Genre: Beat-‘Em-Up Developer: Ma-Ba Publisher: Ma-Ba Players: 1-2 Released: 1994
Wow, this is a little oddity I came across in my local second-hand game shop. Because it was a Japanese game with Japanese text on the box and pictures of sailor-suited Japanese girls on it, I initially assumed it would be one of those odd dating games. So imagine my surprise when I started up the game to find myself playing a side-scrolling beat-’em-up…with Japanese school girls as the fighters.
After some trial and error and recourse to the Internet I realised that this game was called Sailor Moon and was based on a popular Japanese Anime of the same name. I did a bit more searching around and found that this was a cartoon that ran in the mid-nineties on Japanese and USA TV and has developed quite a cult following on the web.
I studiously examined the girls in the game and compared them to the girls featured in the animation at great length. I played some more and read up on the plot and now I think I can give a good account of what this game is all about.
Sailor Moon is a normal everyday 14 year-old Japanese school girl called Serena, who is given a mission by a talking cat called Luna to look for the lost Moon Princess and fight evil. Sailor Moon discovers other Sailor Scouts to aid her in her quest as well as another talking cat called Artemis. They are trying to find Princess Serenity who ruled the peaceful Moon Kingdom many thousands of years ago. Princess Serenity was lost when she sacrificed herself to fight off the evil forces of the Dark Kingdom. She sent all of her subjects forward in time to the present day. Unfortunately, Dark Generals from the Negaverse have also come to the present day and are stealing life energy from ordinary people, while trying to find the Silver Crystal to go back and take over the Moon Kingdom (I think). In charge of the DarK Forces is the evil Queen Beryl and it is she whom you must ultimately defeat (possibly).
This all sounds pretty exciting, however your fight against the Dark Forces is basically a walk from left to right, punching out the baddies with your girlie slaps or special magical moves (you have a magic bar as well as a health bar), but you can’t abuse this as it will deplete very quickly. When you start the game you have a choice of five Sailor Scouts, Sailor Moon, Sailor Mercury, Sailor Mars, Sailor Venus, and Sailor Jupiter. Then you find yourself in a normal street along which you must walk, fighting enemies as you go. Basically this is a Double Dragon/Streets of Rage clone, but with girls, which is actually a good thing . Ok, so the girls are rather scantily clad and tend to flash their knickers while doing high kicks and some special moves. But they are still girls kicking ass, and for that I applaud it.
Each character has special moves based on the planet powers (i.e. Jupiter uses thunder type moves, Mars use Fire, etc.). Although Sailor Moon is the real powerhouse of the bunch with her tiara chucking and whirlwind flinging. As you progress, Luna (or maybe Artemis) the cat appear in a little window and shout at you but it’s all in Japanese so I have no idea what they are saying. I’m pretty sure they take on bosses from the series itself like Jadeite, Emerald, and Queen Beyrl herself. But I kind of lost the plot after a while. I was just having a fine time beating up opponents in that hypnotic state side scrolling beat-’em-ups tend to send you into.
The graphics and sound are great and the sprites are big and bold. They look like the anime characters they are based on, with lots of expression and smooth movement as well. The actual contact of the blows looks a bit wussy, still it’s fun seeing big tough Dark Generals looking like they are being kissed to death! The music is the usual Japanese, high-speed, mentalist lift music and is thus, perfect for the game.
Scoring this game is a little tricky. It looks great and as a side scrolling beat-’em-up it is one of the better Double Dragon clones I have played. There is still a lot of fun to be had with it even if you are unfamiliar with the whole Sailor Moon concept (as I was). So I think I’ll give it 7/10. One for fans of side scrollers and Japanese school girls only.
SCORE 7 out of 10