Bandai Namco's Super Robot Wars V on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita has arrived, marking the first time that a standalone game in the long-running series has been released since 2009's Super Robot Wars NEO on Nintendo Wii. All other games preceding Super Robot Wars V - or Super Robot Taisen V - have been remakes, sequels, or part of a subseries.
For the uninitiated, Super Robot Wars is a series of tactical role-playing games featuring characters, mecha, story elements, and music from anime shows all rolled into a massive crossover. Think Disgaea or Fire Emblem, but with mecha as playable units. The series has actually been around since 1991 - the first game debuted on the original Game Boy. Today, it boasts more than 20 games across different platforms under its belt.
But despite its impressive number of games, the series isn't all that popular outside of Japan. And for good reason: Aside from games under the Original Generation (OG) subseries which features strictly original characters, no Super Robot Wars game has received an English localization due to licensing issues.
Super Robot Wars V is the first of its kind
Super Robot Wars V is the first ever non-OG console game in the series to have an English version, allowing new players to get into the series without prior knowledge of the Japanese language. The English-subtitled Asian release was released yesterday, Feb. 23. Since the game is on region-free platforms, everyone can play the game. Obviously, those residing in North America and Europe would need to import its physical copy. Although texts are in English, the game retains its Japanese voiceovers. Re-recording everything in English would be too pricey for Bandai Namco. Besides, anime characters with their original Japanese voice actors are arguably way better than their dubbed counterparts.
Features characters and mecha from more than 20 shows
Fans of the popular Gundam franchise will love this game. There are eight Gundam series featured in the game, including Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny, Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn, and the manga-only Mobile Suit Crossbone Gundam. Among the other anime shows represented in the game include Martian Successor Nadesico, Getter Robo Armageddon, Invincible Steel Man Zambot 3, and Full Metal Panic! Original characters and mechas are also in the game, and for the first time in the series, Super Robot Wars V is set to have paid DLC in the future, which likely translates to an even bigger roster.
Gameplay is actually pretty easy to grasp
Veterans of tactical role-playing or turn-based strategy games will likely have no trouble with Super Robot Wars V. Scenarios in the game all play out similarly: Players control mechas on a grid map, with the mechas either predetermined (usually during early game scenarios) or selected before the scenario commences. Players and the A.I. take turns making actions on the map not unlike in a chess match. They can move units, attack units that are in range, and use "Spirit Commands," which are basically spells or skills akin to magic in RPGs. Spirit Commands have effects like double damage, 100 percent accuracy, and increased defenses.
The goal in each scenario is usually to take out all enemy forces. Sometimes, players are only tasked with defeating the boss unit. And in some scenarios, the goal is to either successfully defend an area or move a certain unit to a specific location. Once the goal or objective is met, the scenario ends and players are taken to an intermission menu (after some dialog between the characters, of course). Here, players will be able to upgrade and customize their units and get them ready for the next scenario. Super Robot Wars V also allows players to customize the skills of each mecha pilot using points acquired in scenarios.
New to the gameplay are the "Extra Action" and "Extra Order" features. The former allows players to use special moves and consumes "Extra Count" or "ExC" collected throughout the game. The latter is exclusive to battleship units, which act as mobile bases during scenarios and can be occasionally relied upon for additional firepower - they're basically tank units. Extra Order provides boosts to deployed units. Both new features aren't really needed, though. Players can still plow through the game with good unit management and strategy. Many Super Robot Wars games are perfectly beatable without having to upgrade units.
Offers a lot of replay value
Like its predecessors, Super Robot Wars V isn't a long game and can be finished within a week. Series veterans who bought it as soon as it hit stores yesterday are probably halfway through the game as we speak. However, the game offers a lot of replay value, especially to fans of mecha anime shows. There are dozens of playable units in the game. So players can repeatedly beat the game using different units every time.
The mechas, portrayed in gorgeous 2D sprites, are definitely the highlights in the game even if you have never watched their respective shows. Sure, by the third or fourth run players would be able to breeze through the game with minimal resistance. But the sheer number of playable units keeps the game fresh every play-through. Because, really, who doesn't like robots with pilots screaming at the top of their lungs during animated attack sequences? Okay, not everyone does. But having a huge roster of playable characters usually translates to a lot of replay value.
If you have never played a Super Robot Wars game before, Super Robot Wars V is a good starting point. Once you've gotten yourself familiarized with the gameplay mechanics, who knows, maybe you would be able to play through previous games in the series without the aid of English texts. Because, really, aside from new additions like the Extra Action and Extra Order features, Super Robot Wars has kept the same core gameplay throughout its many games.
Super Robot Wars V is now available on PS4 and PS Vita, with cross-save function available between the two consoles. It's the fourth Super Robot Wars game released on PS Vita (excluding the remake of the very first game in the series), but just the second on PS4. In case you're curious, the "V" in the title stands for "Voyage."