Following up on the success of the success of the first Super Famicom Sailor Moon game released on August 27, 1993, Angel followed up on its success with yet another side-scrolling beat ’em up just 4 months later, on December 29, 1993,1 this time based on the Sailor Moon R anime. Though its apparent that a lot of material was re-used between the two games in order to cut out on time needed for programming and art design, there’s a surprising amount of new content to the game and the fighting engine has been greatly upgraded, so it really does stand out well on its own. Let’s take a look!
As mentioned earlier, it’s pretty apparent that they rushed to get the game out the door, most likely for the holiday season. In fact, making matters even more interesting, the strategy guide for the first game was published on December 10, 1993 – three and a half months after the first game, and just over two weeks before the second game. One can only imagine the type of confusion this must have caused children and parents when shopping for the guide to this game!2
That’s not to say, however, that this is purely a fresh coat of paint on top of the old game. According to Jouji Yuno, a developer/producer at Angel, all of the Sailor Soldiers were given new moves (partially in response to their upgraded powers in the anime, but also in their normal fighting moves as well) and even a new joint attack that can be used during the two-player mode (more on that below). The character movements were also made faster and enemies more difficult, in response to player feedback.
Interestingly enough, even though the sequel was 30% larger than its predecessor – an increase from 12 megabits (1.5 megabytes) to 16 megabits (2 megabytes)3 – the development staff still ran into frequent issues when it came to fitting in all their ideas into one game. Originally, Sailor Pluto was planned to be a character that could be used in the game and the four Ayakashi Sisters were intended to be sub-bosses, but these ideas had to be cut for the sake of space. The team also planned to have Tuxedo Mask come across the screen on a motor cycle and throw his trademark “La Smoking Bomber” to assist players, but this idea was also scrapped.
As with the last game, there was assistance from all of the anime voice staff, music producers, and animators to make sure the Sailor Moon feel was just right. All in all, they did a pretty good job getting the feel just right!
There’s unfortunately not a whole lot to say about the gameplay this time around that I didn’t say last time, so I’ll let you read my write-up on the previous game if you’re interested in hearing about the basics. Once again, the Sailor Soldiers are still balanced in such a way that Sailor Moon is the all-around average character, Sailor Mercury has speed on her side, Sailor Mars specializes in attacking, while Sailor Jupiter has raw power. Sailor Venus? Well, she seems to be very similar to Mars, but… better. She’s the suggested character for players not used to these types of games.
The developers were kind enough to add in some extras, though, in the form of a new ChibiUsa mode and a one-on-one battle mode.
The ChibiUsa mode came about after the team desperately wanted to add her into the game, but they had a hard time figuring out how to put her in. She basically serves as the ultimate “easy” mode, since she is generally too short for most enemies to hit. This was not by accident, though, since the development staff felt bad watching poor little ChibiUsa get attacked by enemies, so they felt this was a good way to fit her into the game.
The addition of the one-on-one battle mode was likely due to the extreme popularity of fighting games at the time (both in arcades and on the home consoles) and also to give it a bit of replayability. This probably also inspired the later games to be released on the Super Famicom, which were all either one-on-one fighting games or puzzle games.
Unlike the previous game, this one has a story… kinda. Well, that’s not entirely true. The game opens with a very brief summary of the Black Moon Clan arc of the Sailor Moon R anime. To be fair, the game programmers and art team did an excellent job of not only mimicking the style of the anime, but did a good job of actually getting animated cut scenes into the game (which, for those who are too young to remember, was no easy feat back in the day!). The story is also told from Usagi’s point of view, which is a nice nod back to the way each manga act starts.
The story, in its entirely, reads:
One day, during a fleeting moment of peace, ChibiUsa (calling herself Usagi) came falling from the sky.
She used some weird sort of hypnotism on my family and now they think she’s my cousin!
To make matters worse, an enemy calling themselves the Black Moon have appeared and attacked, looking for the silver crystal.
What will become of the love between Tuxedo Mask – no, Mamoru – and me?
In the name of the moon, I’ll punish you!
Nothing ground-breaking, unfortunately, but it’s definitely an improvement over the prior game. It’s also worth noting that at the time when this game came out, Sailor Moon R still wasn’t finished, so they had to be careful to not take their story in any direction that might diverge from the real plot.
That being said, the game does have an ending, which takes place in Crystal Tokyo with Neo Queen Serenity thanking you for your efforts. As a nice bonus for beating the game on hard mode, Sailor Pluto makes a showing in the ending too, which is a nice perk!
The levels are again broken up into two parts per stage and, like last time, are all over the place.
Stage 1 – T.A. Girls’ Academy Festival
The game starts out strong with a nice nod back not only to an actual location in the series, but the school festival at Rei’s school, which featured prominently in both the anime and the manga. It’s pretty clear here that the Ayakashi sisters were intended to be sub-bosses, since this leads up quite nicely to Rei being attacked by Koan in the manga.
Alas, the second part of the first stage takes us to the Juban Shopping District, at night and during Christmas time. Though it’s nice that they stuck with a place that actually appears in the series, the theme is a bit odd. Once you reach the end, you battle Esmeraude.
Stage 2 – Fantasy Attraction
And… it didn’t take long before they exhausted the actual Sailor Moon theme for the game. This level is, judging by the name, supposed to be a theme park, but considering that there’s nothing but fanciful mushrooms, elves, and trees with doors in them everywhere, we can only assume that they’re in a fantasy land. It’s a little disappointing, actually.
The part two of the second stage is even more bizarre and takes place on a moving platform made of logs that floats along a jungle river (and is aptly named “Jungle Park”). It feels more like Crocodile Dundee than Sailor Moon, to be honest. At the end, you have a battle against Saphir.
Stage 3 – Crystal Tokyo
All right! Back to a proper level that fits into the series! The game’s interpretation of Crystal Tokyo is actually pretty interesting since it looks a lot like the Juban Shopping District, even going so far as to have shops with names on the doors, which implies that it’s a normal city like modern-day Tokyo. As a nice touch, this level opens with Sailor Pluto opening the Space-Time Door for you.
The second half of the stage doesn’t disappoint either, taking you into the Crystal Palace itself. I have to say, I really like what they’ve done with this and am glad that they took the time to actually design the interior of the Crystal Palace, even if there’s no way it’s canon. The boss this time around is Rubeus.
Stage 4 – Planet Nemesis
It’s not exactly clear if you’re supposed to be on the surface of the planet or in some sort of hall of a cancel on Planet Nemesis, but my best guess is that you’re in space since you can see what I think are stars in the background. All the same, they kept with the theme, and for that I’m thankful.
There’s no second part to this stage (it’s just one long run through Planet Nemesis), and at the very end you run into Prince Demande, the boss of the stage.
Unfortunately, since it was still a bit too early for them to know how the series resolved itself, this is where they had to end it!
So, what did I think of the game? Well, like the first once, I actually really enjoy it. I used to play it a lot when I was younger as a nice way to kill time with my siblings and also play through a game as my favorite Sailor Soldiers, though once again it’s a bit of a shame to me that they went and made each character specialized, so the character you like and the character you play best may not always be the same. It’s a minor gripe, though, and overall I have no complaints about the game.
The game doesn’t offer much diversity and may not have much replayability for some, but as a button-mashing side-scroller game to play late into the night while talking with friends, you can’t do much better when it comes to Sailor Moon games!