Super Robot Wars 30 is like a best of the series- which is itself the best of for the mecha anime genre. Seriously, if you’ve been a fan of any anime involving giant mechanoid heroes, it’s almost impossible that you haven’t had the Super Robot Wars series brought up to you.
With Super Robot Wars 30, they’ve shown two things- one, that the series isn’t content to rest on its laurels. Two, that giant robots continue to be freaking cool. How does it do this? Read on and find out.
For those not up to speed, the Super Robot Wars series is a gigantic crossover of all things giant and robot. If this is your first game, you might get a bit of tonal whiplash, as they casually mention things like the Earth Federation from Gundam dealing with the fallout of Lelouch’s death from Code Geass.
You play as a survivor of a Space Colony who commandeers an experimental mecha and must now travel with the novice crew of a battleship to save the world (a plot point so laughably tropey in mecha circles even the game calls it a rite of passage).
The combat itself is a tactics-based gameplay- you organize your units to sortie, and move along a grid while attacking units based on things like hit chance, damage type and effective ranges. It’s a nerdy system- and this makes no qualms about being a nerdy game.
Of course, the biggest news out of Super Robot Wars 30 is its new features, meant to appeal to newer players. These include a new more open structure, letting you choose the order which your Battleship crew goes on adventures.
The most important role of this feature is in recruiting new units. Now you can make a beeline for your favorite unit, though it’s not like the game will tell you what mission unlocks which character. Instead, you’ll need to use your undying loyalty to be able to tell which title is a reference to which unit., and react accordingly.
This new mission structure also works well with another feature, called the Front. Completed missions can sometimes reappear periodically, and can be a great source of farming kills or other requirements to upgrade your pilots and their mechs.
Personally, I really like this feature. Previous Super Robot Wars titles were astoundingly linear, so the ability to go back and replay old missions is a godsend, especially considering the point of the game- while experiencing the story *is* important, it’s about the power fantasy of having iconic robots like the Gundam, Mazinger Z and Gaogaigar all fighting together. In that sense, having the opportunity to belay your next mission to just lay waste on grunts is a pretty good time.
It has also maintained another important feature, which is the occasional branch mission. Here you’ll have to choose between one of two missions, with the other one being locked off for the rest of your playthrough. Thankfully the game’s New Game+ lets you carry your stuff over, so if you miss your chance and you’ve got the time you can always see the alternate branches.
Speaking of recruitable units, there’s one big new unit- 30 introduces the Dreisstrager, the first player battleship specially created for the game. This ship can even follow you into battle- and as such can be upgraded just like any of the mechs. It’s no slouch either- but you’ll need to spend a lot of your time and resources if you want the Dreisstrager to really become a beast on the battlefield.
Also new to the series is the Auto Battle system- while some fans might bemoan the idea of missing a chance to command their favorite heroes, I actually found it quite useful for those runs where I just wanted to farm kills. The AI lacks any kind of elegance though, so don’t get too used to it- it basically just sends your dudes out and into the fray every single time. But if you just haven’t the time to care about farming, it’s a great assist tool.
Another huge improvement was how Super Robot Wars 30 has changed its approach to Secret Missions. Previously, you unlocked secret missions almost arbitrarily- with 30, you can see in the missions tab what requirements you’ll need to unlock the next mission.
Combined with the more non-linear approach, I really like this. Like I said, I’m not a big fan of just bearing down and going to town on a story- sometimes it’s fun to just mess with the game, and the new information about secret missions.
That being said, take too long and the game will force you to start doing the story- the galaxy is in peril, after all.
An Overwhelming Sense of Style
Of course, the absolute biggest overhaul in the game is how great everything looks. Each attack has its own animation, with no expense spared to make it look as good as possible.
Even more mundane attacks like ordinary beam rifles have a great sense of flair, looking like a shot you’d see out of an episode of Mobile Suit Gundam, as well as changing the music to the unit’s home series. I feel like this is what a lot of Super Robot Wars’ core audience came to look for: The hype moment where your favorite mecha shoots down an enemy mech, and the game spares no expense making that look as cool as possible.
The only downside is that enemies don’t really have much variety in their attack animations- even the bosses often feel like they don’t have more than a handful of moves. There’s also the problem of too many soundtracks- the title track for the female playable character in Super Robot Wars 30 is an absolute banger, but having it be cut off any time another unit attacks does feel a little jarring.
That being said, if you’ve gone full tactics-brain and don’t want to see some of the coolest super moves to ever grace anime, they’re also entirely skippable- so you can focus on your plays if that’s more your speed, which is great if you’re just grinding for more kills.
Admittedly, I’m a bit of a mixed bag with regards to the Super Robot Wars 30 roster. On one hand, there’s a lot of really great newcomers to the series- as the GamerBraves’ resident Gridman fan, seeing the SSSS.Gridman incarnation of the character doing dope super moves is something I never thought I’d really see given, well, he’s not really a robot.
There’s also a strong DLC lineup as well, adding units from Sakura Wars and even the Ultraman manga in the coming months. Suffice to say, I feel thoroughly fed with how good this game’s newcomers are.
Despite that though, it feels like it came at the cost of a lot of older characters, which can be disappointing to some. One of the big appeals of Super Robot Wars was that you didn’t have to be a mainstream mech to get in- just look at previous entries use of The Big O. But now a lot of less pop-culture-relevant mechs like Gurren Lagann are notably absent from the lineup.
It also feels like there’s a limit to how streamlined you can make it- characters with multiple forms don’t equip them via an install anymore, and instead use the forms for each attack instead. For example Gridman has multiple forms via his various allies- rather than be able to turn into Max Gridman and have a new moveset, he simply has an attack where he turns into the form as part of the animation.
Of course, it’s not just collecting these characters- you’ll be able to upgrade each one, allocating resources via the AOS system. After level 5 you’ll get a Full Custom bonus, and you’ll be able to assign bonuses like weapon range or movement speed.
If you’ve ever thought about getting into Super Robot Wars, I couldn’t recommend 30 enough to you. It’s easily the most accessible entry in the series, and still retains the nitty gritty charm of the title.
As a game celebrating the legacy of the mecha genre, there’s a lot of cool touches too- Amuro Ray starts off piloting the original RX78-2 Gundam, while Char assumes his Quattro Bajeena persona for the majority of the game.
That being said, knowing it’s a celebration of three decades of Super Robots does make for some unfair comparisons, since so many legacy characters seem left out (considering its status, it seems bizarre that there’s basically no representation for Char’s Counterattack or even Gundam Unicorn). More content could very well be on the way via DLC, but for now it does leave a poor taste in the mouth.
Still, if you enjoy yelling out super attack names as you strike a grunt with a crit you’re gonna love Super Robot Wars 30. I know I did.
Game reviewed on PS5
Super Robot Wars 30
- Fanservice at its peak
- A way more streamlined experience
- Polished animations
- Some legacy characters are missing
Super Robot Wars 30