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RELEASE DATE (JP): November 29, 1996 GENRE: Fighter
// review by SoyBomb

The Sailor Senshi take out their inner angst on each other.

Oh, that Sailor Moon! When she's not fighting evil by moonlight, winning love by daylight, or grouting the bathroom tile in the early evening hours, she is appearing in all sorts of zany video games. She just pops up everywhere, including on the occasionally beloved Sega Saturn! This one was also released on the PlayStation as "Sailor Moon SuperS Shin Shuyaku Soudatsusen", but that's a bit of a mouthful, so I'm glad they took a 180° on their naming strategies.

Sailor Moon SuperS - Various Emotion (yes, that's quite a name in itself) is a fighting game where you get to play as any of the Sailor Senshi to battle against... well, the other Sailor Senshi. There must have been a major argument between every single one of them because I don't see any reason for them to take up arms against each other. The introductory anime sequence, being entirely in Japanese, didn't exactly enlighten me about their situation adequately, so I'm just going to have to conjure up my own plot. Therefore, this game now involves the Sailor Senshi battling it out to see who gets the last slice of unagi pizza in the fridge. Winner gets the succulent leftovers; losers have to eat something edible.

This is (as expected) another game in Japanese, and my knowledge of the language is, as you may or may not be aware, as poor as my knowledge of Lagrangian mechanics. That being said, having zero knowledge will not be a burden here. If you've played any other fighter, you've played this one. Errr, spiritually speaking, of course. After sifting through a couple of standard menu options, you get to choose your desired desirable brawler. The main menu offers both a Story Mode, which (to the best of my knowledge) has a story, and Meeting Mode, which serves as more of a free-for-all. The second-string Senshi (Uranus, Pluto, Neptune, and Saturn) are relegated to Meeting Mode, so if you have a hankering to play as Sailor Pluto, you'll have to head here.

Is Sailor Pluto still a member of the group, or is she now just a cheerleader on the sideline?

Now here's the kicker: before you can play, you're offered the ability to customize your character in some way (hence the title — impressively in English, by the way — "Ability Customize System") via a spinning wheel of skills. Luckily, this isn't like Wheel of Fortune: you can actually make a selection of your own accord by allotting points to each skill (and you can't buy a vowel). Regrettably, the names of all the abilities are in Japanese, so non-fluent readers won't be able to quite make them out, but they basically offer improved offensive power, defensive power, or hit points (depending on where you allot your points). The number of points available varies by game difficulty level. Obviously, staying on "Easy" mode is most beneficial here.

Then it's off for a clash with your sister Senshi. Oh, wait... they first have to talk to each other in Japanese first with their hand-drawn anime portraits. I wouldn't mind this so much if everyone's voices weren't so high-pitched! There's a solid amount of voice acting in Various Emotion, all of it shrill. Did I walk into a parrot cage? Even the CAT'S voice is squeaky! Then the real battle loads, and... oh, hold on, they have to taunt each other again. This is ridiculous.

Why they decided to fight each other, I'll never quite understand. Just go buy a punching bag, okay?

Finally, the real fight begins! Each of the Senshi can perform weak or strong punches and kicks, or they can use the trigger buttons to help unlock special moves (or even a "super" special move, as if not all moves are created equally). This method of pulling off special moves is the "easier" way, as you can actually choose to pull them off using classic, overcomplicated button sequences. That option is solely for fighter purists. I was playing against the CPU, and I noticed that the computer-controlled characters are VERY familiar with how to use special moves and use them aplenty. Things get better once you're used to the gameplay, but if you're just starting out, your butt will be handed to you in a cake box.

Sadly, it feels like "just another fighter" but with Sailor Moon characters plopped in. The game is also quite difficult. Be prepared for some failures. Just have the courage, the stamina, and the willpower to get right back up and dig those stilettos into the ocular sockets of your opponents! Rawr!

Various Emotion has various graphical styles throughout. (Did you see what I did there? Now if I can only make a pun on the "emotion" part...) The cinematic introduction is fully rendered in 3D, though it's impressively cheesy and might pass as a graphical artist's second-year college project today. The in-game menus feature detailed digitized sprites of the various Senshi. Starting a new game leads to an anime cutscene seemingly pulled from the show (or possibly made specifically for this game). And the battle scenes (the main course, presumably) features an odd mixture of hand-drawn backgrounds and 3D pre-rendered character sprites. The sprites initially looked very jarring, but in action, you'll forget how odd they look. Music, aside from the always-cool and beloved theme song, is rather lifeless. I've already mentioned the voice acting, and there's no need to revive the tale of my shattered eardrums again.

Sailor Moon SuperS - Various Emotion is another piece of fan service that provided me with mixed emotions. (I knew I could do it!) The game isn't horrible by any means, but on the other hand, it's nothing special that gives me the urge to raise my arms and wave glowsticks. If Sailor Moon is your raison d'être, then by all means, give this one a go. It was never released outside of Japan, as was the case with most Sailor Moon games, but if you can get your hands on it (and a Japanese Sega Saturn to boot), then it may tickle your fancy.

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