Mazin Saga is based on the popular anime Magnizer Z (or Tranzor Z to us old enough to remember.) You may also remember this franchise through the old two foot high Shogun Warriors robot toys that came out in the 70s or the later die cast Godakin Robot Toys that lasted into the 80s (which also included diecast versions of Tetsujin 28 and Go-Lion, which are better known as Gigantor and Voltron on American shores.)
Anyway, any game based on giant robots has to be cool by default and Mazin Saga does not disappoint. The game is played via traditional side scrolling beat'em-up style. You are armed with a sword and can do a quick 1-2-3 combination in addition to running attacks, flying jump kicks, and this spinning ninja wheel of death attack. You can also point your sword down in mid air to do a stabbing attack (which helps a lot with end level bosses.) Bad guys follow the usual patterns, cannon fodder who can only punch, big guys who punch harder, guys who shoot at you, etc, although there are some pretty imaginative mutant-things here and there such as men that look like sow bugs that roll up at you, etc.
The thing about this game is that everything has extremely good animation and unlike a lot of other games with comparable animation the game does not bog down or become sluggish in the slightest. You and all of the enemy characters look and move fantastic. In addition there are little graphical touches going on in the backgrounds, lightning, fires, flying spaceships, etc. The first level mid-boss is a giant skeletal dinosaur foot that tries to squash you. Later on you fight the giant boss on the top of a building while huge arms shoot out from the sides of the screen. Level two has you fighting behind transparent foreground blocks of ice. Though all of this the graphics look great and do not slow down in the slightest.
After each side scrolling level you face the boss Street Fighter-style, although these fights are a lot simpler. You have three different sword attacks and thankfully the blizzard-attack from the side scrolling portion is replaced with the ability to block. Animation for these boss battles is even better than the side scrolling levels and they move just as fast.
The problems with this game is that there just isn't enough going on. You pickup various treasures, bars of gold, diamonds, etc, but they all seem to be bonus point-type items. You get no power-ups beyond an occasional energy shield. The enemies in the beat'em up portion can get incredibly cheap, for instance their attacks nearly always take precedence over your own (such as the annoying jump-kick enemy that always nails you first) and if you get surrounded kiss your ass goodbye (to be fair, this is the point of this type of game, but still.. ) They also have the habit of occasionally walking off the screen where you can't get them so you have to wait around until they decide to come out.
In the boss battles it is hard to connect with any type of jumping attack which limits the battle somewhat. You also don't seem to have any kind of special attacks yourself (although the bosses certainly have them.) How cool would be to shoot a fire ball or missile or something?
Despite the flaws this game kicks major loads of bootay and should be played by everyone.