Sailor Moon: Another Story (Part 9)
We continue the series looking at the 1995 Super Nintendo RPG Sailor Moon: Another Story. Chapter 4 continues with the Senshi still hunting the Barazuishou, the Rose Crystal, to restore Mamoru back to health. Meanwhile, Hell Destiny have travelled far into the past to alter the future…
Chapter 4: Hostility & Friends (Part 2)
Alternative Title: The Good Things in the Past
After the Senshi have reluctantly murdered the Phantom Sisters, thus returning their destiny to what it always was in the manga (curse you Naokoooo!), the Senshi all combine powers and, uh, well I don’t understand it but I’m suddenly back in time 1000 years. And now all of those towns around the world we visited that were strangely several hundreds of years behind in terms of modern development make sense: we end up in Turkey, in the exact area that Venus was in before.
Weeeeell I guess it’s parsimonious for a game designer, even if it feels a little cheap. I do like that they’ve set up the people you meet here. The Sage who was just a ghost in the present age is here in all her glory, aware of the situation and acting as a hint-o-meter, thank god, because there’s about to be very little direction on what you’re meant to do here.
This house acts as the base from which you complete chapter 4 from. Artemis, a bit confused but pliant to Luna’s overbearing will (I love how she bullies him) acts a party switcher. They keep trying to come up with reasons why you need to split your party. I’ve played a couple of RPGs before, you know Sailor Neptune, you can just not have a reason every damn time.
The first order of business is finding that Ark that was set up way back in Venus’ story. Yaaay airship! There’s quite a number of hints as to where you’ll be heading – the NPCs keep mentioning the Great Sage Beryl in her castle at the North Pole… I’m very, very excited about all this. The history stuff is in fact my favourite part of Sailor Moon: Another Story. It continues to surprise me how well this game ties in with the canon storylines.
But before all that, Rubeus has a death wish.
Thankfully he’s not really tough. While the Phantom Sisters I thought were brought in pretty well, even if they were superfluous to the plot, Rubeus sticks out like a sore thumb. He really doesn’t have anything to do but drop the info that Prince Dimande has stolen the Barazuishou from the Opposito Senshi and is now hiding out… somewhere. Still, always wanted to Sparkling Wide Pressure this guy right in the face, so that was nice at least.
The world map is… well, the actual world. It’s kinda cool, if extraordinarily ugly. I’m so used to large beautiful 2D worlds from SNES Final Fantasy games that the airship here feels like a pile of crap, but the novelty isn’t lost on me.
Most of the map is empty anyway. I can just about manage to find the four cities the Senshi went to in Chapter 2 (handling is awful in this thing), but the only thing new is the North Pole… very exciting! Until the monsters kicked my ass. Toooons of wondering around and training, and eventually I found Beryl’s Castle.
So yeah the guards are dicks. It takes a brief moment with the transformation pen to get you in as a servant. It’s kinda fun walking around in a different outfit, but I can’t help feel that Sailor Moon is aiming low here. What really creeps me out is the reaction from the guards, who appear to develop rather large boners for Usagi, then just let her into the castle they’re meant to be defending. Great job, sure there’s a pay rise coming.
After that unpleasantness, we get to the good stuff, what I’ve been waiting for all this time. Beryl. This is amazing stuff. It’s a brief scene of you intruding on Beryl’s thoughts as she looks out up at the night sky, contemplative of the meteor that has suddenly appear a few days before. Beryl is obviously pining for Endymion, and genuinely concerned for the meteor. She even drops a line about controlling a dark power to defend the Earth with…
So this changes Beryl’s character into something much more complex and unfortunate, picking up from the end of the original Sailor Moon series. Beryl is well respected and well loved. She seems to care about her people, but fucks around with a power she couldn’t control, namely Queen Metalia, because she thought it would save her people from, perhaps, the meteor that appeared. Metalia obviously used Beryl’s longing for Endymion to take her over. It’s great stuff.
The parts I like most about this time period is when Sailor Moon has a crisis of conscience. She knows what will happen to Beryl and, thus, what will happen to the Silver Millennium. She isn’t just a passive player here, you aren’t just seeing scenes without any bearing on the characters. Sailor Moon actually thinks about what would happen if she stopped Beryl right here, and Luna’s calm and sad response is, of course, the right thing to do. Which Sailor Moon sees, without liking it.
Remarkably good writing for such a shitty game, no?
I was at a complete loss of what to do next.
I flew around the world a bit and found Kainess, the Swiss town that Mercury screwed around in way back when. Eventually I stumbled, after a million weak random fights, into, uh, a fucking dragon?
Surprise! Shitty dragon in your face! I was severely under levelled apparently. Determined to get Esmeraude’s stupid Disney dragon down, I trained. It took level 32 all around to kick this thing to death. Phew, right? Glad that’s over?
NOPE ANOTHER FIGHT RIGHT AFTERWARDS.
So what do you get for training up to beat Esmeraude? ZILCH. There’s nothing behind her. She’s an optional boss. You don’t even have to see any of this. I guess there’s the sense of achievement, but really? She mentions Dimande too, he’s proving rather illusive.
After wandering around the world for a while, with no idea what to do, I accidentally dropped my controller and hit the Y button.
Which TOOK ME TO THE FUCKING MOON ARE YOU KIDDING ME ANOTHER STORY WHY WOULDN’T YOU TELL ME THAT?
I’ve been waiting for this. Couldn’t remember how to get to the Silver Millennium. When in doubt, mash your controller kids. Upon landing, Luna warns Sailor Moon to disguise herself once again, since Princess Serenity will be around too.
I -love- the Silver Millennium. First of all, here’s the music. It’s been remastered, so it sounds a hell of a lot better than in the game. This song has remained in my head for abotu 15 years now. Simple, lovely tune that conveys the beauty and mystery of your location
Second of all, you’re on the fucking Moon. They took the design right from Sailor Moon, and were considerate enough to detail that they actually put in a skating rink and referenced the fact that Sailor Jupiter loved to go there all the time, all from that episode in season 1. Seriously, thank the writers so much for caring enough about their game.
This is something I never would have imagined being able to do in a Sailor Moon game. They went above and beyond my expectations. It’s a small scene that doesn’t really have much in it, there’s no where to go except for this street and the castle, but for a fan like me this is plenty.
Things are about to get suuuuper depressing you guys. Usagi as a maid wanders into the palace where, it’s almost inevitable, Queen Serenity finds her, and instantly realises that she’s not looking at her daughter, but someone else… Queen Serenity realises enough to know what this means, and seems sad but grateful to have met Usagi. She even gets introduced to Chibi-Moon, the granddaughter that otherwise she never would have met.
it’s a small moment but wow it’s strangely powerful. The game took the time to make characters meet who, not only never met in the anime, but logically could never meet. They gave more gravitas and pathos to the fall of the Silver Millennium and Queen Serenity’s death by making her aware of what was coming, and seeing that something good in fact grew out of it.
And, again, this isn’t a one way interaction. Sailor Moon is deeply affected by it, as shown in a few lines of dialogue as she rushes out. Again, she knows that her death is inevitable, but we see her realise the death of her mother in a past life in a way we didn’t get so much in the anime.
THAT’S good writing, more than I expected. It really impresses me that with a few crude pixels and a few lines of dialogue, it makes me consider the canon of Sailor Moon differently. This is why Another Story is such a brilliant experience for Sailor Moon fans, it enhances the material you’ve already seen. Sailor Moon, both in anime and manga, tends to charge forwards, never looking back. You don’t get much of Usagi dwelling on Beryl, or Queen Serenity, or the time she died, or the Phantom Sisters, or the pain of Hotaru’s life.
Another Story gives you that and consolidates those memories.
And we aren’t done with the fan service just yet.
Even better, now this is TRULY superfluous, they throw in the bedrooms of the Inner Senshi! We never get to see them in the Silver Millennium, and there’s nothing in these rooms and zero reason for why they should be here, but it says something about the designers, how strong Sailor Moon fans they were, to have been thoughtful enough to throw these doors in here.
After this point… I got lost again. Radina back in Turkey continued to drop hints about the North Pole, but Beryl’s Castle remained locked out to me, those damn guards. Eventually I stumbled around long enough to find this city near Beryl’s Castle I totally missed. So this is Endymion’s kingdom? On the North Pole? A great sage living out in the wastes I get, but how do you form a kingdom here of all places…?
There’s a bit of dark foreshadowing here, with the king (Endymion’s assface dad) and his advisor’s wondering whether to continue their peaceable relationship with the Moon Kingdom. They give no reasons for wanting to dissolve this, really. It’s not about the meteorite in the sky, they just shrug and leave that to Beryl. Maybe the translation was lacking, but I think it more likely that they just didn’t think too deeply about why Earth would want to go to war with the Moon. They didn’t need a reason – Queen Metalia and her brainwashing was good enough.
MORE FAN SERVICE? Like the Inner Senshi, the Great Four all have their own rooms, except that they’re actually in their rooms! This was a nice touch. They’re all still sane and alive, something we’ve never had really. And they’re all kinda hot. Why are you guys brooding in your room?
I like what they’ve done here. The latter half of Chapter 4 had very little fighting (other than the zillion random encounters in the North Pole), it’s mostly been setting up the fall of the Silver Millennium with dark foreshadowing. Once you’ve been to the Moon, seen Beryl and overheard the King in the North bitching about those damn foreigners from the Moon ya’ll, you can now progress with the final event. It’s rather sad, but not unexpected.
We see the fall.
A bit further up and, well this is harrowing. Sailor Moon is now staring at her own dead body. You know, this really freaks me out. Just imagine that. The whole ambiance here is just right. Having seen the Moon in all its glory just a small while ago, seeing it cold and dead like this strikes a good note. They’re not shying away from what made these moments so powerful in the anime either.
But enough reliving good times, let’s get on with the story! Hey look who came out of hiding! It’s Dimande! He’s… well… he appears to be planning to kidnap Princess Serenity, much like he did to Usagi and wanted to do with Neo Queen Serenity. Guess he’s going for a hat trick.
Besides all the, you know, implied sexual assault (GROSS) that this entails, my real problem is that at this point Princess Serenity is dead. He’s planning to assault a corpse. This never seems to occur to anyone. They keep acting as though she’s just knocked out and will wake up in time for Dimande’s disgusting and overbearing ego.
Sailor Moon offers herself, knowing that if Dimande steals her cold lifeless past self, Queen Serenity won’t be able to transmigrate her soul into the 20th Century, and thus the whole timeline would be destroyed. Dimande doesn’t seem to give a shit about any of this. You might think that this isn’t great characterisation, but in fact it’s pretty fitting to Dimande’s whole Modus Operendi if I’m honest.
I was kinda hoping they’d just leave him out of this game if I’m honest, but at least we get to smash his face in! Right? Right?
But first… one last piece of fan service just to make sure you’re properly bummed out.
The designers have really stumbled upon a way to relive those powerful moments from the anime in a way that doesn’t make it feel rehashed, like a cut scene. You’re there, you’re witnessing this from a different point of view. It’s the same reason why Back to the Future Part II’s conclusion doesn’t feel representative.
I also like how we see the Opposito Senshi using their heads. They drew upon the knowledge that the Ginzuishou gets broken into the seven Rainbow Crystals in the anime, which we all remember fondly, and rather then setting you out on a 7-way fetch quest like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, they have the Senshi realise that they only need to get and keep one of the Rainbow Crystals to prevent the Silver Crystal ever getting restored to full power.
Once Sailor Moon is gone, you’re forced to return to the other Senshi. You now have to play as Chibi-Moon. Awww maaaaan she suuuucks. At least it’ll give me the chance to level the Outer Senshi a bit more. Saphir pops up at one point to ask you to stop his brother being such a creepy rapist (it’s his destiny too, apparently) and to tattle on where he’s gone: the basement of the Moon Castle. So we run aaaaall the way back to the Moon (why did we have to go back to Turkey?), warp down to the basement aaaand.
DUN DUN DUUUN.
Nah she’s literally just a boss fight. Almost like Rubeus, she’s a bit tough, but there’s nothing more than her fight before she leaves the game. There’s a bit of a moment where Chibi-Moon wonders how she can be fighting herself, but that’s all we get. I think there could have been some really great identity crisis stuff here with Chibi-Usa, but sadly we don’t get it.
Time to train, me thinks. These enemies are getting really tough, and the Outer Senshi need some experience.
Eventually we find Dimande just… leering over an unconscious Sailor Moon in a rocky pit. I can think of nothing more romantic, you egotistic selfish megalomaniac psychopath. Saphir has to turn up and actually point out to this guy that nothing he’s doing makes any sense and they’re just going to die again.
Too bad you don’t get to fight Dimande though, or Saphir, as Sin turns up and murders Saphir with a single blow. Her fight this time is touuuugh. I guess they really expected you to train. When it’s over, she seems a bit shocked, and turns to leave, but before she does she kicks Dimande in the face…
You know, I had completely forgotten that Dimande was the one responsible for Sin’s parents dying and, thus, her membership of the Opposito Senshi. I really like that the writers remembered and included this, it rounded out her character from just an evil dick to something more sympathetic. Plus she KILLS DIMANDE, which is a big bonus in my book.
As Dimande dies from being kicked in the goddamn face, he tells the Senshi that they must travel to the future if they have a chance to defeating Apsu and returning Destiny to what it was. He also hands over what he stole from the Opposito Senshi too: the Barazuishou! Jesus, this has been a long time coming. Man, Dimande is really nothing more than a gross thief isn’t he?
THE FUTURE. Crystal Tokyo. Let’s fucking DO this, Apsu.