The Retro Critic

Sailor Moon

After Fist Of The North Star, I thought I’d talk about something, indeed, anime-related but slightly lighter in tone and what better show to choose for that but Sailor Moon?

After all, there are a bunch of Sailor Moon games out there and the idea of a Streets Of Rage-style beat ’em up with that character, I must admit, I always found random, in an awesome kind of way, of course.

And I’m all about awesome/random things.

This particular game (aka Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon) had three main incarnations: on the Super Famicom, the SNES and the Sega Mega Drive. I’ll focus on the latter two because they’re the ones I’m most familiar with.

Level 1 Sailor Moon

Boy these games are girly…

Actually, it’s the Super Nintendo version I’m most familiar with since it was released, inexplicably, in French and, growing up in France watching hilariously dubbed anime, I knew about it early on. That said, I played the Japanese Mega Drive release not too long ago so it’s fresher in my mind, which is why I’ll mostly tackle that one.

Both versions are beat ’em ups which see Usagi Tsukino (aka Serena) fist-fight and kick her way through various levels as Sailor Moon. The game opens on a few decent-looking images of the character as well as a really weird alien-like transformation:

Bubbles Sailor Moon

You get a character-select screen which gives you the option to play as Sailor Moon, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter and Venus. Each character has different abilities, which is pretty cool since it gives you alternate experiences of playing the game. Besides, it’s always fun to be able to play as various characters from a show you enjoy.

Characters Sailor Moon

Unfortunately, you don’t get the option to play as talking cat Luna, as it would have made the game far too adorable for its own good. That said, the cat does get a cameo appearance and the game is still pretty darn cute as it is.

Luna Sailor Moon

You’ll notice very quickly that this Arcade-style game looks really good: it’s very colourful and definitely does the show and its characters justice form a visual standpoint. The gameplay in these types of games is often a little stiff, and it is a bit here also, but not too much so. You can still punch, kick and use special abilities without problems. It’s only when you’re limited space-wise that it gets more difficult, like in that elevator level:

Sailor Moon Elevator

Speaking of lack of space in certain levels, one of them involves Sailor Moon jumping from truck to truck in order to fight bad guys and it’s incredibly annoying. The main villains in that level, really, are the trucks. They go odd places which means that, so many times, you’ll be fighting people you can’t even see as they’re stuck somewhere off-screen:

Truck Level Sailor Moon

The random enemies you face are repeated several times throughout the game, sometimes they’re wearing different coloured outfits, sometimes they’re just doubled onto each other:

Doubles Sailor Moon

Which looks extra-weird when there’s a couple of them in front of you:

Quadruples Sailor Moon

Sailor Moon’s 14! She shouldn’t be drunk!

This whole repeating enemies thing is typical of beat ’em ups, even Streets Of Rage, so I can’t really fault the game for doing that. Besides, it does introduce different types of villains as the game progresses.

Like evil clowns:

Clowns Sailor Moon

These guys:

New Villains Sailor Moon

And, by far my favourite:

Panda Train Hit


I mean, look at this dude:

PandaThere’s literally nothing I don’t like about him.

I don’t know his motivations for running people over in a little train, I don’t know why he’s smiling, I just know…

I’m happy he’s in this game and, ultimately, in my life.

And yours.

I’d like to point out that Sailor Moon actually didn’t do all that much fighting in the show so, if you like the character, you’ll be in heaven here. She is a true badass in this game, not even kidding.

She elbows bad guys in the eyes:

Sailor Moon Punch

She destroys phone-booths:

Phone Booth Sailor Moon

And she annihilates the crap out of chocolate walls:

Chocolate Wall Sailor Moon

Plus she looks glamorous doing it!

It’s only when Tuxedo Mask shows up every single time you fight a boss that she gets distracted and loses her composure a bit.

Tuxedo Mask

To be fair, Tuxedo Mask does look pretty cool…

Hearts Sailor Moon

Perfectly understandable reaction, really.

He shows up every time you fight a boss, drops down a rose which you can pick up and use to break out that Moon Tiara Action of hers and leaves you to fight on your own. Boss-wise, you get a really good range of characters from the series (well, the first series, anyway) including Prince Endymion and Queen Beryl, who are the final bosses in the game:

Sailor Moon Boss5

Sailor Moon isn’t an easy game. If you’re not particularly great at beat ’em ups in general, you won’t be particularly great at this one either. The bosses are increasingly challenging if never impossible and there are so many people to fight that you start wondering why Captain America And The Avengers aren’t helping out. Surely Thor can drop by the Dark Kingdom on his way back to Asgard and give a 14 year old girl with Moon powers and her talking cat some assistance against the forces of evil?

There are various differences between this Mega Drive version and the SNES version seeing as they were handled by different developers. Personally, I prefer the look of the Mega Drive version, I just think it’s visually more polished and detailed. That said, in many ways, the SNES version is the better game as it has more levels,  the music stands out better and it does a better job at drawing you in.

Even if the French translations are clunky.

While not an essential beat ’em up, Sailor Moon is a very solid example of that genre and fans of the show should have a blast. It’s a fun, colourful game with a lot of action, some genuine challenges and a cute sense of humour. I mean, just look at what you pick up for extra lives:

Extra Life Sailor Moon

Much cuter than Sonic’s disembodied head, definitely.

If you can find either version of the game, I’d say definitely give them a go.

And, more importantly:

Sailor Moons

Stop hitting yourself.