Saturday, May 16, 2009

Will Wonders Never Cease

Back in good 'ol 2001 I learned about a Japanese console RPG series called Sakura Taisen. I had started getting into the Oh! My Goddess! manga by Fujishima Kosuke, and I really liked his artwork. I was also big into console video games at that time, and this game sounded really interesting. Not only was it one of those oddball Japanese things I seem to love so much (it references the Russo-Japanese War, and is set in an alternate universe, steampunk-style 1926), but it had a bit of the "dating sim" style game in it, where you had to be nice to the girls in your military unit, and the more they liked you the better they would fight. I wanted to know how that would work.

Well, in either late 2002 or early 2003 Sega Japan released a huge, 12-disc set for the Dreamcast including all of the Sakura Taisen games, from the original in 1996 to 2003s Sakura Taisen IV. I went a bit nuts at this news. I found a company online (NCSX) that imported foreign video games, and I dropped, I don't know, $200 bucks maybe? Yeah, I so bought that thing. It looks awesome, too. Of course, my domestic Dreamcast console couldn't play any of those discs, since Dreamcasts (and all non-portable units to this day) were region encoded. So I sent my console off to NCSX and they added a chip to the mainboard that bypasses the region encoding. Yes, I used to be a horrid person, voiding my warranty just to play some oddball Japanese video game.

Did I mention all the games were in Japanese? With Japanese text and voice overs? Yeah, I don't speak more than a few words of Japanese, and I read even less. However, there was this guy that was even crazier than me, and he went through all the games and produced rather detailed translations of most of the dialogue in the games. He then posted these translation documents on the internet for people like me to download. Trust me, you haven't lived until you have played a Japanese console RPG with an open laptop next to you, following along as the game runs in one language and you read it in another.

Anyway, the point of all this is that there was a Sakura Taisen V released a few years ago for the Playstation 2. This one, unlike the other games in the series, was not set in Japan or France, and had entirely new characters. One of whom is a redheaded cowgirl. OMG, I can't tell you how many buttons that character pushes, buttons I didn't even know I had. I figured I would never get to play that game, as I didn't have a modified PS2, and I wasn't going to try to get one just to play one game, no matter how awesome it might be. Well, guess what? I just found out that NIS America is bringing Sakura Taisen V stateside this Fall. I'm off to find a way to pre-order this thing right now! But before that, I leave you with a picture of awesomeness.

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