On the twelfth day of Christmas, we got the last – but absolutely not least – of the Sailor Moon toys from the early 1990s. Today, we’ll be taking a look at Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon R – Beautiful Battle! (美少女戦士セーラームーンR 華麗なる戦い！), a 2-in-1 board game released – judging by the screenshots used and the omission of Black Lady – mid-to-late season in the Sailor Moon R anime run. Despite being a board game meant for six year olds and older, the game includes a surprising amount of depth with tons of rules, cards, and power tokens. For those wishing for a faster and simpler game (or when you can’t get together a full Sailor Team, I suppose), they include a second game on the back of the board with a completely different rule set.
Let me just start off by saying that this game is absolutely massive in scale, both in the depth of the rules and in all the various little player pieces, cards, figures, spinners, and various parts necessary to get a game going. Putting your feelings for the game aside, it feels a lot like setting up for a game of Monopoly (which admittedly feels like a job in its own right – and I actually love Monopoly). Just take a look at this!
Each of the character cards are glossy and printed in full color and are absolutely beautiful. Though I wish they used custom art as opposed to pulling generic art used on other products or screen shots, they all fit in together thematically (i.e., all the Sailor Soldiers’ images are taken from their transformations or attack sequences), though the images used for the Black Moon family are a little more questionable. Considering the lack of source images for those characters, though, this is forgivable.
Each of the “good” characters (on the Sailor Team) has a corresponding character on the opposing team: Jupiter and Petz; Mars and Koan; Moon and Rubeus; Mercury and Berthier; Venus and Calaveras; and Tuxedo Mask and Wiseman. Each of these pairs also has another pair that they’re weak against (essentially, you can ignore the fact that each of the characters has an evil corresponding character – it’s not too important): Jupiter/Petz are Calaveras/Venus, Mars/Koan are weak to Mercury/Berthier, Moon/Rubeus are weak to Wiseman/Tuxedo Mask, Mercury/Berthier are weak to Jupiter/Petz, Venus/Calaveras are weak to Moon/Rubeus, and Tuxedo Mask/Wiseman are weak to Mars/Koan.
Are you still following me? No? Good. Don’t worry about it – until you play the game 2-3 times, it won’t make sense anyway. Between the 8-page instruction manual (which is surprisingly printed in multiple colors) and all the accompanying pieces, it’s quite a challenge to wrap your mind around it right away.
Moving on, you’ll see that the game also comes with actual figures for you to use on the board as game pieces. This is another place where the board game absolutely shines. Though the figures are only two tone (or, more accurately, made up of two different colors for their molded rubber parts – their bodies and their Sailor uniforms), they’re pretty impressive in their own right for just being player pieces. Their arms are all separate and can be (slightly) posed and the figures all stand up. Their tiaras are also separate. Even though it stands out to have a blue tiara, it’s nice to have it contrast with the character’s hair. It even blends in well with the hair line!
And how is the game board itself? As you can see, it’s also absolutely beautiful, relying on screen shots from throughout the anime, though the majority of them seem to be taken from Sailor Moon R, appropriately enough. I would almost go so far as to say that all of the images are appropriately from the R season, but the screen shot of the Tsukino family home and the shot of Ms. Haruna seem suspiciously similar to those in episode one.
Covering how the game is played sadly is beyond the scope of this review (though I’d definitely like to at some point), but the basic summary is that you spin the spinner and move around the board, gaining and losing power tokens as you go. Each space that you land on has its own rules you have to follow (e.g., gaining and losing certain power tokens, spinning again, etc.) and even battles for you to play out, in the case of the droids and Ayakashi Sisters.
If you flip the board over, it gives you a different game board for only two players (the other side is for two to five players) with a completely different rule set to be played out mostly with just the roulette wheels. You put the power tokens on the wheel and shuffle up the character cards and play until each player loses all their tokens, with each player taken either the side of the Sailor Soldiers or the Black Moon Family.
I know I’ve already talked about it quite a bit, but I can’t reiterate enough just how much I love this game for the amount of depth they bothered to put into it, the detailed and high-quality art, and their taking the time to actually put a Sailor Moon feel into how the game is actually played out (having non-event turns ending at the Crown Game Center or Usagi’s house, for example).
You can tell that they put a lot of love into it in that they even provided contact information with the game and a price list in case you needed to order new pieces. Even if you lost a few cards, all was not lost since you could just order new ones rather than having to re-buy the whole game. Bandai took what could have been a simple licensed product and actually built a whole new game around it rather than simply putting a skin on top. It’s absolutely recommended, if you can get your hands on it!