The 90’s Sailor Moon anime, the manga it was derived from, and every Sailor Moon iteration since then have had American fans begging for more imported goods from Japan. Lucky for all of us, the Sailor Moon Crystal reboot in 2014 ushered in a new golden age of Senshi swag, figures, and artwork the likes of which we’d only seen before on eBay.
Real world swag is definitely awesome, but now it’s finally translating into the digital realm. I have played many of the “unofficial” Sailor Moon game apps, and they have almost always been disappointing. Repetitive tasks, unofficial artwork, or glitchy gameplay drowned out any enjoyment. This week that all changed.
I stumbled across an announcement from May 2016, two months ago, when Bandai released an official Sailor Moon themed Candy Crush-esque game. I downloaded it immediately, and I’ve easily put four hours into it so far. It meets every expectation: cute, interactive, tells a story, AND you can play as all of the characters. Oh, and for any other Japanese language students out there, the characters exclaim when you win (or grieve when you lose) in Japanese.
At first glance the gameplay looks identical to Candy Crush, but there are new features that even a die-hard Candy Crush-turned-Soda Crush veteran will enjoy. For starters, let’s talk about the artwork. The map leads you through the beautiful settings of the major story points from Sailor Moon season one in sequential order. What’s more, the artwork is vintage looking and has an original 90’s anime feel. Here is a sample of the Moon Kingdom section (which I haven’t reached yet). The still image does not do full justice, because the light shifts as the rose petals blow across the screen.
From what I can tell so far, only being on level 35, a similar scenery map for Sailor Moon R will come up after I finish this entire map.
As you move through the map you unlock mini-episodes. You can skip watching them if you’d like, or if you really really enjoy them you can rewatch them from the menu screen. You can tap the page to read the dialogue exchanged between the Sailor Senshi as well as between Queen Beryl and the Four Kings of Heaven. The music changes depending on who is talking.
In addition to the mini-episodes you also unlock the Sailor Senshi in the same order that Usagi/Serena meets them in the series. Each character starts out at level one, and as you level them up you gain special moves named for their signature attacks, with the requisite animation, as well as special poses. Here is Ami-chan’s adorable Pose 2:
For most levels you have the option of playing as any of the characters you have unlocked so far. However, some levels require you pay as a specific Sailor Senshi. Other levels may also be easier with one Sailor Senshi over another due to their unique abilities. Here is a picture of a “fight” that required Sailor Mars:
Towards the bottom of the screen you’ll see a baddie. In this level you have to clear blocks to attack the baddie. When the villain attacks you back, it removes one of the colors you can use to injure it with. You normally start out with four colors. Villain fights happen once every chapter, but sometimes more. Other levels contain time trials, block clearing, gummy clearing, “accessory” dropping (think acorns), or reaching a point threshold.
In addition to the main levels, there are side paths that lead you to “level up” options as well as gift wrapped boxes that contain special goodies. When I logged on today I also saw a notice for an upcoming “Princess Serenity” event, and I am WAY excited to learn what that means.
If you are a Sailor Moon fan I highly recommend this game. If you aren’t a Sailor Moon fan YET, then head over to Crunchyroll.com to watch free episodes of the Sailor Moon Crystal reboot, and then download the game. Either way, let me know if you play it in the comments. I’m looking for new app friends!
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