Thursday, March 20, 2003

Bishoujo Senshi SailorMoon Another Story

Genre: Role Playing Game
Platform: Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Credits: 1995 Bandai, Angel, Kodansha, Naoko Takeuchi

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Skysenshi's Description:
After the defeat of Mistress Nine and the Death Busters in SailorMoon S, a new enemy from the future rises to shake the balance that Neo Queen Serenity has established. This unknown entity forms a new breed of Senshi and together they storm the past in a bid to change destinies. Now SailorMoon and friends are faced with revived enemies that they had already defeated in previous battles. If that isn't bad enough, some of the Senshi are starting to lose their memories. Now the Sailor Senshi have to journey through past, present, and future to restore what is and must always be…their destiny.

Can't put it down! >>> by skysenshi
In the middle of playing .hack//infection, I chanced upon this old SNES game that brought back an overflowing sense of nostalgia. I was a Bishoujo Senshi fan in the 90s. I loved this series so much, despite the overwhelming plot holes, that I even built a site for my favorite Senshi—SailorUranus. Years later, out of sheer morbid curiosity, I thought I should unearth my SNES and give this game a shot.

Gameplay and Battle System
For an old-school RPG, Another Story is pretty darn addicting! It reminds me of those earlier Final Fantasy games that had pixelated 2D characters and ultra cute dialogues. In fact, it looks and sounds exactly like an old-school Final Fantasy game—dialogues included.

Your characters basically rely on accessories to boost up their stats. You can also adjust the damage they can dish out or receive depending on the formation you put them in. In battles, you have the choice of using physical attacks, magic, linked techs, 5-senshi attacks, items, guard or escape. Magic depends on your EP gauge. In usual RPG terms, the EP is equivalent to MP. The cheesiest thing about this game is that your EP replenishes after every battle. Nifty, eh?

There are two very promising features in the battle menu: the linked techs and the guard function. With linked techs, the Senshi can do very powerful combos with very minimal EP usage. The guard function, on the other hand, minimizes the damage you can receive. Don't laugh at this and dismiss it as a usual occurrence in RPGs, though. In other games, guarding halves your damage received. In Another Story, guarding can save your life even when you're in critical condition. A normal 500HP worth of damage can be reduced to a mere 1-9.

The only gripe I can name here is that there are times when it's very unbalanced. There's a whole load of difference between one level and the next! One moment you're being bitchslapped left and right by regular enemies and then you level up and begin to do the bitchslapping yourself. The downside to this is that there's also a whole load of difference between regular enemies and the bosses. If you think you had it easy with the regulars, then it might come as a shock to find that some bosses take forever to kill. The key here is to find the best formation that suits your defensive and offensive stats. Oh...and being that this is an old-school game, it entails a lot of levelling up.

Story and Characters
This is definitely where the game did everything right. Sure, the dialogues seem a bit out-of-character. C'mon, when did Uranus say anything remotely perky in the actual manga and anime? But the story can make a whole new season altogether. In fact, it has the perfect closure to a nice fluffy series. You get to meet up with old enemies, take a peek into their pasts and realize that they weren't as evil as you first saw them to be. In other words: you get a glimpse of everyone's stories that have never been told in the anime. There's even room for a lot of romance for the underdog Senshi. You never saw much insight to the Sailor Senshi in the anime series and the manga, because the writers were too busy with SailorMoon's constant liplocking activities with Tuxedo Kamen. That flaw is rectified here. Of course, you can appreciate this better if you were a Bishoujo Senshi fan…

Scratch that thought.

I was just checking the message boards and I realized that many of the people who played this game aren't even remotely interested in SailorMoon. Their point of interest? They find the game fun and exhilarating. Another Story may not be eye (or ear) candy compared to the newer PS2 and Xbox games around, but it's probably the warm and fuzzy feeling that counts.

The verdict? Before I played this, the only Bishoujo Senshi game that I enjoyed was the one available for SEGA Mega Drive. It was an adventure game that had super and infinite combos similar to those that you use in Street Fighter. With my disappointing experience with the Bishoujo Senshi SuperS PSX fighting game, however, I had lost all hope of finding anything remotely satisfying. Truly, I didn't expect to find that this RPG would be the "diamond in the rough" that I was looking for.

DIFFICULTY: Ridiculously Easy to Unreasonably Difficult
COMPLETION TIME: 20-30 hours
HIGHEST LEVEL ACHIEVED: 72 (Uranus and Saturn); 67 (Mars and Moon); 66 (Jupiter)
RATINGS: Gameplay 8; Battle 10; Story 9; Visuals 5; Characters 9; Sounds 5; Replay Value 8

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