Review by Siegfried066
"Good (but not great...) anime fighter!"
I'm from Belgium (Europe) and a HUGE Saint Seiya fan (I learned French from the UNCENSORED French-dubbed anime series when I grew up!).
Needless to say, this is a review of a fan, willing to oversee technical oversights out of love for the source material. You've been warned!
This review has been made after clearing Story Mode 4 times (I will include some SPOILERS related to unlockables), so I have a decent enough idea of the general game play mechanics (only played on Easy, mind).
Although I haven't seen any Hades OAVs (yet), I have read the translated-to-French manga: the full 28-volume manga series of Saint Seiya was published by one of Dargaud's "manga labels", Kana, so I can check how the game itself holds up for both characters and general story (although it's been a few years since I last read them...)
Before all else, I do need to point out that there is a LOT of loading in this game (each time for between 10 to 20 seconds or so) as soon as a location changes (even during certain cut-scenes). Some patience is needed to cope with this, but there are some really nice loading screens to help you deal with this... If you're not a fan of the series, this will unfortunately be able to put you off, but please bear with it. It's really nice game in spite of this!
MUCH better than the previous game. Still in 3D, but now with a real "anime 3D" look (think of it as a "worse" version of Kingdom Hearts to get the general idea, although KH is still in a league of its own). The hair looks more "natural" now, too, which adds to the general "character" of a Saint. A nice touch is that the eyes themselves are NOT "animated" as 3D, but are just 2D "drawn" on the 3D models (but with a little bit of animation during some cut-scenes), making for a really close resemblance to the original anime characters.
The "glow" effects for both special attacks and the Cloths/ Suplices (they look awesome!) themselves are improved, too. No more nasty jaggies either on all characters (I only encountered ONE glitch in all the time I played the game so far!!), a nice improvement to any Saint Seiya game. Both the special moves and the Big Bang Attacks (BBA) look (a bit) better than before, giving the game an overall more polished look.
As I played more, I really appreciated some of the finer details: the way the game looks when you JUST evade or counter one character's move with one of your own. Beautiful stuff!
Only Japanese voices this time round (since only Japanese-voiced versions exist of the Hades animation at this time anyway), both for the cut-scenes and in-battle 'dialogue'. I suppose the original OAV voice actors (seiyuu) take on their roles here, as the voices PERFECTLY fit each and every character (ALL text is spoken in the Story Mode!). Truly stirring stuff, so I have no problem at all with the "lack" of a French dub.
The sound-effects are spot-on (minus the HORRIBLE first sound effect you hear at the CGI intro's beginning). Unfortunately, almost no OFFICIAL music has (once again) made it into the game, so some music is very J-Pop like, once more (with added electric guitars..). On the plus side, some music (especially the "sad" music) comes really close to the source material.
Only for the Story Mode, obviously. The best part of the game, I think! All dialogue and a few story sequences take up about 3 real-time hours.
The main part of the story is told with (almost) characters that are standing still, but the character's faces perfectly lip-sinc their dialogue, which is brought with real emotion! I have to admit I had quite a few lumps in my throat during the stirring story...
While it's a bit unfortunate that the actual "cut-scenes" are limited to only 8, it's really cool that during 'normal' story dialogue, the upper half of the character speaking is displayed on the dialogue box, with some GREAT animation and facial expressions :-).
There's also a moderate use of OAV footage, but I have no clue why the developers chose a story voice-over to simply accompany some 2D "stills". Shame, shame, shame...
Game Play: the good:
The game's obviously a lot faster to play now, and there's a good flow in combos while using both normal and special moves (and even linking to BBAs, the game's strongest moves!). I get the impressions that charging your Cosmo (energy for special moves) is a lot easier (no longer do you 'need' low life to be able to charge faster), which also adds a lot to the overall speed of game play.
A new "Saint Rush" (L1 + Triangle) command has been added, which resembles Budokai 3's Dragon Rush "a lot" (Dimps, the developer here, also developed the DBZ Budokai games). Although the options are very limited at this point (only a few options, and all characters have the exact same moves and animations: Triangle to Attack, X to Wait, etc., then the other character reacts within a short time-window), this could really be great stuff once future (please, please, please) games expand on this.
"Awaken Seventh Sense" is another change to the game (first game: "Seventh Sense" was 'infinite' once you triggered it). First charge Cosmo Maximum Level (4). Then press Triangle + Circle, and - for a limited time - you become faster + stronger AND just simple button presses throw out your special moves! The downside is that, after this, your "Cosmo gauge" 'breaks' for a short time, so you won't be able to use any moves that require Cosmo energy. But this also assures a more reasonable flow to battles: you can't just abuse the "Awaken Seventh Sense" option and get away with it.
In spite of its flaws (see below), the game engine has definitely gotten better since last time.
Game Play: the bad:
The battles themselves are sometimes a bit unbalanced (playing on Easy, using your strongest BBA on Rhadamanthis in your first fight does only small damage instead of half a life-bar, + he does a lot more damage. Against Orphee, his strongest special is extremely difficult to avoid + it's almost too highly-damaging), most of the time the battles are on the nice side of challenging
A downside to the game for fans, however, is that there are way too much 'clone' characters (I unlocked all 5 Bronze Saints in 3 'forms' so far!) and some cloned moves (throws, most notably). A real waste of character line-up, I'm afraid.
It's also a wasted opportunity that getting a Gold (= best) rank in battles doesn't seem to add ANYTHING in terms of either characters or other stuff (personally tested on Easy for Story Mode). This could really have given the single-player modes real replay-value.
Final Notes + Conclusion:
While not being a perfect game, overall it's a great improvement over the first game (but missing those "beat-'em up mini-battles...), and the story isn't as expansive as the original Sanctuary story. I keep my fingers crossed for a FULL game where you can play the Asgard and Poseidon Sagas, you never know... And considering the next in line for Myth Cloths are both the Asgard God Warriors and the Sea Generals, I'm still hopeful for a full-fledged game to do those storylines justice ^_^
Also, while it's quite simply heart-breaking how the Story Mode comes to a sudden stop (closely following the OAVs, though), it at least assures us that we can at the very least expect that one more Saint Seiya game will come our way.
Score: 7-7,5/10 (5 to 6 out of 10 if you're not a fan of the series, the game's primary target).
And now I'm off to get 100 % completion and have fun while doing so ^_^
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 10/25/06
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