Sakura Revolution, the technical sequel to the Sakura Wars franchise by Sega, is closing its services very soon this June amidst the sea of controversy and criticism of its release.
However, before that ultimately happens, its developers bid farewell to its limited player base by fulfilling their promise next week to let players continue playing it offline even after the servers are gone.
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The Rough Sequel’s Baptism by Fire
With the relatively lukewarm reception of New Sakura Wars both overseas and locally in Japan, Sega has once again turned to its think tank for new ideas to
milk the hell out of its nostalgia-powered franchise turn a new game for its next sequel project. The result was Sakura Revolution (Sakura Kakumei: Hanasaku Otome-tachi), a rather unusual (supposedly) chronological continuation of the series past its traditional setting within the more steampunk fictional interpretation of the Taishou era.
While the concept itself, plus the promotional material, attracted a lot of attention, the question of where exactly it sits within the franchise has always been asked time and again. It didn’t bode well that it was designed as a mobile game right from the beginning. Thus, it immediately earned the ire of franchise purists, and people who are significantly against “milking the franchise” via very profitable microtransactions.
Eventually, though, the release date for the game finally came, and it was made available for the Android platforms on December 15, 2020. While formerly being the main point of contention, the story itself actually turned out to be a bit more faithful to the material, with mixed receptions not exactly pulling down rock bottom as initially expected.
Ironically, what turned out to be the worst in this game is… the faces. More specifically, the face design of the 3D models within the game. The introduction OVA was qute superb actually, with the right mix of old and modern styles that show an updated yet still nostalgic representation of the original series.
But when it comes to the in-game characters, well it became subjected directly under fire by Japanese Twitter denizens, who promptly invented their own keywords to make their supposedly “ugly” (more like awkwardly(?) 3D-translated) faces into a meme. Another surprisingly bad point by the game is its actual gacha system, which did not turn out to be as effective or as competitive as what you should expect a modern Japanese mobile game to be designed on (hint: lack of QoL).
On the second day of its release, Sakura Revolution went straight down to 129th, a far cry from the typical 20s to 50s by common Japanese mobile games. By early January, reported sales figures were just somewhere around 70 million yen, which is totally incomparable to the 3 billion yen that Sega threw at its developers to design the game.
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Of course, as “not bad” as the story turned out to be, you’d still inevitably gather a mob of fans who simply dislike the new title for a multitude of reasons, including the stereotypical, but still technically correct, assumption that it is the “least faithful” to the original. With players lessening each day, and revenue sinking rock bottom, the announcement was finally made that Sakura Revolution’s servers will completely close on June 2021, a mere six months only after it was released.
Following this, all in-app purchases have been disabled since May. Many of the game’s gacha systems also had significantly eased restrictions, with increased drop rates, and far less energy per action/pull. At this point, the game is essentially standard purchased game, only that it is still free-to-play as of the publishing of this article.
And needless to say, not a shred of information of its localization was also revealed, nor will it ever be revealed now for that matter.
Wasted Effort? Worth the Effort?
— サクラ革命（6/30サービス終了） (@sakura_kakumei) June 9, 2021
But as much as negative criticism can be used to blame the developers solely (who are, by the way, the team that developed Fate Grand Order, Delightworks), it is hard to look at everything else that they clearly worked very hard for. One prominent element in mind is the game’s combat system, which is kind of well-polished RPG-wise, and would have been more engaging had there not been any in-app purchases to go along with it. The story also had a lot to offer, slowly unraveling the mystery presented by the original OVA. Even the rare gacha pulls were rendered in full 3D-modeled animation, peppered with a majestic fanfare of effects and movements that really only lasts a few seconds.
But perhaps most telling evidence that they cared so much for the game itself as game (and not a gacha title), was their announcement and promise that the game will still be available as a standalone offline title even after the servers shutdown.
And as planned, starting June 16th, the entirety of Sakura Revolution may be played separately as a standalone game, with specific features, options, and content (most likely the story and RPG combat element bits) preserved for posterity. This, of course, requires downloading the app itself first, and then applying the latest official update to your installation.
This “promo” will last all the way until the server shuts down on June 30, 2021 12:59 JST. If you plan to preserve a copy of the game on your own, you might need a VPN first to get the app to update.
So, while Sakura Revolution may not have broken records and made waves like Umamusume, or even Toji no Miko, this may turn out to be an infinitely better deal than any other current single-player game with an online DRM.
Title: Sakura Kakumei: Hanasaku Otome-tachi
Release Date: December 15, 2020
Genre: Drama-tic (Mobile) RPG
Official Twitter (Japanese): https://twitter.com/sakura_kakumei
Official YouTube (Japanese): https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpjNEKWyT83KleABkIMz6gQ
Distribution Format: Free-to-Play (F2P)
Operating System: Android