Mecha Monday: Super Robot Wars Z3.1 Hell Chapter Review

Hey, Kaushik here with this week’s Mecha Monday! With the new Super Robot Wars recently released, you better believe I’ll offer my own review of it. For the uninitiated, Super Robot Wars is a popular Japan-only series of videogames, featuring many mecha from popular mecha anime. If you’d like a detailed look at Super Robot Wars in general, check out my Super Robot Wars primer! So, this is the 3rd iteration of the Z series. However, like Z2 before it, it will be split into two chapters. The first of these games is called the Hell chapter (with the Heaven chapter to come). As its name suggests, the plot somewhat represents the dark before the dawn. Without further ado, let’s get this underway~

SRW Z3.1 Title

The latest iteration of the Super Robot Wars series has been a mixed bag for me. There are some interesting and cool features introduced that simultaneously introduced some new difficulty and changed the system enough to keep things fresh. That being said, there were some major disappointments, mainly in terms of some of the attack animations. The musical choices weren’t super great, but that was counteracted by one of their new features which I’ll address later. Let’s go over the gameplay first.

SRW Z3.1 Map

Super Robot Wars games generally have incredibly similar gameplay, so any differences I’ll cover will be in the minutiae. In terms of that minutiae, some of the major system changes include making the game more similar to the NEO SP system. Your spirit points now start at half of their max value, and you regenerate five per turn. In some ways it makes certain strategies more potent, particularly if you like to hole up and defend. Essentially you always have infinite SP. However, to get the battle masteries, you generally have to rush, so in general this can be kind of difficult since  you probably won’t reach max SP by map’s end.

SRW Z3.1 Unicorn

Besides that, Z3.1 employs a Tag system in which you can pair up two pilots. It’s a pretty basic squad system by SRW standards, but a cool new feature is the implementation of Tag Tension, which increases via various actions (most importantly killing enemies). Once it reaches max, you get access to certain abilities on your next kill, such as taking another turn or regaining 10 SP. It becomes fairly essential early on to maximize your use of this system.

As far as the story is concerned, I’ll say my Japanese isn’t perfect so it’s difficult for me to give an accurate assessment. There are some cute crossover moments I catch of course, and the majority of the plot is going to be lifted and somewhat modified from the various anime. The major anime covered in this title are Aquarion Evol, Full Metal Panic!, Rebuild of Evangelion, and Gundam Unicorn, all debut titles to the SRW series. The original plot has to do with the main character Hibiki and his teacher Suzune. They pilot the new machine Genion, and fight against Earth’s various invaders. Hibiki, of course, has something of a tortured past, and works throughout the game to overcome it. Beyond that I couldn’t give you many more specifics. While I enjoy the story somewhat, I have to say it’s not one of the reason I play these games.

Nu Gundam’s attacks from Z3.1

So here’s the big deal with this game: the graphics, the battle animations in particular. I have to say they are a bit of a disappointment. Several of them I consider a downgrade, such as the Nu Gundam’s attacks. It had one of the most impressive animations in Z2.2 (a PSP game, no less!) yet in this latest title it feels somewhat lame in comparison. Another incredibly disappointing animation is the Arbalest from Full Metal Panic!. The animations feel quite stiff and really not that interesting. It’s ultimate attack is a little better, but the perspective switch between the first person and third person is somewhat jarring and just a little boring to me.

Besides that, of course, the abandonment of a 3D map they used in the first Z title is kind of disappointing. They ditched it in Z2 due to the limitations of the PSP hardware, but considering this game is on PS3/Vita, it really should have had 3D maps. Overall, I felt the animations were kind of weak in this title, which is disappointing since they are generally the most entertaining part of the series.

Nu Gundam’s attacks from Z3.2

The other major reason I play these titles is the music. The original music is usually quite catchy, and hearing the renditions of themes from popular mecha anime can be pretty interesting. While the original music in this game is pretty good (I’m a big fan of the Genion’s theme), the choices from the various anime are kind of  disappointing. Particularly the choices from Full Metal Panic are incredibly disappointing, not doing any renditions of Shimokawa Mikuni’s excellent work in opening and ending themes from that series. I will say though the Gundam Unicorn choices were excellent. Still, there is one major new feature that makes all of this somewhat irrelevant: the inclusion of custom BGM. Any music on your PS3 or Vita system can be used as BGM for the game, which is an excellent feature and I hope becomes a mainstay in the series.


-Some interesting new gameplay mechanics

-Great Custom BGM option


-Underwhelming animation

-In general weak graphics

-Somewhat poor musical choices

Rating: 2.5/5


Miscellaneous details:
Developer: Banpresto
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Available on: PS3, PS Vita
Genre: Strategy RPG
Release date: April 10, 2014

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I write about anime and stuff. Giant robots are pretty cool, too.


I write about anime and stuff. Giant robots are pretty cool, too.

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