Mini-Review of Saki Portable (咲 Sony PSP)

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Mini-Review of Saki Portable (咲 Sony PSP)

Post by wavemotion » Mon Sep 24, 2012 4:40 pm

Game: 咲-Saki Portable (通常版)
Platform: Sony PSP (which is region free for games, not so for UMD movies)
Publisher/Developer page: http://products.alchemist-net.co.jp/products/saki/

Released only in Japan in March 2010 and then re-released in 'The Best' format (I gather this is a bit like Sony's Greatest Hits here in the USA).
Sadly, the price on this hasn't come down much... I found a few in the US$60 range and more commonly US$70 and up for a new copy. Used copies are only slightly cheaper.

I apologize for the screenshots. The game looks nicer on a real PSP and PSP emulation still has a little ways to go. I had to add a little filtering to get the shots to look good.

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For those who love all things Saki, this is a portable Mahjong game with Saki and friends firmly entrenched within. The game does more than just past in animation and art from the OVA but instead does much further in trying to re-create some of the real feel from the series. Actual tournament matches. Lengthy story mode. Challenge situations where you are given a starting hand and starting points as if the game was already mid-match and you have to work your way to victory. There is plenty of gallery options and Saki music here to satisfy even the most dedicated fan. Let's see how it all looks...


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Yes, the PSP has load-times as the PSP disc spins and reads. They aren't too bad - and you get treated to a little chibi animation.


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The main menu gives you a number of choices. STORY mode, CHALLENGE mode, FREE BATTLE mode, SOME OTHER Battle Mode I don't quite understand, GALLERY MODE and OPTIONS.

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In story mode you unlock stages as you go through the story and play out the mahjong matches. In many cases you are thrust into the middle of a match and need to work your way out. The story mode is available in three levels: Easy, Normal and Hard.


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You can bypass the animation and text/voice by pressing START. But it's really kinda fun to watch.


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Just before the story-mode mahjong challenge takes place, you get a little chibi animation that represents the summary of the chapter.


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The main mahjong game screen. Familiar to anyone who has played Video Mahjong before. A nice touch here is that due to the PSP having a reasonably wide screen we get the portraits of the players along with their seat/wind indicators and a few other useful bits of information. You can see that the scores are not equal - this is the starting hand and points for Saki at the beginning of Story-Mode (Normal).


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When you win a hand, it counts the points in standard fashion. Nothing too flashy - and suitable Saki music to count points by.


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In challenge mode, you pick a character and it pits you against opponents that are meaningful to that character and puts you in certain situations you need to battle back from. There are at least 21 different challenges - and several involve Saki as the main character. More challenges become available as you work through the story-mode.


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In the free battle mode, you can pick which 4 players are sitting at the table - and which character you want to play.


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For the story mode, you can't change the rules... but in free battle mode you can. There are, however, only a small handful of things you can change here - most of the actual Mahjong rules are fixed (and match the rule-set used on the Saki Animation... Four Red Akadora tiles, Double Riichi / Iipatsu enabled, etc, etc.).


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One of the best modes in the game - Team/Tourney mode! You pick your school (team of 5 characters) and your team starts with 100000 points and just like in the Saki OVA you battle it out tournament style! You get to pick the order your characters battle in - the team captains are shown in the middle.


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Every character (including all of the Rival schools) have their signature moves animated (mostly in terms of a sliding image across the screen with some voice acting). Good stuff.


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In gallery mode you unlock character portraits, music, and mini-animations.


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And finally there are a few overall game options that you can configure. Mostly in terms of music and sound effects. You can enter your name for one of the Battle modes.

There are unlockable characters - including my favorite Fujita Pro! Some unlockable costume swaps. A host of little touches that really make this feel like a well tuned Saki game and not just a paste-on of Saki art onto a standard mahjong game. I'd like a few more tweakable options, but really that's a minor point.

A brand new PSP would set you back US$130 (maybe closer to US$70 for used). Saki Portable would run another US$60-$70. It's not cheap, but there are worse ways to spend your money!

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Re: Mini-Review of Saki Portable (咲 Sony PSP)

Post by Barticle » Mon Sep 24, 2012 6:41 pm

wavemotion wrote:Game: 咲-Saki Portable
Ooh, Saki. :)
[...]re-released in 'The Best' format (I gather this is a bit like Sony's Greatest Hits here in the USA).
Yeah, it's basically when a game gets a reissue with a reduced price, 6 months to two years after the original release. Almost exactly two years in this case.

Several publishers do it. My copy of MFC PS3 is branded Konami the Best (コナミ・ザ・ベスト).
SOME OTHER Battle Mode
Tsuushin (通信) means "communication" or "transmission" and indicates multiplayer connectivity.
A brand new PSP would set you back US$130 (maybe closer to US$70 for used). Saki Portable would run another US$60-$70. It's not cheap, but there are worse ways to spend your money!
This is one of the few mahjong games I'm interested in getting, but buying a PSP especially does seem a little extravagant. :| The new PS Vita doesn't have a slot for PSP games and, while you can download PSP games for the Vita, you'd need a Japanese PSN account and I believe you can't switch between accounts without resetting the device to factory defaults. :roll:

There's a pretty good guide to Saki Portable on GameFAQs here (yes, someone beat me to it!) which covers the girls' special abilities and has walkthroughs for the story and challenge modes.

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Re: Mini-Review of Saki Portable (咲 Sony PSP)

Post by Barticle » Mon Sep 24, 2012 6:57 pm

PS For reference, the download game costs 2,800 Yen off the Japanese PSN (which is about US$36, 28 Euros or 22 quid).

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Re: Mini-Review of Saki Portable (咲 Sony PSP)

Post by wavemotion » Mon Sep 24, 2012 6:58 pm

Barticle wrote:PS For reference, the download game costs 2,800 Yen off the Japanese PSN (which is about US$36, 28 Euros or 22 quid).
Not bad! That's about half of what I'm seeing for the physical copy (especially once you factor in shipping).

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Re: Mini-Review of Saki Portable (咲 Sony PSP)

Post by Barticle » Mon Sep 24, 2012 7:02 pm

No box or manual though, and evidently I only have 100 Yen on my account! :lol:

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Re: Mini-Review of Saki Portable (咲 Sony PSP)

Post by Ignatius » Mon Sep 24, 2012 9:10 pm

But most downloaded games from PSN have acces to a manual in the screen used to leave a game or turn of a controller, at least that´s the case in PS3...
Life is as beautiful as you want it to be, but it´s only one. That´s why you must not get tired of it. Don´t care if you don´t say something that seems "important" because your mere existence is important for someone.

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Re: Mini-Review of Saki Portable (咲 Sony PSP)

Post by Barticle » Mon Sep 24, 2012 9:23 pm

Yes, but everyone knows the most important aspect of a game manual is the smell. ;)

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Re: Mini-Review of Saki Portable (咲 Sony PSP)

Post by Ignatius » Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:08 pm

oh yeah, I love the smell of a new book, game, or game manual. I don´t like downloaded games, but I bought a few of them.
Life is as beautiful as you want it to be, but it´s only one. That´s why you must not get tired of it. Don´t care if you don´t say something that seems "important" because your mere existence is important for someone.

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Re: Mini-Review of Saki Portable (咲 Sony PSP)

Post by Barticle » Fri Dec 26, 2014 1:02 pm

I must admit I hadn't realised that a second Saki game came out for the PSP last year!

It's based on the Achiga-hen Episode of Side-A spin-off series.

http://products.alchemist-net.co.jp/pro ... index.html

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Re: Mini-Review of Saki Portable (咲 Sony PSP)

Post by Ignatius » Fri Dec 26, 2014 1:12 pm

The Achiga-hen game has no story mode. Only challenges. Some of the characters from the first game, apart from Kiyosumi team members, are unlockables.
Life is as beautiful as you want it to be, but it´s only one. That´s why you must not get tired of it. Don´t care if you don´t say something that seems "important" because your mere existence is important for someone.

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Re: Mini-Review of Saki Portable (咲 Sony PSP)

Post by Barticle » Fri Dec 26, 2014 1:17 pm

That's good to know, thanks.

I'm kinda thinking about picking up a cheap pre-owned PSP, mainly so I can play the Kurohyou spin-offs from the RGG/Yakuza series.

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Re: Mini-Review of Saki Portable (咲 Sony PSP)

Post by Ignatius » Fri Dec 26, 2014 8:31 pm

It is said there will be a third Saki game, for Vita. Launch date uknown, though.
As I´ve read, looks it will be a Saki Zenkoku-hen game. I hope it goes to the end of the story, but chances are low, as the manga is still in progress.

I tried both Saki games, they´re very fun to play. But don´t expect normal mahjong, because of the superpowers.

By the way, I hope those RGG/Yakuza spinoffs are cool.
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Re: Mini-Review of Saki Portable (咲 Sony PSP)

Post by Barticle » Sat Dec 27, 2014 2:34 am

Yes, a Saki game for the Vita seems likely.

From what I've seen the Kurohyou titles offer a similar experience to the main series just with different characters - the Japanese wiki site lists story chapters, side-missions, brawler combat and hostess dating. They have the same city maps (Kamurochou in both games plus Soutenbori in the second one) with many shops, restaurants and minigame locations. Mahjong is playable in the second game.

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Re: Mini-Review of Saki Portable (咲 Sony PSP)

Post by Barticle » Mon Feb 16, 2015 9:49 pm

I have to say I'm very impressed with the mahjong minigame in Kurohyou 2. Games in the main Yakuza series have been recycling the same mahjong game for years but this one is entirely different, seemingly developed separately. It has nicer presentation, better controls, dora highlighting, detailed wait indicator, several pages of stats including full yaku counts and a few extra yaku/man. There are two modes - you're always gambling with in-game money, but with a very wide range of rates available. There are limited rule options - if you really like to gamble you can play for high stakes with twelve red fives and dai wareme. :shock: There's also a really nice 'safe tile indicator' function - you pick a player and the game will highlight all the tiles in your hand that are safe discards against that player.

I've written a guide which is now available on GameFAQs. As usual with this series, it covers the full rules of mahjong as well as explaining the menus and options.

(back on topic, I've got the first Saki game now but I've not had the time to play it yet...)

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Re: Mini-Review of Saki Portable (咲 Sony PSP)

Post by Barticle » Fri Jun 12, 2015 3:21 pm

The new Saki Zenkoku-hen game for the PS Vita was listed on Amazon Japan this week with a release date of 17 Sept.

http://www.famitsu.com/news/201506/11080504.html

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