Every year, I play a couple of quirky, Japanese games that no one else seems to care about. This year, I have already played one: Yakuza 3, and I’ve just started on a second, Sakura Wars: Farewell My Love. I really did not know what to expect from this game, but what I got is a really interesting mix of Japanese genres that I happen to enjoy in one form or another. The first, and primary gameplay style is that of a graphic adventure, somewhat similar in style to Policenauts or Snatcher, although it has a few innovations of its own. Among them are various forms of timed dialog responses, forcing you to think fast, rather than consider responses carefully. Other interactions include “analogue” responses, timed movements with the analogue sticks, and limited point and click gameplay. It may not seem like much, but it adds some much needed variety to the proceedings. The other part of the game is that of a SRPG. In practice, the system plays a bit like Valkyria Chronicles (a game developed by the same team), and more traditional, menu-based SRPGs. Characters movement is controlled directly, but attacks are all handled via traditional menus. The battle-system seems simplistic at this point, but I’ve only experienced a single fight, so I will hold off judgment for now. What is interesting about the battle-system, however, is how it interacts with the other part of the game: instead of traditionally leveling up, character’s effectiveness in battle depends on their relationship with the main character, and each other. I love this concept in theory, but, again, I haven’t had enough opportunity to figure out how much it really affects character’s abilities. One last thing: the PS2 version comes with both Japanese and English language disks, which is a great boon, but the game forces you to choose one or the other at the beginning, as the save data is not compatible between them. It’s a small oversight, but it is annoying that I cannot switch between the two at will. Ultimately I chose the Japanese disk and will probably opt for the English version if I decide to opt for a second playthrough.