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 Post subject: Super Robot Wars OG Saga: Endless Frontier
PostPosted: October 21st, 2009, 3:40 am 
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Just finished Super Robot Wars OG Saga: Endless Frontier. Wars, Taisen... whatever! For the Nintendo DS.

Most crazy hectic nutty game I've played in a while. With an equally insane cast. Basically take your SRW Original Generations sort of characters and dump them into some crazy RPG world and thats what you get. I don't even know where to start talking about this game....

Basically theres a crazy world divided by portals and the game starts off with you playing some bounty hunter Haken Browning and an android, Aschen Brodel exploring some crashed battleship for loot and whatnot. They find some busty princess with a living bounty on her head and thus head off on more nutty adventures against crazily outfitted villains and a whole heap of convoluted messes, along with finding Kos-Mos who has somehow ended up here and is looking for a way back to Xenosaga land, along with the protagonists of NamcoXCapcom(which I never played) and a triplet of pet robots(Mini Personal Troopers!) and they end up saving the bloody world somehow.

The story is utter rubbish, but that isn't really what the game is about and hence for most part... works for the game. The main charm are the characters and their insane conversations. Like the characters often make fun of what each other are wearing, thinking that their own outfits are normal. Which is pretty funny since they are all dressed rather ridiculously, but they look fine for characters in a game and aren't quite an example of complete fashion disasters. The main character gets referred to as a cowboy wannabe amongst various other things and the game just takes the shit out on most typical RPG stereotypes. Along with the occasional verbal sexual harassment. And its hilarious when the main character finds out about his mysterious past and origin and doesn't give two shits about it and goes on about his way. Although there is room to explore where he came from, so that may be the potential plot of the upcoming sequel.....

Gameplay is rather fun. Turn based, customizable combos... you don't have to do much besides time your attacks with a single button press and despite all the complex looking attacks, its quite simple. Each character has a Command bar, which determines how much they can do, and it refills by 50% every turn. You can choose to use special skills(awesome special attacks or effects), spirit(typical sorta RPG spells, if you played SRW you know what they are...), items or just to beat the living crap out of your opponents with a spectacular combo. You can change your combos in game as well, to fit the flow of things. Although there are a few kinks in the system, like some enemies have this tendency to use their PERFECT EVASION mid combo and end your attacks. There is no real basis behind it or any real way to avoid it.... it just happens! Just to stop you from raping enemies to complete hell. If one character has a turn after another, you can chain your combo from one character to another, the advantage being a bonus to command and your frontier gauge.... which is a shared bar amongst your characters allowing you to perform an ultimate attack. There are also support attacks, where you can call in rear line characters to perform attacks, which uses up your SP but adds to your frontier gauge, and hence are essential to awesome ass kicking. Spirits can be used as long as its your turn and you have the SP to use it and does not consume any Command and is pretty tide turning in battle. Items use up command depending on what type of item it is. Of course if you chain your combos, your next character is dragged straight into attacking and cannot use any spirits or items. Only attacking or using special skills end your turn so you can use command restoring items and healing items in tandem to restore your party, or spam spirits until you are satisfied.... kinda makes things too easy sometimes. Supposedly it is a modified version of NamcoXCapcom's battle system.... so if you have played that you'll feel at home with it.

The game is quite your typical RPG setting aside the more unique combat system. Top down 4 directional square blocking movement, dungeon exploration with save points and all that jazz. You spend most of your time walking around on the world map or in dungeons. Towns are represented by a menu however, and aren't explorable nor are there NPCs to talk to..... which is a bit disappointing in some ways. With the characters having such insane dialogue anyway, having NPCs to talk to might have been more fun in itself! But it keeps things simple and makes saving, healing and restocking items easy and thus works.

For better enjoyment of the game, it is probably best to be a fan of the Super Robot Wars franchise or somewhat acquainted with it anyway. For example, Aschen Brodel is essentially Lamia Loveless(along with code number W07!), although with a crazy split personality. Also the Personal Troopers(robots) that appear in the game as bosses and eventually as support attack characters.... SRW fans will recognize and know. Them being modified smaller versions of the Gespenst, Alt Eisen and Weissritter as the Phantom, Nacht and Abend(full names being Gespenst Phantom, Alt Eisen Nacht and Weissritter Abend, but the characters refer to them as just the Phantom, Nacht and Abend for most part.) They aren't directly playable unfortunately, but will appear in battle most of the time when you get them as support attack characters... they probably perform the most powerful support attacks in the game. Plus Haken Browning can summon them to perform special attacks, the Gespenst Kick and the Rampage Spectre(reference to the Alt Eisen and Weissritter Rampage Ghost combination attack of the SRW series).
Also items! There are various items that make references back to SRW. Like theres a unlockable secret weapon that boasts the highest attack in the game, the Z.O. Sword. There is a Shishioh blade lying around somewhere and Roche Sabers. And the most expensive and powerful accessory in the game being the Hero's Mark. Steel Soul is present as well. Additionally Aschen's exclusive weapons tend to make references back the the SRW series, like the S-Adaptor. There is also some fun for Kos-Mos/Xenosaga fans in her equipment. Like she has an exclusive accessory called the Kitty-Ear Unit, amongst other things. The more humorous take on some item description makes the equipment system less stale.
SRW elements would also include the battle use Spirits. Some of them would be recognizable by SRW fans and have for most part retained their original SRW sorta function. There are a few new unfamiliar ones(to me anyway) and some have changed in function.
Setting that aside, the Einst also make an appearance in the game. Hence more SRW crossover-ing galore. Setting aside the main character's family name is Browning and that another character's is Nanbu, referring to Kyosuke Nanbu and Excellen Browning. However those are just mere name references and have no bearing. I guess Kaguya Nanbu using a Zankantou(THAT SHOOTS SHURIKENS) is yet another SRW reference....

All the Japanese voice acting has been preserved in all its original glory. Although there is only voice acting in battles for most part, although some shop keepers say random stuff as you scroll through their inventory(you would have no idea what they are saying if you don't know Japanese). The main character Haken, makes some remarks when you go into an inn or leave a city as well. The voice acting is great and I have no complaints about it. Best part would be Suzuka, who is voiced by Mamiko Noto. In a very un-Noto sorta role. I love how she plays Suzuka, who is a rather crazy oni girl who controls a robot decked with gatling guns by dancing with fans connected to it with strings. Like... its just hard to describe. Sounds like Mamiko Noto is high on weed? Either way, that was probably my favourite set of voices in the game. I'd never get bored of her saying stuff like JYAKI-GUN BOMBAAAAH!!! and laughing in a HO HO HO HO sorta way.

Flaws of the game would probably be its rather weak story, although made up for by its entertaining cast. Theres also a lack of character development, the characters may have fun personalities but they don't really change..... not like they really need to though. The fun and insane banter between the protagonists and villains make up for most of it.
Battles are fun at first.... but you end up fighting each boss you meet a fair few times and eventually boss fights end up being a chore. Especially since they toss them at you non stop. Like enter a dungeon, BOSS FIGHT! Reach end of dungeon, BOSS FIGHT! You fight some bosses separately at first, then you fight them altogether.... near the end you find it rather exhausting. Not that the fights are any hard, just time consuming. I guess being too easy can be considered a flaw by some, as you can spam Spirit moves as much as you want, so you can pull your entire party from near death rather easily(Kaguya has like Love anyway, which is a full party heal right from the get go so its not like you need to spam spirits...). Either way its not a game you pick up for a challenge.
Also there isn't that much secret hidden stuff. Sure dungeons have their forks, and some harder to access treasure chests.... but there is like only one secret boss which guards that one secret item in the game. So re-playability isn't exactly high... by the time you finished the game you would have had enough of the battle system for a while.

In all, its a pretty solid title, offering 25-30 hours of gameplay. What might seem the most hectic and insane combination of things actually turns out pretty good in the end. The plot is relatively simple, so its still understandable amongst all the insane character conversations and whatnot, the gameplay is pretty fun and remains fun for most of the game.... where in most typical RPGs you'd probably groan at every random encounter halfway through. So it is quite the achievement. Ending might feel a bit anti climactic but wraps things up. Its nothing deep or meaningful, but it sure is nice solid entertainment.

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 Post subject: Re: Super Robot Wars OG Saga: Endless Frontier
PostPosted: October 21st, 2009, 9:10 am 
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Wonderful review, and wonderfully elaborate, too. Thanks a lot for your efforts.
It always amuses me to find German vocabulary stuff in foreign media products just for its being exotic without regard to its meaning. At least most of the time.
Can you see any link between Aschen Brodel (i.e. "Aschenbrödel" = "Aschenputtel") and its English counterpart Cinderella (yes, the princess)?
"Gespenst Phantom, Alt Eisen Nacht and Weissritter Abend" are just hilariously cool names, if that's not a contradiction in terms. Nacht = night and Abend = evening, that's fine although noone has a name like that. But a "Gespenst" is an "apparition", with "phantom" being a synonym. "Alteisen" means "scrap metal", and "Weißritter" is a rather bad translation of "white knight" (which somehow suits Aschen Brodel, I guess). I like such stuff.

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