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RELEASE DATE (JP): August 8, 1994 GENRE: Beat-'em-up
// review by SoyBomb

No shortage of Moon Kicking.

Fighting evil by moonlight... winning love by daylight... never running from a real fight... too bad she's in a generic brawler.

Yes, Sailor Moon rears her crystal tiara on the Sega Genesis (or Mega Drive, since this game was not released outside of Japan) in the form of a brawler, not unlike many other of her outings at the time. In fact, this is a semi-port of the same game on the Super Famicom (the Japanese equivalent of the SNES), but with some significant alterations, such as changed levels, bosses, and music. Sadly, though this game will likely appeal to those who prey on all things Sailor Moon, for others it will serve as an average beat-'em-up that will never quite reach the stardom of other available games of the genre, such as Streets of Rage or the SNES equivalent, Final Fight. That being said, Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon hardly qualifies as a terrible game; it can stand on its own merits.

The game follows the general plot of the Sailor Moon series, requiring the five "Inner Soldiers" of the Sailor Senshi (so you can't play as Sailor Uranus, thus leaving the game bereft of any anus-related sources of humour) to battle their way through hordes of minions bent on destroying the Earth to get to Queen Beryl, the leader of the pack and the source of this dastardly invasion. I know there is far more to the Sailor Moon saga than that (like how Sailor Moon and Queen Beryl both come from the previous millennium, etc.), but it's lengthy and irrelevant to the game. The point is, once you've decided which heroine you'd like to be (out of five choices), you're going to have to beat up some stuff, and it's going to be wild.

And beat up stuff, you do. Through five stages, often broken up into smaller, more digestible sections, you'll be approached by some seriously crazy bootlickers who want to knock your tiara off... along with your head! You can whack and kick, plus use a bonus special magic attack that is useful in getting out of difficult situations (though it depletes your health a bit). Hit detection's pretty accurate; you can even get some damage in by merely slapping them with the tips of your fingers if you're good enough. One thing I didn't like was the length of the life bar: it's amazingly short! It's so short that it isn't even long enough to display the amount of health pertaining to the FIRST enemy you meet. You'll think you're taking large chunks of health off an enemy, only to have their life meter refill itself after it empties. And with bosses, that health bar will refill many times; you will never really how exactly how much health they had. At the end of each area, Tuxedo Mask will give you a score, rating your performance. I'm not sure how that benefits me, but... thanks for the report card, Professor Mask.

I'll just try to stay out of her way...

I don't really mention this often, but sometimes I just don't understand beat-'em-up environments. They always seem so arbitrary, and they probably are. Most games of this genre basically make up areas so you can fight in them, thus significantly increasing a game's length. Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon is no different. I understand why there's a shopping district as the first level: these girls love to shop. But why are we placed in an amusement park? Why a region filled with gigantic cake slices and flans? Why on top of moving vehicles? Why inside the freakin' Technodrome? If the designers stuck with surroundings relevant to the series, the game would probably be two levels long. Now we need enormous cakes to keep the action flowing. Maybe it would help if I could read the cutscene text when your character chats with bosses before fighting them; that might help to explain a few things. "YOU HAVE DEFEATED ME! I SHALL PUNISH YOU... BY SENDING YOU TO CAKE WORLD!"

The graphics are moderately interesting; the scenery is about as exciting as one would expect for a beat-'em-up: detailed, but not excessively detailed, as you'll be paying far more attention to the sprites, which are a bit more impressive. But while the characters are most assuredly unique in design, they still appear plain. And when you see the same seven or eight different enemies over and over throughout the game, ennui sets in quickly. I'm also wondering why, on the character selection screen, Sailor Mercury's hair is blue when it should be green. (Her in-game sprite is correct.) As for music, the only interesting song is the iconic Sailor Moon theme song, played over the title screen. The rest of the game features the most generic and dry background music. This music is far different than that of the Super Famicom version because of its separate developer. At least each boss gets their own song! The voices of the Sailor Senshi are also present... but boy, do they sound grating through the Mega-Drive soundchip. Sounds like they're trying to pass a stone.

If you love Sailor Moon, or if you just like any and all beat-'em-ups and are clamoring for more (and have a Japanese Mega-Drive system), then Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon could be right up your alley. But if it's deeper gameplay (or at least a beat-'em-up with a variety of moves, and a variety of enemies) you're looking for, you won't find it here. Double Dragon or Streets of Rage, this is not. This is more or less fan service for those clamoring for a Sailor Moon game on Sega's beloved 16-bit platform. It's a shame, but at least there are more impressive Sailor Moon games out there.

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