When it comes down to popular Japanese non-Sonic related video games from the 90’s the original Sakura Wars title from ‘96 is one that is considered a gem. Sakura Wars was ahead of its time because during the mid 90’s it had a unusual mix of different genres. Not only was Sakura Wars a tactical RPG but it was also a dating simulation & visual novel type of game. The tactical role-playing elements as it related to gameplay came when players were on a map similar to that of Tactics Orge: LUCT from 1995. Also, the graphics and highly refined 2D Sprites for Sakura Wars ‘96 looked similar to that of Super Mario RPG for the Super NES which also came out in 1996. Also, the visual novel and dating simulation gameplay also added depth to the storytelling aspect of Sakura Wars ‘96. Sakura Wars is often seen as a game that was way ahead of its time and some question whether or not it could have been big in America during the late 90’s. While Sakura Wars ‘96 has a very intriguing story where the setting takes place during the Taisho period in Japan the game also had some futuristic science fictional elements to it.
Sakura Wars ‘96 was so unique because players got to experience both 2D sprite and anime-based gameplay in one which was rare in video games back in the 90’s. Seeing how special Sakura Wars was some question why it never came out in America for Sega Saturn or Dreamcast between ‘96-‘00. There are most likely variety of reasons why Sakura Wars was never released in America. But one of the main reasons would have to be due to lack of popularity during the mid to late. The 90’s is known by many as the arcade era of gaming where players remember iconic fighting, racing, sports and light rail shooter titles in centers worldwide. While 2D RPG gameplay was starting to decline by the mid 90’s both dating simulation and visual novel genres were never too popular to begin with. Also, Americans were more obsessed with video games that included blood, guts and violence along with realism. There was a much larger preference in relation to dark, edgy and violent video games from Americans back in the mid 90’s especially with young adults and teenagers. The consumers in America in relation to demographics was most likely different in comparison to Japan. Its quite possible that dating simulation, RPG along with the visual novel genre were more popular in Japan than they were in America. A game like Sakura Wars would have been overlooked in America during the mid to late 90’s because it did not reflect what was cool in American culture at the time.