Sailor Moon: Another Story (Part 6)
We continue the series looking at the 1995 Super Nintendo RPG Sailor Moon: Another Story. We continue the solo missions of the Inner Senshi as they visit exotic countries, meet interesting locals and avoid getting murdered by goth doppelgängers. Today: Sailor Venus fends off the attention of a village of men. There aren’t enough showers.
Chapter 2: In Search of the Stones -Sailor Venus-
Alternative Title: What Rhymes With Venus?
You may remember that we left Sailor Jupiter successfully getting the Nephrite Hi Stone in Canada after enabling first cousins to procreate against all laws of man and nature. The final Inner Senshi storyline with which we close Chapter 2 is Sailor Venus in Turkey. While it apes the same predictable basic format as the previous storylines, mostly Sailor Mars‘, this is another entertaining story. It’s a great feeling to play as Sailor Venus, with a snarky Artemis in tow, even if the design is as limited as ever.
While each of the designs are remarkably similar, I am actually a little impressed in how they try to mix things up. Here in Turkey, for instance, Venus instantly finds the Kunzite Hi Stone! Before even the title card! Hooray!
Booo! Sailor Venus falls down a shitting hole. This is her destiny I suppose. It can’t get any worse than this, of course…Oh dear. Sailor Venus has fallen into a 17th Century town of horny men. That’s just… disturbing, actually. I think they were going for amusing, having Venus have to fend off a gaggle of dudes, but it’s a bit… you know… creepy.
The joke of Venus having to run around town as they chase her is probably referencing her dream of becoming an idol fleeing from her fans. Instead it resembles a police re-enactment. It also goes on a little long… Artemis eventually tells Venus to run inside a strangers house, which seems like a terrible idea after having watched the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and when they hear the occupant coming home they hide in the bed, which is, again, a terrible terrible terrible plan.
Venus’ “male person” is this guy named Darcy, who has less to do than any of the previous men in the Senshi’s solo missions, even less than bland Hans. He’s just here to compliment Venus until she blushes from glee.
We should take a second to talk about these dudes that each of the Senshi have hit on in their travels. They’re meant to be semi-reincarnations of the Great Four with which they had a relationship in their previous lives.
So Hans is apparently Zoisite’s comparative male. Since Another Story is balancing between the anime and manga, they seem to have decided against a direct attraction between Mercury and Hans because of Zoisite’s homosexuality in the anime. Hans is also -nothing- like Zoisite, having a lack of homicidal tendencies. Pretty sure Zoisite would also not care that his mother was dying.
Fareg was more obviously Jadeite, they even talk about the similarity in their looks, putting it down to… magical plastic surgery on a ghost? It was all a bit vague. Again, I see nothing of Jadeite in here.
That makes George a parallel of Nephrite, hence the long hair… which is green. Nephrite went a bit crazy with the hair dye I suppose. Perhaps the love story between him and Mary is a reference to Naru and himself in season 1? They went for a happy ending this time, it seems. More’s the pity.
So Darcy (Pride & Prejudice, you think) must be Kunzite. He’s meant to be pretty smooth (the translators aren’t, really, so he’s just comfortably hitting on a woman he just found hiding in his bed.)
The next objective is, obviously, to spend 15 minutes running around town talking to every last goddamn man before the game allows you to progress with some kind of party they want to throw for you. I really didn’t want to do this, it’s just all guys talking about how they’re planning to propose to you. Worse is that if you missed someone, you have no idea who it was, meaning you’ve got to run around and hunt for that last gross-ass dude.
The party itself is pretty much what you’d expect from a town of men at the bottom of a hole. Venus is just watching 16-bit men spin around and around while Artemis points out that, since she has the stone, she really should be heading back to Japan, especially since Mamoru could die at any moment.
I’m on Venus’ side here, watch the men belly-dance a bit longer and let him stew.
Eventually the charm wears off and we wonder around until WAHH Jesus it’s goddamn Ishtar, Venus’ Opposito Senshi. I love that she refers to herself, not only in 3rd-person, but always with the honorific -sama. Her level of hubris is astonishing. Ishtar is after Kunzite’s Hi Stone, unaware that Sailor Venus even has it apparently. It’s clear early on that Ishtar lacks her colleagues’ competency (for what its worth), and makes up for it with the same gung-ho energy that Venus has. It’s both fitting for Venus’ nemesis, and also pretty insulting, since she’s clearly the one lacking any brains.
Gotta love Venus not being phased whatsoever. I love that they’re conveyed the idea that Venus is as much a leader as Sailor Moon is with her opening speech. Definitely getting inspiration from the Codename: Sailor V manga.
Ishtar gets pissed off after we kill her monsters (I LOVE using Venus’ Crescent Beam Shower, it’s awesome) and, because she’s insane, pushes over a statue of Nephrite at Venus in her frustration. It looks so brilliantly silly and petulant, even in these limited graphics. Incidentally, it also reminds me of the scene in Final Fantasy VI where Kefka begins messing around with the statues of the three gods on the floating continent…
Apparently Statue Kunzite is kind of a dick, because it starts glowing, causing Sailor Venus to turn to stone. Oh you know, because that’s just what all statues do I guess. Ishtar remarks that she put up a barrier just in time, and buggers off, still not realising that Venus has the stone she’s looking for.
So game over right? The whole party is petrified, that’s usually when you reload the game… except Sailor Venus instantly comes too, for a reason we’ll discover later. For now, let’s take this whole thing as a blessing, because all the men in the village have remained in their stony prison.
A definite improvement.
OTHER VILLAGE TIME. That’s right, let’s navigate this boring and enemy-filled corridor, grinding to level up and buy enough EP-replenishing items to last for an inevitable 20 minute boss fight.
The neighbouring village is, as I suspected, full of women. Full of smart women. This is much more my style. It’s a refreshing change not to be leered at by every single NPC around me. Hey, this got pretty relevant for a second, eh?
There seems to be many temples in Turkey, as much as there were in Nepal, which is another reason I find Venus’ and Mars’ chapters to be rather similar in aesthetics. Venus sees a statue of herself, and is told by possibly the most well-informed NPC in the history of the universe that she used to be worshipped by the people here in the time of the Silver Millennium, and they she and Kunzite used to be, you know, a thing. This also explains why his statue petrified everyone but her (somehow???).
Sailor Venus accepts all of this as her due. And damn right! I love all this. It’s explicitly stated that she had a relationship with him in her past life, something the other Senshi danced around. I also love seeing her past being fleshed out like this, even minutely. It’s something more than we got in the anime or manga, and fits the tone, and the lore. Very enjoyable.
Apparently we have to visit a castle up North and consult with some kind of spiritual leader to discover how to free the people of the village from their stone prisons. I’m still thinking it’s not too late to just leave and make sure Mamoru doesn’t die.
This castle is pretty darn cool. Sure it’s empty and the enemies pop up every 2 seconds, also it’s not clear where to go so you keep running around in circles being bombarded with fights to the point where you wonder if the game designers were sadists, but it’s still a cool atmosphere. It’s also genuinely creepy when you find this seer in an odd pose, standing like a statue in the middle of the castle, only to discover she is, in fact, possessed by a monster.
I take no pleasure in zapping you with a Crescent Beam, but I also took immense pleasure in it. I liked that it was one of the dummies that Professor Tomoe built in Sailor Moon S.
Now free of control, the seer lady informs Venus that she has to shine her holy light upon the very statue of Nephrite that first caused the curse. Another running job right back to where we started, eh? Artemis has to point out to a woefully-dense Venus that “holy light” means “Crescent Beam”. Interesting to note that Artemis casually drops the idea that the Senshi’s powers weren’t originally designed for battle. Could’ve fooled me, what with the magical death lasers, exploding electro balls and fiery arrows.
The seer also tells Venus of her “Ark” that she used to whip around the world in. That sounds… so not Sailor Moon.
Oh and then the seer totally disappears because she was a ghost all along. WHAT A TWIST. What is with these Senshi and enlisting the help of ghosts?
After freeing all the gross lecherous men from their stone prisons (WHY VENUS WHY), there’s another protracted chasing scene (I’ll let you get away with one boring chase, but two?), Venus and Artemis eventually run back into, where else, Darcy’s house. Seriously, this dude has the least to do with this plot. He and Venus share flirtations, which are only tolerable when Artemis clears his throat loudly to remind Venus that she is, you know, TRYING TO SAVE MAMORU’S GODDAMN LIFE?
Right, now for one of my favourite scenes in the entire game. It’s so not Sailor Moon, but this Ark thing is pretty damn cool. This downed spaceship is totally stolen from, oh I dunno, any Final Fantasy game ever? But it has an interesting aesthetic, and it’s a really cool original object that lends a lot of flavour to the game. It also has one of the most bitchin’ tunes of all time as its theme.
I love how it looks like the architecture of the Silver Millennium… although come to think of it, this is probably laziness. The result is that this airship looks more like a building than a ship from the inside, which is pretty cool, even though that’s completely by accident.
Any anything that ties to the Silver Millennium, like Venus’ past alluded to earlier, is automatically awesome as heck. Apparently I’m easy pleased.
We’re not quite ready to jet off back to Japan, however… on the deck Ishtar comes back one last time, finally aware that Venus has actually got the Kunzite Hi Stone, as if that weren’t bleedingly obvious. I love Ishtar so much. She’s just so hilariously unaware. I definitely see Venus in her too.
Speaking of which, Ishtar, Wikipedia informs me, is an archaic Babylonian goddess of love, war, fertility and sex, represented by the planet Venus. A rather fitting mirror to our Senshi, no? One of the best myths about Ishtar was her descent into the Underworld. At the gates of hell, she gives a kick-ass speech:
If thou openest not the gate to let me enter,
I will break the door, I will wrench the lock,
I will smash the door-posts, I will force the doors.
I will bring up the dead to eat the living.
And the dead will outnumber the living.
Daaaayum Ishtar that’s metal as heck! I really don’t see our Opposito Senshi being quite as threatening to be honest, no offence to her.
The battle with Ishtar is, as expected, a huge pain in the ass. Mostly just item usage over and over again, rather than anything tactical. Also her “dark light” attacks make very little sense… although they look pretty cool.
I feel a little bad kicking her ass actually, and Venus really goes for the throat when she rubs it in. She’s been a great character to follow around, even if the story with the villagers is a bit… you know… gross. When she arrives giving it some attitude and some lip, I can’t help but grin broadly. Venus is a great character.
Ishtar recalls how she first recruited by Hell Destiny and Apsu and… well… we caught a glimpse of it back when Nabu was reminiscing, Ishtar in the background as she spoke to Apsu, who brilliantly manipulated her into joining. Here, 3 stories later, we see the other side of is.
This is by far the funniest the game has ever been, Ishtar asking what the hell Nabu is going on about as she wanders around talking to herself. Best of all is the end, when Nabu gets warped up and Ishtar, yelling, confused, runs up into the beam as well. Apsu seems miffed that she accidentally caught Ishtar too, but decides hey, what the hell, which is where we get Ishtar.
She seems happy enough I suppose.
After Ishtar leaves, you’d think it’s time to fly this puppy, but alas Venus has no idea how to fly this thing. Artemis even has a jab at her, saying Sailor Moon could probably pilot this thing. I laughed… mainly because that’s patently not true.
And thus is the end of Venus’ story… and Chapter 2 as a whole! No more Search for the Stones! It’s go time with the main story again!
…and we start Chapter 3 playing as Chibi-Usa. OH DEAR.
Over all I love Chapter 2. It’s repetitive and difficult, but playing as individual Senshi, seeing them flourish on a solo mission, seeing the writers masterfully take the source material and weave around it to create intriguing character moments, really is worth all the crappy battles. I think Chapter 2 is what has also stuck with me the most, because it’s so markedly different from anything we’ve seen in Sailor Moon before, while remaining singularly in the tone of the show and the manga.
Good job. My memory of the game gets a little fuzzy after this chapter too…
Chibi-Usa decides to return to Mugen Academy, fully well knowing it’s probably crawling with monsters, and drags along her completely defenceless friend Momo. The perfect crime.