• Super Robot Taisen: W Review - Nintendo DS

    Parts of this review could easily apply to many other Super Robot Taisen games. The many games released so far usually follow a similar formula the story of each game contains parts of the plots of certain robot Anime which are intertwined together with a strand of original story. The motivation to buy a game in the series may come from a love of a particular Anime which is featured therein, or from simply liking the style of gameplay. Although called Super Robot Taisen in Japanese, the series is commonly known as Super Robot Wars or SRW for short. The "Taisen" literally means "great war". Atlus's translated versions of OG and OG2 kept "Taisen" so that people would not confuse them with "Robot Wars", where people build robots and pit them against each other. The SRW games are usually turn-based strategy games (sometimes called Simulation RPGs in Japan) similar to the Advance Wars and Fire Emblem games. They have more in common with the FE series as new missions can bring new units to the fold, and each unit is a unique character from a particular show. However, in FE games, once you lose a character in battle they are dead to you from then on. In SRW games, if a unit's HP drops to zero they are only out for the rest of the mission, and their repair bill is taken from the player's winnings received on successful completion of the mission. Next mission they are able to fight again.

    Like most S-RPGs, it's a test of planning and patience. The unwise rush out and try to take down as many bad buys as possible, but end up getting their armour-plated behind handed to them time and time again. Those who plan, who hang back and take a defensive position on terrain that decreases the damage they will take from any attacks that come their way, and who are in a better position to counter-attack, will be the ones who come out on top. For those who are unfamiliar with the combat system in this and similar games, each unit can move a certain distance each turn, attack, or some can heal or resupply another unit. Some attacks can be performed at any time, some can only be performed if the unit does not move prior to it. There are also single-unit and map attacks. All the attacks in the game are ones seen in that specific Anime.

    There are limits. Units only have a set amount of energy that they can use, and as would be expected, the stronger the attack, the larger the amount of energy used. There is also a different energy requirement: the "spirit" of the unit/pilot. The more attacks the unit performs, the higher its spirit soars. Some stronger attacks need the unit to have passed certain spirit levels. This "spirit" is not to be confused with the "spirit commands" each unit has. Spirit commands can do things like restore health and temporarily decrease damage taken. The effective use of all of these features together does take practice and experience. When this can be done there will be very few times when the player has trouble completing a mission.

    None of the missions are impossible. There is very little variety missions are either "destroy this enemy" or "survive this many turns". The latter of which then turns into the former. There is a common formula to the missions: a big group of enemies appear, the player destroys them, another group appears, they go the way of the first, end of mission. When a player has come to realise this, they will tend to play more defensively, perhaps keeping their stronger attacks until they are truly needed. It adds an uncertain certainty, as there will be more baddies on their way, but how many and what strength are factors that remain unknown.

    In SRW:W there are some very popular franchises: Full Metal Panic, Martian Successor Nadesco, King of Braves GaoGaiGar, and Mobile Suit Gundam SEED to name but four. Entire animated sequences from these series have been faithfully included in the game, along with authentic dialogue and robots. One thing that should be mentioned is that, during fight sequences, it's not full-sized robots that appear but so-called "super-deformed", smaller representations. This is obviously not an issue for many who play the games, as this has always been the case. It does bring the violence down to comic book level.

    One unique feature that is only possible on the DS is the "double slot". This lets players copy enhancement parts from SRW games on the Game Boy Advance and use them in SRW:W. Obviously, that would involve owning and having played one of the other games. As far as selling points go, it's kind of weak.

    The target audience is university students and older, as there is an awful lot of text. Does it matter if the player doesn't read through it all? Without the text, the story would be incomprehensible; with the text, the player spends more than 20% of their play time reading, and some people might get bored.

    Why no localisation? Licensing is probably to blame. The rights to different Anime belonging to different companies in Japan seems to make no difference there. In the rest of the world it spells certain doom. How many people care about Superlative Robot Something Fighter X? Oh, it has a massive following on the internet. After each licensee takes their cut, that's not going to leave the publisher much money. The music and special effects in the game are the semi-perfect copies of the originals that should be expected. The DS's actual sound reproduction is sadly no comparison. The voice acting is also missing which is a real shame. It's a trade-off. Playstation-based SRW games all have better music and include the original voice actors, but have atrocious load times for battle sequences. The load times on SRW:W are non-existent and it feels very natural that way.

    In summary, fans of the Anime series contained therein will enjoy it the most, provided they can read Japanese well enough. It's not a taxing game but can be a test of patience when it comes to how much text is forced on the player.
    Comments 6 Comments
    1. Asura's Avatar
      Asura -
      I'm getting confused about the lineage of these games.

      I thought Mugen No Frontier EXCEED was a sequel to Mugen No Frontier, AKA Endless Frontier that got a USA release (I have it). Endless Frontier was part of the SRW brand, but it was a more traditional JRPG, with on-foot sections and a combat system reminiscent of Valkyrie Profile.

      Now I see this is an SRPG like SRW?
    1. charlesr's Avatar
      charlesr -
      I got the labels mixed up!! Doh. I'll fix that now. Thanks.
    1. Asura's Avatar
      Asura -
      Quote Originally Posted by charlesr View Post
      Did I get the labels mixed up @kryss ?
      To be fair, either one of us could be wrong. On the scale of unnecessary name complexity that runs from 1-to-Kingdom Hearts, SRW is definitely up there.
    1. charlesr's Avatar
      charlesr -
      @kryss I think it's right now but hopefully you can confirm
    1. kryss's Avatar
      kryss -
      You have the wrong banner still charles.
      EXCEED is an action RPG, SRW:W is an SRPG.
    1. charlesr's Avatar
      charlesr -
      Having issues finding anything for Taisen W, image-wise. Help!
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