Sunday, 14 July 2013

Rumours and misunderstandings: Sengoku Basara 4

As I travel around the Internet I've seen a few signs that fans are setting themselves up for potential disappointments when assumptions that have been taken as fact aren't met when the game is released. It's certainly possible the rumours are true, but until an official source confirms them as fact they should never be treated as anything other than fan gossip - and I mean an official Japanese source. Many of the big English-language gaming websites have been posting fan gossip and mistranslations as fact without making corrections when notified.

I don't want Capcom to be blamed later on for not fulfilling expectations that fans inadvertently made up themselves, so this post is to collect and debunk those rumours. Let's ensure that we keep our expectations in check!

Rumours are in bold.

The game is set during the Muromachi period (or otherwise before the Sengoku period).

This is how the early news releases have been incorrectly translated by a lot of gaming websites. It is simply untrue: even the game's producer KobaP has gone out of his way to clearly, unambiguously confirm that the game starts at the end of the Muromachi period and covers the Sengoku period. This is still Sengoku Basara.

The game is a prequel.

It's an alternate retelling, starting from the beginning. This doesn't mean we'll see earlier versions of all the characters, and nor does it mean we will/won't see any particular characters based on the years they were historically active in the real world. The parallel universe explanation means that the game is free to cover events from all across the Sengoku period.

Sengoku Basara 4 has a confirmed release date.

I've seen a lot of people stating that the game is coming out on a particular day. Nothing about its release date has been announced yet and the official website repeats the same information we've had in the trailers: the game is planned for the start of 2014. Anyone who gives an exact date at this point is making it up.

Famitsu magazine showed Masamune with a new move where he holds six sword in one hand.

Famitsu magazine showed a picture of a Masamune holding his swords in one hand and performing a horizontal slash, which fuelled fan speculation that he was performing a brand new attack.


The image actually shows his existing signature move 'Phantom Dive'. It's possible that this rumour has gathered speed because he didn't have 'Phantom Dive' in Sengoku Basara 3 (Sengoku Basara Samurai Heroes) and many English-speaking fans have only played that game. He already regained it in the Sengoku Basara 3 Utage expansion, however, so please don't expect anything to come of this misunderstanding later on!

Capcom always removes characters between Sengoku Basara games.

Not true. There's absolutely no precedent for them cutting any playable characters this time (though that's not to say that they won't). I talk more about this phenomenon here.

My favourite character has been removed from the game!

So far, Capcom has formally announced a total of five characters for Sengoku Basara 4. It's normal for the character announcements to gradually appear to build up hype, so just because your favourite commander isn't in the first batch of characters doesn't mean that they won't appear later on and be just as important in the game itself. Sengoku Basara 4 will definitely include more than five characters by the time it's ready for release (even the very first game in the series had more than that!) and there are so many amazing warriors in the series that it's impossible for them to announce them all at the same time.

Yukimura has been removed from the game (or replaced by Sakon).

No. While it's true that Yukimura will probably have less significance than usual this time around and his omission in the first batch of announcements was a big shock, it's extremely unlikely that the staff will remove one of the most popular characters in the entire series for no reason. His absence from the promotional material so far is most likely because they've deliberately only shown materials relating to the characters they've already announced. It's important to remember that not being one of the central characters doesn't mean missing out on having a good storyline - Motochika and Motonari are both very popular with their own books, stage play, merchandise and drama CDs, even though they're never more than background characters in the games.

Yukimura had a terribly depressing time in Sengoku Basara 3 (Sengoku Basara Samurai Heroes) and his popularity dropped below that of newcomer Mitsunari. I expect that he will be headlining one of the next batches of character announcements to make fans sit up and take notice - and I also think that he'll be back to his old, enthusiastic self this time around, taking advantage of the 'parallel world' scenario. With Yukimura being the star of the recent Takarazuka musical, the next issue of Sengoku Basara Magazine and the Takedagun Chronicle manga anthology this month, we can be certain that he isn't going away any time soon.

Ieyasu has been removed from the game.

As above. Even though Ieyasu is the least popular of the four main characters from Sengoku Basara 3 (Sengoku Basara Samurai Heroes), he still has a lot of fans. Please don't lose all hope after the first of many character announcements.

Nobunaga will be a major part of the game.

This is based on fan speculation that one of the silhouettes in the first teaser trailer was Oda Nobunaga; however, in the end the silhouette was actually Shima Sakon. While Nobunaga is certain to feature in the game in some way - he's a key part of Katsuie's back story - we've had no formal confirmation that he'll be playable or a major character himself.

A younger Nobunaga will appear in Sengoku Basara 4.

As above. The young Nobunaga rumour is based on speculation that the silhouette matched an old piece of concept art showing Nobunaga in his youth; a reasonable theory at the time. Now that we know that the silhouette was someone else and they won't be making everyone younger for the game, there's no reason to think that anything will come of the 'young Nobunaga' idea. I'd like to see it explored as an alternate costume one day if possible.

Hideyoshi will be playable in Sengoku Basara 4.

Hideyoshi is in exactly the same position as Nobunaga so far: we know he'll be relevant to the game's plot and appear in cut scenes, but there's been no formal confirmation that he'll be playable. Yet.

Update 31/07/2013: Hideyoshi is now confirmed as a playable character in Sengoku Basara 4!

The plot of Sengoku Basara 4 revolves around Ashikaga Yoshiteru trying to take over Japan.

It's the opposite! Yoshiteru has relinquished his title as shogun in order to stir things up in monotonous times. His long term plans aren't clear, but whatever they are it's unlikely that the staff have been lying to us about the plot of the game so far.

Japanese fans are ruining the series by voting for pretty boys in the popularity polls.

This one personally annoys me. The popularity rankings are made by surveying fans who purchased the games close to their release date and received a voting ticket, i.e. the biggest fans of the series who are supporting it by buying the games at full price. Capcom wants to please this kind of fan more than anyone else. There's no evidence that people are buying thousands of copies to cheat. The popularity ranking is supported by the merchandise sales for each character, online fan activity and the reactions that the hardcore attendees give at live events. Capcom know exactly which of the Sengoku Basara characters the core fans want in the new games.

I wish that people wouldn't criticise the outcome of the voting unless they also participated. There is no reason a fan who purchased the game can't submit a vote from overseas now that it's all done online.

The Busho Matsuri (Butai Sengoku Basara Bushou Matsuri 2013) event was a stage play, or was a disappointment with less game news than usual.

This year's event was actually the first ever Busho Matsuri so it cannot be compared to anything else. Unlike the Basara Matsuri events which which focus on the games and the series as a whole, Busho Matsuri is an event specifically linked to the Butai Sengoku Basara stage plays. It was always marketed that way and the Sengoku Basara 4 news was a late addition to the schedule (along with the handful of seiyuu guests).

Please note that Busho Matsuri is not a stage play itself. It has the actors performing highlights from the earlier plays in their costumes, but it's very much a fan gathering. Click the Video Reviews tab on this site to see my summaries of every stage play to date other than Butai Sengoku Basara 3 Utage (due for DVD release soon) and Butai Sengoku Basara 3 Utage Two (which was just announced).

[Update 16/08/2013] 
Tag mode is confirmed for Sengoku Basara 4.

This rumour originated from a Siliconera news article. The writer has translated information about the new battle system by choosing words which accidentally imply that Capcom has confirmed the return of the beloved tag mode for the game. Tag mode last appeared in Sengoku Basara 3 Utage; it provided a very polished experience and it would be easy to add it to the new 'war comrade' mechanic to allow the player to switch between their two characters. It's likely it will be back. However, it's not been confirmed to date. All the Siliconera post means is that your two characters (the main one and the 'war comrade') will be able to perform 'tag team' Basara attacks, i.e. the new Giga Basara techniques.

6 comments:

  1. I expect Ieyasu will join Keiji on the "has-been" bench. :( With this setting, the reset of the stories and relationships until SB3/Utage, Capcom pushing the more popular Mitsunari, plus the new characters, I just can't see a chance for a good storyline for him. Even his "kizuna" character tick doesn't really make a lot of sense in this setting.

    I can see Yukimura holding out, but if he doesn't get a very good story and enough exposure in secondary and promotional materials he'll quickly get overshadowed by Mitsunari and Sakon, and then he'll join Ieyasu and Keiji. :( Fans are fickle, especially that certain type of fan that the SB series has a lot of. Let's not pretend there's no reason why Sakon and Katuie are such pretty boys (especially the latter, he's usually depicted as a cool old man!), and fans are already eating them up, especially Sakon. I'm worried they're going to abandon the Blue vs Red rivalry that's been a staple of SB until now, for Blue vs Purple. If that happens, and Yukimura is not a main character anymore (he isn't, they already said it was Masamune and Mitsunari), he'll lose the attention of the loudest fan group. :( I'm sorry for sounding so gloomy but by now I'm very pessimistic. (I need to stop thinking like this, I'll just get depressed...)

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    1. Thank you for the comment! In writing this upbeat response I suddenly realised that I sounded like Ieyasu does when he tries to encourage poor Mitsunari at times, annoying him without meaning to by being way too positive. I hope that's just my imagination ^_^;

      To me, one of the strengths of the series as a whole is how even the non-main characters tend to get a decent role. I've been playing through Sengoku Basara 2 recently thanks to the HD Collection and enjoying the way that even though Keiji, Masamune and Yukimura are the central heroes, characters from the Oda faction and so on still feel as though they were treated with respect, with interesting stories. Without seeing the opening movie or promotional material I might struggle to guess who the 'poster boys' even were.

      Unless you're a fan of someone like Yoshimoto, Yoshihiro or Kennyo, of course. The less pleasant guys tend to get ignored pretty badly ^^;

      I think Keiji's biggest problem is that he's too much of a nice guy; the 'Sengoku Genesis' parallel world resetting the story might be a good way to try to explore him in a different light. I'm hoping we'll get to see him interacting with Hideyoshi again (and in more detail than before), but in my heart I don't think he'll ever be a serious challenger to Masamune in the character polls the way things are. Nice guys just aren't as interesting to watch as the angry/hot-blooded ones, even if they have great designs and stories behind them.

      With Yukimura, his appeal to fans of both sexes is proven and I'm sure they can rekindle that if they try. While the game may well change my mind when it comes out, I don't think that Mitsunari and Masamune will ever have as much chemistry together that Masamune and Yukimura shared as leads. I'm hoping that the fans of Yukimura who drifted away in the Sengoku Basara 3 era will be drawn back if he has a sufficiently exciting return - preferably with his Oyakata-sama returning as a major power in the new game as well (I can hope)...

      Ieyasu is problematic, as you say. He suffers from the same 'nice' image as Keiji to some extent and his strongest story motivation won't work so well in a parallel world. I can only assume they're planning something completely different for him this time, or having him go against the turmoil of the period right from the beginning instead of taking his time as he did in the original.

      In the brief snippets we've seen of the older Ieyasu working under Hideyoshi (via live dialogues at Basara Matsuri events and a few exchanges in the stage plays), I'm looking forward to seeing how he fits in with his former comrades, especially now Sakon has entered the scene to give Mitsunari some extra support.

      Geez, I rambled a lot. Sorry ;_;

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    2. Hm, not sure if the last comment was deleted on purpose or if my blog did something weird. I'll reply anyway! (゜∇゜)

      As a Kojuurou fan who went through the cruelty of Sengoku Basara 3, I understand, the wait is painful for Yukimura's loyal fans. Especially as I don't think we'll get more than a hint about the next reveals in the next update since they'll be putting the video up with the voice samples; I'm guessing next week's Famitsu might have something, but until then...

      I'd like to see Yukimura confronting Katsuie most of all, I think. The latter's negative, rigid personality would probably play well against Yukimura's enthusiastic attitude, making for a very interesting confrontation. He never seemed to fit in all that well with the western army characters in SB3; they all had tangled agendas with one another already, severely limiting Yukimura's chances to shine properly.

      Here's hoping that the staff give him a fitting announcement soon. If they don't, I don't think Hoshi Souichirou will ever forgive KobaP the next time they're on stage together!

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    3. I didn't delete it, so something must have happened with the blog... it was a long post, too! ;_;) Thanks for replying anyway!

      I agree that Yukimura didn't fit the rest of the Western army, but I think the whole thing was really a mess... I liked parts of SB3 but I think it wasn't a good idea to make it so dark. I hope SB4 won't follow in its footsteps.

      It would be interesting to see Yukimura's interactions with Katsuie, they would make good foils for each other. Although to be honest what I'm most curious and anxious about now is whether they will include the rivalry with Masamune or not. It's such a staple of SB that it would feel something is really over if they left it out. (But if what I feel is right and Capcom is really trying to "retool and restart" SB they may even do it... :/ )

      Haha, poor Hoshi Souichirou was already anxious about Yukimura's position before the Last Party... He said he was relieved only when he saw the poster because he thought if Yukimura is on the poster he must be a main character. I can imagine how he feels now! (And even earlier Morita Masakazu said he was surprised that Keiji even appeared in the anime... and that was before SB3.)

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    4. (Originally posted by Anonymous, Wednesday, 17 July 2013 15:19:00 BST)

      Thank you for the encouraging reply! And don't worry, you're not annoying at all! It's just that Yukimura is my favorite character so the announcements were a shock for me, and seeing him being ignored after all this time makes me pessimistic.

      About Keiji I think you're right. I think that Keiji has a lot more to is personality than what we usually see, but it comes out when he's interacting with other characters, the more the better. On his own he doesn't have a very strong impression. And Sakon's personality seems similar to Keiji's, so with Sakon being a central character I think Keiji will just fade even more into the background. Honestly I wouldn't be surprised if he became an NPC in SB4. :(

      As for Yukimura, what I'm worried about is that they won't try. Maybe I'm wrong but it seems to me that Capcom is trying to remodel SB to some degree, especially since the the three new characters were not designed by Tsuchibayashi Makoto. It also seems to me that SB4 will have a more serious mood (if not as dark and serious as SB3). Maybe Capcom thought that Yukimura is not suited for the image they want to achieve, so they promoted Mitsunari into Yukimura's position, and made Yukimura into just a side character...

      I really hope I'm mistaken, but my heart sinks a little every time I see a promotional picture without Yukimura. This is just my opinion but I think it just doesn't look right. It doesn't help that Sakon looks so similar to him with the spiky hair, the red colors and twin swords. Sometimes I look at a picture and at first think it's Yukimura, only to realize a moment later that it's Sakon.

      I'm curious about what they're going to do with Ieyasu, but I'm not being very optimistic about him either. If this was old style SB I could hope that they base the story on his BSR48 election promise, but from what I have seen until now I don't know what to expect.

      But anyway, I will try to be more optimistic and hope that everything will turn out fine! Although I'm afraid this will last only as long as we learn that the announcement on the 19th will be only the missing voice samples and no new characters... ;;;

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    5. Thank you, fortunately I managed to save the original comment so I've just popped it back up myself for reference (out of order, sadly).

      I don't think any of the new guys (or Mitsunari) will provide an adequate replacement for Masamune's rivalry with Yukimura. Sakon seems too flippant to get him really worked up despite the surface similarities. I can see Yoshiteru providing some interesting interactions, but even the most hardcore Masamune fans will surely be cheering for Yukimura's return.

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I'm really sorry that I had to switch on authentication for comments. The blog had started to receive dozens of spam comments each week. I hope that this new setting will help!