What Challenges Were Faced In Developing Sailor Moon: Another Story?

Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon: Another Story (1995; Super Famicom)

Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon: Another Story (1995; Super Famicom)

Released on September 22, 1995, – halfway through the anime’s SuperS season, despite being firmly entrenched in Sailor Moon S lore – Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon: Another Story was a groundbreaking RPG for its time. Not only was it an RPG built from the ground up for a young, female audience, but it also had a much larger cast of characters than most other games in the genre dared to at the time and even included audio from the actual voice talent.

Today I’ll be translating an interview with members of the development staff so we can take a look at some of the challenges they faced in making the game. Let’s get going!

The infamous puzzle

The infamous puzzle

[Note: This translation is edited a bit for clarity and comes from an interview in a strategy guide written for the Super Famicom RPG, Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon: Another Story. You can find the Japanese interview here: Page 83, Page 84, and Page 85.]1

There Were Many Stumbling Blocks – Development Secrets

Today we’ll talk with the game’s producer, director, and planner about some of the secrets behind this game’s long development.

Yuno (Producer): The planning started two years ago, so it was probably pretty reckless to think about doing an original story about a manga with an unsure future. This led to a lot of trouble later. (laugh) Take Saturn, as an extreme example. We hadn’t seen the end of “S” yet when we were making the game.

Miyazawa (Director): I was surprised to see that ChibiUsa became Super in the manga. We weren’t sure what to do. The return of Mugen Gakuen was itself a plan of sheer desperation. We developed the game with the plan that Mugen Gakuen would still be around. In order to have the story make sense, we added in some NPCs. If they weren’t there to explain, it’d be look pretty bad. The game may have been named “Another Story,” but that didn’t mean that we could just do whatever we wanted.

Ikegaya (Planner): We had started development when Haruka and Michiru were still only silhouettes in the manga. We received some design documents from Ms. Takeuchi, but it’s hard to get a feel for their personality if you can’t see any movement. So we just had to make do.

 

Oppositio Soldiers

Oppositio Soldiers

Yuno: Since the depictions of the Sailor Soldiers are pretty well set through the movies and otherwise, we decided to put emphasis on the personalities and depictions of the enemies. In the future, all of humanity is granted a long life, thanks to the Silver Crystal. All little girls want to be Sailor Soldiers, but that’s simply not possible. The Oppositio Soldiers are what comes out when that admiration is inverted.

 

On the other end of the spectrum, you have ChibiUsa and Anshar, sort of a Romeo and Juliet. Anshar likes ChibiUsa, but his social status gets in the way and that love is not to be. The flashbacks from the Oppositio Soldiers is a core part of this game’s story. Like the scene where everything is destroyed in their past lives right before their eyes, and there’s nothing they can do.

Ikegaya: I was the one who wanted to bring some attention to Shingo. It was great to have a brother and sister, but his TV appearances have dropped off. Siblings have an even longer relationship than parents and children, too. Come to think of it, Kenji’s gone entirely! (laugh)

Miyazawa: That reminds me of the scene in the Dark Palace between Shingo and Sin, talking about love for one’s siblings. That was a great scene. She was nice to him, even if only for the fact that he’s also a younger brother.

Yuno: We started work on this game before settling on a theme, but right off the bat, Osano from Nakayoshi’s editing group said that he wanted the story to have each of the characters off on their own adventure.

Miyazawa: In the beginning, we thought about having battles take place directly on the field map, in a top-down, angled quarter view. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out.

Yuno: Since this is a character-based game, it just wouldn’t work out to look at the characters’ backs on the battle screen.

The full cast

The full cast

Miyazawa: But you know, we had ten playable characters. That’s a ton! Having ten characters come together in a scene and each talk, that’s simply not done in other RPGs. We may have been the first. It was a real challenge to get all ten into a scene. We also had to take the characters’ relationships into account too, so we had Osano check all their positions.

One time I left to go buy something and when I got back to the office, all of the characters’s positions had changed. (laugh) We also added an angle to the battle screen so you could see the characters better. The formations were also born for the same reason – to make the characters easier to see.

Yuno: We took the special attacks from our battle games and other previous titles. This is something of a compilation of the other Super Famicom games we’ve made so far, I guess. Some of the original enemies from our first game also make an appearance. The music is also selected from our previous titles.

Miyazawa: Once the production of the Sailor Moon S movie was decided, we left some empty space in the enemy data for the enemies of the movie and waited. The kompeito2 is also borrowed from the movie. But we had a really hard time with the items, since they needed to feel like they were from Sailor Moon.

Luna and her konpeito

Luna and her konpeito

Yuno: Since it’s set in modern times, it needed to feel like something from your day-to-day life. Like, letters are delivered if you put them in the mailbox, and you can buy things from vending machines. I wanted to do stuff like that.

Ikegaya: We also had to do away with some places like theme parks, where a bunch of people would come together.

Yuno: We decided on accessories pretty late in development. I also thought up the idea of having them each make use of their guardian stones. The guardian stones appeared in this game, right? Having accessories in the place of weapons/armor and discovering link techniques in the place of leveling up your techniques makes it pretty similar to normal RPGs.

Miyazawa: We were particular about the voices, specifically the line “I beg you, Silver Crystal!”. I really wanted to have Moonlight Destiny play.

Yuno: This Moonlight Destiny is a symphonic version. Speaking of, Saturn’s voice was really clear. Ms. Minaguchi’s voice must be particularly well-suited for PCM, I guess?

Miyazawa: That must be it. Speaking of which, it’s worth powering up Saturn. If you put her in the middle of the cluster formation, she becomes incredibly powerful. And though Mercury may look weak, he Shabon Spray will lower an enemy’s attack power by half.

Yuno: This story is made up of an all-star cast from all the way through Sailor Moon S. I can only imagine a sequel would be really tough. (laugh) I hope to hear from all the players out there what they thought of the game.


Another Story Villains

Another Story Villains

So there you have it, a few interesting behind-the-scenes stories about the development of the first – and only! – Sailor Moon RPG.

Honestly, I’ve only played through the game once, and that was about 7 years ago. I’ve been meaning to play it again, and in Japanese this time, so having a chance to read through this has really piqued my interest. Have you had a chance to play it? What did you think of the mishmash between the anime and manga source materials?


References:

  1. Scans of the entire guide can be found at Miss Dream: A Sailor Moon Translation Project
  2. See Konpeito (Wikipedia)

14 comments

  • In Cygnus And In Health

    Again, I’m grateful for these translations. Although it may look a bit crude, especially by today’s standards, I enjoyed Another Story’s overall plot and how it used the cast. It would have made the basis for a good mini arc or OVA.
    I liked how it mixed elements in from various sources, as well as callbacks to little details in previous arcs and characters. It makes for a richer universe. This (to my knowledge) is the only place where Michie Tomizawa got to say ‘Snake Fire’.

    The Oppositio Senshi were an interesting idea, as a sort of Neziranger to the Inners. But I wish they could have been fleshed out a tiny bit more. Like Ali and Ann, they could use a future reappearance in the franchise.

    It’s a shame we have yet to see another RPG based Sailor Moon game. It lends itself to the format very well.

    • The Oppositio Senshi were one of those ideas that had a lot of potential, but they really needed to have a whole episode arc devoted to them. I really did like the concept of a team of evil Sailor Soldiers though. I think Sailor Stars really should have taken a page from this story, rather than going in the non-committal direction the anime and manga went. They were supposed to be Sailor Soldiers, right? But without any transformations or standardized attacks, they just felt like re-skinned villains from all the other seasons.

      But now I’m ranting about Stars.

      It was a really good game, though, and one I wish had seen a sequel. Unfortunately, it’s doubtful that the West will ever get an official release, but at least the game is available online in English!

      • In Cygnus And In Health

        I agree that the whole concept of universal Senshi wasn’t really as well thought out and executed as it could of been. It would also have been nice to have seen some more male Guardians like Mamoru. Another thing that Naoko seemingly forgot.

        There is actually a fan-made sequel to Another Story lying around, though I haven’t played it myself.

        • I’ve heard about the Another Story fan-made sequel and always thought about checking it out someday, but personally I have a really hard time getting too involved in fan-written stories. I know it can be nice to see how different people interpret the characters’ personalities, but at the end of the day, I keep thinking about how this is all a work created by a fan and I’m not actually “learning” anything new about a character.

          That said, many people have told me it’s a really good game!

  • Never got past Mercury’s stage. Really annoying and long, and that was eight years ago.

    • Can’t blame you. I think it took me a good three tries of starting and quitting before I finally made it through. The game had some serious balancing/difficulty spike issues.
      But the story is fun overall!

      • I desisted when it first came out in Japanese when I got to Mercury’s boss stage. Then tried again, years later, when English was available and desisted again because the battle didn’t seem to end. Then tried once more, some more years later, using a walk-through explaining how accessories worked, and even though battles still took a long -boring- time, I finally made it all the way through the end. The story seems a bit crowded, rehashed and messy, but it is worth it because the original parts -the oppositio senshi- and the changes from the manga. I’m so happy this game was actually developed until the end. And this article is an awesome addition to it. Thanks again, Tuxedo Unmasked!

        • The game has a low of flaws (too difficult, story moves too fast, etc.) and I also gave up 3-4 times before beating it.
          But In the end, I’m really happy they made it. I’m always really happy to see other interpretations of the Sailor Moon story!

  • I would love to play this game but I never had a real chance too ,I hope it comes to be a Nintendo eds game or for Xbox 360 I hope

  • Boy am I glad to see Another Story covered! I love this game and its original story. I hope you get more fun facts about it in the pipeline. They did such daring stuff; exploring the Dark Kingdom’s geographical reach on Earth, history on the romances between the senshi and the four generals, plus giving Minako special stuff to do as team leader…. I could go on and on. Too bad it’s outside of canon; it would have been great if the comic and anime had built on it, in my humble opinion.
    (Crystal kind of fakes you out, in fact, if you’ve got the whole SM:AS Senshi/Shitennou thing in the back of your head to start with! )

    • I loved the story of the game, but I do kind of wish they toned it down a bit with adding in villains from every season. The Dark Kingdom fit in well since Mamoru was a central part of the story, but adding in the Black Moon and Death Busters seemed a bit excessive to me.

      That said, though, I really enjoyed the game! It’s too bad that it didn’t get a chance to have a more fleshed out story in comic or OVA form.

  • I remember playing this as a kid and I barely knew what I was doing. I do not even remember if I completed the game. I actually like the mix of the different elements from both sources. I just remember I was so happy to play as Saturn, but was completely disappointed by her lack of attacks. I was happy to play as the other outer soldiers too, but same issue. I am disappointed they didn’t have the opposite soldiers for the outers though. This would have been a great storyline with a few tweaks for another season before sailor stars or something because supers was disappointing.

    • If you ever have an opportunity to play it again, it’s a relatively fun (but simple) adventure in the Sailor Moon universe. The difficulty definitely could use some work, though, since it sky rockets a few times when you change characters, but otherwise I enjoyed the story for what it was. A nice, simple RPG that people who weren’t usually fans of the genre could still enjoy.

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