Well… it happened again, as I knew it would. After completing Super Robot Wars V around this time last year, I said that I’d already ordered X and despite feeling burnt out I knew I’d be playing it sooner rather than later, and here we are! X had a very different feel to it due to focusing more on magic and fantasy than the more real robot-y feel of V, but it also included some fun new franchises like Gurren Lagann and Code Geass. How does it balance out? Let’s have a look!
That you will… many, many times.
(also this is the only screenshot I took via the PS4, hence the logo, and the fact it’s from the first few levels only… *sigh*)
Super Robot Wars V was released in Japan on March 29th 2018, with the Asia version (a.k.a. the handy one with the English translation!) coming out the following month on April 26th. It is the ninth standalone title in the series, but as I said with V there are so many spin-offs that it’s far from the ninth overall game…
The game features characters, units, locations and often storylines from: Gundam, specifically Zeta Gundam, Gundam ZZ, Char’s Counterattack, Char’s Counterattack: Beltorchika’s Children, Gundam F91, Crossbone Gundam, Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz, and Gundam: Reconguista in G, as well as The Unchallengeable Daitarn 3, The Brave Express Might Gaine, True Mazinger Edition Z (and other attached Mazinger series), Cross Ange: Rondo of Angel and Dragon, Aura Battler Dunbine, Mashin Hero Wataru, Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, Gurren Lagann (series and movie), Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 and Buddy Complex, plus some original characters and suits for this game only, and a suit and pilot from one of the original SRW games as a bonus (the reference of which was obviously completely lost on me!). As per usual, it’s a weird mix of real war and super robot shows!
You thought this was a screenshot about Super Robot Wars X, but instead it’s him: DIO!! …. Wait, hang on. Wrong Dio. Oh well.
Super Robot Wars is a tactical RPG, taking place on gridded maps where you and the enemy CPU take turns in moving your mecha to different squares and then initiating an attack, or defending from one. The actual battle is your standard RPG affair, attacks do certain damage with the hit points being either amplified by critical hits, or lessened by the opponent having high armour or specifically selecting to defend rather than counter. The battles are always changing due to various factors you or the CPU can activate, specifically “Spirits” and “ExC Commands”. Spirits are different between each character and include things like “Flash” which makes your opponent’s move have a 0% change of hitting, or “Soul” which gives you 2.2X damage, but these cost SP points, which go up the longer you play and the bigger the effect the more it takes (Flash often costs 15 SP points, where as Soul is normally 50). ExC moves are the same for everyone and include giving you the ability to move two extra spaces to guaranteeing your next attack is going to be a critical one, and they activated by spending ExC points, which are generated by defeating opponents (one kill means one ExC point). You can activate Spirits when defending, but ExC points can only be spent during the Player Phase of a round. Your Capital Ships (which can collect and heal your units as well as attack) have ExC Orders as well as moves, which often include healing other units and such.
Another thing you can keep track of is Morale, your selected units start with lower morale but it increases as more enemies are defeated or generally as more time passes, and their most powerful moves can only be used with high morale. Moves cost either Energy or Ammo, the former is kept track of by a meter underneath the health bar, where as the latter is just a number next to the attack that ticks down. The bigger the move, the more energy is uses, so you can’t just spam each character’s most powerful move. Some moves are “Map Weapons”, which spreads across a certain number of squares on the map and hits all enemies (and sometimes friendly units as well!) within that limit. You can restore health or energy (or even sometimes SP and ExC points) with Items, which can be given to each unit before the battle and used during the Player Phase, and also include permanent effects like “Health +1000”, that sort of thing. You get new parts from defeating enemies or unlocking and buying them from a shop using Tac Points, which are collected during the gameplay side but used during the “Intermission” between each stage.
Spero is one for getting his intellectual curiosity peaked. That in turn creates Tac Points…
You can also gain more Tac Points by meeting certain requirements during each Stage (normally beating a specific opponent with his original TV show’s rival) and spend them other things like Attributes that can be assigned to pilots rather than their mechs, which includes stuff like “Counterattack” which means during CPU phase when that person is attacked they attack first, and permanent Magic upgrades, a system that has six tiers of three options each that effect your entire squad on the Map rather than one specific member. There is also a “Customise” screen on the Intermission menu where you can spend money earned during battle to upgrade the various unit’s stats, literally increasing a bar from 1 to 10 in Health, Energy, Armour, Evasion etc, plus upgrading their weapons to do more damage, and at 50% customised you get a bonus unique to each unit and at 100% customised you get to give them an upgrade like the ability to carry one more item/modification or make them strong on all terrain types. A similar system is in place for pilots, as at 60 kills they become an Ace Pilot and get a modifier unique to each pilot, then at 100 kills they become a Great Ace and launch with 1 ExC point and other benefits I can’t remember…
To make things a little more confusing is that some characters have their own stuff to keep track of! The lead protagonist has access to “Dogma” which can give them spells that heal or raise the attack of her nearby allies, Lelouch has the Commander ability which similarly can raise people’s attack, defence or give them one-off attributes, some characters have “Repair” where they can stand next to an ally and heal them, and then other characters have what equate to transformations that activate after a certain amount of on-map action and normally grants them access to their most powerful move, and nine times out of ten it actives automatically, but some, like Wataru for instance, will need to have the transformation selected in the action menu during a player phase (once he unlocks it).
We’re just a few sweet seconds away from hearing one of the best “Vvvverrppp!” charging-laser sounds in anime history.
During the course of the story there are moments the cast splits into two and then you pick which team to go with, meaning several branching paths to add replay value, as well as bonus missions and playable characters that are unlocked by meeting certain requirements (Unlocking Mashimyre from Gundam ZZ required talking to him on the Map as Judau and then making sure Judau was the one to shoot him down, that sort of thing), which also includes a secret ending (that I actually got this time!) by following some very specific requirements. Finally, I think, you can also collect “SR Points” by meeting a specific bonus challenge during each stage (“Clear the map in 4 turns” that sort of thing), but in this case the SR Points are just a bonus, if you collect all 50 you get an emblem and a PSN Trophy.
*Sigh*! I THINK that’s everything. I’m interested to see how different my write up is between this and V because they’re essentially the same. I did much better this time (and I didn’t exactly do bad last time) because I knew what I was doing from the off, menus and points and attributes that seemed intimidating before were now familiar, in fact the menu lay-out is exactly the same. I think that’s my main criticism really, this came out just over a year after V and it shows, not only are the menus the same, but a lot of the background music is identical as well (and I’m not just talking about the show themes). Still, I played this for just over two months and enjoyed myself the whole time, so I can’t complain too much.
Basically this may all sound intimidating, but it’s not so bad once you get into the swing of things!
Graphics and Sound:
Allow me to finish his quote. *Ahem* DRILL BREEEAKKKK!!!!!!
Graphics are nice and chunky sprites of each unit / ship during the battles, simple 3D models of them on the maps, and the many, many cutscenes are delivered via very clean and crisp artwork of the various characters next to their speech boxes. As much as I criticised the fact they used the exact same menus (except with a bit of a green effect rather than blue!) they do still look good on my TV.
Sound is good: satisfying sound effects from the original shows, instrumental versions of the opening themes from each show plays when they enter combat, good (if mostly repeated from SRW V) original themes playing during dialogue, and voicework from the original actors during combat only. Can’t complain about the package there!
Wataru being all heroic… while shouting “Hiyah!” apparently.
Pffft. Yeah, this would take an age, but to sum up as quickly as I can: The game’s main setting is a planet named Al-Warth, and on this planet is a magical sect known as “The Keepers of Order” who worship the God known as Ende and can create magical spells in their mechs by using a combination of Dogma and Od, two different magic power sources. Connected to Al-Warth are three parallel Earths known to the higher beings as “The World of Peace, the World of War and the World of Revolution”, and all the licensed shows are spread across all four planets / dimensions.
The core story centres around your chosen protagonist, either the female Amari or the male Iori, in my case it was Amari as I’d gone with the male in V and frankly Amari was a much more interesting character design. So, Amari is a member of the Keepers who met a magical parrot-looking thing she soon names Spero and left the order seeking to “find herself”. She soon runs into Wataru, a boy from another world summoned to Al-Warth to fight the evil Doakadar, and soon the duo start gathering “Otherworlders” who each add enemies and armies from their respective series to fight, often bringing storylines from their shows to play out (Wataru himself is from “Mashin Hero Wataru” and his quest is one of the corner stones of the game, much like how Space Battleship Yamato formed the backbone of V)
My favourite part of these crossover storylines is how they tied Char Aznable in, as this includes both Char’s Counterattack and Reconquista in G he finds out that the future for humanity he spent his life fighting for never came to be. The Reguild Century of Recon is the far future of the Universal Century, and although the Earth is back to its natural beauty, one half of Char’s wish, humanity on Earth is still fighting with humanity in space, so that drives him to despair, though he’s soon to jumps side and joins up with the good army (whose name is up to you, by the way. I went with “Orbis Crucis”.) This was handy because I like playing as him, and his redesigned suit from the Char’s Counterattack novel “Beltorchika’s Children” is in, the Nightingale, which is frankly “cool as hell”.
Yep… Cool as hell. I was right!
By the end of the story and after you’ve defeated universal threats from some of the other series (including the freaky and weird Anti-Spirals from Gurren Lagann) it turns out that Amari and Iori are from our Earth and this whole thing was a “transported to another world” story, or an “Isekai” if you want to use the popular anime term. They were brainwashed into thinking they had no memories before joining the Order, but it’s all rather moot as it soon turns out that Ende was actually a devourer of negative emotions and Al-Warth was a dimension he created in order to “grow food”, the cycle of War-Peace-Revolution that the three connected planets also tying into this. Ende is soon defeated, but then Spero inhabits its body and is the true final boss, though this soon turns out he just did that because he is now the opposite of Ende and feasts of positive emotions and just wanted to generate more bravey and hope to dispel the despair. Al-Warth and its connected dimensions are saved, and everyone goes back to where they came from (or stays on Al-Warth).
*Ending Spoilers Ends!*
So overall it’s a fun story, weaves the many threads in well, but I think I preferred V’s more … I don’t want to say grounded given some of the Super Robot shows, but less-fantasy based story. There were times in V that I just got fed up of fighting green UFOs all the time, and in X I got extremely fed up of fighting really generic-looking stone Golems that the keepers kept using, so… they’re about even there…
There are some DLC missions that mean you can collect more money and TAC Points, but they don’t net you any more characters or suits or anything.
Lelouch keeps up the villain dialogue, even when floating in space above an alien planet…
Man, these are loooonnnng reviews, but that’s a 52 mission tactical J-RPG for you, I guess. I had a lot of fun completing SRW X, though I will say the reliance on more magical and fantasy elements made me care about the story a bit less this time (some of the cast of Wataru in particular were on the obnoxious side) and obviously being my second game the bloom was off the rose, so to speak, but I still really enjoyed myself, and will recommend this game to somebody who enjoyed V and wants more, but I’d still say V is your best bet for an entry point into the franchise.