Super Robot Taisen: Original Generation 2 - Reader Retroview  

It's a mech! It's a boss! No, it's Mekiboz!
by Robin Crew

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Very Hard
40-60 Hours
+ All your favorite OG characters return, lots of new mechs to pilot or smash.
+ Game system still solid and customizable.
- Losers like Ryoto return too. Too many people piloting generic mechs, repetitive enemies.
- Unbalanced, overpowered enemies take hours to kill.
- Inferior translation and sound quality compared to OG.
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   Writing a review of Super Robot Wars Original Generation 2 is more like writing an addendum to a review of its predecessor. It runs on a similar system with even more giant robots than before, with a frustrating increase in difficulty perfect for those trying to save money on hair cuts in these trying economic times. SRW:OG2 is a series of trade-offs when compared to Original Generation. So the question is, are the tradeoffs worth it?

   The story of OG 2 is more complex and dramatic than its predecessor. More turn coats and traitors! More unusual alliances! More political maneuvering! More rivalry! So much that it transcends drama and goes straight to melodrama. Occasionally, the game realizes that it goes a bit too far and has a few off the cuff remarks about how ridiculous it is that they're racing enemies to find a demon-fighting giant robot from ancient China, which admittedly, sounds like something out of a 1970s super robot show. Unfortunately, this isn't main series SRW and it needs to ease off a little. Even those of us who excitedly send friends You Tube videos of the 1970s live action Japanese Spiderman show (in which Spiderman has a giant robot for some reason) may find such a plot point to be a bit much. The option to choose a main storyline is gone, replaced with three small branch points, but the story reconverges quickly. In addition, the cast balloons from big to ridiculous. Almost all the characters from the previous game return, and there are more new characters than characters removed. The enemies are also far more numerous. While in Original Generation, the player only had to contend with the Divine Crusader's coup (an attempt to prepare the world for the threat of alien invasion) and the alien Aerogaters themselves, OG2 features four separate groups of enemies, rife with subfactions of their own. The game starts with anarchic, war loving "jumpers" from a parallel world who have a grudge against Kyosuke, pilot of the Alteisen, because in their world, his elite unit known as the Beowulves always foils their nefarious plans. Next up is the Neo Divine Crusaders who consider the current government unprepared if another alien threat emerges. That threat emerges. Twice. The first are the mysterious Einsts who say very little about their goal, and when they do, it's more cryptic than a mausoleum. The second threat is the Inspectors, familiar faces for those of us who have played SRW3. The inspectors, as the Aerogaters before them, consider humans to be primitive savages with astonishing rates of technological advancement and aptitude for war and therefore feel that humanity should be subjugated or destroyed.

   If the plot seems overloaded, so are the battles. Unlike the previous game, if you lose a battle, you don't get to start over while retaining experience, pilot points, used for customizing your characters, and money. With the constant route splits, the large cast, and the rapid rate at which enemies gain levels, for the first time in an SRW game I found that the experience gradient was insufficient to handle the game's curve. After a mech has been fully upgraded, the player can pick a customization bonus, enhancing one stat by 10% or taking a unit specialty such as increased ammo in all unit specific weapons, or a multistat boost. Ace status, earned for taking down fifty or more enemies still gives a boost to starting will. Will is still used as an attack damage modifier as well as a requirement for certain attacks. The difference now is that each character gets a unique ace bonus as well, such as improved shooting damage.

   Despite this, Original Generation 2 is far, far harder than its predecessor. Even a series veteran might be put off. This game isn't challenging. It isn't hard. It isn't even insane. It borders on the impossible sometimes. First, enemies are far stronger than they were in the previous game. Next, a number of new passive skills are available- many of them slot wasters. In OG a general support ability could be used to get "free" attacks on the enemy or take a hit for an ally. In OG2, defense and offense support are separate, and offensive support suffers a significant penalty to damage dealt. If you should beat the game and choose to play through it again on hard, you'll find you cannot upgrade your weapons. Against the powerful bosses, this means even your highest level characters with your best attacks will only do a few thousand per shot against an enemy with 200,000 HP and a 20% regen every round. The result is that some bosses take roughly eternity to defeat, and losing a heavy hitter or two makes it impossible to deal more damage than the enemy will repair. Only play on hard mode if you really hate yourself, because you'll spend as much time saving and reloading as playing the game. This is not to be confused with the normal hard mode. Like in Original generation, if you fulfill various conditions in battle like winning within strict time limits or killing a powerful enemy before they run, you earn master points. Get those for more than half the stages that you've played, and enemies become significantly more dangerous. So to clarify, this is a game so hard, you can play hard mode when you're already playing on hard. If I ever manage to finish the ultra difficult, double secret special last stage, I'll be sure to let you know if there's an ultra hard mode that doesn't let you upgrade mechs or pilots.

   The graphics are similar to its predecessor, but battle animations have gone a bit over the top, becoming lengthy, flashy and a little ridiculous looking. The music is still decently composed, but the sound quality has gone straight to hell. Mute it and listen to your MP3 player, stereo, discman, or whatever else you'd like. You could whistle. Or you could imagine a conversation between Thomas Edison and Nikolas Tesla, about how one could power super robots for all I care. Just do your ears a favor and turn off the sound. The controls and the menu are virtually unchanged from the previous game. Simple, but effective. The translation doesn't seem to have been proof read as well, and while the dialogue is still good and generally correct, phrases like "live your way through" and typos like "youe" are something I would not have expected from Atlus.

   In the end, OG 2 runs on a virtually identical system, so the game provides a solid experience. Unfortunately, the ramped up difficulty takes it out of the realm of the fun, into the realm of the infuriating and/or the boring. Two hour long battles as you slowly chip away at seemingly invincible enemies in a fifteen on one gang beating can be fun for the series tradition of a difficult, secret final battle. Doing it every other mission becomes tiresome to say the least. The sound quality is poor, the cast far too large and the plot is a scattershot. They really wasted the chance that an all original cast provides by making this a game reserved exclusively for fans. Unless you're already a fan, this game just isn't worth it.

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