Only hardcore anime fans will be interested in this.
Anime fighters aren't really a dime a dozen these days, as we see a huge amount of Dragon Ball Z and Naruto licensed fare these days, along with great oddball titles like Persona 4 Arena and its upcoming sequel. Still, I'm not sure who Namco Bandai is trying to reach out to with Saint Seiya: Brave Soldiers. I'm sure there are still a few fans of the series out there, as well as those who prefer a simplistic fighter where they can do super-strength type moves with the push of a button. But, to me, the appeal of the game overall feels very limited.
Let me explain. The combat system in the game feels lost throughout. Part of it wants to be a dial-up combo set-up, along the lines of Namco's own Tekken series. On the other hand, you have super moves set up ala Naruto, where whatever character you're playing unleashes a godly attack that looks complex, but is really anything but. It's like Saint Seiya wants everything in one place, but can't quite figure out what to concentrate on.
It's a decent battle system for those looking to just beat up their friends in a mindless affair, but considering the Saint Seiya franchise – and other Namco anime brawlers – I kind of expected a little something more. The first couple of fights may be interesting, but tedium sets in sooner rather than later, and you're wondering when the game will elevate. Sadly, it never does.
Furthermore, you're best off playing locally, because trying to start any sort of general multiplayer match can take a while – and even then, you're not guaranteed to see it through to the finish. If Namco wanted a devoted fighting community, it would've put more marketing push behind this title. I haven't seen one ad. Not one. No wonder very few people are playing it.
The modes aren't bad, with a variety to choose from, including Galaxy, which is easily the best of the bunch. It's a tournament style set-up where up to eight people can take part in battle. I could see something like this being a huge draw at fighting tournaments, but, outside of that, most folks will stick with the basic modes. There's just no reason to venture forward unless you have a lot of people over – and even then, they may be clamoring for good ol' Street Fighter.
The presentation doesn't exactly do wonders for the franchise. The over-the-shoulder view for battles feels awkward, and doesn't give you the entire layout of what your opponent tries to do in combat. The background settings are dull – even Namco's classic Soul Calibur II HD Online has surroundings that are sweeter than this, and that game's over a decade old! To its credit, though, the music and voicework are on par with the series, so…there's that.
Finally, there's the thing that's probably the toughest to get over – the price. As a $15 download, I could see Saint Seiya being justifiable for fighting fans. But it sells for $60. $60! You don't get half the value that comes from that, and only a handful of anime sequences. Talk about overcharging.
Saint Seiya: Brave Soldiers isn't the worst anime brawler out there, but it also fails to be intuitive and involving in nearly every way. Galaxy Mode has its moments, and some characters are interesting, but as a whole, it just feels painfully average, rather than celebrating the anime heritage it's based on. Plus, the overstuffed $60 price won't help anyone this holiday season – especially when better fighting games are available for cheaper.
Skip this unless you're really devoted to anime. We're like, super devoted with love pillows and everything.
RATING: 4.5 (out of 10)
(Review code provided by Namco Bandai.)
Score: 4.5 / 10