Review by FullArmourEva00

"Super Robot English. Is this a dream?"

For more then a decade, fans of the popular Super Robot Taisen series have been dying for an official English translation…but no one was actually expecting it. Along came Atlus, who picked up the Original Generation games, which didn't have the same problems for localization as the other ones, that is, licensing issues for the various Anime series featured within the game. This is because Original Generation only has Banpresto Original characters, characters made by Banpresto to appear alongside the various Anime characters present within the various Super Robot Taisen games. While one could argue that only having original characters takes away one of the biggest appeals of Super Robot Taisen, the fans were still happy, and thus, there was much rejoicing.

Original Generation begins with a choice between the two main characters, super robot fanboy Ryusei Date and test pilot Kyosuke Nanbu. While both paths eventually join up, the starts are very different, and to see the complete picture, one must play through the stories both characters. Upon choosing, the player is given a prologue and introduction to the story and then immediately thrown into the first stage.

Original Generation is a very dialogue heavy game. Before, during and after stages, players will spend much of their time reading little text boxes that convey the conversations between the various characters. The story is very Anime inspired, although the massive amount of acronyms and unfamiliar terms may confuse and overwhelm new players. However, once people get past the initial confusion, the story becomes much easier to understand. Certain scenes will only be understood by veterans of the Super Robot Taisen series, but for the most part, the story is very fun, entertaining and accessible to anyone who enjoys giant robots.

Once the set-up is complete, the stage begins. Stages in Original Generation are presented like they are in Fire Emblem. The player is given an overhead view of the whole map, and the units are represented by icons on the map itself. Missions are played over turns, as the player controls the various units within the game, moves them across the map and destroys enemies.

Super Robot Taisen is often reputed as a series that is just as much fun to watch as to play. Original Generation lives up to this reputation, although the graphical limitations of the GBA show. Once the player initiates an attack a battle begins between the player's unit and the enemy's. Like Fire Emblem, fights are shown through animations and like Fire Emblem, these animations can be turned off. Almost every attack in the game has a unique animation, and although some are flashy and exciting to watch, many of the weaker ones (like machine guns and beam swords) are rather generic, which is a shame.

Apart from the weapons, the robots themselves are features of the battles. Despite being drawn in a cute, SD style (which has been a tradition since the beginning of the series), the robots all look cool, and many will remind people of famous robots from Anime, like Gundams and Mazingers. Certain attacks also feature cut-ins from either the robots or the pilots, so you won't be seeing only SD robots for the whole game.

Unfortunately, graphics outside of them battles themselves are rather bland, and don't look very interesting. The same backgrounds are reused for the conversations, and it's kind of weird when places like the Cafeteria are represented by the Classroom background. The maps themselves are around the same level as Advance Wars and Fire Emblem, but have duller colours, making them less attractive to the eyes.

Outside of the short battles between robots, the player is given many options on the map during missions. Each individual pilot has a list of Spirits, which function in a similar way to support spells in RPGs like Final Fantasy. Using Spirits grant pilots temporary abilities, like complete accuracy for a whole turn, or double the damage for the next attack. However, each pilot only has a certain amount of SP (Spirit Points) for use, which means the player has to conserve their Spirit use.

Another thing the player has to watch out for during the missions is terrain. Like many other SRPGs, terrain can affect your stats, doing things such as increasing defence by 20% (which can mean a lot), or regenerating a percentage of your HP and energy. Taking advantage of terrain can mean the difference of life and death, especially for weaker units.

Probably the weakest thing about the game's gameplay is the difficulty. Although a slight challenge for newbies to the series, players who are already used to the Super Robot Taisen system will find the game rather easy outside of a challenge here and there. While there is the option of entering hard mode by fulfilling certain in-game conditions (earning “Battle Masteries), the difference is hardly noticeable.

On the other hand, much of the fun of Super Robot Taisen comes from tearing through everything, which means the easy difficulty could actually make the game more fun for some people. It's up to the player to decide for themselves how hard they want the game to be, but anyone looking for a serious challenge won't find it in Original Generation.

Between missions is presented an intermission menu, where players can do various things such as upgrading mechs, assigning new mechs to different pilots and saving the game. One feature unique to the Original Generation series is that players as well as upgrading weapons, players can assign different robots new weapons, or replace outdated weapons with newer ones, which is pretty cool, although generally weapons that can be swapped around aren't as interesting as fixed weapons.

As well as mechs, the pilots can be customized in between missions. Throughout the game, characters will earn PP by killing enemies. This PP can be used to upgrade a pilot's stats or give the pilot new skills. The whole PP system was completely new to the series in Original Generation, and being able to manage your pilots adds a whole new layer of depth to the series.

Sound wise, the game has about as much to offer as the average GBA game, perhaps more. Every time a battle sequence initiates, the music in the background will change to the theme of the character in battle, although many of the characters have the same generic theme which is honestly quite boring. On the other hand, most of the unique themes are quite catchy, and sometimes players may find themselves initiating battles not to watch the animation, but to hear the music itself.

The in stage music is generally rather dull, but unless the animation is turned off, the game will hardly play it anyway. The actual sound effects are quite normal, which is good enough. Explosions will sound like explosions, and swords will sound like swords. There is obviously no voice acting because of the limitations of the GBA.

In the end, Super Robot Taisen is a series for a specific group of players, and Original Generation is no exception to this rule. People who aren't interested in stories about giant robots blowing each other up are going to be turned off by the initial confusion and the massive amount of information being thrown at them. If you like giant robots, you will like Super Robot Taisen Original Generation. If you don't, you won't like the game. That's just the way the series works.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 09/26/06

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