I don't write often reviews, but I had to write this one. I am a long time Saint Seiya fan, and my only hope was to see someone making a game, that would make justice to this series.
Sadly the only good results, where the fighting games made with Mugen, an a very well made rpg that was never completed, but a talented team of young developers.
Back to our days: Bandai has the rights for Saint Seiya, so they played their cards to gather fans, like they did with Naruto and DragonBall; altho the results are somehow similar; when you mention Namco Bandai, you know that you a re in for something done quickly, with very little interest for the final product, and overall, just to sell quickly to the bunch of otaku that loves the original material, to which the game is based upon.
All that I was hoping, was for a game that a fan could enjoy; something like DBZ tenkaichi 3 did for DBZ: the best (IMO) DBZ-based fighting game ever made. Sadly this is not the case with SS.
The first release of SS on the PS3 was somehow a good omen: finally a game where you can actually swipe like flowers, a ton of wealkings, using the powerful techniques from our beloved heroes; altho it fell short being just based on the Sanctuary chapter...probably 40 episodes, which is less than a quart of the total saga. The game was entertaining but too short and repetitive.
So Bandai said to listen to their customers; the ones that continue to pay 59 dollars to buy their new release of their franchise, almost like people buy EA sports products every year, since there is a new release with updated roosters!
Their way to fix things, was to add every single saga that is in the manga (Asgard was a filler, invented...never been in the manga, and you can tell the repetitively rhythm, once you get to the Poseidon arc, better that is gone); but there is a price to pay: take out the free roaming part, where you kick the weaklings (which was a reminiscence of the famous musou gameplay, so dear to the Konami fans with Dinasty warriors/Gundam warriors series).
Some may enjoy the fact that there are no more middle stage (altho they were present also in the PS2 game, if you remember , so I don't see what horrible scar left in some players to force Bandai to remove it), where you span your specials over and over, fighting against a ton of enemies; but personally I think that you are cutting in half the spirit of the manga, when you remove the "build up" with the weaklings, before the high moment in which you fight the boss....since Double dragon we had that kind of gameplay, and it works decently.
Another thing that was removed, was the beginning of the series...all that happens before the 12 temple arc, which is another big part of the manga, where you get to know the characters, see how they change and how the whole point of this series gets to shine: their friendship and love for each other and for Athena/Saori.
So what is left is the 12 temple arc, Poseidon arc, Hades arc and Elision arc; plenty of enemy to fight, you may say. Yes, but that's all that you do.
Remember the nice 3d cut scene? Gone! Remember the dialogues that would explain things? Gone! As is now, it is more similar to a quick sequence of fights, against the various characters, with limited cohesion between each fight (unless you know the story...most that I know has no clue of SS storyline, in the same way that I have no clue of the bakugan or pokemon storyline), and some ugly screen caps from the anime, which explain what is going on. I am really feeling bad, thinking that instead than starting from Saint Seiya Senki, and move on (like they did with the Hokuto no ken games), they went backwards, increasing the rooster of fighters, but reducing to the minimum every other component of the game. Feels like a SNES game; you have the fighting part, and that's all that you get.
Altho not everything is bad
The main point of the game: the fights; are much better than in Senki. The graphic is utterly polished, looking more cartoonish, thanks to a well done cel-shading, instead than simply use 3d with some textures painted in single tone. It looks pretty similar to Ni No Kuni visually, giving you the idea that you are in fact, watching an episode of the tv series.
Gone is the level system...no more hours wasted to increase the level of each fighter; they are ready and while you proceed trough the game, you acquire new armor, new specials and unlock the rooster; which is how it should be.
The fighting part is also somehow improved; now you can actually escape from a combo, using a button, instead of being smashed to pieces by long combos without being able to do anything (works similar to the system in Naruto shippuden storm 3, you disappear and reappear behind the opponent); it is easier to fill the cosmo gauge, and you cannot spam the 3 special like you would do in Senki, with the only limitation that they would make less damage. The standard special is performed as far as you have cosmo; the second special (like the sui seiken for Seiya), can be released only if you have 2 or 3 cosmo bars, so you may want to consider when to use it, since you cannot spam it at will.
The big bang attacks are easier to perform, but they happen only after filling the big bang meter; you have control on it, since the more regular hit you land, the quicker it goes up, while if you use specials, the bar fill slower. It can still be avoided, but now you don't have to pray in sanscrit to be able to perform it.
One thing that you will enjoy, is that the hits land on the enemy, instead of just being nullified or parried automatically because they are much stronger than you...this was a big deal in Senki, since until you hit lvl 60 or so; you would often see your hits blocked or avoided (which in the story mode makes sense; it is realistic since it is a bronze vs a gold saint); but the thing was not consistent, so you would end up sometimes throwing a special that would cause a 30 hit combo and deplete half of your opponent health, but he would not bulge. Now it is like in any other fighting game: parry and you block; don't parry and you fly over the room if hit. I like that.
Last but not least, the 7th sense is also more useful now: it last quite a while, and you can plan about when to use it, since it takes its own bar to be filled, before that you can use it. Since it last quite a while, gives you the chance to actually do something (again, some may feel that is not anime consistent, since the 7th sense would just last the time to burst the special, but this is a fighting game, not a saint simulator).
Other than the single player mode, you have the usual 2 players mode, which include also the training mode, the online mode (I didn't try it yet), and a mode where you can check your collected items, characters and so on.
Overall the game itself is a good fighter, better than Senki, the graphic is better, and the story mode is long (altho not even close to how wonderful was it implemented in games like hokuto no ken, a Bray disk has plenty for real time animations I think); but on any other aspect, the game fall flat, being nothing more than average.
I would say to try it, if you have already Senki, and see if it is worth 59 dollars; otherwise just wait and buy it as budget; since for what it gives, it is not worth more than 29 dollars honestly.