Hello everyone, this is ChrisX and welcome to the first series of a post known as the Super Robot Wars Season… where I speak about one of my favorite crossover franchises, the Super Robot Wars.
So if in the previous post, I talked about the outline of Super Robot Wars and my experience on how I got into it, now let’s talk about something else. A rather hot topic between Super Robot Wars fans.
Fans of Super Robot Wars usually identify Super Robot Wars into two types… a Normal SRW and an Original Generation SRW. To be brief, the former is the typical SRW that involves crossing over many many anime shows, and the latter is an SRW involving original characters that have popped up in various SRWs.
A lot of fans seems to hold the beliefs that the former is the true heart and soul of SRW, that if they remove the anime shows… it’s not an SRW anymore. And up until V, the Japan-only status of regular SRW and the almost-requirement to watch most anime involved to get the fullest out of a regular SRW was such a daunting task that the OG series became preferable for easy digestion and it also helps that the characters over there are also pretty colorful, quirky and lovable. Most of the time.
But we’re not here to say which kind of SRW is better. Instead, let us just look at these types of Super Robot Wars and see their strengths and weaknesses in more details. Perhaps, together we can learn appreciate both sides.
A normal SRW is exactly what you expected. It’s a crossover between various mecha anime like Gundam, Mazinger Z, Getter Robo and many others. If you want a good comparison about this, you can think of it like either the Avengers, Justice League of Mecha Anime… or hell, the Super Smash Bros of Mecha Anime, played kind of similarly to the Fire Emblem series.
Obviously, the main draw is the series featured. One thing that is also constant is that Banpresto always slip in a few original designs to become the PV character or original enemies that drew all these massive group of bad guys together so your band of heroes will come and smack them in the ass. It is safe to say that depending on the person, one SRW will be viewed differently than others, depending on their history of anime watching.
Like, if a fan is a big fan of the Gundam that took place in the Universal Century timeline, they probably will find a harder time to get attracted with an SRW that does not have a UC Gundam within. But that doesn’t mean they won’t like it at all, maybe they would… once they realize that they might give a damn to some other series contained.
This kind of SRW has a weird effect of getting someone interested into a series they probably was never interested before. Maybe in the SRW, the units from that series played really good, or have good design or quirky cast. Trust me, we’ll get into this soon.
So yep, aside of being a massive crossover, it can also be a gateway for you to try out new anime.
The drawback of this is that the majority of the games were left untranslated. Sure, these days, these kinds of SRW were being translated, but that’s like… 3 out of tons and tons of SRW games created since 1991. Since 18 years! Because of this, perhaps you might have to watch the anime first to understand what’s actually going on because what’s given in SRW is actually a modification of the series’ original plots. If you do not understand what goes on, you might not get full enjoyment out of this.
But from that drawback comes actually good points. One, if you do not watch it, the least you can do is hear from the hearsays of the other anime watchers to get a minimum glimpse of what goes on. Two… some problematic anime has been known to be fixed in SRW storytelling that if you think the original story was a trainwreck… yep, leave it to the SRW factory to fix what went wrong.
Evangelion’s Shinji Ikari being too wimp for your tastes? Leave it to SRW to make him a believable badass, because having him interact with people not like his father or his dysfunctional cast will do his psyche good.
Gundam SEED Destiny being an overall trainwreck? Leave it to SRW to tone down the trainwreck elements and making the characters actually sensible and plot making sense. That happened in a certain SRW.
In closing, a normal SRW is like a massive crossover between your favorite anime, with possible fixes if certain shows were a trainwreck. It may be hard to approach and enjoy the fullest due to language barrier and how you may need knowledge of the anime featured, and the cast roster will have a great effect in getting you interested in the first place, but getting past that will net you a really good experience.
Since 1991, Banpresto has made a lot of Super Robot Wars games and created many many original characters to assist these licensed heroes. They have created enough people that one day, they decided to do something new:
Make a Super Robot Wars game consisting all these Original Characters. Saves the licensing cost too! Hence, Super Robot Wars Original Generation was born. And it was even made to be eligible for English translation! Banpresto had to backpedal about it when they brought the franchise to PS2, but regardless, the series is deemed profitable enough that they become a long-running franchise on their own.
Now you might be thinking, if a Super Robot Wars contained no licensed shows, that means it lost its heart and soul and instantly not as interesting. I… disagree with that for some reasons.
First, the Banpresto Original Characters might be a bit cliche, but they’re still lovable as it is. It was enough to carry the day. Second… this is actually what happens when you have a long running crossover series… and then decided to make a crossover out of it. A crossover of a crossover… I do not think that even Nintendo touched that with their Super Smash Bros.
But most importantly, there’s this thing: With these original characters, you actually do not need an anime to watch them. Sure, they originated from a title which had a lot of licensed shows, but you can actually start out your SRW journey from this Original Generation series. The characters will be easy to digest, and it may even got you interested to the normal SRW where this character debuted. Again, how their plot worked would be different than in OG, but you at least have someone to be attached to as you also discover the wonders of the normal SRW.
In other words… it can also serve as a gateway to the normal Super Robot Wars where there are licensed shows. Even if it might not have the same punch as the normal SRW, it is still a very important piece of Super Robot Wars franchise that I wouldn’t even underestimate.
So… which kind of SRW do I prefer? Um… can I say I like both? Well, if that doesn’t convince you… well allow me to share you something.
My transition from getting to SRW: From OG to Normal
No kidding. This is REALLY based on true story. My own story.
In my college days, I was totally in the blank of Super Robot Wars. I only saw some of the original characters from the internet, and… I thought some of them looked neat. When I looked at the normal Super Robot Wars entries, I thought they looked neat, but they’re in Japanese and I do not know any of the series there…
Then I came across the GBA version of Super Robot Wars Original Generation. It’s in English and the characters turns out to be neat and lovable, and I enjoyed its gameplay. I liked that game. But it is the second game that became a turning point.
The second game improved the gameplay and story of the OG game, but there is one thing that attached me to it the most: The original character known as Lamia Loveless. I can safely say that up until now, I still consider her one of my favorite Banpresto Original characters (we’ll get to that later!). Some sort of ‘waifu’, if you can call it that.
It is because of this kind of attachment that I decided to look for the SRW where Lamia debuted: Super Robot Wars Advance.
With only Lamia as my anchor for that, I braved through the Japanese-only SRW Advance. In there, I started noticing something that changed within me. I started liking the other guy that debuted in the same manner as Lamia, Axel Almer, who was an exclusively enemy unit in Original Generation 2, and I got to learn how they were portrayed differently in the original game depending on some of your choices.
But regardless, I was also prepared to solo the game with Lamia if I have to. At that point to me, all these units like Mazinger Z, Getter 1, Nu Gundam, God/Burning Gundam… they were all like strangers to me, I would be just waiting until I get my hands on Wing Zero Custom and the rest of the Gundam Wing cast. I just didn’t think that I would depend on them, and then I grew like them on my own ways. What started with my plan of ‘Lamia solo show’ spiraled out of control and then I started to grow interested of these shows that make up the roster of the game.
However, there is one particular thing that I remember to be a great effect out of this trek to a licensed Super Robot Wars. I ended up liking a certain series that I never thought I would like for real… a 70’s show known as Tosho Daimos.
The concept was simple: The battle to protect Earth that gets morally gray, featuring a karate-fighting robot with motion controls piloted by the hero that engages in a ‘Romeo and Juliet’ style romance with the heroine.
It’s a really old show, but because how the plot went in Super Robot Wars Advance… I ended up hunting down the show myself and watched all of its episodes. At that time, it was only available in the Filipino dub, where the character names got changed… BUT I DIDN’T CARE. I grew to like that series.
It’s not a Gundam show, it’s something that was semi-new to me, but I watched and grew to love it.
And that is just one show that I ended up watching thanks to SRW. I began watching even more shows, play some more SRW that I could get my hands on, still following through the Original Generation games and… here I am.
In other words, SRW OG and their original characters was my gateway to normal licensed series and made me appreciate mecha beyond Gundam. It was a journey I’ll never forget.
Well, that’ll be all from me for now, but stay tuned. I did say this is SRW Season, there will be more SRW goodies that I will talk about in the upcoming times.
Until then, this is ChrisX signing out.