Welcome, mecha fans. This mecha Monday we’ll be discussing the Super Robot Wars series of video games (and 2 anime adaptations). I’m sure many of you already know about it, but for those mecha fans that may not be all that familiar with the series… I think you’ll enjoy this. For starters, the SRW (as it’s known for short) series is a series of strategy RPGs. It started on the Gameboy, and has seen releases on nearly every console and handheld out there. Basically, it’s one gigantic crossover plot of awesomeness between all of your favorite mecha anime.
So what exactly makes up a SRW game? Well, it’s a strategy RPG. If you’re familiar with the Fire Emblem series, it’s quite similar. You play the game going through a story, and you play through every mission of that story on your way to the end. Like Fire Emblem (at least most of them) there isn’t really a chance to “grind”, so you take your units from mission to mission and hope you’re ready to take the next set of enemies on. You receive money, experience points, and in certain games, pilot points for destroying enemies. The experience points are fairly self-explanatory. The money is used to upgrade your mechs’ stats and attacks (and to repair any mech that was destroyed during a mission), whereas the pilot points generally go towards improving the stats of your pilots, and buying pilot skills. In a nutshell, that’s more or less how the game plays.
You might be asking yourself “Why is this awesome? Why should I, as a mecha fan, be interested in this?”. The reason is quite simple. All of your favorite anime/manga mecha (and a few videogame ones!) are playable and important characters. In fact, these guys make up most of the cast. If you haven’t considered the idea of launching a photon-energy powered Breast Fire at Char Aznables Zaku, well, I don’t know what kind of mecha fan you are. In SRW, all of those crazy dreams come true. Did you always want to see Shinn win the fight against Kira? Another dream only possible in SRW! So you see mecha fans, all of your crazy mecha-related crossover dreams are a possibility in this game series.
Another thing I usually like about the SRW games is how they integrate the various plot lines into the story. See, SRW doesn’t just take the mecha from various anime and plop them down in a world for no reason (… not usually, anyway). You actually play through the series’ plot through the game, and it’s really interesting to see the crossovers within the stories of each series. For example, a pivotal plot point in SRW Z, a PS2 title, is the dimension bomb featured in Orguss. It’s what’s used to link the various worlds together. It’s also interesting to see various villains team up or split up depending on just how much of an asshole they were. It’s not enough that all your favorite robots are fighting together, but all of these plots combine together to create more interesting circumstances as well. In certain cases, SRW even gives a chance to fix some bad plots. For example, SRW generally tries to fix Gundam SEED Destiny to downplay Kira’s role and hype up Shinn’s role a bit more, which I think is quite nice.
While I don’t think the gameplay is very special (it’s just a basic strategy RPG), the graphics are actually really cool. In particular, the battle animations. They’re incredible flashy and cool to watch, and on the consoles/handhelds that can handle them, fully voiced. I’d describe them in-depth a bit more, but I think I’ll just let this video do the talking for me. As a note, the mech here is DaiRaiOh, a SRW original mech piloted by Kanou Touma. He’s one of the selectable protagonists in SRW Alpha 3, for the PS2.
Now for the one downside of SRW… It’s not in English. Well, mostly not. Two SRW games have made it to the west, Original Generation 1 and 2 for the GBA. Additionally, a spin off game called Endless Frontier came out in the US for the DS. Otherwise, we here in the west get nothing. Fortunately, if you’ve played OG1 and 2, the gameplay is so similar in pretty much every other game that you can easily pick up the other games. Additionally, there are some excellent resources out there on information in these games. If you want to get your hands on the games… Good luck. They’re not particularly hard to find, but playing them is a different matter entirely. I’m sure as a mecha fan, you’ll find a way!