Ideas Video Game Reviews

End of an era and Saint Seiya Knights of the Zodiac

India was not a very good place to be a fan of Japanese role playing games on NES. We did not get original cartridges. Instead we got cartridges filled with many games. I remember having NES cartridges having 4 to 6 games in them. Older games like Tetris and Super Mario Bros were found on cartridges that came with 100000 games and it read on the cover 100000 in 1 while there were maybe 20 original games iterated over and over in different menus. Those were dark times for gaming I guess. This was the condition in the 2000’s. We also did not have original NES console as it was too expensive to import to India. Instead we had knock offs but I was super happy to play on them. Even if I knew that it was not the original console do you think I would mind?

Saint Seiya Knights of the Zodiac main screen. Back when I played it on the NES it was all in Japanese. This screenshot is from a Longplay video on Youtube.

And then, in around 2004 to 2006 I started discovering JRPG games on NES. We started receiving cartridges which had games like Kunio Kun series (my favorite series), Castlevania, Ninja Ryukenden, Samurai Pizza Cats and Saint Seiya of course. It was a delight to receive and play these games on the knockoff NES(s). Now we are talking about Saint Seiya and I will say that it is the game I played the least among the games which I have just listed. But it is the game which fascinated me the most (although I will say, my all time favorite NES game is Kage Fighters. I wonder if anyone knows about it? Please tell me if you do).

It was tough playing a game written in a language you didn’t know.

Saint Seiya was something else. First difficulty which I faced in the game was that I did not know the Japanese language and the game was in all Japanese. I maneuvered through the game by guessing the dialogues and recognizing patterns in the characters. For example, whenever there was an exclamation mark (!) I immediately recognized that something alarming was going on. Needless to say I was never able to make it past the 4th boss if I am remembering correctly. In spite of the language barrier I still tried my best to play the game and enjoy it at the same time. I used to watch a lot of anime (I still do) and back then anime was only accessible on TV (Animax. Animax stopped airing to India 4 to 5 years ago but hey, now we have internet). The art style (like the art style in Jojo) in anime of that time and the art style of Saint Seiya game was pretty similar and therefore I loved looking at similar faces in the game. Those were complicated emotions and they arose out of scarcity. Back then I cherished every moment of every game I played and anime I watched. But now, we have the internet and while it has made our lives easier and given us several options it has also taken away a critical facet of emotion. And it is one that occurs by realizing that things were scarce. Now, this article is not about me moping and being sad and cursing. It is about telling you what I felt back then on my knockoff NES with my knockoff cartridges. It was fun knowing that this game was scarce and it may be the only JRPG I got to play on my NES and it actually was. My NES broke down soon and I got my first PC and the NES era just faded away quietly.

Every now and then I try to play old games (Nintendo police sirens in the distance). I even found an English translation of Saint Seiya on the internet and I think I am gonna play it and post some review or screenshots here. Thank you for reading. I hope this article brought you some value. See you next time. 🙂

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