There was a time early in the 32-bit generation where everybody wanted a piece of the 3-D fighting market. Success for the likes of Tekken, Virtua Fighter and Soul Blade forced developers around the world to have a crack at what was obviously the genre du jour to varying effect - Square's Tobal No. 1 rates among the more interesting, while shameless cash-ins like Star Wars: Masters Of Teras Kasi became a common sight as shops became saturated with PlayStation software. Recently, though, the genre has more or less been left to the big dogs and it's rare to see an accomplished 3D fighter these days that isn't from the same stable as one we already play on occasion. No real surprises, then, when we say that a relatively obscure anime license and an outdated game engine don't exactly make Saint Seiya: The Hades triple-A material.
Things get off to a bad start when you learn that the three buttons assigned to low, mid and high attack all seem to strike at the same level, immediately waving goodbye to any kind of mix-up play. The remaining face button, Triangle, is used in combination with traditional fighting motions on the D-pad for special attack and most characters have at least one move here that can be abused for a cheap win. The drawback is that these basic specials cost a portion of your Cosmo gauge, a fact immediately negated by the ability to charge this bar while not in motion. Mu, for instance, can fire off a barrage of fireballs, charge the Cosmo meter while the last of them are in flight and repeat this sequence almost indefinitely against the rather haphazard CPU and worse still, we blazed through many fights by just using the X button to spam mid attacks that proved too quick to be interrupted regularly by a rather foolish opponent. Poor.
With the last wave of PS2 games pushing the proverbial boat out in terms of visuals, it's rather upsetting to see something this basic appear outside of the ‘pocket money' budget ranges. Tekken 5 and Soul Calibur 3 still look stunning today so to have The Hades barely outclassing the system's launch software from an aesthetic standpoint is shocking. The general presentation of the game just feels wrong too, with lengthy and needlessly meandering cut scenes encouraging you to put your controller down with the fighting itself offering no real incentive to pick it back up again.