Super Robot Taisen - Staff Review  

Blowing Up Robots Was Never So Much Fun
by Christopher Beaupre

Moderate to Difficult
25-35 Hours


Rating definitions 

   There are certain games out there that have the ability to break through cultural and language barriers -- titles that small groups of people will go so far as to import from a foreign country even though they cannot read or speak more then a few words of the language. Super Robot Taisen is such a franchise. Thanks to the efforts of Atlus and Banpresto, North America will finally get the chance to get their hands on a fully localized version of Super Robot Taisen. This particular iteration being Super Robot Taisen: Original Generation, which unlike most of the well known SRT titles, does not sport the high profile intellectual properties such as Gundam and Evangelion that the series is generally known for. However, not everyone has had the time to see every one of the dozens of anime shows that SRT typically utilizes, so in that way the RPGamers might even like this version more.

   Super Robot Taisen is a heavily storyline driven, tactical RPG which plays out in an episodic format. It creates the excitement of an epic anime series from start to finish. The storyline covers everything from political intrigue to a plot to take over the earth by pesky aliens. It can be quite funny at times too. The sheer amount of dialogue and detail taken with character interaction is impressive. When the game begins the player will be given the option to choose their main character. Players can choose either Ryusei or Kyosuke. Ryusei, an easy character to relate to, spends his time playing Mech Combat video games, while Kyosuke is a badass Mech pilot. A player can easily spend more then 30 hours playing SRT OG, and then they can go back and play through it all again with the other character. The storylines begin differently, however they do merge together as the characters meet each other.

   Combat is turn based and units on the map are represented by their respective mech heads. The graphics on the battlefield are simple but functional. Instead, they really shine the most is when combat is actually initiated. When the player moves his or her robot and selects the option to attack they are presented with several options. First off, the player is given a choice of weapon. Each robot has a variety of different attacks that do various degrees of pain. The more powerful robots either have a limited amount of ammo or take up more energy to use. Once all ammo is expended, the player may either choose to remain and use weaker attacks or limp back to the mothership for a recharge. Once the chosen attack is selected, chance to hit for both the player and enemy as well as dodge is displayed. If these are to the player's satisfaction, the attack is initiated, and some of the most advanced animated sprites ever to be displayed on the GBA become locked in combat. A good feature to note here is that the player has the option to turn off the attack animation sequences if they want to speed up the gameplay, or they are just tired of seeing Ryusei fire his "Mega Beam Cannon."

Here comes the pain! Here comes the pain!

   The player actually has more options when they are attacked then when they are attacking; they may choose between counterattacking, dodging, and defending. There is a lot of strategy here as the player might not be able to survive some attacks if hit. So instead of taking the hit and counter attacking, they might try and simply dodge and take the decreased chance of getting hit. For those dire situations there is always the defend option, which will greatly reduce the amount of damage taken when hit. A time honored Super Robot Taisen strategy that still works to this day is to get your fastest and most maneuverable robot with a modest high damage range attack and place them in front of your troops. As all the enemies charge in and attack, the player will get the chance to dodge every attack and do good damage in return via counter attacks.

   The music in Super Robot Taisen is exciting and very catchy. Nearly each pilot has their own theme and the background music is changed to their tune each time they enter combat. The sound effects are decent and do a good job of making all the attacks feel like they pack a punch. An integral part of Super Robot Taisen is the pilots themselves. As they gain experience, they will level and learn very useful skills. Focus, for example will give your robot a 30% increase to their hit/dodge rate for a round. Effective and strategic use of these skills is essential to success in completing some of the harder missions, and they do become very difficult as the game progresses. One wrong move and a unit can be blasted to itty bitty robot bits. When you lose a unit that is not essential to the storyline of that particular episode, there is a repair cost that occurs upon its completion. While SRT can be a difficult game at times, it is also extremely nice to the players. If a mission is failed, it is not game over. Instead, the episode restarts with the player retaining money and experience gained before the failure. Hence even if the player gets into an impossible situation, they can still level their units, upgrade, and eventually prevail.

Choose your destiny. Chose your destiny.

   Upgrades to your robots can be done at the completion and beginning of each episode. The player can upgrade every attribute of their robot, from HP to maneuverability to the damage on their weapons. There are also item slots on each robot which can be filled with equipment to increase HP, chance to hit, the ability to fly. One of the most fun aspects of this game is the ability to completely pimp out certain robots that you become fond of and have them go out and destroy everything. Also, if a certain fondness for a character does not match their mech, they may simply be reassigned to a new mech, which can then be customized to any heart's content. SRT has great replay value; it's long, and can be quicksaved at any point, making it ideal for those annoying train rides or just for killing time when you're at home.

   Super Robot Taisen is a great game that no owner of a GBA or DS should overlook. It is a real treat for anime fans and RPGamers alike. It is long, challenging at times, and very fun. The only bad thing about the game is when itís all over.

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