Sega’s Sakura Wars franchise is larger than a lot of people think. While there are only six main games (which are all masterpieces that you should play), there have also been a myriad of side material like OVAs, stage shows, manga, and even spin-off games. This side material expands the world of Sakura Wars and its characters in wonderful ways and has brought dozens of hours of entertainment to the fanbase.
However, like any large franchise, there have been several hurdles and cancelations along the way. Any Sakura Wars fan can name at least one or two canceled projects, and often, another fan will then chime in to tall about another one.
So today on The Story Arc, I’m going to try my best to compile together a comprehensive list of canceled Sakura Wars projects so we can all morn what could have been together. To start things off, let’s talk about the franchise’s turning point: The World Project.
Sakura Wars World Project Cancellations
When talking about canceled projects in the Sakura Wars franchise, we, of course, need to look back on the failure that was the Sakura Wars World Project. The World Project was an ambitious dream by the creators of the franchise to expand its scope and bring Sakura Wars to an international audience.
To this end, a total of eight games were announced, as well as two new OVAs known as Sumire Retirement Memorial and Ecole De Paris. While I call the World Project a failure because only a single game got translated into a language other than Japanese, I do have to give Sega and Red company commendable credit because out of the eight announced games for the World Project, five of them actually released.
The released titles were Sakura Wars 5: So Long my Love, a PS2 port of Sakura Wars 3, a PS2 remake of Sakura Wars 1 known as Sakura Wars: In Hot Blood, a point and click game known as Sakura Wars: Mysterious Paris, and an action game called Sakura Wars V: Episode 0. Fans debate the quality of each one of these entries, but the fact that so many games released in such a short period of time at all is amazing.
The three canceled projects, though, will forever be a mystery to the fanbase as we have next to nothing to go off of other than logos and very brief descriptions.
The first of these canceled titles was Kouma, a project that was billed as an action-adventure game that would star the anti-demon unit before the events of Sakura Wars 1.
The cancelation of this game has hung over the heads of Sakura Wars fans for years as while we have seen brief glimpses of the demon war in OVAs such as Gouka Kenran and the TV anime, the very idea of being able to play a game about it and learn more about characters like Kazuma Shinguji or Shinnosuke Yamazaki is very enticing to fans of the series.
The other canceled game announced at the World Project was Sakura-hime Nishiki Emaki. Even this game’s description is an anomaly as it was described as a “Psycho-Slip Action” game that would have taken place during the Edo era of Japan. The game taking place in the Edo era would have served as part of the World Project’s purpose of expanding the scope of the series throughout time to allow for new storytelling opportunities in the Sakura Wars universe.
That is all we know of the game. While we can at least make educated guesses on what Kouma would have been like, we can not with this game. Not only is the genre title pure nonsense, but the Edo era is so expansive that it’s next to impossible to guess the premise of the game. As such, it will forever be a strange footnote in the history of Sakura Wars.
The third canceled game announced during the World Project was to be a sequel to another World Project game. Sakura Wars: Mysterious Paris would have gotten a sequel known as Mysterious Imperial Capital.
While this game never saw the light of day it can be easily assumed that it would have featured point and click gameplay very similar to Mysterious Paris with the key difference of featuring the Tokyo Flower Division as opposed to the Paris Flower Division.
Sakura Wars Taisho Roman Gakuentan
Moving on from the World Project games, the next canceled Sakura Wars game that I know of is Taisho Roman Gakuentan. This project was slated to be a social browser game that would be released in the year 2011, but obviously, it didn’t, hence why I’m talking about it here. The premise of this game would have seen the player select between playing as a male or female protagonist and going to a Kagekidan academy on “New Teito Island.”
While playing the role of a student, you would have engaged in what appears to be regular SRPG battles where students would move several spaces and then attack your foes.
While we only see students of the academy participating in these battles, we do know from a few screenshots that the protagonists of previous Sakura Wars games would have made appearances here, presumably to help instruct students
Like the several canceled World Project games, I am very sad that this never saw the light of day in any shape or form. It’s a very interesting premise that would have been a breath of fresh air to experience in an era where there just wasn’t any Sakura Wars content releasing.
Hanagumi Taisen Columns Online
After talking about the major losses of the World Project cancellations and Taisho Roman Gakuentan, this almost feels quaint to talk about. In 2006, it was announced that a six player online version of Hanagumi Taisen Columns would be releasing for PC.
This game actually existed in a playable state and had a demo available at the 4th China International Network Culture Expo. Thanks to the many existing screenshots and even a video, we know the game supported a 2-player, 4-player, and even a 6-player mode as well as powerups! All playable characters from Hanagumi Taisen Columns 2 were selectable as well.
Unfortunately, despite appearing close to done, this game would never see the light of day as during 2007 Sega withdrew from the Chinese online gaming market, leaving this game in the dust as they did so.
Tomotoon! Sakura Wars Motion Comic
Video games weren’t the only medium in which Sakura Wars had to face several cancellations, the series as a whole remained dormant for a decade but not for a lack of trying. In early 2013 Sega announced that they would be teaming up with an animation studio known as Tomotoon to release a motion comic adaptation of the Sakura Wars 1 manga adaptation.
A trailer was released for the motion comic, and it even got promotional material such as posters made. It was scheduled to be released in the fall of 2013 until it didn’t, and Sega never mentioned it again. Its cancellation was quiet and without fanfare to the point where most Sakura Wars fans simply forgot it existed.
That was until December of 2022 when manga artist Masa Ikku released the three completed episodes of Tomotoon on his personal twitter account, allowing Sakura Wars fans to finally get a glimpse into this strange and enjoyable side project.
Sakura Wars Chronicles
Fast forwarding to the year 2017 and the age of smartphones, we’ve got Sakura Wars Chronicles. This game would have been developed by a Chinese company known as Beijing Zhangju Interactive Game Software Co., Ltd.
This game would have had you take control of the Tokyo Flower Division as you run through various stages slashing away at enemies until you reach the goal. Your performance would then be judged on a three star grading system.
The plot of the game would accordingly be recreations of classic moments from the plot of Sakura Wars 1, such as when Sakura and Ogami met or Satan’s attack on the park. The game was also slated to have a PvP mode, but no screenshots or footage of that exist.
While the full game was never released, a short beta of it was available to the public, and as a result, we do have a small amount of gameplay footage of the game here
If I can get a bit opinionated for a second, of all the games in this list, this is the one I don’t mind being canceled. The footage and screenshots look absolutely dreadful, and the lack of audio during the actual gameplay is mind-numbing. This wasn’t the only attempt at a mobile Chinese Sakura Wars game, though, so let’s move on to our next entry.
Sakura Wars New Promise
Now, here’s an interesting one. A lot of the game’s I’ve talked about in this article so far were announced, had a logo shown, maybe a few screenshots as well, and then we’re quietly canceled without so much as a trailer. Sakura Wars New Promise, in comparison, had a full trailer, gameplay details, and even showed off the full designs of its cast before it just vanished off the face of the planet.
Sakura Wars New Promise was slated to release on mobile phones in China after an announcement in early 2019. The game would be developed by a company known as Qì chéng Zhìzuò Zǔ and would star a brand new cast known as the Shànghǎi Huá jī tuán. It’s very interesting to me how many of these canceled titles involved a Shanghai Division in some shape or form before Shin Sakura Wars canonized the idea of a Shanghai Revue.
The Shànghǎi Huá jī tuán would be composed of six members that were shown off in the release trailer.
- Yu Linglong: A Shanghai native, who wishes to learn swordsmanship from the player character
- Rose Chevalier: The Sumire – she’s a glamorous, dignified French actress
- Mori Mori: A girl from Yunnan province who adores folk songs from the area
- Lilia Lodornia: A shy Russian girl
- Aoi Hinagiku: A Japanese girl who hails from Kyoto and loves to cook
- Mo Minglian: A girl from Beijing, who respects the protagonist mostly due to his noble lineage
This aspect already makes New Promise very unique among canceled Sakura Wars projects as while most of them either just involved the original cast or would be expanding on known lore like Kouma, this game would have been expanding the Sakura Wars world in a way not seen before.
That isn’t to say the game wouldn’t have tried to pull on the audience’s nostalgia heartstrings though as the announcement trailer showed that old cast members such as Li Kohran, Sakura Shinguji, and Erica Fontaine would have made appearances as well.
The gameplay of New Promise would have been an attempt to bring the Sakura Wars experience to mobile devices. In the trailer, we can see that the player would have been able to walk around a Shanghai theater, interact with the game’s cast, and make decisions via Sakura Wars’ famous LIPS system.
Then, for the battle gameplay, the player would have to control the game’s various units in an SRPG style grid to fight demons with each girl’s personalized Koubu. While we don’t know the specifics of how these sections would have played, it isn’t hard to imagine a system similar to Fire Emblem Heroes working for Sakura Wars.
I am very sad that nothing came of New Promise. It looks so much more tangible than any other canceled Sakura Wars project, but after its initial announcement, we never heard of it again. Thankfully, we weren’t in a Sakura Wars drought too much longer as soon after the announcement of New Promise, we got word that Sega themselves would be developing a new mainline Sakura Wars game: Shin Sakura Wars.
And there we have it, folks, a list of major canceled Sakura Wars projects. Or at the very least projects that I have anything to say about. There are some more miscellaneous things I could mention, such as a canceled Shonen Red game that we know even less about than we do of Sakura-hime Nishiki Emaki. Outside of the gaming space, there was also a canceled 2016 Teigeki Reunion Kayou Show that never came into being.
While I know it’s expected for any major franchise to have its fair share of canceled titles, it still hurts to look at what could have been for Sakura Wars. The franchise was dormant for nearly a decade and a half, but imagine if even just one of these actually released and helped hold fans over during that dormancy. Hopefully, the future of Sakura Wars has plenty of entries that actually release.
I would like to extend special thanks to Samantha Ferreira and Matto_Bi for their assistance on this project. They are absolutely encyclopedias on Sakura Wars and were either able to tell me all the info I needed or direct me to the direct sources.
I’ve been Skeith from The Story Arc, signing out. Oh, and P.S. I choose to believe the cast from New Promise is Canon. The world needs Mori Mori to be canon.