Born in the 80s, and having spent the first decade of my life in an Asian country, I was surrounded by Japanese pop culture growing up, and as a result there is a lot of deep love and respect for classic Japanese anime and cartoon series in my heart.
I have many fond childhood memories of classics like Doraemon, Golden Warrior Gold Lightan, and the original Dragon Ball, so I guess it is not so surprisingly that for the past week I had found myself enjoying the heck out of a game that is based on a classic anime series from my childhood – the PS3 title Saint Seiya – Sanctuary Battle.
In the world of Saint Seiya selected men and women have learn to harness the power of the cosmos, the energy that started the big bang – the very same energy that flows through and powers life itself. Donning living armour that represents the various stellar constellations, such men and women become holy warriors known as saints.
The series focuses on the titular Seiya the Pegasus and his friends; Shiryu the Dragon; Shun the Andromeda; Hyoga the Cygnus; and Ikki the Phoenix – five young saints who have pledged their lives to the service of the Goddess Athena, to protect and help her in the fight against the evil forces that threatens our world.
Saint Seiya was perhaps my favorite anime series growing up, so perhaps I am a bit biased when it comes to this game. However I must admit, despite the fun I am having, Sanctuary Battle, in my opinion, really isn’t much of a game at all.
The game looks and plays very much like the Saint Seiya – Chapter Sanctuary title released back in 2005, sharing pretty much the same graphics and mechanics – it even covers the same chapter of the Saint Seiya saga as that PS2 title. The graphics look dated and out of place on the modern console, and the stages of the campaign are short and devoid of gameplay, relying on dated, simplistic beat’em up battle mechanics and cutscenes to push the story along. Characters are never properly introduced or developed, and the story relies on prior knowledge to be fully understood and appreciated.
Sanctuary Battle is essentially a 3D fighting game with poor graphics and a poorly designed fighting system, consisting of a series of badly designed monotonous boss fights, strung together by a series of confusing cut scenes and repetitive short Dynasty Warrior style button mashing transition levels. To anyone who is not familiar with the franchise the game would probably feel very much like one big unfinished under-developed mess.
However having said all that, with presentation just like the classic anime’s, complete with voice acting and music straight from the series, as well as a full unlockable gallery of actual toy photos, and access to DLCs with additional characters and cloth sets – dated graphics and gameplay aside, this game has been one big nostalgic trip for me, and in my opinion, is a must play experience for fans of the franchise.