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CONSOLE: Game Gear DEVELOPER: Shimada Kikaku PUBLISHER: Bandai
RELEASE DATE (JP): January 27, 1995 GENRE: Beat-'em-up
// review by EscapeRouteBritish

Moon Prison Power Makeup!

It feels like there are endless licensed platformer games on the Game Gear. How fitting that amongst these seemingly infinite games is one based on the "Infinity Arc" of the beloved Sailor Moon animated series. This arc is called the Infinity Arc because it feels like it goes on forever. Usagi Tsukino and Chibiusa have decided to throw their tiaras in Game Gear ring, bringing us a game so inoffensive and basic that I wonder if it was even finished. Looking at the game's length it certainly feels that way, clocking in at well under an hour to complete and lacking in any genuine challenge.

Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon S is based on the third series - after Sailor Moon, and Sailor Moon R, came Sailor Moon S. Unlike earlier series, Sailor Moon S is often remembered as the series where the story took a darker turn, starting out in the same wholesome happy way but ending with summoning a pharaoh who wishes to destroy the Earth. The game doesn't quite get that far, however, instead focusing on just the Witches 5, main antagonists of Sailor Moon S. As I said, it takes barely any time to put an end to their degeneracy if you're anywhere near decent at video games. On my second playthrough, I breezed through because I'd already figured out where everything was. The game features the same few enemies ad nauseum and a total of five stages composed of three sections each. If the level graphics themselves didn't change between areas, you'd think the game was just looping.

Usagi and Chibiusa must have been pigging out on pizza because they're super heavy to control. Slow and cumbersome platforming combined with big sprites that take up far too much screen real estate. Regardless of who you pick, it's the same stages, same enemies, same bosses and mostly the same attacks. The special moves are different but they serve the same purpose, to beat the stuffing out of the same basic enemies. Navigating stages involves jumping over pits and hanging from wires, meanwhile avoiding falling stuff that drops from outside of your visible range and has a knack of landing on you every single time. There aren't a lot of lives to go around even if you ace all of the game's bonus stages, which are obnoxiously difficult.


In the name of the moon, we shall be punished.

The game does look somewhat pleasing, though considering it was released as late as 1995 you'd expect the game to take advantage of all the development tricks learned by that time. The game excels in its visual presentation and the occasional digitized voice clip, and the music is halfway decent. Sadly there's little to do outside of the ability to replay mini-games and getting your fortune told by Rei. There's even less to do here than you'd normally find in licensed games of this era. One hilarious thing about the fortune-telling mini-game is that it simply will not allow you to any date later than 1999. This proves the Y2K bug is a real problem and we should have taken it more seriously than Shimada Kikaku did. This was a throwaway game that they did because they needed the work. The same Shimada Kikaku that once developed the well renowned Felix the Cat for NES quickly cobbled together a Sailor Moon platformer that barely compares in the gameplay department. The company disappeared after their last game, a hamster raising sim released in 2001. I think we should make a concerted effort to remember the Shimada Kikaku they were and not the Shimada Kikaku they became.

Sailor Moon has certainly had worse video games but it has had far better games too. There are games that I would insist that every Sailor Moon fan tries for themselves, like Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon for the Arcades and Sailor Moon Another Story for the Super Famicom. There are games that I would insist every Sailor Moon fan plays just to see how horrendous they are, such as the 3D Adventures of Sailor Moon for Windows and La Luna Splende for the Nintendo DS. And then there are games like Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon S for the Game Gear that I simply cannot recommend for either reason, games that are bound to languish in obscurity forever.

There is an English fan translation for this game that you can find if you look on RomHacking.net. It translates the 60+ quiz questions into English and subtitles the cutscenes. It seems like a lot of effort to go to for such an underwhelming and ultimately uninteresting game, but if you're going to go to the effort of playing this lukewarm garbage then you might as well play it in English.


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