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Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love: Mechs, Demons, Broadway
Company: NIS America

Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love is about as quirky as JRPGs can get, but would you expect anything less from NIS America?

The first Sakura Wars game released in North America, Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love takes place in an alternate timeline 1920's New York. Playing as Shinjiro Talga, you're sent to NYC as part of a secret organization dedicated to protecting the world from demons. Joining you in your mission is the New York Combat Revue, a group of trained warriors and Broadway entertainers. Yes... you read that right. In order to keep their mission secret, the group moonlights as a musical troupe. Like I said... So Long, My Love is as quirky as a JRPG gets.

Sakura Wars is, at heart, an RPG, but takes particular pride in storytelling. Although there's a linear story to follow, how the story plays out is determined solely by your interactions with the girls in the Combat Revue. Much of the game is based on a trust system, which plays out through the Live and Interactive Picture System (LIPS). Each time you are presented with a narrative choice, you are given a short period of time to make a decision. The system is similar to the one found in Mass Effect, but goes beyond simply making a dialogue choice. Though you will sometimes choose answers from a list, most of the choices involve moving the analogue sticks in order to match certain marks on a gauge. All of your decisions are timed, forcing you to make quick decisions. If you run out of time or take too long to make a decision, the girls will let you know.

Trust is about more than unlocking new story paths. By building strong trust with the girls in you unit, you can unlock stronger joint attacks during battle. Just to add to the craziness of demon hunting Broadway singers, Sakura Wars drops you into transforming mobile suits during combat. Battles are turn-based and revolve around movement points. Units are granted a limited number of points to spend on combat actions. This adds an extra bit of strategy into the mix; spending all of your points on movement will limit your ability to attack. It's an interesting trade-off requiring almost Chess-like forethought.

Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love is a different type of JRPG, but that's a good thing. Look for a full review closer to the game's March 2010 release.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker
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