Thursday, August 13, 2009

Import Game of the Month: Super Robot Wars Impressions

Seeing as how Sengoku Blade hasn't been delivered yet, I decided to dig through the slew of used games I bought in Japan and start playing through them.

First on the list is Super Robot Wars F for the Sega Saturn. I picked this game up along with its sequel in the bargain bin for 164 Yen (or about $1.70).

My initial impressions, when I first got it was that it was unplayable and boring. At that time I hadn't bothered to find a translated game script and I didn't even make it far enough to get to the battles. But once you have those two items in hand, you have yourself quite a good game.

First of all, any hardcore Gundam fan needs to play these games. I am not that familiar with all the billion Gundam shows so many of the characters and references are lost on me, as Gundam characters take up 70% of the cast. At the start of the game Char is in hiding and Amaro is in charge of your squad. That is about as deep as my Gundam knowledge goes. Then in chapter 3 Heero shows up, and is a pain in the ass to kill (unless you have Getter Robo armed and ready).

Which brings me to the other, "non-Gundam" side. The other half of the characters are "Super Robo" mechs, and so far, they are much more over powered, as you might expect. I am much more familiar with those types, and while they are dispersed throughout the game, I get excited when one of them shows up, accompanied by their awesome "70's anime" theme songs.

So far this has provided some slight balancing issues. I guess the train of thought is since there are so many more Gundam's, they are your front line, and the Super Robo's are your trump card. Which so far has worked fine.

The gameplay is pretty straight forward SRPG. You are presented with a grid, which is just a map, and all the player's characters are represented by boring icons of each mech's head. This was originally what turned me off of the game, because I figured the entire game looked like that with cut scenes disbursed intermittently. However, the game is much more akin to something like Fire Emblem or Advance Wars as when you go into battle (after a slight annoying load time) you get a side view of your mechs in super deformed style duking it out. The animation seems more on par with high end Super Nintendo graphics, but I love that type of style so I am quite fond of these little battle sequences. Also when you kill an enemy unit, they explode in an impressive fiery death, along with a blood curdling scream. It's quite rewarding.... every single time.

But be aware, there is a LOT of Japanese text. If you can't put up with that, it might get annoying. It takes very little time to figure out what each of them commands do, but the thing that is the hardest to keep straight are all your attacks. It is necessary to learn what each of the commands do, most importantly your beam weapons.

That is the one thing the Gundam's have on everyone else. Beam Canons have potential to do massive damage to your foes, so you are going to want to know where that thing is at all times.

When you start the game you create your own character. And I don't know if the mech they give you is the same for everyone's game, or if it is randomly generated, but it is completely awesome. It sort of looks like Epyon, except black. I really hope they make model kits of this mech because I need to own it. NEED TO.

This game also gives me reason to start buying Gundam model kits, just to have my favorite Super Robots Wars mech's without knowing anything about the show they are from. Another little cool Extra Feature in the game is a Kareoke mode, which plays the main theme from all the shows in the game, sans vocal track, while a little animation plays using the SD character from that show. There is nothing quite like singing "Cruel Angel's Thesis" while watching a cute little SD Evangelion tear apart an equally cute SD Angel.

I'll give more impressions once I finish the game but right now I am really enjoying it. It is dated to be sure, and many games (and I'm sure later games in the series) have improved on all of this games faults, but when reviewing older games it is sometimes necessary to look past these. The main point is that it still ages well and it still playable by today's standards, which can't be said for many retro games. A used copy is super cheap on ebay, so if you are into SRPG or mech anime it should be a no brainer.