Saint Seiya: Soldiers Soul is an anime fighting game that stands out from the crowd
Walking through Bandai Namco’s suite upstairs at E3, I saw no less than four anime-based fighting games, one of which caught my eye the most. The name looked faintly familiar from nights of browsing Wikipedia in hopes of curing my insomnia with my PC screen, but the gameplay looked more like Fist of the North Star in space rather than Naruto. When I asked the staff about the game and the series that inspired it, Saint Seiya, I found out that this game is one of the few English experiences available with this series, and it’s now on next gen consoles to boot.
Saint Seiya: Soldiers Soul is based on the long running manga series from the 80s that follows five warriors who are sworn to defend a reincarnation of the Greek Goddess Athena as she in turn defends earth from the other Olympian gods. These warriors are called Saints and their leader is the main protagonist, Seiya. This release features characters from the newest series, Saint Seiya: Soul of Gold, which is available online in English through the Daisuki streaming service. If you're like me and don't have a familiarity with the series to fall back on, what you'll see from this title is a visually distinct fighting game with elements of 80s anime.
Developed by Dimps, who has their hand in a lot of games in the genre, the title plays similar to the Dragon Ball Z versus games, except fighters tend to stay on the ground more. The controls allow for weak, strong, and ranged attacks along with jumping and the ability to pursue the enemy in the air after you throw your opponents
From what I played it was easier to grasp what was happening than is the case with the Dragon Ball Z fighting games. It may all be my mind playing with me because the mechanics felt familiar but some of them, such as the air perusal, were easier to understand and use simply because everyone isn't flying when the match begins. The backgrounds also made battles feel more intimate. However I don’t believe I will ever understand the camera system in these titles, which always feels like it’s too close to the battles.
Story and features
Being an anime-based game, expect a lengthy story mode with about as many chapters as the Trapped in the Closet saga. The story mode spans events from the entire series, so you won’t be lost if you’re new to Saint Seiya, nor does it alienate fans who haven’t started the new saga.
Aside from the story mode, there will be versus and online available in ranked and player match variants. I was told that the roster will be just as expansive as the story mode, being exponentially higher than the eight or so characters playable at the show. While the modes may sound lacking in comparison to the roster and lopsided towards story mode, there are some more to be announced and I wouldn’t be surprised if a RPG-like mode popped up.
Due to it being traditionally popular in Japan and South America, the fact that Saint Seiya: Soldier's Soul is releasing in the US at all is a feat in itself, but Bandai Namco isn't catering this release to an unproven English speaking audience. The title will be fully voiced in Spanish, Portuguese, and Japanese; with English among the available subtitle languages.
The fall digital release will be available on PS3, PS4, and for the first time in the series, Steam, this fall.