Ben's Top Mecha - Day 5: Super Robot Wars X

The first time I ever heard the "Super Robot Wars" series, I knew I had to play it. It was the late 2000s, anime was on the rise in the West thanks to fan subs and more series getting official dubs, and I was diving back into the world of mecha. As a kid I loved series like Gundam The 08th MS Team and Zoids, but it wasn't really until I was a young adult that I was able to embrace the genre fully. Thanks to my friend from school, the Macross series would go on to become my "favorite anime" series, fan subs of Zoids Genesis would bring me back to my middle school days, and Code Geass would eventually become the first Japanese "exclusive" series that I would watch weekly (although season 1 would begin airing on Adult Swim not too long after). As the years went on, I'd try out other series, and before I knew it I had seen many of the "major" releases out there. I loved pretty much each and every one of them, and I couldn't get enough of their worlds. I always felt sad when the series ended, and there was no more content, but when I'd go online, I'd see that wasn't always the case. Many of these series would see game adaptations, but the one game series that stood out above all the rest was none other than SRW.

Super Robot Wars is a long running, Japanese exclusive, series that mixes multiple mecha series together. While Gundam tends to have the largest focus (mainly due to how many Gundam series are out there), a lot of other popular mecha series tend to join the line up as well. These other mecha series are typically anime series, but sometimes manga and novel series enter the mix as well. Each game usually takes these different shows/manga/movies, and then mixes everything together to tell it's own original story (usually involving time travel, or other dimensions). Due to the unique crossover nature of the games, not only do these original stories have different characters from different series meeting for the first time, but sometimes they also take the opportunity to expand on existing worlds, or allow characters who couldn't physically meet -- actually come face to face with each other. For example, while later Gundam UC series take place long after both Amuro and Char are gone, their names still live on as "legends" for the future protagonists. In Super Robot Wars however, these future protagonists are able to meet the legends themselves, and even fight along side them. While none of this is canon of course, it's still nice to finally see how said characters would react if they ever met. It's just fun fan service, and that's exactly what SRW is as a whole. But again, these games were sadly kept Japanese exclusive... Until now that is.

A few years ago Bandai Namco did something a bit shocking. Instead of trying to deal with the legal nightmare it would be to localize Super Robot Wars, they decided to translate the games, and then release them in Asia instead. Then, with the help of websites like Play Asia, Western fans would be able to import them, and finally play the games for themselves. This actually first started with Super Robot Was Original Generation The Moon Dwellers (yes, that's seriously the name), but as an "OG" game it wasn't a crossover. Instead it was more of a follow up to the 3DS game Project X Zone,which in itself was a follow up to Super Robot Wars OG Endless Frontier Exceed, which was a sequel to Endless Frontier, which was a sequel to Namco X Capcom as well as the original Super Robot Wars OG Games on GBA, which.... Yeah, let's not get into this... Anyway, Moon Dwellers wasn't a standard "Super Robot Wars" title, and did not include any of the crossover content. Even so, it was the first in the "series" to receive an English Asian release, and would then pave the way for Super Robot Wars V.

Super Robot Wars V (The game I WOULD say is my favorite, if it wasn't for one thing):

When SRWV was released in English, I was beyond excited. I ordered the game through Play Asia, which had an unknown delivery date) the moment I could, and began my long wait for a game I had technically already waited years for. This title featured characters from Gundam UC series like Unicorn and Crossbone, but it also featured Gundam 00, Full Metal Panic, and even Evangelion! It was nearly everything I could have ever hoped for, and to top it all off, it even supported custom music! But again, I had no idea when the game would actually arrive, and it was actually a huge pain to get it ordered in the first place. (Thank you bank for blocking my debit card.) But then one day it came -- and at the best possible time.

I remember I was home sick from work that day. I felt horrible, and just didn't feel like doing much of anything. I figured I could maybe play a game or something, but I didn't know what game I actually wanted to start up. That's when I heard a knock at my door, and found the package laying there. At first I didn't realize what it was, but the moment I saw the Play Asia packaging, the hype set in. Finally a SRW game was mine.

So, what is Super Robot Wars V exactly? Other than a crossover I mean? Well, it's actually a tactical role playing game. Again, this follows in the vain of other Namco Bandai crossover titles like Project X Zone -- except with giant mechs instead of characters. The game is chapter based, with new characters joining you each mission, and as you kill enemy units by commanding your own units, your mechs become stronger and you unlock better skills and abilities. There are also branching paths, where picking different options will lead you to different missions (and characters), and there are even secret missions and characters to unlock as you play. For example, getting enough kills as Sousuke (Full Metal Panic) will unlock Bonta-kun from Full Metal Panic Fumoffu. It's a game actually made for multiple playthroughs, as each time you play, you'll be able to unlock new units, and be able to continue powering up your team. Each mission also has "extra" goals as well, where doing specific things will unlock extra points for you to spend on upgrades. On top of this, the game also has scaling difficulty, where it'll get harder or easier based on how well you're doing. It's an interesting setup, and is perfect for both hard core real time strategy players, and newcomers alike. Honestly I would consider this the "perfect" SRW, but there's one major problem with it... The spoilers.

Sadly this is one of the cases where many of the series included, have never received an anime form, nor were they ever translated into English. Full Metal Panic specifically pulls the characters from a point much later in the novels, and continues to tell the story from there. This is especially bad, because at the time Season IV of FMP still wasn't even a thing, and even then that season didn't reach the plot points SRWV begins to cover. Then you have Gundam. Crossbone is a manga series that has yet to be animated, and Hathaway's Flash is something that is just now getting an anime movie series (with the first movie expected this year). SRWV is made with Japanese fans in mind however, and these stories are, at this point, old news to them -- so, not a problem. For the rest of us however? Yeah, it'll ruin it for us. Other than that however, SRWV would've been my personal favorite, and I especially love the main story that focuses on Space Battleship Yamato.

Super Robot Wars X:

After the release (and assumed success of SRWV), SRWX also received the Asian English treatment. This time around the game featured some enhanced features, and greatly changed up what series would be included in it's story. While SRWV did focus on a lot of newer entries, SRWX took a step back and shifted it's main focus to a lot of the "classic" Super Robot shows that helped make the genre popular. While it also brought back Gundam UC, rather than focusing on later parts of the timeline, it too shifted back to it's roots with Amuro and Char joining the lineup. Cross Ange returned (after appearing in SRWV), but with characters who are seemingly from the first half of the show (as opposed to how SRWV focused on the latter half of the series). All of this was nice to see, but the main reason I even wanted this title was because of one thing, and one thing alone. Code Geass!

Code Geass is perfect for a strategy game. In fact, the show itself is one! Lelouch is a young exiled prince who rebels against his country, and takes control of a terrorist group. He treats everything he does as if it were a part of a chess game, and is seemingly always multiple steps ahead of his enemies. The entire show is a battle of wits, with many of the battles basically being a high stakes chess match. Lelouch himself is an amazing commander, and his army of "Black Knights" make up an outstanding crew. Each piece is key to victory, and that is exactly what Super Robot Wars is all about. So it only makes sense for Lelouch to join the lineup... Or in this case, to completely hijack it.

The moment Code Geass enters the picture, everything changes. Most of the series' main characters are here to control, and Lelouch himself is both a powerful unit, and a commander. He has "command" abilities unique to himself, and that allows you to control your entire party through him. To top it all off, the story actually takes place near the end of the original series, and touches on some things that we wouldn't officially see until the Code Geass movie (which finally came out last year). In short, it was pretty much everything a fan of the series could've asked for, and for sure is the star of SRWX. Mix in all of this with SRWX's general gameplay improvements, and you have a nearly "perfect" game. But that's assuming you like Code Geass, or any of the other series included. As for me however, this one is easily my favorite (but SRWV isn't very far behind).

Going Forward:

Thankfully X isn't the end of SRW's English releases. SRWT was released just last year, and actually introduces other non mecha series to the series (Cowboy Bebop)! It's safe to say that SRW is going strong, and that we will continue receiving new entries in the future. And that is something I'm looking forward to.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post