I have never seen an episode of Saint Seiya or read a single chapter of its manga. All I’ve seen of the series over the years being around the internet are random snippets and references that I didn’t really get.
So as my very first introduction into this beloved classic, I went in open minded hoping to be impressed. Unfortunately, I fear it may have been too little, too late.
The first thing to note about Saint Seiya: Brave Soldiers is that it’s a 3D fighting game that plays similarly to the Naruto Ultimate Storm series on the 360/PS3.
There are two regular attacks, light and heavy, along with a special projectile move. The warriors all share the ability to jump along with quick rolls that can be used to dodge incoming attacks.
They can also charge up their meter by holding down a button, but doing so leaves them defenseless so it’s only really useful after a good knock down. The meter is used to either unleash a powerful super attack, which takes up several bars of meter, or used one at a time to enhance and add special properties to all the other moves.
For example, the meter enhanced jump button will automatically track down an opponent with a blazingly fast dash, and an enhanced regular attack has the property of being able to break an opponent’s guard.
Lastly, one bar of meter can be spent to teleport behind an opponent right before an attack lands to allow for counter attacks.
Aside from that, there is the “Seventh Sense” meter which charges as the player attacks and becomes damaged which can be unleashed to give an overall boost to the character but it’s hardly game-changing.
For those familiar with the Naruto Ultimate series, all of that would sound very similar as it’s more or less the same mechanics minus the use of assists and items during combat.
While it’s not a terrible system and allows for a moderate amount of strategy, it’s a system that’s already been done better so it’s unfortunate that it didn’t have any touches added to make it feel unique and more involving.
The story modes presented here go through three complete story arcs from start to finish, and while they did a passable job at setting up the premise for each scenario, I felt the actual presentation of the events that unfolded during the scenarios felt flat.
The vast majority of the story is told through conversations between characters in between battles. While I felt the voice acting was well done and appropriately cheesy (Japanese VA only), the 3D model stand-ins didn’t portray much action or drama that is necessary to have the player become invested in the story.
There is certainly a lot of battles to overcome and a ton of dialogue to listen to during the course of the three arcs but as I’ve said, it just hasn’t aged very well.
For example, there was a scene where a man wearing a shiny dove shaped helmet is yelling “MAMA! MAMA!” without a hint of irony and I just can’t handle taking something like that seriously.
There was even a scene where they broke a man out of an ice tomb and he is saved by sharing the body heat of another man, wearing full armor. I’m going to guess that all this was a lot more compelling in the year 1986 but today, it all just seems very silly.
Combine that with the lackluster deliver of the story itself and I have to say that I wasn’t particularly entertained outside of moments of, “are you serious right now?”
Perhaps if they concentrated all their time and efforts into bringing one story arc to life with flashy in game cut scenes and interactive elements instead of dividing their attention into fitting three full storylines into the title, it would have been better off but alas, we will never know.
There are also other standard modes like Survival and Training, which function exactly as one would assume, and net-play which worked well enough without any significant lag spikes or input delays that I could see from a limited pool of opponents.
There is also the option to buy orbs using currency earned from playing the game which can be equipped on a character to give special boosts like bonus to attack damage or passive meter regen.
Lastly, a tournament mode is available which can queue up a number of matches to see who will come out on top but it’s not too compelling of an addition.
Saint Seiya: Brave Soldiers is game made for the fans. With around fifty characters to play as, three full story modes to experience and a netcode worthy of the modern age, it’s a title I feel hardcore fans of the series can enjoy.
Unfortunately, for a newcomer like me, I do not have the luxury of wearing rose colored nostalgia glasses to see it for more than what it is: a competent fighting game using a source material that simply has not aged very well.
Fun Tidbit: While many fighting games these days suffer from having too many female characters for the sake of fan service, this one has way too many male fighters.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.