Super Robot Taisen: OG Saga: Endless Frontier - Staff Review  

Endless Frontier, Seemingly Endless Title
by Aaron Slater

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Nintendo DS
40-60 Hours
+ Humorous storyline and dialogue
+ Exciting battle system
+ Great soundtrack and battle animations
- Lackluster field graphics
- Quest begins to drag later on
- Repetitive boss fights
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   Super Robot Taisen: OG Saga: Endless Frontier is Atlus' latest offering in the stateside Super Robot Taisen series. While the GBA titles focused on tactical warfare involving giant robots, Endless Frontier is more focused on a band of human and humanoids on a journey through multiple worlds. The robots do show up, as enemies and support characters, but the focus in Endless Frontier is on presenting a turn-based role playing game with a sense of humor, an exciting battle system, and a lot of charm.

   Endless Frontier tells the story of Haken Browning, a treasure hunter who while exploring a set of ruins with his trusty--and busty--android side kick Aschen, encounters a sleeping princess from a distant land. After running into some odd enemies, the trio set out to return the princess to her homeland, and in turn set out on a quest that takes them across multiple worlds that will cause them to discover the truth of a distant war, themselves, and the crisis at hand. While it sounds like it could very easily be a science fiction epic, the game is much more focused on simply being comical, something it excels at. While most of the humor is directed at the rather generous endowments of the female characters, the puns and wordplay found in the game is more often than not quite clever, and this is a good thing. As the game nears its conclusion, the story becomes a bit hard to follow. With minimal characterization and plot exposition outside of the wisecracking banter, the humor is essential for the story's success.

   Graphically, the game is a bit of a mixed bag. The world and dungeon maps feature mediocre environments for the characters to explore. While backgrounds do change from world to world, these field graphics hardly make use of the DS hardware at all. Fortunately, the battle scenes are gorgeous affairs. The characters are beautifully modeled and launch vibrant attacks. Swords slash, guns fire, all while enemies and characters flail about the screen, and everything looks amazing. Stringing together combos becomes all the more enjoyable because watching characters fly in and out and launch their devastating attacks is always a treat for the eyes. The audio in this game is also well done. The soundtrack has some nice pieces and always fits the mood and the sound effects are all nicely handled. Atlus chose to leave in the Japanese voice acting for the battle cries and character interaction scenes before and after battle, which fit the game wonderfully.

She looks easy, but like every other boss in the game and the energizer bunny, she just keeps coming back. She looks easy, but like every other boss in the game and the energizer bunny, she just keeps coming back.

   The gameplay is where Endless Frontier truly excels. The battle system feels a bit like Valkyrie Profile and Xenogears, but maintains a feel all its own. Character attacks are all handled with the A button, and each character is alotted a set amount of command power to spend on attacks. A maximum of five attacks can be used in the course of one character's turn, but the player can string them together by timing their button presses, unleashing consecutive hits on the enemy. Attacks generally make the enemy airborne, and an enemy that's still airborne at the end of one character's turn can continue to be decimated by the next character in the turn list. Things are further complicated by the addition of support attacks by characters that aren't part of the active battle party. After carrying out enough attacks, the Frontier Guage will max out and allow one character to unleash a devastating attack with a custom animation. The characters' five standard attacks can be replaced by new, more impressives ones as the characters ascend in levels. Further, battles are simply a blast to play through. Timing hits to keep the enemy spinning in the air, all while watching the spectacular attack sequences is a joy that few turn based RPGs manage to bring to their battle system.

   The downside to the gameplay comes from the fact that all battles are time consuming affairs. Since the player must watch the long attack animations for both the players and the enemies, even random encounters can take some time. In some of the longer dungeon sequences, knowing that a random battle could be easily beaten, but still having to sit through the string of attacks can be a hassle. Bosses, sporting bloated HP values and their own extended attack animations, take even longer. Since battle strategies rarely change from stringing together long combo attacks, battling on the whole starts to lose some of its shine as the game moves on.

Haken shoots a giant... well you get the idea. Haken shoots a giant... well you get the idea.

   This is a shame, because despite feeling rather long for a 40 hour game, the pacing in Endless Frontier is excellent. The game constantly keeps you on the move from one dungeon to the next, and in turn from one planet to the other. Boss battles occur rather frequently and help to spice up some of the monotony brought on from the limited random encounters each area sports, and some of the dungeons feature some basic puzzle solving which spices up things nicely. Unfortunately, there just isn't enough of this to last the entirety of the quest. The game feels like it has pulled out all of its tricks three quarters of the way in. Side quests are limited to re-exploring some old dungeons for items or a hidden skill, but in reality the quest as a whole is linear and offers little for replay value. There is some great, kitschy equipment to be found, but as long as your characters are equipped with the best gear that can be found by the last merchant, there's little in terms of character customization to be done.

   Endless Frontier is not a bad game by any means, but it simply doesn't bring enough to the table to warrant its lengthy play time. While the incredibly fun battle system, great soundtrack, and charming sense of humor will guarantee it a fan base, it won't be enough to drive most players to finish the journey. Instead, Endless Frontier is the video game equivalent of a bad Janet Jackson album. It's all sex and good times, but despite its genuinely fun moments, it pads itself out and overstays its welcome.

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