Review by Siegfried
Unfortunately, attention was always mainly turned towards Dragon Ball Z in Asian and American countries. Saint Seiya, welcomed by many as having the most interesting plot found in the anime industry, got most of its fans in European countries. This shouldn't take away its glory though; Saint Seiya is vastly superior to Dragon Ball Z, which only flogged the poor kid with battle upon battle, without ever stopping to build upon the characters and to back the ensuing fights with an interesting background. On the other hand, Saint Seiya, with its stupendous mythology-based (mainly Greek) plot, was entertaining. It allowed each kid to identify himself to a character, be it by his zodiac sign (of which Saint Seiya made extensive use), or just personal preferences.
After making even crappier games out of Dragon Ball Z, Bandai set out to use its brand new license. The two Saint Seiya games that it produced on the NES do not even deserve to be talked about; they were rushed, and playing through them roughly amounted to having your fingers cut off one by one. At the same time, a GameBoy title was released: Seitoushi Saint Paradise. Although the latter doesn't profess to change anything to role-playing games and although this game is quite linear, it is nevertheless an excellent game for any Saint Seiya fan, and a nice title for the others.
Seitoushi Saint Paradise thus covers the first two chapters of the book, leaving out the Godly Saints part, which was written exclusively for the anime. However, what's in here already makes for a pretty long game. The first part, Sanctuary, can even be broken into three distinct parts although the game comically piles them one upon another without giving the gamer any respite. Of course, it would have been weird to try and break these up, so in the end, it turns out that this game totally respects the books. The second and last part, Poseidon, is over quite quickly (as in the book), but it is terribly hard due to the over-powered Generals guarding the Sea God.
Obviously, the game asks you to control the Bronze Saints, and to explore the world, talking to people, battling against opponents and beating the crap out of other Saints, whether Black, Silver or Gold, at the same time. In a sad twist of fate, it however allows you to control only Pegasus Seiya, Dragon Shiryu, Swan Hyoga, and Andromeda Shun. While it would have been a fantastic idea to have Phoenix Ikki join you later on after you defeat him during the first part of the game, Bandai obviously thought otherwise. Granted, I gave up on Bandai at being overly brilliant a long time ago, but really, it could have been done. Doing so would have made the game much better.
Rest assured though, what's here is still good. Seitoushi Saint Paradise may not be a particularly original game, but it manages to do almost everything right. Most importantly, it respects the books, and in doing so, gives the gamer the impression of revisiting them. As Seiya, Shiryuu, Hyoga and Shun, it is your task to search for the coveted Sagittarius Cloth before being asked to rescue Princess Athena Poseidon's malevolent plants. Seiya even gets to wear this same cloth later on, and as a weird bonus, the Odin Cloth, which truthfully shouldn't have anything to do with this game and is in contradiction to the plot, is granted to him.
While Seitoushi merely lets you control all four at the same time and there's no such thing as proper customization here, each character does have his own attributes. Hence, Shun will be defensively strong while Shiryuu is able to deal more damage than anybody else. It also figures each special technique is straightly taken from the anime. Shun thus makes the most out of this aspect as he has more moves than anybody else and acquires them at a relatively fast rate, as opposed to Seiya's infuriating rate whereby he takes hours to develop his best techniques.
As in a typical RPG, Seitoushi Saint Paradise throws you in random battles. Unfortunately, this is where this game takes a huge blow due to the rate at which you are thrown in those. Basically, you are thrown in a battle every two seconds. Should you want to flee, you're very liable to be thrown into another one as soon as the screen changes back to the world map. Breaking news: you cannot flee from this one.
Such a frenzied fighting rate may lead one to think that, as a result of the constant battles, the characters level up quite quickly. Unfortunately, this is not quite the case since normal opponents yield a ludicrously low amount of experience points. Most enemies will net you only one point per character such that similar battles soon become infuriating. Obviously, this results in a vicious circle since you are literally forced to endure numerous battles before each boss. On the other side, boss battles do yield an enormous amount of experience points, but defeating them is harder than it seems.
The rest of the game does not bring anything new to the genre other than the exhaustive card system. Indeed, items and such other things actually exist as cards in Seitoushi. In addition, there are even Event Cards that need to be used at the appropriate instant. Without them, you will find yourself stuck and given as the game is in Japanese, finding your way through these can be quite cumbersome. Fortunately, the cards are also represented as pictures, but only fans of the anime will know what each picture means.
Based on these few paragraphs, one may regard Seitoushi Saint Paradise as a mere game without any true originality. This is indeed true, but in this specific case, one should see beyond mere game play mechanics. To do so, beating the game should be more than enough (anyway, if this fails, what else will suffice?). As one goes on to beat more and more opponents, one cannot help but be amazed at how brilliantly all the important characters were slapped onto the game.
Near the end of the game, one can only be amazed by the way the story develops. Of course, Bandai doesn't have anything to do with the story as in this case, their job merely consisted of lifting it from the books. However, the way they did so is still great and surprising coming from a company like Bandai.
Seitoushi Saint Paradise enjoys superb visuals, and definitely ranks among one of the most pleasant titles on the GameBoy, next to the ecstatic Captain Tsubasa Vs. The main characters can all be recognized from a single glance at the screen, which is quite a feat given the limited capabilities of the system. While I first feared how all the Saints would look in reduced form, my negative assumptions thankfully turned out to be unnecessary. The characters look particularly lovely and in addition, the animation is excellent. Logically, they are not as detailed as they should be, but what's here is more than enough to make Seitoushi look beautiful.
Speaking of details, this game also boasts a collection of jaw-dropping backgrounds. They may look quite simple, but they are well-done, and only a biased fool would nitpick on the stagnancy of a few parts when everything else looks so good. Plunge into the whole game, and, by the end, as you reach Sea God Poseidon, you'll even have the shock of your life as you realize how simple and crisp the last backgrounds look. If anything else, one should check this game for its visuals, whether he's actually interested in Saint Seiya or not.
Sadly, the music in this game is too repetitive. Obviously, the main problem here is the lack of variety. You are forced to listen to the same thing over and over again until your ears start to bleed. Had the music been even average, this wouldn't be such a con, but in this specific case, the themes are terrible. They are very generic, and to be frank, you'd be better turning off the music while playing this game.
Years ago, my love for Saint Seiya drove me to play and beat this game several times since this is the sole game that's good for any such fan. It represented something unique to me, and while I was merely repeating the same things countless times, I would never get fed up. Now that I'm older and that I've learnt to judge a game's value from an unbiased position, I find Seitoushi severely lacking in replay value.
Seitoushi Saint Paradise is an extremely linear game and boasts no secrets or side-quests, as per RPG standards, whatsoever. I guess this isn't really something that should be pointed out as an omission since there's nothing that could be added to increase the game's lifespan. While this title can be hard with its boss battles, moving on is quite straightforward as long as you are familiar with the Japanese language. If you aren't, you will probably take more time to beat it. In any case, this is just one of those games that can be played only once.
In spite of its linearity and rather basic game engine, Seitoushi Saint Paradise remains a good title that fans of Saint Seiya should definitely check. Others may be less inclined to play the whole of it since the setting won't have the same irresistible effect on them, but I recommend it even to those.
Just turn off the damn music.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 07/21/05
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