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Super Robot Wars (スーパーロボット大戦 Sūpā Robotto Taisen, also known as Super Robot Taisen), commonly abbreviated as SRW and SupaRobo (スパロボ), is a series of tactical role-playing video games produced by the Japanese gaming company, Banpresto, a division of Bandai Namco.
Starting out as a spinoff of the Compati Hero Series, the main feature of the franchise is having a story that crosses over several popular mecha anime, manga and video games, allowing characters and mecha from different titles to team up or battle one another. The first game in the franchise was released for the Nintendo Game Boy on April 20, 1991, later spawning numerous games that were released on various consoles and handhelds. Due to the nature of crossover games and licensing involved, only a few games have been released outside Japan, mainly from the Original Generation games, which only feature Banpresto's own original characters and mecha.
- Main article: Gameplay elements
The game franchise is officially Strategy Role Playing Games, with a few elements from visual novels in terms of the story and some decision making throughout the game's storyline. Most games follow a basic structure: when a stage begins, the character receives introductory dialogue between playable characters, leading to the scenario on the battlefield. To complete a scenario, the player must accomplish scenario objectives. Some scenarios are longer, with multi-part missions or have new objectives added as the story unfolds. On battlefield, the player and enemy take turns to order their units with commands available, such as movement, attacking, forming squads and casting "Spirit Commands", a set of magic-like spells unique to each pilot. Once the scenario is cleared, more dialogue is exchanged between characters before the player is taken to an intermission menu. Here, units can be upgraded or optional parts installed, characters' stats and skills can be changed or upgraded, and other maintenance actions can be performed before the player continues on with the game.
Many games also have hidden features that can only be gained through a special sequence of events or completing optional challenging objectives. Some of these bonuses include extra stages, different endings, captured enemy machines and special upgrade for specific units, such as the IWSP Pack for the GAT-X105 Strike Gundam. Characters that would normally be killed may not die as well. In some games, these are called "Skill Points" ("Battle Masteries" in the North American localizations) and the difficulty of the game increases accordingly.
In most games, the player selects or is given a Banpresto original character and machine, who is connected to the overarching storyline which ties together the events of the constituent anime for the game. Some featured anime also has their plots intertwined: in Super Robot Wars Alpha, the White Fang from New Mobile Report Gundam Wing allies with Paptimus Scirocco's rebellion from Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, resulting in the two enemy forces working together. The stories play out the events of the anime, albeit altered. It is said that the events of each game are caused by incursions known as Dimension Quakes that started several years prior with the explosion of a "dimensional bomb", thereby constantly merging and separating the various universes without anyone knowing, ensuring canonicity.
One noteworthy aspect of the Super Robot Wars games is that character death happens rarely. Players will often have the chance to prevent the death of an ally, as depicted in his or her animated series, while some games take this a step further and prevent heroic deaths freely, without extra effort on the player's part. Additionally, some enemies can be convinced (usually those who are not completely villainous, or who have good intentions) to abandon the antagonists and join the player, whether they do so in their respective series or not. When these concepts are combined, players can create a team that has no chance of existing within the original series.
Battles in Super Robot Wars are turn-based. The player usually gets to move their forces first, one at a time, then control switches to the game's AI.
When a unit attacks, the target reacts by blocking (increasing defense against the attack), or evading (reducing the attack's chance to hit), or countering (striking back with their own attack). Once chosen, the battle animation is played out. If the player unit is not destroyed and successfully damaged the enemy, then the unit gains experience points. And if the enemy is destroyed, the player will also receive money and optional parts. In later games, "Support Attacks/Defense" (where an adjacent unit that has not taken its turn yet can make a free attack/jump in front of an ally and take reduced damage) and simultaneous attacks by two or more units were introduced.
All battles are carried out either the terrain of land, air, sea or space, which affects the performance of machines, pilots and weapons in various ways. For example, most Gundam characters excel in space combat, but suffer major handicaps underwater, and techniques requiring an atmosphere, such as the Mazinger Z's "Rust Hurricane", are unusable in space. The battlefield also contains objects which grant various effects. For example, besides providing repair and energy refill, a military base also provides land units with defense bonus but will hinder them from moving freely.
In addition to standard mecha and vehicle units, the player often has one or more "Battleships", air- or spacecraft units such as the White Base, SDF-1 Macross or Daiku-Maryu that in addition to powerful long-ranged attacks, can also dock other units to refill energy, repair damage, and in some games, even switch between active and non-active units onto and off the battlefield. Battleships are powerful units, but losing one in battle is often an instant-loss situation in many stages.
Units in-game are generally separated into two categories: "super-type" (スーパー系) and "real-type" (リアル系). Super robots are heavy units with exceptionally high hit points and armor, and powerful melee weapons with high energy cost, but at the near expense of evasion and accuracy. On the other hand, real robots are light units which are faster and more agile and evasive, while possessing long-range, high-accuracy weapons that consume ammunition, but at the near expense of hit points and armor. Some units are treated as "support units", regenerating hit points and/or energy to allies, while battleships and carriers serve as transports or to resupply all units, while also providing powerful fire support.
Though every unit takes a single grid on the tactical map and has little visual difference in battle animations, a larger unit gains defensive and offensive bonus against smaller units, but carry a disadvantage to evasion and accuracy. In later titles, certain attacks can bypass the size attribute, nullifying the effect of size in combat.
Some units have other unique characteristics: for example, Getter Robo can transform into different forms with new weapons and different attributes. To give the player more freedom in customization, some pilots are able to switch into other machines from the same series, such as placing MSZ-006 Zeta Gundam pilot Kamille Bidan into Judau Ashta's MSZ-010 ZZ Gundam.
Weapons carry various attributes other than range, accuracy modifier and attack power. All weapons can be divided into melee and shooting categories that determine its effectiveness by pilots' status. In some games weapons are divided into categories such as "missile" and "beam" which are less effective against opponents equipped with, for instance, jamming technology or reflective armour. Some weapons can be used after a unit has moved, while others can only be performed while remaining stationary. Other attributes can be effected by terrain or a target's defensive ability. In addition, some units make use of "MAP Weapons" which affect multiple squares at once, with some damaging everything in the area and others, such as Cybuster's Cyflash, ignoring allies. Some games feature weapons which inflict status effects on enemies that drain their energy, weaken their armor or damage the pilot's stats. Some pilots have special stats and skills that allow them to use specialized weapons, such as the "Newtype" ability being required to use the funnel weapons on the MSN-04 Sazabi or the RX-93 Nu Gundam.
As larger storage media became common from fifth generation consoles, fully animated battle sequences complete with detailed graphics, whether larger 2-D sprites, or 3-D graphics, such as the Dreamcast port of Super Robot Wars Alpha, were implemented with voice acting. The voices were provided by the same voice actors, if available, as the one in the broadcast of the anime. Some games contain CG mini-movies, depicting a certain mecha's dramatic appearance and/or transformation during the stage. Since many of the voice actors featured have worked in various anime, the games include in-jokes concerning their other roles: Amuro Ray from Gundam and Misato Katsuragi from Evangelion flirt often, referring to their voice acting roles as Tuxedo Mask and Sailor Moon, respectively. Hikaru Midorikawa, the voice actor for Heero Yuy (from Gundam Wing), is a huge fan of the Super Robot Wars series; in fact, he volunteers to do extra lines for no charge, and has done beta testing for Banpresto's games, with a blog alongside Banpresto's website.
Since Super Robot Wars IV, many games feature a database of every character and unit appearing in the title. The database entries are written in the context of the character/unit's original story, regardless of how it is altered in the game. Players usually gain access to the profiles of units and characters already encountered during gameplay and must play through the game several times in order to complete it.
Super Robot Wars titles
Most are standalone games, whose background stories may involve the plots of the included series, but no other Super Robot Wars titles. However, there are at least five main continuities with a single overall storyline encompassing all of them:
- Consists of the Super Robot Wars II, III, EX, F and F Final games (in that order). F and F Final replaced Super Robot Wars IV, while Super Robot Wars II Gleam is not considered canon, due to its non-inclusion in the Complete Box set. The side-story Masō Kishin - The Lord of Elemental is divided into two parts: "Part One" occurs before the SRW II and "Part Two" after the SRW IV (IV was released before F and F Final). The primary antagonist organization of this series is known as DC (Divine Crusaders).
- Consists of Super Robot Wars OG Saga: Masō Kishin – The Lord of Elemental, Masō Kishin II - Revelation of Evil God, Masō Kishin III - Pride of Justice and Masō Kishin F – Coffin of the End (in that order). Super Robot Wars Gaiden: Masō Kishin – The Lord of Elemental for the SFC originally was a spin-off from the classic series, but when ported as a remake for the NDS the Gaiden was replaced by OG Saga, also being the first use of the OG Saga prefix. The DS version later received a remake for PSP in a limited edition bundle with part 2 of this series, named Super Robot Wars OG Saga: Masō Kishin I & II. The last two titles in this series were released for the PS3 (the former also was ported to the PS Vita).
- Consists of Super Robot Wars Alpha, Alpha Gaiden, Alpha 2 and Alpha 3 games (in that order). "Part One" of Masō Kishin - The Lord of Elemental also provides relevant information, taking place before Alpha.
- Consists of Super Robot Wars Compact, Compact 2 and Compact 3 games for the WonderSwan (in that order). The first series game on WS Compact was remade as Compact for WonderSwan Color for the Wonderswan Color. Compact 2 was released as three chapters for the WonderSwan; the trilogy was later compiled with updated visuals, sound and new content as Super Robot Wars Impact for the PS2.
- Consists of Impact and MX games for the PS2. Previously, Compact 2 was released as three chapters for the WonderSwan; the trilogy was later compiled with updated visuals, sound and new content as Impact for the PS2. Despite the sharing of gameplay mechanics between all of the Wonderswan games, and the similarities between Impact and MX, Compact 2 and Impact are not tied to any other games in the series. MX for the PS2 is seen as a direct sequel to Impact as it reuses several of the same series of the latter and has similar gameplay elements and much of its soundtrack remixed from the one in Impact. MX was ported to the PSP with minor adjustments and additions.
- This series does not feature any manga or anime characters at all, instead starring the "Banpresto Originals", original characters made specifically for previous games in the series. This timeline draws upon from all previous continuities. Both Original Generation games for the GBA which were released in the US, were compiled with updated visuals and sound as Super Robot Wars OG Original Generations, followed by the sequel Super Robot Wars OG Gaiden, the remake version of Masō Kishin - The Lord of Elemental and its sequels, Super Robot Wars OG II, and Super Robot Wars OG The Moon Dwellers. Also part of the Original Generation series is the Endless Frontier series, composing of Endless Frontier and Endless Frontier EXCEED, which are set after OG Gaiden. This continuity is the only one to have had titles officially released in the West. The Moon Dwellers was the first in the series that had an English translation for the Asian market.
- Consists of Z, Z Special Disk, ZII, and ZIII in that order. The story focuses on the Twelve Spheres, which play an important part in the game's story line.
The first game featured the earliest incarnations of the Mazinger, Getter Robo, and Gundam franchises, and the three are usually present in the series. The first two, both creations of famous Japanese manga artist, Go Nagai, and his production company, Dynamic Productions, are representatives of the super robot type of units, while Gundam, realized by animator Yoshiyuki Tomino, represents the real robot units. This began a form of tradition wherein a Mazinger, a Getter Robo and a Universal Century Gundam series would always appear in some capacity, forming what fans call the "Holy Trinity"; however, newer handheld titles began omitting one or more of these series in favor of increased focus on newer properties.
As more games were released, more series were included, both from existing series and/or original units designed exclusively for the games. In later incarnations, Banpresto has expanded their original horizons, including manga like Mobile Suit Crossbone Gundam in Super Robot Wars Alpha 2, video games like Virtual-On in Alpha 3, and conceptual/cancelled series like Kanzen Shouri Daiteioh in NEO. In Super Robot Wars J, Banpresto included Tekkaman Blade, a series which contains armored warriors but no mecha; this would later be followed by other series in Super Robot Wars L. In more later games, the series includes anime series that are devoid of any mecha but fits in the genre such as Armor Hunter Mellowlink, and Space Battleship Yamato 2199. Also for the first time, the franchise included series from both Kaiju and Tokusatsu genres such as Shin Godzilla and Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger in Super Robot Wars X-Ω.
Since the second game, the series has also included a number of original characters and mecha designed specifically for each game. These serve as viewpoint characters for the player, who follows the events of the game through their perspective. Most games also will end with an original threat that may ally itself with other villains from the series' involved, and usually serves as the final villain(s) in the game. These heroes and villains are collectively known as Banpresto Originals.
In 2002, Banpresto released Super Robot Taisen: Original Generation for the Game Boy Advance, which featured a roster made entirely of original characters from the previous games in the series.
While some of the featured series are well-known worldwide, many of them were released only in Japan, having little to no fame at all internationally. Because much of the appeal of any Super Robot Wars title resides in the player's knowledge of and familiarity with the various series involved, the games are most successful and have their biggest fanbase in Japan. Also, the number of titles involved within a single game means complicated rights and licensing issues when releasing it elsewhere (a problem that also affects other games, such as Jump Super Stars).
Thus far, only Original Generation games are officially released for the English market by Atlus USA. The titles of the games are written as Super Robot Taisen, possibly to avoid potential confusion with the British television series, Robot Wars. The games do not have the licensing problems other games may have since only original creations not from any anime or manga series are used in the lineup, thus making it the first game in the series to be released outside of the Asian market. Atlus also released Super Robot Taisen OG Saga: Endless Frontier for the Nintendo DS on April 28, 2009.
In addition, some games have been unofficially translated to English, such as the original Super Robot Wars, Super Robot Wars II, Super Robot Wars III, and Super Robot Wars Alpha Gaiden. Unofficial Chinese translation have also been done to some games, such as Super Robot Wars II Gleam, Super Robot Wars IV, Super Robot Taisen Original Generation, Super Robot Wars Alpha, and Super Robot Wars Alpha Gaiden.
In early 2016, Namco Bandai announced that Super Robot Wars OG The Moon Dwellers and Super Robot Wars V would be given an English release for the Southeastern Asian version along with a Chinese translation.
JAM Project, consisting of veteran anime theme musicians, like Ichirou Mizuki, Hironobu Kageyama, Rica Matsumoto, Eizo Sakamoto, Masaaki Endoh, Hiroshi Kitadani, Masami Okui and Yoshiki Fukuyama have also contributed to many Super Robot Wars soundtracks, usually providing the opening theme song and the song played over the closing credits. The series also spawned a set of concerts and albums called "Super Robot Spirits", where veteran vocalists—some of whom would go on to form JAM Project—sing covers of popular mecha anime openings, and in some cases, live versions of songs they themselves originally sang.
Masō Kishin Cybuster is a loose adaptation on the story of the first original Banpresto mecha in Super Robot Wars into a 26-episode series, featuring characters inspired by the allies of the Cybuster's pilot Masaki Andoh and original characters created for the anime.
In May 2005, Banpresto released the animated OVA Super Robot Wars Original Generation: The Animation, a 3-part non-canonical sequel to the second Original Generation game. In 2006, the OVA was followed up by Super Robot Wars Original Generation: Divine Wars, a retelling of the plot in the first Original Generation game. A variety of drama CDs, manga and model kits accompany the Original Generation lineup. In Fall 2010, Banpresto followed up with Super Robot Wars Original Generation: The Inspector, which is a retelling of the plot of Original Generation 2.
There have been several manga adaptations that retell the stories of the Super Robot Wars series. Super Robot Wars OG: Divine Wars (スーパーロボット大戦OG ディバイン・ウォーズ Sūpā Robotto Taisen Ō Jī Dibain Wōzu) by Akihiro Kimura tells the story of the Divine Wars anime over 6 volumes published from 2006 to 2009. Meanwhile, Super Robot Wars Divine Wars OG: Record of ATX (スーパーロボット大戦OG ディバイン・ウォーズ Record of ATX Sūpā Robotto Taisen Ō Jī Dibain Wōzu Recōdo Obu Ē Tī Ekkusu) is manga series by Tatsunosuke Yatsufusa that tells a similar story but from the ATX Team's perspective. Super Robot Wars OG Chronicle (スーパーロボット大戦OGクロニクル Sūpā Robotto Taisen Ō Jī Kuronikuru) is a series of short stories that take place across the Original Generation timeline, written and drawn by various authors, some of the stories from OG Chronicle were incorporated into the video game Super Robot Wars Original Generation Gaiden. Chokijin RyuKoOh Denki (超機人 龍虎王伝奇 Chōkijin Ryūkoō Denki), is a 2 volume series by Masaaki Fujihara tells the background story for the original machines known as the Chokijin.
SRWOG Net Radio - Umasugi Wave (スパロボOGネットラジオ うますぎWAVE Suparobo Ō Jī Neto Rajio Umasugi Wēbu) began to air to go along with the release of the Divine Wars anime. The show has been airing since January 2007 with four regular hosts, Tomokazu Sugita, Masaaki Endoh, Mai Aizawa and Rie Saitou. The show often features series' producer Takanobu Terada as a special guest. After Divine Wars ended, the show carried on and was often used to regularly feature and promoted up and coming video game titles.
Super Robot Wars eventually garners an influence on the Japanese animated industry, sparking fan interest in old anime mecha shows, some of which are first heard of or seen by fans playing the games. For example, Steel Jeeg, garnered the sequel Steel God Jeeg after its appearances in the Super Robot Wars Alpha 2 and Alpha 3.
A number of anime producers, who are fans of the games, have added allusions and homages to the series in their own works, from visual gags in Hayate the Combat Butler and Lucky Star, to similarities between Signum of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's to Lamia Loveless from Super Robot Wars A.
The games' main influence is the creation of animated shows influenced by original units and characters created for the games. The best examples are Getter Robo Armageddon, Shin Getter Robo vs Neo Getter Robo and the Mazinkaiser OVA, released in the United States in 2002. Shin Getter Robo first appeared in Ken Ishikawa's manga for Getter Robo Go, then became by its apparition in various Super Robot Wars games until receiving its aforementioned OVAs. Mazinkaiser appeared for the first time in Super Robot Wars F Final, released for the Sega Saturn and the Sony PlayStation in 1998, as an upgrade to the original Mazinger Z. Mazinger Z writer and illustrator, Go Nagai, eventually implements it into his manga as the prototype of the other Mazinger machines, and the aforementioned OVA was also created.
- As many of the seiyuu who feature in the Super Robot Wars have worked in various anime over the course of their careers, many of the games include in-jokes concerning their other roles. For example, Amuro Ray from Gundam and Misato Katsuragi from Evangelion flirt often, referring to their portrayal' roles as Tuxedo Mask and Sailor Moon, respectively. In another example, Hojo Shingo (the pilot of GoShogun) once did impersonations of Haran Banjo (pilot of Daitarn 3) and Bright Noa (the joke being that all three were voiced by Hirotaka Suzuoki).
- A number of the theme songs to the Super Robot Wars games have been performed by JAM Project, some of whose members have also performed theme songs for the various robot anime represented in the games.
- Hikaru Midorikawa, the seiyuu of characters like Heero Yuy and Masaki Andoh, is a huge fan of the Super Robot Wars. In fact, he even volunteers to do extra lines for no charge, and has done beta testing for Banpresto's games. He also has a blog on Banpresto's website. 
- It became tradition for a Super Robot Wars game to include at least three series from Mazinger, Getter Robo and Gundam. Originally, this so-called "Holy Trinity" was made up of Kouji Kabuto from Mazinger Z, Ryoma Nagare from Getter Robo and Amuro Ray from Gundam, but as of 2008, Kouji is the only human characters who have appeared in every non-original incarnation of the Super Robot Wars.
- "スーパーロボット大戦公式BLOG「熱血！必中！スパログ！」 - HIKARU`S VOICE"
- Hardcore Gaming 101: Super Robot Taisen (Classic Series)
- Atlus' announcement of Super Robot Taisen Original Generation in America
- Super Robot Taisen translation on Romhacking.net
- BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Asia: Super Robot Wars OG The Moon Dwellers - EN Announcement Trailer
- Super Robot Wars official site
- Super Robot Wars Official 20th Anniversary Website
- Super Robot Taisen: Original Generation from Nintendo.com
- The Gate of Magus - A fansite dedicated to the original characters and mecha of Banpresto
- Super Robot Wars at Gears Online
- Super Robot Wars Wikipedia article