Title (JP): Super Robot Taisen X (スーパーロボット大戦Ｘ)
Title (Asia): Super Robot Wars X
Platform: PS4, Vita
Developer: B.B. Studio
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Release date: 29 Mar 2018 (JP, PS4/Vita), 26 Apr 2018 (Asia, PS4/Vita)
This review was written based on the Japanese release of the game, and may not reflect changes made to versions released in other regions.
The popular long-running robot anime crossover series, Super Robot Wars, has had a long and tumultuous history when it comes to English-language releases. Despite beginning in 1991 with the first Super Robot Taisen for the Gameboy and being tremendously popular not just in Japan but also in the many other countries where giant robot anime from the 70’s and 80’s were exported to, the series never saw a release in English until the release of Super Robot Taisen: Original Generation for the GBA in North America 2006- Which was at that point four years old, on a handheld which had been mostly obsolete for two years. It did not help that OG is a series about the original characters used in the other games, with none of the licensed robot anime that form the series’ identity, or that the English version was chock full of highly questionable localisation choices. It was not until Super Robot Wars V in 2017- A whopping 26 years since the series’ conception- That a game in the main series finally saw a release in English, and even then it was only officially released in Southeast Asia, with a slipshod translation job in the vein of several other of Bandai Namco’s English releases (Sword Art Online, Digimon, etc.). Nevertheless, it was in English, and 2018’s Super Robot Wars X likewise has an English release scheduled for release in SEA.
The premise of the mainline Super Robot Wars series is simple: A strategy RPG featuring multiple robot anime series in an extravagant crossover that only the likes of Bandai could pull off. While many crossovers are satisfied with simply putting the characters in close proximity, SRW has turned crossovers into an art, with plots of different series intertwining and characters interacting so naturally that people unfamiliar with the source material sometimes get confused with which series they belong to. The games also constantly make changes to the source material’s plots, allowing players to save characters who died in their shows, or redeeming antagonists, or even giving proper endings to series which were unfortunately unable to have their own.
It is thus unfortunate that Super Robot Wars X is mostly disappointing with its crossover aspects, especially given how the “X” in its title is supposed to signify a cross.
Super Robot Wars X is a standalone game with no significant ties to any previous series. The game is set in the fantasy world of Alwarth, to which people from Earth are summoned. While this seems to clearly be riding on the coat-tails of the isekai genre (of a regular person being summoned to a fantasy world) that has been highly popular in recent years, anyone familiar with the history of robot anime should know that this is not at all out of place, as there are countless robot anime, such as Aura Battler Dunbine (1983), which feature this premise. Additionally, the SRW series itself is no stranger to this premise, which had isekai settings as the main premise in 1994’s SRW EX, 1996’s Masoukishin, and Compact 3 (2003). However, it is unfortunate that this premise is squandered in X, with only two (three if you count New Story of Aura Battler Dunbine, which is not involved in the story) of its 23 series making any significant use of this setting. Considering the number of series that would have fit in perfectly, such as Visions of Escaflowne, or Magic Knight Rayearth, it seems odd that the roster is, despite this setting, filled with series that are completely out of place. A cynic could note that this might be because X uses mostly the same graphics as SRW V, or the two SRW Z3 games, and recycles sprites and animations for most of the series.
The protagonist of X is a native of Alwarth and a deserter from the Magic Church dedicated to Alwarth’s creator, the god of knowledge Ende, who is accompanied by a magic talking owl named Hopes who serves as their advisor and mentor figure. The player chooses from one of two characters (male and female) to take this role. The writing for characters is generally good- The original characters are interesting and likeable, and the majority of the licensed anime characters in the game stick to their personalities. The game is also full of fantastic character-centric moments, in some cases with unexpected characters like Tod from Dunbine or Mashymre Cello from Gundam ZZ. However, many villains are changed significantly, some with their personalities altered entirely for the worse, and though the characters are well-written, the same cannot be said for the overarching plot. X completely fails at intertwining the participating series’ stories: The majority of the series simply have characters along for the ride and have none of the source material involved in the story, and the few series that do directly connect to the overarching story are fumbled entirely.
Gameplay is based on and improved from V’s, with the only significant change being that of the “dogma” system: Dogma is magic used by members of the Magic Church of Alwarth, and the protagonist unlocks several over the course of the game. These are all powerful map commands not unlike the EX Actions of previous games, with effects like the ability to teleport a single unit to a different spot, restore its energy, or buff it. Unlike EX actions the player can only use each of these once per stage, and only the protagonist has access to the dogma commands. Many of the animations are recycled from previous games, and while many of the new ones do look impressive (such as the G-Self from Reconguista of G), for the most part they are underwhelming. It is particularly disappointing when you get the Hi-Nu Gundam (which fans have been wanting back in the series for years) only to find that its animations are far less impressive than the regular Nu Gundam’s.
Two versions of the game are available: A regular one, and a “Premium Sound Edition” which includes numerous theme songs and BGM from the source material. While this mostly replaces the game’s BGM versions of theme songs with the original vocal ones, there are also moments like having the Neo Atlantis BGM play during the first appearance of Gargoyle from Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water.
Super Robot Wars X is not a bad game, and clearly does seem to try its best, but unfortunately it falls short, and is inferior in almost every way to the previous instalment in the series (SRW V).
The Good: Great character moments, especially with unexpected characters like Bizon Gerafil, Todd Guiness, Mashmyre Cello, and Marianne vi Britannia. Gameplay is also further refined from V.
The Bad: Terrible plot, disappointing villains. And do we really need the exact same Gurren Laggan stuff for a third time?
Conclusion: Not bad, but the series is full of far better.