Review by Doomerang
An incredibly fun game
Super Robot Taisen, for those who don't know, is a tactical turn-based RPG series that until now has been Japan exclusive. It was famous for fusing together dozens of mech-based anime - including Gundam, Big O, Esclaflowne, Evangelion, Rah Xephon and others - and actually making a cohesive story that was damn good as well. Needless to say, the number of licenses needed to bring this over would've been atrocious, so the SRT series never appeared..... until now.
SRT: Original Generation is just what its name suggests: It brings together all of the original, game-only characters from all of the SRT series and makes a new story based on them alone, which bypasses all of the crappy licensing issues. While I did not play an SRT game before this one, I had heard good things about it, and that along with my love of tactics-type gaming and the concept of giant mecha made me buy it on day one.
And boy, I DEFINITELY don't regret doing so.
Let me get this out of the way: If you do not like the fire emblem series, or the difficulty behind them, there's a good chance that this will be a hit-or-miss game for you. If you do, then you'll probably enjoy this game tremendously. Like Fire Emblem, you have an overhead view, and the properties of your weapon, as well as terrain determine the damage you give to the other person. Unlike Fire emblem, if you lose a person they don't permanently die. Hell, if you lose the mission, you immediately start the same mission again with all acquired experience intact.
You might think this makes the game easy, but trust me it does not. To make up for the fact you can harvest experience for an infinite amount of time, they made several things incredibly hard; Many of the bosses have insane evasion and most sport tens of thousands of hp, and to top it off you probably would only do about 1 to 2k of damage..... all the while the boss is attacking and counterattacking for half to three-quarters of your hp gauge. The only way to beat many of the bosses is to skillfully use the....uh..... skills that your pilots have (which have effects ranging from increased hit rate to healing to double exp or money per attack/defense). Furthermore, the only way to get the true ending (which I have yet to experience) is to get "Battle Mastery" points. Each stage has a hidden goal; if you fulfill that goal, you get a battle mastery point, which increases difficulty and - if you have enough by the end of the game - let you experience the true final battle. Some of these (like killing all the cannon fodder enemies in 6 turns) are easily doable, but some are insanely hard (there are SEVERAL that require you to kill an optional boss that has 40 to 50 thousand HP, and who can kill you in one to two hits.... all within 6 or seven turns!).
As for the actual battles, they are surprisingly deep. Between missions, you can opt to use skill points (earned by killing enemies) to upgrade either your pilot's stats or give your pilot an extra skill (like supporting an ally or counterattacking first). In the actual battle, you face off against a variety of foes (with different styles of attacking) who you have to discover their weaknesses to effectively fight. (Beam weapons don't work? Try the shotgun!) Furthermore, many of your weapons are restricted in use, either by range, usage of energy points, or morale (or will; this stat grows throughout the battle, and only once you have enough can you let loose with the really big guns). You (and your opponents) can do one of three things on defense: Counterattack (if possible), evade (reduces the percentage chance to hit by half) or defend (significantly reduce damage). If you have a support ability, an ally next to you could possibly take the damage for you at a reduced rate.
Of course, such a game could still suck if the storyline did not hold up to its end, and SRT:OG does not fail in this light either. The story unfolds between battles using background stills and small corner portraits of the speakers, and is rather deep and interesting. The game somehow manages to involve each and every one of the boatloads of characters in the game without making it seem corny or downright idiotic. Speaking of the characters, the translation makes sure to give each of them their own personality. There is not one single dull character; the player will always find new people to meet who have their own agenda and mannerisms. Their behavior even plays out in their battle taunts (one girl can't pronounce any of the battle names properly, another is robotic in her taunts and attacks, and another even jokingly hints at his sex life). The game even features special conversations and battle sayings if you make a particular character fight a certain enemy!
This game really is a tactic lovers (i.e. Fire Emblem) dream. It's one of the few games that really deserves to be called a "tactical" game, and even makes relatively hard and complex games like Fire Emblem seem like beginners games. As long as you do not mind difficulty (which - if you did not bother to read anything I wrote - is hard and can be a turnoff for casual players, although it has a very good learning curve at the beginning) and having to save-reset battles on bosses (yes, I do that; I'm not good enough yet to kill them properly on one battle), you will absolutely adore this game. The great story, the mostly awesome translation and the fun battle system will have you playing this game for hours and hours on end.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
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