Sailor Moon: Another Story (Part 8)
We continue the series looking at the 1995 Super Nintendo RPG Sailor Moon: Another Story. With a clearer view of their enemy, the Senshi continue searching for the Barazuishou, but old enemies impede their search. Mamoru, too, shares an unsettling prophecy about Hell Destiny and Apsu’s ambitions…
Chapter 4: Hostility & Friends (Part 1)
Alternative Title: I’m Sorry, This is a Scripted Event Sailor Moon
You may remember that the last time we left the Senshi, Sailor Moon and the Outer Senshi had an altercation with Queen Beryl, who was one hell of a dick-boss to kill. The result was that the Barazuishou was found by Chibi-Moon… and immediately snatched by Anshar. Yaay. The classic Sailor Moon anti-climax we know and love.
First things first: Mamoru ain’t dead. I know, I know, but it’s not all bad news. He’s come out of his coma, we can presume because of the effects of the Hi Stones of the Great Four, which have now been returned to Japan. I like that Usagi finds out by a phone call from Ami. It’s these tiny, tiny, tiny moments of domesticity that make being in Usagi’s house feel like those early episodes which focused on her home life. Ikuko-Mama calling Usagi for a phone call, Shingo busting on into Usagi’s room without knocking. It adds up.
Off to Mamoru’s we go! For a massive exposition dump! I have no problems with this, really. If the entire game were scripted scenes I’d be happy. The more time they spend talking the less I have to spend in the sub-par battles. They don’t have a big tearful reunion of the Inner Senshi here, and I like that too. There’s a sense of this being businesslike, and serious, but still in that lovely Sailor Moon vibe. We understand that there’s a mission going on.
Mamoru comes to, but thankfully it’s not for long the silly git. He’s awake long enough to give some convenient data about how Hell Destiny are trying to screw up the past as well as the present. Which makes sense. If only the Black Moon had this foresight, right? The bit I got really excited about was his mumblings about the Silver Millennium, the Moon Castle… I’m pretty obsessed with everything to do with that bit of backstory, the aesthetics and the fantasy, the sense of a long-forgotten history crumbling into ruins.
And this isn’t foreshadowed for nothing!
All of the Senshi (I just love seeing them all together like this) have a pow-wow about the enemy focussing on their pasts. When the topic of the Silver Millennium is brought up, however, it’s rather alarming to see the Senshi forget who Princess Serenity even was. They remember nothing about her, only her name. It’s an eerie moment, actually. The sensation of memories being changed from a distance, something so immutable as the past altering and affecting the future, with no immediate signs of what or when was changed. Love this idea, even if they don’t really play with it more than this.
The team decide to try and travel back via the Space-Time Door, when it’s pointed out that no one knows where the fuck Pluto is. Even Chibi-Usa, her one and only friend, is like “whatever“. Again, exciting mission. I love the Space-Time Corridor!
This is the first time we get the chance to split up the team. Uranus points out that… well, some reason why you need to split up. I guess someone has to stop Mamoru from swallowing his tongue or something. The point is that, other than Sailor Moon and Sailor Chibi-Moon (who you have to take because of the Space-Time Key, also because the game-makers hate you), you have choices. Which is hard. I ended up just going for the lowest levelled members, to get them up a bit and make sure they don’t die in one hit.
They pretty much all died in one hit. It was harsh.
The journey to the Space-Time Door is a bit… easy. Chibi-Moon opens the portal inside of Mamoru’s apartment. I seem to recall a lot of thunder, lightning and pink storm clouds whenever she did that previously, so god only knows the clean up involved.
The Space-Time Door is as cool as ever. I love this place, as much in Another Story as the anime. It’s got hella-creepy music, an awesome design, and best of all is the rather unsettling Sailor Pluto… of whom Chibi-Moon IMMEDIATELY grows suspicious. That took all of 3 seconds, and a child figure it out. Bravo.
So it turns out that this is Nergal in disguise! He and Mars throw a few bits of trash talk at each other, which I presume we wouldn’t have gotten if I left Mars at home. Lucky! She’s a lot less tough in a party, but yeah the guys I took a long are a couple of levels too low for this I think. This whole stolen identity part is a reference to the episode of Sailor Moon R in the Space-Time Corridor, which is pretty cool.
Nergal is a bit easier with a whole team, but man I need to train these jerks if there’s any hope of me passing this level without needing to reload. The background you face her on is… awesome. That door… I love its design, I love the aura of ancient mystery it gives off.
Nergal reveals she’s captured Sailor Pluto and is doing weird stuff to her. You’d think she’d want to kill her straight off the bat considering she’s potentially one of the most troubling Senshi there is but ehhhh we still need her in the party, so why the hell not.
Past the Space-Time Door, the corridor itself is pretty damn weird. The ambiance continues to be creepy and other-worldly. Each room is distinctly odd, many have no visible exit, you simply have to wander around the area until you stumble upon an invisible magic field that warps you to the next location. If that sounds horrendous… you’d be right. That being said, it adds to the mystery of the place in its shitty design, and I did need the experience from the copious random battles I entered.
The final room of the Space-Time Corridor is, uh, well… Pluto is stuck to a tree. Bit weird, yes. She shouts for the Senshi not to get too close, to just run away and live normal, happy lives, but as if we’re going to do that. I suspect this tree is meant to be an analogue of the Doom Tree. Saying that it doesn’t look much like the Doom Tree, and has a damn face on it. This thing is really rather creepy. The fight itself wasn’t so bad, but the idea of attacking a tree with a face is unsettling.
With Pluto back we’ve finally gotten all the Senshi in our team. It only took 4 chapters. Shame that we can’t use Pluto before now, but in a way it makes sense considering she’s the most distant and unusual Senshi. It adds to her gravitas, and by delaying her onset, it serves to heighten the tension of the scene in the Space-Time Corridor.
So with everyone back together, it’s time for another long discussion scene. Not much info is really added here, I just like seeing them interact, although there is a rather interesting moment when, having realised the enemy are trying to stop the Sailor Senshi existing in the modern age, Minako wonders aloud if they shouldn’t just let them do it, preventing the fall of the Silver Millennium and allowing them to have remained on the Moon, happy and unburdened.
It’s in-keeping with her psychology, which is fantastic, this naive wish to be just a normal girl. I really enjoy the writing, and this translation is excellent too. Makoto has to point out to Minako that the enemy’s plan certain wouldn’t include letting them live peaceably on the Moon.
Haruka has a great line, for better or worse, they have to return destiny to what it was. She’s a realist that accepts tragedy stoically and moves on, Again, perfect for her character.
So this next bit is… pretty weird. Not sure where they picked it up, it may have been from Mamoru, but the team know that to get back to the past, they have to utilise the Sea of Serenity on the Moon… by finding its corresponding place on Earth? Really rather strange, this is where the story finally went loopy here. I don’t know if it was the translation or just the script, but definitely the plot went off the rails a little here.
Ami’s Super Computer, as it turns out, has “insufficient data”. Well it was 1995, probably wasn’t hooked up to the internet yet. So Usagi offers to go to the book store to get a book on the Moon… what the fuck? There’s going to be information in a popular textbook that helps them go back in time? What the actual shit?
So yeah. You run to the book store. The manager is doddering and walks around looking at cook books. He eventually finds it and charges you 300 yen, and you return to the party. What a weird, pointless little journey. Maybe they just realise that they coded in all these areas in Jubango without ever really having the Senshi do anything in there?
So reading this children’s science book allows Ami to locate the general area of the Sea of Serenity on Earth (SO CONFUSED BY THIS), and it turns out that it’s at the docks. This area looks rather similar to the place where Zoisite lured the Senshi back in season 1.
Then SHOCK! SURPRISE! The Black Moon UFO!? Well this is unexpected. Time to split up the team again, I went for the weakest members. Venus finally gets to come along, which I’m sure she’s thrilled about. This will also be the first time I get to use Pluto in battle! Very exciting!
So this is one of my favourite sequences in Sailor Moon Another Story. I love how they’ve captured the design of the inside of the UFO. It’s all blacks and greens, dark crystals, blending sci-fi with fantasy. I loved it in the show, and they’ve done a great job recreating it. Creepy music too.
Best of all is the boss battle. It’s the Phantom Sisters, bless their cotton little socks. This is really sad. They’re just waiting there for the Senshi to find them and kill them. They’re following the cannon of the anime, of course, which means that they’ve been redeemed, cleansed, and living happily on Earth. Now their destinies have changed it seems they have little choice but to fight, albeit sadly and with a strange gravitas.
I love this idea, that they’re unwilling to fight, but they just can’t help themselves because this is what Apsu has said will happen.
This is one of those moments where it pays to have the correct people in the party, as you get new dialogue depending on who is with you. The Inner Senshi all had connections with the Phantom Sisters, and as it is I only have Venus on the team, which means I get this bizarre bit of text:
The fights are all fairly tough, and as each one goes down they disappear… meaning you’ve killed them. Jesus. They’re taking from the cannon of the manga here, which means they have to die, but to do so at the hands of Sailor Moon after they’ve been redeemed is way harsh. Which is why I love it. They don’t have enough time to dwell upon what they’ve done, but they knew enough to give Sailor Moon a heap of regret. In the circumstance it’s probably not enough regret, but you feel the impact of someone having killed people they love because of “destiny”.
It was something of a complete side-track, but I love that they included that whole section. It looked cool, had great writing, had excellent pathos (especially when Petz, about to attack, says “Forgive me, Sailor Moon…“) and it was fun.
Returning to the ground, we conveniently discover that the other Senshi have done all the walking around the docks for us, with the location that will send the Senshi to the past… right… here? Well that’s, like, super convenient. Great writing one moment… remarkable coincidence the next. Oh well, this isn’t a TV show, they’re allowed to get away with junk like this in games.
Right! Time to go to the past! Very exciting! I can’t wait to see the Silver Millennium!
Airships! The Moon! The fucking SILVER MILLENNIUM! But first a filthy Turkish village that hasn’t changed in a thousand years, apparently.