Review by RCS0926
"A standard SRPG w/ a great story, great battle animations and great customizability"
Strategy RPGs are really a dime a dozen these days especially with so many being released for the PS2, GBA and DS. It takes a lot for an SRPG to standout from the crowd. Fortunately, SRT:OG has several things going for it that help it to step out of its generally conventional gameplay and make it a unique experience. First and foremost is the emphasis on huge anime robots. SRT:OG contains original characters and robots, but many of them hearken back to the days of Robotech (Macross), Voltron, Gundam, etc. The robots are brought to life with excellent battle animations. Fortunately, there's a good story that supplements the gameplay, and it's typical of many well-written anime in that it's complex, convoluted and compelling at the same time. The last element that stands out in SRT:OG is the great customizability. You'll be hard pressed to find another SRPG outside of FFT or Disgaea that allows you to customize your characters more than SRT:OG. Well then, on to the full review
This game has a doozy of a story. You get to play the game from 2 perspectives the hotblooded, inexperienced Ryusei who is part of the SRX team or the calm, cool, calculating Kyosuke who is part of the ATX team. I've only played through completely using Ryusei, and although I'm not going to delve too deeply into the story, I will say that there's a load of dialogue in this game. That can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your taste. The piles and piles of text really serve to flesh out the characters. The backbone of the story revolves around an interplanetary war that expands into an intergalactic one. You'll get to know over 2 dozen characters as you progress through the game. The story basically unfolds through conversations between the game's many characters. Anime portraits help to flesh out the emotions of the characters in the dialogue. You're bound to get attached to more than a few characters. Ryusei's naivete reminded me of Rick Hunter from the Robotech/Macross series. Kyosuke was similar to the stoic Heero from the Gundam Wing series. Other characters represent other anime archetypes, but there are so many that you probably won't mind. The one thing that brings the story down a point is that everything is told through character conversations. There aren't really any cutscenes that flesh out important events or other bells and whistles that would've spiced things up a bit.
There are very few SRPGs with great gfx, and SRT:OG is no exception. The overhead map is actually more bland than most other SRPGs. The grids have very little detail or color and your characters are represented by head icons (for robots) and ship icons (for battleships or robots in flight mode) that don't have much detail. It will take you a few battles to be able to distinguish which icons represent which characters. However, the battle animations are superb. Like Shining Force and Fire Emblem, battle animations are handled outside of the battle grid. When your character attacks or is attacked, the game switches to a cinematic sidescrolling view that shows detailed animations of the robots firing upon one another. Some of the more impressive attacks have additional cutscenes that display the scope and magnitude of certain super attacks. The robots themselves are represented in SD (super deformed style), but they still look great. Most of the robot designs are great, and every weapon looks and fires differently. Part of the fun in this game is seeing all the battle animations. I do want to point out though that the battle animations do make the game drag along sometimes, so by the end of the game, you might be content to turn the animations off and just watch the damage indicators from the overhead grid.
IMO, the music is excellent in SRT:OG. Many of the more important characters have their own battle themes when they perform their attacks. Many of the sound effects sound like they're straight from your beloved anime series with suitable weapon and robot transformations effects. The battle music is generally rousing and heroic.
There are many aspects to cover as far as gameplay:
Combat Combat is great in large part due to the great battle animations. However, there are certain other features that make combat enjoyable as well. First, is the amount of robots that you have at your disposal. Some robots are great long range attackers while others like to get up close and personal. Some are tanks while others are extremely elusive. Part of the fun in this game is matching the proper pilot with the right robot. Some robots have preset weapons while others have open slots that allow you to change weapons in and out as you see fit. Overall, there are dozens of weapons to choose from, and it's always interesting to try to find the right mix of weapons or the right type of weapon for your particular robot.
When it comes to attacking the enemy, the amount of energy your mech has as well as the number of will points your pilots have built up play a huge role in what attacks you choose to use. Energy is needed to power most of the mid-high powered weapons. Will power allows you to use your more powerful attacks and is built up different depending on the pilots. Most pilots get will increases for successfully attacking the enemy, dodging incoming fire or destroying the enemy. However, some pilots actually get will gains by taking damage. Part of the strategy is getting to know how your pilots gain will points.
If you have the necessary skill (Support) allies who are adjacent to one another can back each other up. Offensively, you can have one character attack and have another ally follow up with an attack of their own. Defensively, if an ally is targeted by the enemy, you can have another ally take the damage for that unit. Also, the game has a couple of combo attacks, which are different from support attacks in general. These attacks are some of the most powerful in the game and include some nifty animations.
Skills Every pilot has the opportunity to learn 6 skills. Every pilot natural has 2 or 3 skills, which leaves the remaining slots open to pick and choose from a good list of other skills. All skills are passive in the sense that you don't have to do anything to activate them. Unless there is some sort of will requirement, your skills will automatically activate during battle. Some skills allow you to deal more damage during attacks or counterattacks. Some skills allow you to move after firing your weapon. Some skills improve your close or long-range combat. As far as how you buy these skills, pilots earn pilot points by destroying the enemy, and these pilot points can be used to purchase skills for your pilots among other things. Overall, it's up to the player to figure out which skills work best for each pilot.
Spirits Spirits are basically SRTOG's version of magic. Every pilot has their own unique range of spirits, and that's one of the things that makes each pilot unique (along with their stats). Spirits are essential if you want to do well in this game. Some spirits improve your hit/evade rate. Some spirits double you attack power, experience, money, etc. Some spirits allow you to move farther along the map. Strategic use of these skills will get you out of a lot of jams and allow you to beat some of the game's tougher bosses.
Mechs These guys are really the stars of the show. Basically, you have two types of mechs. Real Robots tend to be long range attackers with excellent evasive abilities. Super Robots tend to have a ton of health points and defense as well as the strongest attacks in the game. However, there are, of course, exceptions to the rule in both cases. Early in the game, you'll be using a lot of mass-produced mechs that really aren't worth upgrading. However, as you progress through the game, you'll start to come across a lot more unique and powerful robots. Half the fun of the game is figuring out which pilots are best suited for a particular robot. In general, pilots with high evasion stats will want to be in real robots while pilots with high defense will want to be in super robots. You'll want to make sure to stick pilots with high range attack stats in long-range mechs while pilots with high melee stats should obviously be in mechs that like to get up close and personal. Matching pilots to mechs goes much deeper than that though as you'll want to make sure that the pilot you choose can fully take advantage of the mech he/she is in.
Weapons There are dozens of weapons in this game. In general, your real robots will be able to mix and match weapons as you choose while super robots generally tend to have a fixed set of weapons. In the beginning and middle of the game, it's important to match the right weapons with the right type of mech. Some weapons are for long range while others are melee weapons. As mentioned before, you'll want to match the proper weapons with the pilot and the mech. Some weapons have ammo limits while others drain energy any time they are used. You'll want to outfit your mechs so that they have a suitable armament that allows them to deal plenty of damage without running out of ammo or energy.
Terrain Ranks Every mech, pilot and weapon has terrain ranks of S, A, B, C or D (in descending order). These terrain ranks can affect a mechs ability to move in different terrains, but they are most important in terms of a weapon's effectiveness as well as the mechs accuracy/evasion. The terrain ranks have to be taken into consideration especially early on when it comes to deploying mechs and using certain weapons.
Customizability This is really what makes the game so fun. Pilots can be customized by buying various skills with pilot points. However, these pilot points can also be used to upgrade a pilots individual stats and terrain rankings. Mechs can be upgraded as well in terms of HP, mobility, armor and energy. In general, it's best to focus on fully upgrading the shortest bars for each mech because that's what they excel in. There are also part slots for each mech that allow you to mix and match various attachments that enhance your mechs. Some parts can improve terrain ranks, increased dodge/hit rates, improve hp/defense, etc. Weapons can also be upgraded in terms of their power. There are so many weapons in the game that you can't possibly upgrade them all, so it's important to choose to upgrade the weapons that best work for you. Finally, as mentioned before, you always have the option of swapping pilots and mechs. Overall, there is so much the player has control of that each game can be played differently.
There are 2 scenarios that you can play through, and that right there gives you easily 50+ hours of gameplay. However, given the amount of customizability in this game (if that's your thing), the replay value goes up another point since you can choose to play the game differently each time. You also have the option of playing in New Game+ mode (after beating the game on one route, starting a new game on the same save slot using the other route, beating that route, and saving again over the same file), which allows you to start a new game with all the pilot points and money that you've earned on all your previous playthroughs (first New Game+ will include 2 playthroughs). This improves the customizability even more since you'll have a ton of pilot points and cash to work with.
I must say that this is one of the best SRPGs I've ever played. The story is great, the game has great customizability, and the mechs and characters are cool. I'd recommend this game to SRPG fans in general, but I think any gamer can enjoy this game once they get a hang of all the intricacies. It's hard to believe that the sequel is supposed to be even better
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 12/08/08
Game Release: Super Robot Taisen: Original Generation (US, 08/08/06)
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