also added to bring depth to the story and characters.
With the basic elements defined, the team continued refining the project for between half a year and a year. Convinced of the project's potential to become a video game, Hiroi presented "Sakura" to multiple game companies, but none of them had confidence in the project. Despite his determination to see the project realized, Hiroi put the project aside with no expectation that it would be produced.
Irimajiri wanted a unique video game property for the system and had heard positive feedback about Hiroi's work. Hiroi was initially reluctant but eventually accepted Irimajiri's offer, inviting him and other potential contributors to spend a fortnight's holiday in Saipan. It was Sega's favorable response to his pitch that persuaded him to develop Sakura Wars on the Saturn. While Hiroi harbored doubts as to whether such an ambitious and unusual project would be accepted, Irimajiri was convinced.
The word "Sakura" was written in katakana instead. The wish for an anime style also came through in the adventure segments with the LIPS system, turning conversations into a kind of confrontation to be won. By implementing a time limit, the team made Sakura Wars more interactive and removed this frustration. The "LIPS" title was chosen for its sound rather than any special meaning. LIPS gameplay was used during a scene where Ogami could choose whether to look inside a shower cubicle.
They were actively referenced during the last battle with the combined final attack of the entire Flower Division. Each battle sequence was hand-crafted by one member of staff to simplify production. The decision to remove experience points entirely proved controversial within the team. By it had already developed one or two chapters of the game's combat-based content before Hiroi objected to the direction the game was taking.
It was becoming a generic simulation game that deviated from his vision. Red Company refused to continue development of the prototype, and it was removed from development. Each character was designed around a particular theme, with battle outfits modelled on tuxedos. He was skeptical of the project because of the state it was in when he was first approached. It was in a very early stage of development and neither the story nor gameplay mechanics had been finalized.
Red Company's placeholder character designs were in place at a time when it was uncertain whether Fujishima would join, but Hiroi was adamant he would be the character designer. Fujishima eventually joined the project in late His first design was for Sakura. Hidenori Matsubara designed the supporting cast,  and helped with general animation. The designs were meant to communicate the characters' inner thoughts and had to be understandable for players. An example was Sumire, whose personality was communicated through her clothes.
Fujishima combined these elements with his own design ideas for the final artwork. Nagata did extensive research on the Second Industrial Revolution in the United Kingdom and consciously avoided the trope of anachronistic near-future technology while creating the designs. Its front was designed after the steam trains that ran on the Aji Express Line. Since the Koubu were meant to be armor, they were not given faces. Hiroi also abandoned this idea as Meiji-era Japan could not allow for the "modern" feeling he wanted.
It was the next step taken by Japan in embracing Western culture and merging it with its own, allowing for political changes and the emancipation of women after a prolonged feudal period. This version was almost entirely discarded. He did not do this because his staff wanted a world that blended real and fictional events. When Akahori first heard the concept before talking with Hiroi he was highly skeptical, but Hiroi convinced him to come on board.
Hiroi told him to write the story like an anime television series. The only points that had been finalized were its setting, the overall theme of steampunk mecha combat, and a cast of five or six characters.
Akahori's early work was focused on expanding the narrative and characters based on Hiroi's draft. Hiroi also insisted on making frequent changes if Akahori's work did not fall in line with his vision. After talks with staff, the final battle was condensed into a single chapter, bringing the game to its current ten-episode length. It could allow for characters from countries outside Japan—like Russia and France—to be part of the Imperial Assault Force.
Using this inspiration, he created a gentle yet strong-willed woman Sakura , a rival character with a negative first impression Sumire , a cold leader figure Maria , a small cute character who would be jealous of the other members Iris , a woman who would be good at athletics Kanna and an oddball character who wore glasses Kohran.
He inherits a blade forged by the Japanese swordsmith Muramasa and must work with Sakura to pilot a two-person mech. As with most of the draft scenario, the male character underwent major alterations. He created Ogami's role as an avatar for the player who could be friendly with every member of the Flower Division.
The Japanese word for "wolf", referring to his energetic personality traits, inspired his name. Staff members recommended several actresses to Hiroi. Because of this, the cast recorded their lines and songs as the game was developed. Hiroi chose Yokoyama, who had appeared in notable anime series, based on his wish to create a compelling final deathblow line.
Hiroi offered her the role because of her positive working experiences with Yokoyama. Although the project was in the early stages of development, she was intrigued by Maria's character and agreed to take the role. Hiroi first approached her in late during a Christmas concert on the recommendation of a mutual friend.
Hiroi pitched his concept for Sumire, and after seeing Tomizawa's performance offered her the role. Hiroi selected her for the role based on her experience performing the comedic "handsome man" archetype in kabuki stage performances. Fujishima recommended her to Hiroi. She was approached in mid, when recording was being planned for the opening and ending themes, and questions were still being asked by the cast about how to portray the characters.
The role of Iris was originally given to Yokoyama, with Nishihara being considered for the role of Sakura. After hearing Nishihara's performance, Yokoyama suggested they switch roles and Nishihara became Iris' voice actress. She was planning a fan club concert when Hiroi approached her about Sakura Wars on Yokoyama's recommendation. After seeing Ayame's performance, Hiroi offered her the role. At the time, Suyama had little to no voice acting experience, and was working part-time at Red Company while training as a voice actor.
On hearing of Hiroi's situation, Suyama offered to take on the role, despite there being only a few notable lines. Faced with his budget and time limitations, Hiroi accepted her offer. They were given pictures of their respective characters. He followed Hiroi's request that the characters be portrayed as real people. Their faces would not move much.