Weeaboo Wednesday: Learning The Ways of Super Robot Wars
Though there is many different genres of anime, the one I’ve always been most attracted to has been mecha. I love giant humanoid robots fighting each other, whether it’s the hardcore scientific side like Armored Troopers Votoms, or the insane fighting-spirit powered robots of GaoGaiGar. So when I learned there was a Japan-only video game series that paired every big mecha series together, I had to get into it, and now I can say I’m hooked. Even though most SRW games have never come to the US, and only a few have been translated into English, the barrier to entry is not as high as you’d think.
So maybe you’re asking yourself what this series is about. Super Robot Wars is a long-running series of tactical role-playing games (think Final Fantasy Tactics) featuring mecha from popular anime series. Due to the massive licensing issues, the series has never been released outside of Japan, save for a few games that featured no licensed characters or mechs. Basically, Banpresto set out to make a mecha fan’s wet dream possible, a game where all your favorite mecha can battle and team up. The series started out on the original Game Boy in 1991, and still has games being released 20 years later. I didn’t know much about the series until a few years ago, when I started really getting into mecha anime. I went through several games before the series really clicked for me, and now I’m a rabid fan.
A few years ago, the only translated Super Robot Wars game I could get my grubby hands on was a fan translation of Super Robot Wars 3 on SNES. Though the translation was well done, I just couldn’t get into the game. A large part of my failure to get invested was that I didn’t know many of the series in Super Robot Wars 3, and I had a difficult time understanding the game’s battle system. That’s not to say it’s a bad game, but for some reason I couldn’t get into it. As far as a starter game for someone new to the series, I don’t think it’s the best choice… but it could just be me. After some time with it, I put it down for other games, and didn’t come back to it.
Last December, a friend of mine let me know that Romhacking Airie, a fan translation group, had just released a full English translation of Super Robot Wars J, a Game Boy Advance entry to the series that was newer and featured many series I knew of. I had just put a Game Boy Advance emulator on my cell phone, and figured this was a good way to try the series again. The game starts off with a bang, and I was instantly hooked. Within a few missions, I had characters from some of my favorite anime (Mazinger, Martian Succesor Nadesico, and Blue Comet SPT Layzner to name a few) teaming up to fight an alien invasion, and I was loving every minute of it. The game plays great on my Motorola Droid, and I’ve been into it ever since. The battle animations were smooth and neat looking, and watching Domon use Erupting Burning Finger never gets old. You can pick up the translation at Romhacking Aerie’s website.
Though I haven’t finished J yet, I decided that it was time to take the plunge and learn to play an untranslated version of Super Robot Wars. I eventually settled on Super Robot Wars MX Portable, a PSP port of the popular Gamecube release Super Robot Wars MX. I have to say, the portable route makes the games feel a little easier to play. I can fire up and suspend the PSP whenever I want, and I think that makes the games more accessible. Anyway, since this would be my first foray into playing a SRW game with only moonrunes to guide me, I found a couple guides on the internet that explained what some of the Japanese characters meant, and a story guide for the dialogue. These helped immensely, though I still had to figure out many of the moves and skills myself. Playing through J definitely prepared me for playing MX, as I instantly recognized some of the skill effects and game mechanics within the Japanese characters.
Of course, the game still has to be fun, and MX is an absolute blast. Many old favorite series return, but one of my favorite new additions was Neon Genesis Evangelion. As you can see from the above video, the graphics are a large (and obvious) improvement from earlier titles, and the characters are voiced. I have only worked through about 20% of the game, but I’m really looking forward to what is to come. Though the language barrier is still an issue, it’s becoming less of one over time, thanks to practice. I’ve even managed to memorize most of the frequently used characters for special abilities and status effects, and I’m having a great time learning more and more about the game.
If you’re at all interested in getting into the series, I highly recommend you start with Super Robot Wars J. Gameboy Advance emulators are easily obtainable on most mobile platforms, as well as computers. The game is an excellent intro to the series that teaches you all the basics, and gets you right into an engaging storyline featuring many great series.
I’m loving my journey into the world of Super Robot Wars, and I can’t recommend the series enough to fans of tactical role-playing games and mecha fans alike. Not only are these games some great fanwankery for mechaheads, but they’re also solid tactical RPGs that are fun to play. And if I haven’t sold you yet, check out the preview video below, it features many new mecha to the series, including Armored Trooper Votoms, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion, Eureka Seven, and the long awaited debut of fan favorite Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann