Are they any good? Let me put it like this, for the past couple of days I’ve been up at like 2 or 3 in the morning playing these damn games. Its one of those games where you’re like “I’ll stop right after this mission” But then something really interesting happens and you play the next one... then the next one and so on.
The games are Super Robot Taisen: Original Generation and its sequel, and if the title wasn’t a enough to tip you off its about giant robots. Now if any of you have ever played a GBA strategy game before it plays a bit like Advanced Wars or Fire Emblem, expect in Super Robots the attack animations are alot better. For those of you not familiar with games of this sort... Its basically if you took the fundamentals of chess but swapped the rooks ability to go backwards and forward with the power of a GIANT BEAM CANNON!
And yes, you have to say it like that.
But since you know me by now you’ll want to hear about its story correct? I think it’s actually the best part of the game, it’s been a long time since I’ve had the pleasure of playing through a deep and rich story within a game. But James? There have been plenty of good stories in recent games, surely its not been that long since you’ve had a story such as this? Well, I’ll explain why reader:
The thing about alot of modern games, and actually most games, is that their story can be as well written as you like... but they tend to be formed around rather shallow and empty worlds. Like when I played the latest Prince of Persia series (Which I hate, but that’s a story for another day) and the story is your solid affair of dumb prince do bad... dumb prince save kingdom. But that is basically it, for the whole of the story that is it... There’s no outside... There’s no other survivors really... It’s very isolated and lonely, which makes it rather lifeless. Alot of story’s in games these days tend to be about the solo adventure of Mr Hero... It’s a very easy story to write, and in my opinion its sort of like... Damn, can’t think of a music reference... Oh I know! It’s like if someone who got amazing at guitar hero stood on stage during the Glastonbury festival... Oh boy, they’d be killed, Haha.
So let me tell you what Super Robot does which is different from this approach. You start the game off meeting your hero and a few other characters, your then moved and meet five more characters who will be your team and you like “Ok, yeah... I think I know these guys names now, lets go on adventures!” But then the game goes “Here’s 50 more characters! Can you remember all their names?! Oh by the way you haven’t met all of them yet, you’ll hear about some others so I hope you remember their names! Oh then the teams split in two and you met 20 more people... then you meet back with the other team, do you still remember their names?!”.
What I’m basically getting at is... Super Robots have alot of characters. Some aspects of the story move very quickly and single lines of dialogue could hold the keys to unravelling it, which is why you need to be careful cause it’s very easy to accidently skip dialogue. The main plot itself has an interesting taste, some bits are easy to see coming, other bits take you completely off guard but overall it’s a very well thought of sci-fi setting.
What I thinks important to mention of course is how the game deals with having so many characters.
First of all while your ‘main’ character is awesome and you’d like to see more of him, he has to take backstage alot to let the other characters get in. The game doesn’t make the terrible mistake of focusing on a main character who basically has very little personality, but in the small dosages you get of him he stays awesome rather then... annoying. The games story ‘personality’ focuses on the idea of teamwork, there is no one hero... if you go in on that mindset you’ll lose, because even a great man needs an army if he’s going to get anything done. With that in mind each of the characters gets a small introduction, you get an idea of what their like and then we move on with the story.
Now you might be thinking, hang on, how do they have enough time to flesh out all these characters? You see that’s the beauty of it, they don’t, and they don’t need it. All the characters are introduced as normal people, there’s no battering them with sudden questions about their past and motivations... cause when do you do that in real life? Truly getting to know someone takes a long time, and despite what many people think that time is longer than a single epic adventure. We learn about these characters as you would a normal person, little tidbits of information... or in some cases none at all, cause not everyone wants to tell you their life story (It’s not like I go around telling people that popular opinion is that “I’m Mental”). The game balances it all very well, and if you remember things then you will be rewarded later on.
Also I think we all know that when characters have mystery there more interesting. There are two talking cats for one of the pilots... I HAVE NO IDEA WHY THEY CAN TALK.
Before I carry on talking about the story I do want to get something out of the way.
The first game is like Jak and Daxter. The second game is like Jak 2.
Now if you got that reference you are either my flatmate or have a keen insight into my thought patterns. Suffice it to say the first game is a smooth ride, with challenging but fun sections, the second game is like finding out your best friends a serial killer.... Ok the second one is fricken hard, happy? Now when I started the first game there’s no tutorial so if you’re not familiar with the play style you’re a bit out of luck, but if a gamer its easy to get a handle of what’s going on. But there’s still alot of stuff they don’t tell you about, so if you look up hints on how to do things its likely they’ll be talking about things you didn’t know you could do... still you’ll do fine.
Once you hit the second game it starts pulling some serious dick moves. You get some levels where it’s like “kill these dudes, they all kill you in one hit, there’s a 50% chance they’ll hit you... there are 12 of them” and then finally when you upgrade your stuff so you no longer die they throw protection missions at you “The ship can take 5 hits... all the enemies will shoot at it... there are 30 enemies” and it’s like what the f***! But just when you’re getting comfortable they take away all of your good units and put you back in the first example. The latest thing which made me rage quit was fighting this boss... Now you throw all of your shit at him to wear him down... but then the game goes “Oh btw, he can instantly regenerate his health... but don’t worry, help will arrive in four turns, then you can attack him... what’s that? You didn’t know that? You already used all your good attacks? Well then I guess your f***ed... Also he can still regenerate when you supposed to actually kill him”.
It’s like the original director was killed by an evil shadow priest of the nameless god, and in an attempt to spread hate and malice throughout the world made it so that in the sequel it’s impossible to do a level on the first try. I mean come on, I’d be a little annoyed if you threw a few of these things in, but when you throw broken glass all over the carpets of my home... I’m gonna be pissed (as in, you can’t get anywhere without some pain first). Look challenging means if you can take a tough position and make it into a winning position all on your own, a dick move is if you make it impossible to win unless you can see into the future.
Not clear enough? How about this! It was considered challenging not to get killed by machine guns in WW1, it would be considered a dick move if you went back in time and gave one side giant robots.
Get the picture?!
OK, who are you kidding? You’re not going to play this are you? So I might as well discuss what happens in it.
Ok, some dude learns that aliens exists (Yay) but also that their evil (Oh no’s) so he begins creating a military group who in the future he’ll rename the divine crusaders. Now his big plan is to use the DC to attack the world’s army in order to make both groups improve their weapons. In the end his plan is to either A) Rule the world or B) make the world army strong enough to face off against the aliens. Bit of a wacky plan? Don’t worry, even after the war ended he placed counter measures to be sure that the earth wouldn’t be to crippled to fight off the aliens.
Now some interesting ideas are thrown around, their are colonies in space who basically want to be left alone, and you have the moon cradle and earth cradle which are designed as basically giant fallout shelters the human race can hibernate in until the bad aliens go away. There’s also a big president who tries to surrender humanity in order to save himself. But the most interesting idea I think is the goal of the aliens.
Now throughout the game they have plenty of chances to cripple the human race, wipe them out and so on... but they don’t. So everyone starts wondering what their true goal is. The big kicker (Which is pretty obvious by the time its ‘official’ announced) is that the aliens sent this moon size probe (it’s totally automated so you never learn who these aliens are) to find violent species in the galaxy, breed them a bit and then brainwash them and bring them back to serve in their army. Now the thing I thought was interesting is at one point the big baddie says that warlike species in the universe are actually rather rare... Now that’s something chewy to think on.
Anyway, DC lose, Aliens lose and you rock. Happy ending forever yes? In comes the sequel.
Now in the sequel everything goes proper mental and maybe along the way you’ll think to yourself, how am I supposed to swallow all this? But that’s helpfully covered in one conversation where they go “We know aliens exist now, so why should anything else be far fetched?”.
Now I haven’t finished it but the bit of got to the situation is this: The Dc are back, are still douchebags, and are being backed by very annoying sponsors and bastards in the governments. The Dc are also being backed by people from the future... or a different dimension, or a different dimension that’s in their future... I haven’t found out yet. There’s a new race of aliens with super killer robots that have stolen alot of factories and are making their own army. Finally there’s one more group of aliens whose job is to come out of nowhere and try and ruin your day. There’s alot happing.
One thing, I really like how the future guys are being handled, cause one of them really hates your main character and wants to murder him... But we have no idea way or who he is. I’m hoping that the future me is evil, and so I could fight him... that would be epic. Plus I think the main character would look awesome with an SAS uniform with a dark cloak... Nice.
..... What? Look me and my friends agree.... While horribly unjustified... The Nazis knew how to dress.
Edit: I just learned there is an anime of this... I must watch it...