Review by weich
"Better than the official reviewers make it out to be"
I'm never good with introductions so since you know this is a review of Super Robot Taisen: Original Generation (a strategy RPG with giant robots for those who really don't know) just going to skip that part. This review will be broken down into the sections that are set by IGN (i.e. Presentation, Graphics etc.)
The Super Robot Taisen: OG is based upon the original characters that the game developers, Banpresto, have created over the past 15 years in their Super Robot Taisen game series. Before I continue, please do not ask questions like Where is Eva?' or Why isn't Gundam Wing in?'. The game only features Banpresto's ORIGINAL characters, hence the game's name, so there are no licensed anime and manga mechs or characters. I'm telling you now so that you don't look like a fool when you ask something similar on a forum. But I digress.
Though the game features only the original characters made by Banpresto, you still have a massive amount of different characters and mechs to use. The game is based upon 3 pillars that make up a Super Robot Taisen game: Customisation, Story and Combat. Customisation is changing the stats of the mechs and pilots that available to suit your needs; story allows the players to immerse themselves into the world of SRT; and combat lets you to deal some robot ass kicking goodness on the enemy in this turn based strategy game.
I've seen reviewers compare this game to Advance Wars many-a-time. In future, don't. Advance Wars is designed with strategy in mind. It featured an addictively fun gameplay system with great features such as the mapmaker. But Advance Wars lacked an in depth storyline and customisability of the units, which is a must for any RPG. Super Robot Taisen excels in both while retaining the strategy aspect.
However, new players be warned: this game is mecha heavy and is driven by its story, animations and the intermission. Be prepared to spend time reading (which is good for you anyway) and some time customising your units as well. RPG players will have fun with this but those who like to get into the action quickly might become frustrated.
Before I go into this, I must stress that this game is almost 4 years old (released in Japan in 22nd November 2003). The animation part of the game can be labelled as excellent. When you attack an enemy, your unit sprite will pull out a beam gun and fire it or whack the enemy with a Jet Magnum in a mini movie sequence. All of this is made even more impressive as the game lets you attach almost any weapon that comes into your possession onto almost any mech and each mech will have a different animation for that weapon. However these animations might become tiresome after viewing them about 50 times throughout the game. Thankfully there's an option that let's you switch them off *Glares at SRT: A for the GBA and its inability to skip animations*. All the mechs are SD (Super Deformed) so disproportionate heads and bodies. It needs getting used to but they are pretty cool to look at plus the animations look better on SD mechs.
When not in the animation sequence, your unit's head is used to represent it on a 2D grid map, similar Advance Wars. Not much to see here as the map and the sprites are static and the heads only move when you tell the unit to go to another location...unlike the units on the Advance Wars' map that bobble up and down when not doing anything (woohoo ¬_¬). It is not as bad as some of the other reviews have made the map out to be, but SRT OG's map does lose out to Advance Wars in terms of prettiness and presentation.
I have to say that the music in SRT: OG can be used to make a full music CD. Many of the characters have their own custom music track, such as Steel Beowulf' for Kyosuke Nanbu and Everywhere You Go' for Ryussei Date, plus many more. There is an endless stream of background music during the intermission, story and combat. Unlike some games where each level have the same music playing, SRT OG's large musical repository allows each mission to feel fresh and create certain moods. The SFX ranges from explosion, mechs moving, footsteps etc. Unfortunately there are no voices but that's rare for a GBA game anyway. I would like to make a balanced argument here but the sound aspect of SRT OG is one of the best for a GBA game.
As said before the 3 pillars of the game is Customisation, Story and Combat. Customisation allows you to make the robot and pilot into anything you want. If you want to make Kyosuke into a melee expert, just use his Pilot Points to boost his melee states, give him the infight ability (increases melee attack points) and boost the attack power of the Revolving Stake of the Alt Eisen. That is the beauty of this game since you can do almost anything you want with your pilots and mechs. However, this process takes time and can become quite tiresome after a while since there are quite a few characters and mechs.
The story part of the game is similar to a mini sci-fi novel. The story is told via conversations between the characters of the game while different portraits of their head allows you to see their mood. The story is extremely engrossing while being slightly over-the-top, like any good anime or manga. The only downside of this is that you'll spend a lot of time reading. SRT games have more text stored in them than most other games and that's the most probable reason Atlus delaying the game again and again is that they failed to anticipate the mountains of text they have to translate.
During combat you move your unit across the map by using a simple menu where you can select whether to move your unit, attack, use a pilot's ability (Ranging from 100% hit or dodge, x2 attack etc.) or view the unit and pilot's stats (and on some units, transform). The game makes use of terrain a lot as standing in a forest will increase your dodging abilities but lower your aim by a certain percentage while some tiles might recover your unit's health and energy. When you have moved all your units, attacked the enemy or moved and then attacked the enemy, you will end your turn and let the AI enemy will take their turn to attack you. During the attack animations, both the enemy pilot and your pilot will have a little something to say, just to keep things fresh.
To keep things even fresher, each level includes a Skill Point. To achieve the Skill Point you often will have to destroy or damage something in a certain time limit or reach someplace in so many turns. Each Skill Point for each level is different (obviously), while some are more challenging than others. If you gain enough Skill Points, the game will change from Easy to Medium and then to Hard difficulty. If you are on Hard Mode, more enemies will show up for you to destroy or you have fewer turns to complete a level. Most importantly, the higher the Skill Point count, the more secret items and units you can get. (There's something good later on in the game if you are in Hard Mode but I'm not telling you what that is unless you already know). But the level objectives can get repetitive if you are not playing to get Skill Points.
The game has two storylines. One of them is a hot-blooded gamer, Ryussei Date, who is an expert gamer in a mecha fighting game called Burning PT (Personal Trooper) and gets drafted into the military to pilot a PT for real. While the other character, Kyosuke Nanbu, is a test pilot in the military and is caught in the war. Both characters are developed around the same basic story but each character will see the war in a different way allowing different conversations and storylines. In other words, if you want to play every single level of this game, you must play through both characters. That means at least one replay. Then there are the mounds of secret units, items and weapons that you can pick up with Skill Points or kill count etc. If you want them all, you'll have to replay again so that you can have a higher credit count and Pilot Point count at the start of the game.
If this game gets you into SRTs, you should consider getting OG2 or even importing some of the Japanese SRTs with licensed characters.
Try it. You never know what it's like until you tried it yourself. Just be prepared to over-the-top manga mecha action. Most of the reviewers from gaming sites have given this game mediocre scores. But remember, when you are playing this game that it is nearly 4 years old, it's aimed towards a different audience who are more used to this type of strategy RPG and for gods sake, THERE'S NO EVA OR GUNDAM!
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 07/31/06
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