Super Robot Taisen: Original Generation - Reader Retroview  

It's an Oldie where I come from
by Robin Crew

Click here for game information
40-60 Hours
+ All original cast and new story nostalgic for series veterans, but accessible to newcomers.
+ Battle system that's easy to learn and hard to master.
+ Impressive replayability thanks to multiple paths and difficulty levels
+ Snappy, if copious dialogue.
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   After years of giant robot lovers crying about the lack of Super Robots appearing in English, Banpresto and Atlus finally gave us a shot at the long running Super Robot Wars franchise. In the past, most of the games drew so heavily from numerous licensed sources- especially Gundam, Mazinger, and Getta Robo that attempting to license them would have taken roughly eternity and would have been extraordinarily expensive, especially since for every person whose eyes light up when some long forgotten super robot such as Combattler V or Brave Raideen made their appearance, a thousand gamers would've scratched their head in confusion. Original Generation, as noted by its title, made a new game out of the various non-licensed characters Banpresto created over time. To answer your first and second questions- yes, it helps to know who they are going in. No, it isn't necessary by any stretch of the imagination. The title is also somewhat ironic since the game is an oldie but a goodie. Its system, scarcely changed from the series' SNES days, a fact that may have contributed to its wholly underwhelming sales, and its plot is reminiscent of various older SRW games. That said, if you're a robot man, Front Mission's got nothing on SRW, and if you're an SRPG fan, you won't find many better, with or without robots.

   The basis for the game's story is very simple, but the reality gets very complicated thanks to the sheer number of characters. Original Generation borrows liberally in plot from older SRW but puts things in new order and new circumstances. Several years before the start of the game, Meteor 3 crash lands on earth. Unknown to the general population, the meteor contained alien technology referred to as Extra Over Technology, or EOT for short. Meteor 3 researchers soon discovered the potential threat of alien invasion and began using EOT to help develop mechs known as personal troopers to defend the earth from the aliens referred to as Aerogaters.

   At the start of the game, you'll be prompted to pick a lead character, either Kyosuke Nanbu, the level headed gambler with the devil's own luck or Ryusei Date, a long time gamer and robot enthusiast whose jaw drops at the cute appearance of the Valsione despite his inability to notice the various beautiful female pilots around him, several of whom are potential love interests. In short, Kyosuke is your gruff veteran and Ryusei might as well be the player.

Excellen Excellen's battle cries are a lot funnier in English.

   The choice you make dramatically effects what you'll see through the first half or so of the game. The two stories merge, split back apart at the halfway point and recombine. Even so, the choice you make has long lasting effects as certain mechs are only available on certain routes. On either route, Bian Zoldark, an EOT researcher declares a military coup leading a force known as the Divine Crusaders. They start their party with a bang by assaulting aliens visiting earth on a diplomatic mission. In the course of hunting him down and finishing him off, our heroes realize that Bian Zoldark's coup, even when it is foiled served its original purpose- to gather humanity's military might and unite them. It does so just in time, too. Shortly after the war with the Divine Crusaders, the alien Aerogaters begin a full scale battle against the earth, thrusting our heroes into the central role of the "L5 campaign."

   The game takes a fairly standard SRPG style- hour long battles which are preceeded and followed by lengthy and complex dialogue discussing troop movement, military strategy, political backstabbing, and of course, constant bickering between the pilots, each of whom have their various quirks. As an example, Masaki Ando, pilot of the infamous Cybuster has a sense of direction so bad it borders on legendary. Excellen Browning turns everything into sexual innuendo and Elzam Branstein, a genuine ace pilot with an unpleasant past, tries to keep things light by cooking gourmet meals for everyone.

   After a few wise cracks, the battles begin. Typical of an SRW series, pilots always need exactly five hundred experience to gain each new level, but experience earned is influenced heavily by the level of the character and the enemy they attack, making it easy to keep everyone battle ready, as well as making grinding essentially impossible, an important thing to note since much of the fun in SRW games come from their difficulty, which ranges from hard to absurd. Movement is a simple grid based affair, and non-flying units can gain advantages or penalty from various terrain types such as planes, forests, mountains, water, and bases, which have effects like accuracy modifiers, HP regeneration etc. Mechs all have their own functions and are broken down into two general categories- super robots and real robots. Super robots are tanky, but often inaccurate and with poor evade, and their attacks are extremely powerful, but quickly tear through the unit's EN, which is necessary for movement as well as certain attacks. From there, each pilot has certain natural traits that influence their performance in combat. Some of them, such as Telekinesis can only be learned by those who know them naturally, but most skils can also be purchased with pilot points which are gained from laying the finishing blow on an enemy. Prevail improves defense, evade and critical rates when the units life falls, making it a insurance policy for your tanky super robots. Gunfight increases the range and damage of ranged attacks while Command creates a small area around the one with the skill that boosts ally accuracy and evade, just to name a few useful skills. Pilot points can also be spent to raise the character's raw stats or their adaptivity to the four combat conditions- ground, water, air or space.

   Pilot points aren't the only method of customization, however. Each unit can be upgraded on its basic stats, and weapons can be upgraded individually. Choosing who and what to upgrade is an integral part of your progress. Additionally, real type robots can equip generic, non mech specific weapons to customize their use. For instance, repair modules and debuffs like weapon breaker can really save your hide while others might give the character the range their default equipment was lacking or, as is the case with certain powerful secret equipment, just blow the enemy away. Once you've done all that, each mech has a certain amount of space to equip specialized parts, which might increase the unit's HP, movement range, critical chance, or performance on certain terrain types.

The Huckebein Mk II looks suspiciously the darkly painted Gundam Mk IIs used by the Titans in the Zeta Gundam anime. The Huckebein Mk II looks suspiciously the darkly painted Gundam Mk IIs used by the Titans in the Zeta Gundam anime.

   Hold on though. We're not done yet. Each pilot has character specific lists of "spirit" moves, which are your only real advantage over your enemies. Spirit moves are generally "buff" and healing type "spells" that don't use up your turn. Focus improves accuracy and evade by 30% for the rest of the round, making it a good, safe bet for fighting hordes, while strike guarantees all your attacks for a round will hit and alert guarantees that you will dodge, but only the next attack or counterattack made on you. Careful use of spirit is vital to success in combat.

   Finally, we have will and combination attacks. Will is another SRW staple. At the start of a battle, characters generally have 100, and it can rise to as much as 150, increasing every time you hit an enemy, take damage, etc. Will is essentially a damage modifier, but many weapons can only be used and some passive abilities only take effect once a certain level of will is reached. Any character who has personally defeated fifty or more enemies gains Ace status, and starts the battle at 105, giving them a leg up on certain weaponry. This is a huge help when using mechs such as the Cybuster and Valsione, whose claim to fame is their massive area of effect Cyflash attacks, which go to waste if you've cleared the field before they've reached sufficient will to pull them off. When it comes time to face the nigh on invincible bosses, combination attacks are your friend. There are two kinds of them. One is considered a single character attack, but with special properties and massive damage, as well as special requirements. An example of this would be Kyosuke's Alteisen and Excellen's Weissritter's boss busting move known as the Rampage Ghost (Or Love-Love-Strike, as Excellen calls it). For most units, who don't have such moves, they can always use another method. The support passive skill, which can be purchased with pilot points allows a unit which is adjacent to one attacking to follow up with a move of their own, or take a hit for a defending ally. On the offense, this essentially means that a support character may get up to five attacks in a single round, if their support skill is high enough and allies are on all sides of them.

   The game's controls are simple but acceptable, similar to any older SRPG. The music is decent, but forgettable and the graphics are high end SNES quality. This game isn't going to wow you with technical effects, but it gets the job done.

   All said and done, Super Robot Wars is a title any SRPG fan who owns a game boy advance, DS or DS lite should own. Over forty missions, a secret one, two difficulties, numerous secret units, weapons, and parts, a new game plus function, a branched story line and a simple but deep and difficult battle system make the game eminently replayable. Do yourself a favor- always leave SRW in the GBA slot of your DS. Not only was it one if the best games on that system, but it holds up extremely well, and donít forget that doing so will give you little bonuses in the upcoming DS release of Super Robot Wars: Original Generaton Saga: Endless Title.

   I meant to say Endless Frontier. I don't know what came over me.

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