Love Role Playing Games?
1989's 'Super Robot Wars' delivers a fun RPG gaming experience
Published: Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 23:10
We always have had fantasies about impossible match-ups: Superman vs. Goku, for example. Some of us may have also grown up with shows like “Mobile Suit Gundam,” “Voltron” or “Neon Genesis Evangelion,” in which giant robots duke it out with alien or human adversaries.
The long-running Japanese tactical RPG series “Super Robot Wars” combines that glory of the mecha genre of Japanese animation and makes a massive crossover between dozens of franchises a reality. Since its debut on the original GameBoy in 1989, the series has had innumerable titles for nearly every game console and handheld in existence, and continues on to this day.
Unfortunately, due to licensing issues, all but two installments of the franchise were limited to a Japan-only release. Early on in the franchise, the series’ developer Banpresto had to have a set of heroes and villains to be the main focus of each game, with the licensed franchises all teaming up with the heroes and villains created specifically for the game.
This began with “Lord of the Elemental,” which introduced Masaki Andoh, who is the pilot of a mystical mecha called Cybuster, aided by his two feline familiars, Shiro and Kuro. His arch nemesis is Shu Shirakawa, the enigmatic pilot of Granzon, which is known for utilizing the power of black holes. Since then, every “Super Robot Wars” game has added an original character. “Shin Super Robot Wars” added fanboy Ryusei Date, leader of the SRX team. “Super Robot Wars Compact” introduced stoic gambler Kyosuke Nambu and his energetic lover and comrade, Excellen Browning. Eventually, “Super Robot Wars: Original Generation” was released, and had a cast entirely composed of these original heroes, villains, and mecha.
The lack of any actual franchises allowed this GameBoy Advance title to be released in America in 2006, four years after its original release in Japan, though its sequel was released that year in both territories.
As a crossover in itself, there are some compromises made to the game’s literary integrity, though the story seems to be coherent and intriguing without getting the idea that the writer was delving into a existential crisis.
As a tactical RPG, the games use grid-based movement, with each unit having a different limit to how far they can move or attack. After the player has moved all his units during a turn, the enemy gets his chance to do the same; in this sense, tactical RPGs are like a very advanced game of chess. Some weapons can be equipped to different mecha, like a giant machine gun, while others are fixed to the mecha and cannot be installed on another, such as a chest-blaster on a Grungust. The games also offer an optional challenge for each stage, called a “Battle Mastery.” These challenges may consist of destroying a set of enemies within a certain number of turns, and if you have completed enough of them by the end of the game, you will be able to fight a secret boss.
Overall, if you like tactical RPGs, giant robots, and especially good sprite-work, these two games are highly recommended.