There is no doubt that Saint Seiya Sanctuary Battle is a fan service. For those who do not know the franchise, it is a very popular Japanese anime series centring on a group of young Saints fighting along with Goddess Athena to protect the world from evil threats. The premise is straight forward and a lot of times repetitive. However, what distinguishes this series from other series is that the Saints base their abilities according to their Cosmos, which are also governed by the Constellation they are aligned with. While they don’t necessarily need the Saint Cloths to exercise these powers, the Saint Cloths provide extra protection and boost of power to their abilities. Naturally these Saint Cloths were crafted according the Constellations they are aligned with, giving the creator a huge playground for their designs.
Enough about the anime itself. The game is crafted around the first chapter of the saga, rightly named the Sanctuary Battle. This part of the saga marks the height of the popularity of the series, as this is where all the Gold Saints made their appearances (although a few showed up here and there before that but this chapter is about their stories). The Story Mode of the game followed the paths of the Bronze Saints (who are the centre of the story plot) racing against time to battle and convince the Gold Saints about the crisis in a bid to save Athena, who is on borrowed time at this stage. The premise is straightforward – you battle a Gold Saint, move on to the next path against hordes of minions, and then battle another Gold Saint. The process is repetitive but curiously addictive.
Your Saints gain experience and level up after you successfully complete a stage, and you then have a chance to assign points to a myriad of stats to improve their power and abilities. At times you would be able to unlock sealed power or moves to assist you in future battles. The fighting system itself is simple yet complicated. You have your usual normal and heavy attacks that can be used in combination with your jump and dashes. Also at your disposal are the special constellation based moves that cause a lot more damages. However to use these moves you will need to use your Cosmo power, indicated conveniently by a blue Cosmo bar under your green life bar. The Cosmo bar also dictates whether you can use your ‘seventh sense’, an ability that is vital in battles against the Gold Saints. Basically the ‘seventh sense’ heightens your movements and thus you can see the moves of the Gold Saints clearly and enabling you to dodge and counter their attacks. Also with the correct combination at the right time your special cosmos moves can be heightened by Athena’s blessing and you can dish out super devastating special moves along with special animated cut scenes. Both your life bar and Cosmo bar refill themselves during the course of actions. The bar refills faster as you get hit but it is a risk you would need to assess or you risk being KO’d (and it is not hard to get KO’d in this game).
After you finished the main story, you open up side stories that fill in further information for other characters in the Sanctuary Chapter. I personally think this is a nice touch in a way that you complete the story more, although if you were a fan of the series you would already know them. However still I think these are good side story chapters that keep you going with the game.
Apart from the story mode, you can also play individual missions, which essentially are just sets of random paths against different bosses (mainly Gold Saints) in the game. However, in mission mode, all the characters you unlocked during the different story modes are available at your disposal. That makes the game a lot more interesting as you would be able to use all the Gold Saints that you love in the series to play through them. You can also play two players with mission mode so if you have another friend who is a fan of the series, both of you can have a good time.
Graphic wise, the game’s graphics are above average. Surely the Saint Cloths models are very well done. The developer decided to keep the anime look of all the characters, which is fine, but personally I do hope that they can pay more attention to certain details such as hair constructions in the game. Sometimes I found it weird that everything on the character models are so well done, but then the hair is just a flap of polygons. The environment is varied enough but not as and detailed. Enemies are kind of repetitive although you do have a few different types to beat up on. But then they are not the main focus of the game, so probably that is why.
One thing that puzzled me a bit is that the game didn’t employ the huge catalogue of outstanding soundtracks from the original anime. The soundtracks of the original anime are some of the most defining scores in the world of anime so I am surprised that Bandai-Namco did not cash in on that.
The game has a pretty good chunk of downloadable content if you are interested. At 30 odd dollars you can download a whole lot of new popular characters from other chapters of the series including the Sea Dragon Kanon, and Siren Sorrento (I was hoping that Poseidon would be available too).
Saint Seiya Sanctuary Battle is a pretty good game for a fan service product. One thing that intrigued me was that the difficulty of the game is on a much higher level than most current games. Even on normal difficulty, you would expect to die a lot and use a lot of continues. If you play it on easy mode, it is basically the normal mode in a lot of other games. So if you are a person who is looking for a challenging beat them up, this could be an option for you although you might not get the same kick out of it if you are not a fan of the series. But as a fan of the series, I must say I had a pretty good time with Saint Seiya Sanctuary Battle.