I’m going to take a deviation from anime this week where I normally pace vidya-related things on my main blog to write a piece on Super Robot Wars, a fantastic game series from Banpresto that puts you in the middle of turn-based RPG action featuring hundreds of super robot and real robot anime series from the past four decades of robot anime, all fighting together, either as part of your team, or against. I’ve been playing SRW games for about 6 years now, first starting on the GBA with SRW:J and am currently going through SRW:Z2 for the PSP. There is a lot to each game that prevents me from going in depth through them all, not to mention a lot of games I have not played, but I’d like to detail a little bit of why I enjoy these games so much and if you’re a mecha fan, you might too.
The major pitfall for me with SRW games is the language barrier. I am able to watch anime without subtitles and get a little bit of what is said, either from choice words or what is occurring on screen, but with written Japanese I am dead in the water. So I am missing half of the game’s experience because they write in each series’ major storylines together alongside an original storyline, deviating sometimes for different choices or events. All of a series major characters appear, and sometimes, though certain choices, you can “save” characters from their pre-determined deaths and even recruit enemy characters to your side. But even lacking the ability to read moonrunes, the game’s interface is fairly simple, where you only need to know the menu layout a little and how to move around, and how to use some of the powerups and features.
But undoubtedly the favorite part for me is having all of my favorite mecha series in one game with stylish attack animations. Gundam SEED made many appearances in SRW games since 2005 and their inclusion was a major point for me, as well as Nadesico. But what it also ended up doing was introduce me to more mecha series I hadn’t seen, like GaoGaiGar, Godannar, Overman King Gainer, and more. Having the different series mix and match though, that is a helluva lot of fun. Even the originals they put in a pretty slick on their own, and some of the games give you the ability to not only rename the character, but you can rename the mech, the moves it uses, everything.
Unfortunately while it’s easy to release these games in Japan since all of the series used are used with permission from their respective studios, releasing them outside of the country presents a much different problem. Not all of the series are licensed in the US, and many are across different companies. There is also a little market for such games, as many of the series featured are known only among the most hardcore of /m/en. The “Originals” however, Super Robot Wars Original Generation, were published by Atlus and can be found stateside, and I recommend playing them not only for the OG saga as seen in their respective animes based on the games, but you familiarize yourself with the mechanics of the game that makes playing the Japanese games easier to play. You can find the many Japanese games from import shops, cons, and other venues. To be honest though, I typically pirate these games off the internet to play. Most people would insert the “support the developers” speech and shit, and my copy of Super Robot Wars W is legit, but these games will never be published outside of Japan, the creators aren’t even banking on many import sales, and I’m not concerned with owning the physical cart. But if your morals drive you towards Lawful Good, by all means. Would I buy these games if they were published here? Yes.
Case in point, if you want turn-based RPG strategy with giant robots, this is your game. Some day I’ll remember enough about them all to maybe write reviews. But who am I kidding, I am lazy as fuck!