Saint Seiya: The Sanctuary is based on a popular anime from the eighties, which is based on the lead character Seiya, with his friends trying to protect the reincarnation of Athena. This game allows players to be many of the series' characters, duking it out in some of the cartoon's many arenas. The game features a quite a unique battle system, but does unique necessarily mean good? In this review I'm going to tackle this issue.
I'd like to start off by saying one thing, anyone who doesn't like crazy Japanese anime should hit the back button now and look for another beat ‘em up to consider purchasing. This game is solely based on appeasing the fans of the series. The story is very deep, and quite intriguing at first, but it is very peculiar and I doubt it will hold anybodies attention for very long; it's almost a certainty that many people will be skipping the long, tedious cut scenes unless they are fans of the show. In short, the game is based on Seiya, who has to fight these guards called the gold knights to help save the aforementioned reincarnation of Athena, with the help of his friends (who are aptly named the bronze knights). It is all very weird and hard to stand after awhile, but thankfully it's also easy to skip.
There are three main modes: 12-Gold Palaces (essentially the story mode), versus mode and an area to visit the unlocked objects (such as images from the comic). The story mode is relatively short and very disappointing, taking a maximum of two hours to complete, minus the very lengthy cut scenes. Although, once completed, there is an alternate story line allowing you to change the events within the game, which is probably a great bonus for the fans. Basically the fights are split up into story chapters. These chapters also include about one or two of the aforementioned cut scenes to show you exactly why you're fighting your opponent and to show what happens after he is finished off. Once both the alternate and the regular story lines are finished, there is a hidden mode to unlock.
There are quite a few characters to choose from once they are all unlocked, and even though they are supposed to feel and play differently when in combat, they don't seem to at all. This is obviously where the fighting system fails. There are three types of attacks; light, hard and special. You can perform small combos with light attacks, big combos with hard attacks and middle sized or different combos with a mixture of the two, with the way that the special attacks work, these are ineffective for the most part (they are only useful for getting your self out of the corner) and can only be worked well with the "dash" button, which is used to quickly move from side to side.
The special attacks can create a small energy attack that will take small amounts of health off the opponent, but when the energy bar is charged up to a certain amount, it will trigger a small cut scene to show a particular attack. Each character has three of these, so with the amount of fighters there are, this means you maybe sitting by the TV for quite a while if you want to see them all. All together, the fighting system can be confusing, and the video clips get rather annoying after watching the same one over and over again. The actual engine as well is not very up to scratch, with some ok ideas poorly executed.
The graphics are poor, and offer very little. In combat you may encounter a lot of jaggies and slowdown, this is also accompanied by bad graphics in general, making the battles unattractive. The cut scenes are reminiscent of Dragon ball Z Budokai 1, and they look slightly better than those of Budokai, but that game was released three years ago! This obviously represents that the game feels like it should have been released at the PS2's launch, and even then I think it would have gotten bad reviews.
The music during battles, from what I assume, must be from the cartoon. Although the tunes aren't all that bad, they are pretty bland and get very repetitive, very quickly. There are voiceovers from either the French or Japanese dubs of the anime. Now I don't know why there isn't an English, but the best bet is that it didn't get dubbed over here, so they stuck the original voiceovers on and the French dub.
As I have never watched the anime, I would not know how this game represents the show itself, so I am rating this as a normal game. In this respect, for all I know the game could be a real gem for its target consumers, the fans, but I really could not find anything that saved this game from being poor. It felt unfinished, mistreated and overall horrible. The only thing that salvages this game is that there are a lot of things to unlock in the Zodiac area, but apart from that I can't recommend this to anyone except fans of the anime, who I think should consider renting the game before buying it.