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Retro Friday #3: Sailor Moon S

5 min

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Retro Friday #3: Sailor Moon S
The queens of kusoge.

Can you believe it? It is Friday, once again! Which means I'm back to bring you another old fighting game. The previous two episodes covered the classics from SEGA and Capcom, but this time around, I've brought you something that Arc System Works might want to forget - Bishōjo Senshi Sailor Moon S: Jōgai Rantō!? Shuyaku Sōdatsusen. Normal humans just call it Sailor Moon S though, let's check it out.

This game has become a mainstay of side tournaments at major events like Evo, CEO, or Combo Breaker, so many of you might be familiar with it as "that Sailor Moon kusoge", but before going into that, let's try and see this game for what it is.

Sailor Moon S might be unbalanced, janky, and rough in places, but for its time, it's actually a pretty well-made and fun fighting game, not devoid of creativity and innovation too.

Until you start looking at the competitive scene, you'd never tell just how broken this game is. It's a very standard affair of light and heavy kicks/punches with largely generic (although obviously Sailor Moon themed) special moves and desperation supers that are only available at low health or when the round is almost over.

The more interesting elements come out when you start looking into details. For example, it's one of the earliest fighting games with dashes in it. Every character had a universal backdash, with Moon and Uranus, oh especially Uranus, being able to forward dash, but more on that later.

You could also Guard Cancel in this game, which means that you could cancel your block stun with a special move, an outrageous feature to see in any fighting game, let alone one like this. Guilty Gear would tone this down with Dead Angle attacks, but Baiken almost comes close to matching the Sailor Guardians, so here's your connection between Baiken and the world of mahou shoujo.

Lastly, there is a (hopefully) unintended problem in the game with Player 1 and 2 having different attack and move properties depending on their side, something that this game shares with Hokuto no Ken, the other legendary ArcSys kusoge.

If you just want to play this casually, it's a good time for a one or few playthroughs, especially if you like the franchise. I personally grew up catching some Sailor Moon episodes on the TV, so it was rather nostalgic to play this again. The designs and abilities are iconic at this point, and visuals do a particularly good job of delivering that warm charm of the series.

One obvious thing is that this game is vibrant. Its world is full of color and managed to fit in some of the more gorgeous locations from the universe, like the amazing Crystal Tokyo. However, I was pleasantly surprised with the animations more than anything. Despite all limitations, they clearly put some love into these sprites, and there are cool little touches that you almost never see in fighting games, like the girls getting a new, exhausted stance when their health is low. It tells you that you have a desperation super available, but it's also a super nice addition to the presentation.

But of course, we can't ignore the reason this game resurged and truly got famous. Sailor Moon S is a capital K Kusoge. The damage is out of this world thanks to complete lack of scaling, many rounds can end within seconds, it's a fighting game with a headshot multiplier, guard cancelling makes every single interaction super volatile, and of course, there are infinites, and one of them is likely not what you expect.

Remember the part about Uranus forward dash? If you've never seen this game, you might be imagining something like Ryu leaping forward, but oh boy, it's anything but. Uranus can dash across the whole screen in a fraction of a second and then do whatever she wants. You can try and check her by throwing out quick pokes, but there's a funny little nuance. Normally, only backdashes are invincible, but on P2, her forward dash is invincible as well.

You can still throw out pokes and just hope you hit her during start up of her next move, but that in itself is a significant risk. To see the full extent of just how silly this game is, check out this match from Climb Cancel 2019.

Thanks to fish dash, she can do a massive infinite, but there's another infinite that's just plain funny. Chibimoon has infinite backdash tech, effectively making her completely invulnerable. Got a health lead? Well, time to hop for about a minute. Is it scummy? Yes, but it's also absolutely hilarious.

I hope next time you see Sailor Moon S tournament at one of the major events, you will tune in and check out what its community is cooking, or maybe even try the game out yourself. I think there's a lot of value in checking out old games and just getting a feel for how things were done back then.

Thank you for reading, and I hope to see you next week!

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