Old RPG Review #37: Sailor Moon: Another Story

NuMetalManiak Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon: Another Story is the full name of this turn-based RPG game made by Angel. Bishoujo Senshi translates into Pretty Soldier by the way. This game was for the SNES, and was only released in Japan, but with a ROM hack English translation it is playable on an emulator. You might be wondering, WHY I would play this game? Well I'll tell you why.

Gameplay: Overall, the turn-based aspect is largely indifferent from other turn-based RPGs. In fact, it's a lot like Breath of Fire 2 in mechanics. Up to five Sailor Senshi can be used in a battle, with different formations dictating just how strong the characters can be relative to their position. The senshi have special techs, which are probably related to their abilities in the Sailor Moon anime, which I am absolutely not familiar with. Also, there are link techs, which can be learned on a special screen, between two or more senshi; the best part is that one or more senshi can use the same link tech in a single turn. There's also group attacks where all senshi can deliver a rather devastating attack.

The standard leveling up, random battles, all those elements are present here. Accessories can provide stat-boosts, which can make or break certain battles. Most random battles are easy, and then by the fourth chapter or so the difficulty all of a sudden spikes, especially with the bosses. There's even a semi-sidequest involving a puzzle. That really doesn't have too much significance, considering that the majority of pieces are obtained as battle rewards, but the payoff is ten of a great accessory. If that weren't enough, there just so happens to be a hard-coded cheat code, which can be used to make all Sailor Senshi start at level 16. Feels like playing a New Game+ right?

Well, the reason I wanted to play this was the graphics. This SNES game has some really good graphics overall, something that most SNES games would die for. I wouldn't say it beats out Chrono Trigger or Tales of Phantasia in graphics, but the way everything was drawn was great. I like it. Also, what I like about this game is that it is rather short. Heck, I might even try a second playthrough of this by this writing. Grade: B

Sailor Moon (Usagi Tsukino): You'd know her even if you don't know the anime. Her special techniques include the powerful Moon Spiral Heart Attack, and her speed and attack are great. With the MoonCup1 item, she can become Super Sailor Moon, with the overpowered Rainbow Moon Heartache tech.
Sailor Mercury (Ami Mizuno): Overall, her stats aren't really that great in my opinion. She has alright defense and good speed, plus some nice techs, but her weak attack and HP rating bring her down for me.
Sailor Mars (Rei Hino): My favorite, great attack power, HP, and killer techs. She has surprisingly low defense though.
Sailor Jupiter (Makoto Kino): Best HP ranking in the game, plus amazing attack power. Her defense is worse than Mars though, and the HP can go down fast. Her best techs are Sparkling Wide Pressure and Coconut Cyclone.
Sailor Venus: (Minako Aino): For me, she's completely average. Not much to stand out, but I like to use her link tech with Moon to raise up attack power.
Sailor Chibimoon (Chibi-usa): She's not meant to be a fighter in this game. Her speed ranking is the highest, so she supplies the healing items and techs. Not really anything else though. Even Super Sailor Chibimoon isn't that interesting.
Sailor Uranus (Haruka Tenoe): Like Mars, great attack power, speed, and HP. Good offense, but trades off for rather horrible defense which is a problem especially late in the game.
Sailor Neptune (Michiru Kaiou): High evasion, lowest speed. Her techs aren't really good and I usually just have her use the Deep Shaking link tech with Uranus.
Sailor Pluto (Setsuna Meiou): Late in the game, Pluto is highly invaluable. None of her stats are astronomical, but her Time Stop tech will win battles. She expends all EP to stop enemies for about two rounds, and it works on bosses. Gotta have her around.
Sailor Saturn (Hotaru Tomoe): A bit of a wildcard she is. Saturn has awesome defense but really low HP and not-so-good attack. Also, she has only one single tech, Death Reborn Revolution.

Aside from the playable senshi, the villain is Apsu, and her henchmen are the Oppositio Senshi led by Sin. There's also Anshar, her brother. Tuxedo Kamen is in this game, but no, you don't play as him at all. The playable senshi have quite some strengths, but some of their weaknesses really show. Grade: B-

Plot: Well I don't know much about Sailor Moon anime. Maybe I should watch it sometime. Apparently this game is supposed to be taken place between two story arcs. All I know is that there are 5 chapters:

Chapter 1: Her Destiny: Usagi intercepts monsters known as Youma who are around Tokyo. She gets with the Inner Senshi (Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Venus), and later the Outer Senshi (Uranus, Neptune, and Saturn, the latter of which is in the hospital for something). The Inner Senshi get kidnapped by Youma and Usagi saves them. The chapter ends with Tuxedo Kamen's grand entrance against the Oppositio Senshi but things don't go too well.

Chapter 2: In Search of the Stones: I love this chapter! Here, you play as each of the Inner Senshi as they journey around the world in search of, well stones. Mercury is looking for the Zoicite in Switzerland, helping out a man and his sick mother while figuring it out. At the end, she fights Nabu. Mars is in Nepal, tomb-raiding for the Jadeite, also falling in love with some dead guy named Faregg and getting into conflict with Nergal. Jupiter is in Canada in search of Nephrite, and fights Marduk for it. She also helps out a couple whose fathers are mayors of opposing villages. Venus is in Turkey, running away from perverted men in a men-only village, running into Ishtar and journeying to a woman-only village where she learns about her past life and a cure for the people in the male-only village, before finding the Kunzite she's looking for.

Chapter 3: The Barazuishou: That translates to Rose Crystal. The prelude to this chapter has you playing as Chibi for a few moments, running into Anshar who's not as bad as he seems. Then, Usagi is back, in order to save Chibi, and getting the Outer Senshi to help her do so. They fight Queen Beryl at the end of this chapter.

Chapter 4: Hostility and Friends: Nergal tries to prevent the senshi from reaching the Time-Space Door in order to get Sailor Pluto's help, but she fails. After getting Pluto and a fight with four sisters in the Black Moon UFO, as well as Rubius later on, the Ark is used to reach the North Pole. Moon gets kidnapped along the way and Chibimoon saves her.

Chapter 5: After the Battle: Unfortunately for Usagi, Sin decides to take her brother Shingo, who up until now was pretty unimportant. Sailor Moon goes with the Inner Senshi to save Shingo and they fight Sin and the Oppositio Senshi, while Chibimoon goes with the Outer Senshi up against the Witches and Anshar in Crystal Tokyo. Confronting Apsu, the Senshi defeat her but it isn't quite over yet, as she combines with Sin to become Demon Apsu. Now there are two endings to this. By winning with Sailor Moon's group, you get the good ending but the final boss is harder. Losing this fight will lead to Chibimoon and the remaining Senshi fighting Demon Apsu, and it's much easier, but the ending is bad.

Grade: B-. I don't really know much about this plot, especially since it's short and I'm not into the anime as of yet. But I guess I could care less. I don't think the Oppositio Senshi appear in the anime or manga or anywhere else either.

Music: Overall, the music is nice. Nothing really stands out apart from the music in the different locales in Chapter 2, which have some amazing tracks. The fight music isn't much; the boss music is slightly better. Grade: B

Overall Grade: B-

Love Sailor Moon? Love turn-based RPGs? This game might be a good play, but it's likely that a hard copy exists nowadays, and there's no way to get it in English aside from a ROM translation. Otherwise, there's nothing here that hasn't been seen before in other RPGs. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.