Fighting evil by moonlight, winning at Sailor Moon games by daylight
Before we get deep into talking about Sailor Moon games, I have a confession to make: I wasn’t a big Sailor Moon fan as a kid.
I’m sure you all know how this goes. If you were a kid in the 90s, boys like Dragon Ball and girls liked Sailor Moon. I bought into this without question, because any kid doesn’t want another reason to get picked on by the playground. It was only when I got well into my teenage years that I learned to appreciate not only Sailor Moon, but the magical girl genre as a whole. I even get sad when I think about all the hilarious Sailor Says segments I missed as a kid.
I say this to clarify that I don’t think the following four Sailor Moon games are good out of blind fanboyism or nostalgia. Rather, despite how games based on anime can be hit or miss, all of these games are surprisingly good on their own merits. Sailor Moon fans who like a bit of retro gaming should definitely check these out.
NOTE: All of the games listed below are playable in English via fan translation.
4: Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon R (SNES)
In the 80s and 90s, side scrolling beat-em-ups like Final Fight ruled the roost. Tons of franchises got converted into this genre, even stuff like Cadillacs And Dinosaurs. So it should be no surprise that Sailor Moon got the same treatment.
I’m not going to say Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon R is a classic of the genre, but it’s got everything you’d need in a Sailor Moon beat-em-up. All of the inner senshi are playable, including Chibi Moon who strangely gets her own mode on the main menu. You’ve got your standard punches and special moves, as well as some fun grab attacks and a long-range charge attack. But the best part about Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon R is that it’s playable co-op with 2 players. There’s also a basic versus mode if you’re the type who got lots of mileage out of the 2 player mode from the NES Double Dragon.
Even if the game is a little slow moving, it’s still fun if you can adjust to its pace. And besides, any Sailor Moon game that makes best girl Makoto playable is an easy 10/10.
3: Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon Super S: Fuwa Fuwa Panic (SNES)
As someone who doesn’t necessarily love many puzzle games, Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon Super S: Fuwa Fuwa Panic (or Floating Panic in English) is pretty great.
It’s primarily a competitive puzzle game in the same vein as Tetris Attack or Puyo Puyo. Two players go head to head trying to pop huge lines of balloons of the same color, while also taking care to thwart attacks of garbage blocks from their opponent. It’s a fun formula that Floating Panic gets right, while also taking care to infuse the Sailor Moon license into its gameplay. For example, some blocks can knock you out of your transformed state, which makes you ability to clear blocks a bit weaker. Each scout also has a signature special move, complete with voice samples announcing the name of the attack. It’s the type of game that’s fun to play against the computer, but a blast with a second player to compete with.
Even if you aren’t into competitive puzzle games, there’s an entirely separate single player mode with a decent amount of content built into it. Basically, you’re charged with clearing a certain amount of balloons on each level within a strict time limit, which means you have to think quick on your feet to figure out which colors you should clear first. It starts easy, but the difficulty ramps up quick. You’d be surprised how fast time flies when you really get into solving a stage you’re stuck on.
It’s worth noting that there is a story mode here, but there’s not exactly a ton of plot. But more importantly, you can play as every single sailor scout, including best girl Makoto. So even if this wasn’t a great puzzle game that could stand alone without the Sailor Moon brand, this one gets a 10/10 from me.
2: Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon (Genesis)
Okay, this one’s a little confusing, so bare with me. Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon is technically the prequel to the SNES Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon R listed above, and was released on the same system a few months prior. The genesis version of Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon is loosely based on the SNES version, but was handled by a different company and features a number of differences.
Normally this would be a recipe for disaster, so imagine my surprise when I played the Genesis Sailor Moon and realized it was better than its SNES version!
Look, I’m not hating on the original, but Genesis Sailor Moon is just really good. It’s way faster than its SNES counterparts, and each enemy has radically different attack patterns that you need to memorize and counter. All of the stages are really unique too, featuring gimmicks like throwing enemies out of an elevator or hopping between trucks on the highway to fight baddies. And while I wouldn’t say the soundtrack in this one is amazing, it’s still reasonably catchy and more energetic than the other games on this list. Even Tuxedo Mask makes cameo appearances before each boss battle, providing about as much support as he does in the show.
There are a couple big flaws, of course. First of all, if you lose all your lives and use a continue, you go all the way back to the beginning of the level you’re on. Second, this one is single player only. But if you can look past these things, Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon is a great looking beat-em-up on the Genesis that any gamer can enjoy. And besides, when you can play as best girl Makoto, you don’t need another sailor scout to help out anyway. 10/10.
1: Sailor Moon: Another Story (SNES)
As we’ve previously said, turning a preexisting franchise into a full fledged role playing game can be difficult. Most licensed games are just quick cash-ins as it is, and 20+ hour games require a lot of care to please both gamers and anime fans. This is why I’m happy to say that Sailor Moon: Another Story is the rare example of a licensed RPG that does everything mostly right.
The biggest draw of Another Story is… well, the story. It’s an entirely original plot based equally on the manga and anime, but it’s remarkably faithful to the tone of the original series. Sure, parts of it are video-gamey, but at many times it feels like a long lost interactive season of the show. They even took care to weave all the Scouts into the story, and eventually you can pick and choose your favorites to be in your party. I will say it doesn’t do a lot to fill in people unfamiliar with the Sailor Moon mythos, so series newbies will be a bit confused by this one.
RPG fans might be inclined to think Another Story would be a Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest clone. But remarkably enough, Another Story has some interestingly executed ideas in its gameplay. Each Scout has an extremely small pool of max magic points, but they fully regenerate after battle. This means you’re free to go ham on random encounters, while bosses will have you leaning harder on your items. Your party can also take complex formations on the battle field that affect how much damage you take and receive in battle. Plus there’s team attacks a la Chrono Trigger, except you can have as many as five scouts all performing special moves together. It’s great stuff that makes you really think about who you want in your party.
It should be noted that Another Story is a very linear adventure. This on its own isn’t too bad, but it’s also very weirdly balanced. You’ll fight some bosses and die in a couple turns, but once you level grind a little, they turn into pathetic weaklings. So yes, you’ll have to do a lot of level grinding to beat Another Story. Personally, I’m not inclined to come down on the game over this. After all, level grinding was basically a genre standard back in 1995. Plus the magic point system makes random battles go by very quickly. It’s just something to be aware of before you play.
Some of the best RPGs ever made appeared on the SNES, and I’d say Another Story at least holds its own among the system’s B-list titles like Paladin’s Quest or even Breath of Fire. And trust me, with competition this fierce, that’s an amazing endorsement. Ultimately, since Another Story leans heavily on its source material for its plot, it’s best enjoyed by people who love both Sailor Moon and retro RPGs in equal measure. I’m not sure how vast the center of that venn diagram is, but if you’re one of the people inside it, you absolutely need to play Another Story.
Unfortunately, even if Another Story is one of the best Sailor Moon games ever made, there are sections where you are unable to play as best girl Makoto. So with a heavy heart, I must sadly give this game a 0/10. This entire list is a fraud.