Bargain Gaming – Super Robot Taisen OG Saga: Endless Frontier

Posted on Jul 07 2011

I love RPGs. If every other genre of game disappeared over night but there were still RPGs, then I would be mostly content, as I can and have wasted weeks of my life playing some of the lengthier RPGs to completion. This is also one of my greatest frustrations as a game reviewer, as the amount of time necessary to complete and properly review a RPG of any length makes it difficult to review a lot of the games I am interested in. As such I put these games on the backburner, playing them off and on while I review other titles. But I have not forgotten my roots as an RPG gamer, and I am always on the lookout for interesting titles. With that said, let’s take a look at a RPG I completed not too long ago, Super Robot Taisen OG Saga: Endless Frontier for the DS, an interesting twist on a classic game series.

What’s that you say? How can it be a classic series if you’ve never heard of Super Robot Taisen? Well, let me explain. You see, Super Robot Taisen is a popular tactical RPG in Japan, with the focus being on the giant robots you send into battle and the pilots you assign to them. However what makes them so popular is the fact that they combine the mecha and characters from a multitude of different popular giant robot anime characters, including series such as Gundam, Big O, and Full Metal Panic. This makes the game series incredibly popular among giant robot aficionados, as it marks one of the few game series that lets them play with a multitude of different robot designs in a single game. However this same draw makes it next to impossible to release these games in the U.S., as the copyright issues alone make such an undertaking extremely daunting. It is because of this that only three of the Super Robot Taisen games have been released here in the states, all with the moniker of Original Generation, or OG, as they consist entirely of original character and robot designs from within the series itself. And while this makes them easier to market in the U.S., it does take away from some of their charm. The first two are still very solid tactical RPGs though, and are definitely worth picking up if you happen to come across them. But they are not the focus of this review.

No, the focus of this review is the most recent of the three games, Endless Frontier, which decided to take the series in a slightly different direction. Abandoning the tactical battle system for a more classic RPG setup, the tactics now take the form of timed attacks and balancing your characters energy throughout the battle in order to maintain a consistent string of attacks. And while not in keeping with the traditional style of the series, the fact that it is relatively unknown here in the states makes it into the game’s strength, as it doesn’t have the negative stigma it might have otherwise. In fact I found the gameplay rather refreshing, as the need to constantly keep tabs on your characters’ condition and string your attacks together keeps you engaged throughout. It keeps the game from growing dull and gives the player a sense of satisfaction during difficult fights, as victory can be assured just as much through a change in strategy as it can be through grinding a few more levels.

This level of quality is only underscored by the length and consistency of the title, which is a rarity among RPGs developed exclusively for handhelds. Even without any grinding the game still took me over thirty hours to complete, and possessed nearly forty bosses spaced throughout in order to give the game a consistent level of challenge. Another thing that struck me as interesting was the way that bosses you had fought before would come back later on as a team, so that two bosses you had barely managed to beat by themselves could come back as a group right after you had gained a handful of levels. This provides for an interesting dynamic in later battles, as there is a palpable sense of tension as you face off against certain groups of enemies that you had struggled against individually before. It was a fun twist that allowed the developers to reuse the various boss characters without it feeling like it was just padding.

Speaking of the characters, the game’s art and animation is excellent, with all of the characters’ battle sprites being vividly fleshed out and having a wide variety of different movements in association with their different attacks. On top of this, all of the characters possess their own anime style character designs that pop up whenever they talk or use special techniques, which is made even more impressive as these anime stills are actually animated when they perform said special moves, with each character having their own little flourish (including the bad guys!). And while the overview of the dungeons and world map are fairly bland in comparison, they still have an old school RPG charm to them. As such the game gets a high mark for graphics, as it is easily one of the prettiest handheld titles I’ve played in a while.

But what are a game’s visuals without its audio, and here we see a little bit of a slip. It still does better than average as there is quite a bit of recorded dialogue along with the usual text, albeit still in its native Japanese. I actually found this kind of amusing, as I could try using my horribly basic understanding of Japanese to see if I could understand my character’s banter before and after every battle. The issue is that the game’s score, while not bad, is repeated ad nauseam to the point where I was turning off the audio towards the end of the game. But hey, it’s a handheld title, so you can turn the audio on and off at your leisure, so it’s really not that big of an issue.

What is a big issue is the game’s story, which is, to be honest, pretty straightforward. Your main character, Haken Browning, is on a search for answers about his past as he and his partner Aschen, a robot girl, explore the mysterious ship where he was discovered as a child. This search takes them all across the endless frontier, a group of worlds connected by Stargate-esque portals, where the entire story changes dramatically and your group of assembled heroes ends up saving the world. Pretty cliché, but you’ll quickly forget how cliché it is due to the rampant sexual innuendo! Seriously though, the female characters outnumber the men at least three to one (you can only consider your party evenly split if you count your support robots on the male side) and the jokes, the constant references to breasts and flirtatious behavior are enough to overwhelm you. Personally, I found it to be kind of hilarious, but I can see why someone with more refined tastes might want to steer clear.

But even with this quirk I still highly recommend this title to anyone who’s looking for a solid portable RPG. At less than ten bucks a copy it’s definitely an affordable RPG that has a lot of content and some fun humor in it. If you can get over the juvenile humor or can even find some amusement in it like me then it’s certainly worth picking up.

And now it’s time for some more Bargain tips! Because I’m just crazy like that!

First off, when you finally collect your full party you’ll have a choice of seven characters who you can put on your front line. And while it’s fine to use whichever characters you like and build a strategy around them, don’t put Xiaomu in your front line unless you really really want to. She is the only one of the seven characters who does not have a mandatory boss fight she must participate in, and she really isn’t that great of a character overall.

Secondly, on the opposite end of the spectrum I must insist that you put Suzuka in your party regardless of who else you choose. But why, you ask? Because she has two incredible abilities that will make your life so much easier, that’s why! The first is she can give the entire party an additional 30 COM points at any time, and seeing as how COM determines how many attacks your characters can use in their turn, this is an invaluable skill during tough battles. Her second ability is that she can make your characters gain an extra fifty percent experience at the end of battle. And given the sheer quantity of boss fights in this game, spamming this ability at the start of every boss fight all but guarantees you that you won’t have to grind in order to proceed through the game.

Well that’s all from me for now. Tune in next time when I take a look at one of my favorite games for the Dreamcast. Until then, this is Bargain Gamer, logging out!

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  • Kanashimi July 10, 2011 at 4:24 PM

    See, this game is awesome cause it has KOS-MOS in it. Just sayin’

    • Bargain Gamer July 12, 2011 at 9:06 PM

      KOS-MOS was a fun addition to the game. Even more so as I didn’t know she was in it until I ran into her. :3

  • Elk July 14, 2011 at 10:43 AM

    This is one of my favorite recent RPGs, as it was said, the story can be considered lacking, but the innovative battle system that lets you interrupt attacks mid attack to chain into the next one (which powers up your super bar for those animated attacks) call in assists like MvC, and then tag out to the next character to continue a combo, it’s amazingly fun to put together teams with different orders. There is a sequel, Endless Frontier EXCEED, but it’s not out here yet, I don’t think. I’ve mentioned this game a couple times on air, as it’s awesome, and we have a song from either it or the sequel. And I agree that while the sexual innuendo, and fanservice laden battle animations might turn off the more prudish gamer, if you can look past it it’s an amazing game.

    • Bargain Gamer July 15, 2011 at 4:19 PM

      Gah, what is it with sequels to games I like not being released in the states yet? First it was Monster Hunter 3, and now EXCEED has yet to come out! Who’s a guy got to bribe to get some games imported around here?

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