Saint Seiya: Sanctuary Battle (Import Review)

Saint Seiya is what I consider a very underrated anime franchise. I had the pleasure of buying the import game for the PS3,"Saint Seiya: Sanctuary Battle" which follows the story of the original first season, and manga when the Seiya and his friends take on the 12 golden saints in order to save Saori Kido from death. Is this import worth picking up? Or should you save your money?

Story - The story is told in the story mode aspect in the game. You play as Seiya and his friends as they attempt to save Saori Kido from dying. In order to do this you'll have to stop the 12 golden saints in each sanctuary. The game does a great job of retelling key moments in the Saint Seiya storyline. Each character is  given enough game time presence so you can understand the story arc, their backstory and motives. The story is told through cut-scenes, and narratives using actual game time and it works and it will keep you invested. 

Gameplay - Saint Seiya is an action beat em up with RPG elements. The story mode consists around 12 stages that is divided into two parts, the beat em up level and then the boss fight. The first section of the stage you play as Seiya or one of his friends depending on the story on the path to the sanctuary to fight one of the golden saints. You move your character from section to section clearing the area of enemies until you reach the sanctuary to fight the boss. The standard enemies A.I. is fairly easy. There is no strategy to they attacks and it can be easily overcome by button mashing or releasing your special attacks. This makes the game feel really repetitive because the enemies don't really put up a fight. You just button mash, special attack and move on to the next area and do it all over again. The only time the first section feels challenging is when you're overwhelm by enemies, however that can be solve with the use of your special attacks.

Special attacks can be performed when you have energy to performed them. Players are given two bars a health bar which monitors your health and your energy bar which determines if you can perform special attacks. Following standard beat em up m.o. the health and energy bar can be regain by enemies dropping items or knocking pots that are place across the stage. After each level you are given the option to upgrade your characters attacks and buy new combos. The higher an attack becomes the more damage it will do on your opponents and less trouble you will have with the boss battles.The boss battles are what really make this game fun to play. Each golden saint is challenging to fight. No matter how strong your attack is, or what level of difficulty you are playing the golden saints will bring a challenge. Each saint is arm with normal attacks, special attacks and an ultimate attack. Some saints even take you to another realm where you must escape while they perform attacks or clear an area. The golden saints do a great job of testing your skills and making you think of when to use your special attacks.

Besides the main story mode the game offers mission mode. In mission mode you have three options, Single Challenge, Tag Challenge and Survival. Single Challenge is basically time attack mode, you have to clear the stage as quick as possible in order to get a high ranking. Tag Challenge is when you select two character with or without and friend and fight through the various stages. Finally Survival mode is fighting a gauntlet of enemies until you die. I found Survival mode the most addictive mode out of the three, because the increase of enemies becomes challenging and they even throw in some minor bosses for good measure.

Graphics - The graphics does well capturing the anime spirit of Saint Seiya. It uses a little cel shaded elements and it works for this type of game. The graphics really show the spirit of the anime during the special attacks, the use of the aura and other realm will make a Seiya fan smile. There was no lagging issues or really any tech specs to complain about.

Sound - The game is Japanese dub with English subtitles and the performance are like watching the Japanese dub of the anime. The music isn't that memorable but it does well enough to hold your interest. It has a couple of stand out tracks and the opening theme will get you pump to play the game. 

Replay Value - The game offers some replay value with mission mode and the story mode and boss battles are good enough for a second round. The game also has some unlockables like collecting all the saint figurines, so collectors who want to buy might want to see which saint will be good for them. I had no problems picking up the controller to play the game again. It's like playing a beloved arcade game.

Final Grade B-/8.0 - "Saint Seiya: Sanctuary Battle" isn't a perfect game, but it's far from a bad one. The game does feel repetitive at times, but poses a challenge with the boss fights. It remains faithful to the anime/manga that it's adapting and fans of the franchise should give this a shot. It's worth the import.