Living up to their company motto, “it’s about time!” tabletop publisher Dyskami Publishing announced a licensing agreement with Toei Animation Inc. to design and distribute a line of board games based on the popular anime series, Sailor Moon Crystal.
Company president Mark MacKinnon said, “We are absolutely thrilled…Sailor Moon Crystal offers a dynamic range of iconic characters and rich storylines that makes it an ideal series for adaptation into tabletop games. Sailor Moon and her allies have spanned generations, capture the hearts of both gamers and anime buffs since the early 1990’s and we look forward to bringing them to the gaming table.”
The Sailor Moon anime series is inspired by the best-selling manga series created by Naoko Takeuchi. The titular character Usagi Tsukino is a clumsy, kind-hearted teenage girl who transforms into a magical guardian of love and justice, Sailor Moon, to protect the Earth from the force of evil.
The Sailor Moon series is often credited for spurring the popularity of Japanese anime in the 90’s and the epitome of the “magical girl” genre. Although Sailor Moon Crystal has received mixed reviews from the anime community (I openly admit that I was disappointed), the series still continues to delight fans worldwide.
It seems fitting that board games would be added to the franchise’s merchandise offerings during a time when there is momentum among fans clamoring for the classic and Crystal anime series.
Sailor Moon R the Movie: Promise of the Rose made a grand tour earlier this year to movie theaters across North America and was recently released to Blu-ray/DVD by VizMedia. The announcement of the fourth season for Sailor Moon Crystal was announced earlier this year, with specific details yet to be revealed.
The first title in Dyskami Publishing’s lineup of Sailor Moon-themed board games is Sailor Moon Crystal Dice Challenge, created by renowned Seattle designer James Earnest of Cheapass Games. James has designed several award-winning games such as Kill Doctor Lucky and Button Men, which is coincidently on Kickstarter for a revamp.
Button Men is also the basis for Sailor Moon Crstyal Dice Challenge.
The basic idea is that each fighter is represented by five polyhedral dice, with players taking turns rolling dice and capturing each other’s dice. Each fighter uses several dice of different sizes and types, as specified by the numbers on their character card.
James describes Button Men on his Kickstarter campaign, “It’s easy to learn, while still being one of the cleverest games we’ve ever made…with endless variations of character recipes, unusual die types.” To date, the game has had more than 300 different characters and rated consistently for its easy learning curve, quick play, portability, and level of strategy and customization.
At first, I was a little surprised that Dyskami Publishing would give the greenlight on what is (technically) not an original game design, but a re-skinned version of an existing board game.
Then again, if you were to look at the history of all Sailor Moon-themed games in all genres, they’ve had very little commercial success and rarely released outside of Japan.
Specifically regarding tabletop/board games, the only one that achieved any real measure of success was Mark C. MacKinnon’s Sailor Moon CCG (2000), which won an Origins award. (Is it also coincidence that MacKinnon’s only other board game, Upon a Fable, is also published by Dyskami?)
In that case, Button Men is far from being the worst choice as a vehicle for a Sailor Moon-themed board game. Rather than risk trying a new game design or concept, it makes sense to use a formula that has already worked before and apparently still continues to have a loyal following among the board gaming community.
The second title in Dyskami Publishing’s lineup of Sailor Moon-themed board games is Sailor Moon Crystal Truth or Bluff, a tile-passing-and-bluffing game. I’m not sure how the concept of social bluffing fits into Sailor Moon meta, but I could be proven wrong. No further details about that particular game could be found, so it will have to be a matter of waiting and trying it out as its late-summer release date gets closer.
Both board games are due to be available for purchase in game stores sometime late Summer 2017. Meanwhile, Dyskami Publishing has put out an open call on their website for experienced game designers to pitch their ideas for future Sailor Moon-themed board games in 2018.