Tuesday, November 10, 2009

On Super Robots, And The Wars They Fight

Super Robot Wars is a videogame series that has been going on for a very long time in Japan, but due to licensing problems, very few of the games have ever been localized for North America. I think it's fairly obvious that the games are pretty much about giant robots smacking the ever loving snot out of each other. Typically the games are in the form of turn based tactical RPGs, although there have been a couple of fighting games, and some other genres represented throughout the series.

The licensing issue that I mentioned are all because of the various games' cast of robots. Instead of creating a cast of entirely original robots, the SRW series has traditionally pulled a lot of robots from various animes, with permission of course. This becomes an issue when they try to import the games because while they've secured the rights from the appropriate holders in Japan, the North American rights to those same properties are often held by different companies, who also want to get some kind of payout for the use of those characters. To date, the only SRW games that have made it to NA feature rosters of completely original characters, sidestepping the issue.

Here's a fairly complete list of other series that have been drawn into the various games:

Getter Robo
Gundam
Mazinger
Grendizer
Brave Raideen
Combattler V
Daitarn 3
Aura Battler Dunbine
Demon God of War Goshogun
Daimos
Dancougar
Zambot 3
Giant Robo
Godmars
Dragonar
Martian Successor Nadesico
GEAR Fighter Dendoh
The Big O
Daltanius
Macross
Full Metal Panic
Mazinkaiser
Tekkaman Blade
Dangaioh
Ninja Senshi Tobikage
Machine Robo
Acrobunch
Betterman
Escaflowne
Mechander Robo
Evangelion
Gunbuster
Ideon
Blue Comet SPT Layzner
Voltes V
Gaiking
Trider G7
Combat Mecha Xabungle
Galactic Whirlwind Braiger
Brain powerd
Gaogaigar
Steel Jeeg
Hades Project Zeorymer
RahXephon
Virtual On
Orguss
Gravion
Aquarion
Eureka Seven
Overman King Gainer
Space Warrior Baldios
Space Emperor God Sigma
Baxinger
Sasuraiger
Jushin Liger
Knight Lamune
Ganbaruger
Nekketsu Saikyo Gosauer
Kanzen Shouri Daiteioh
Shippu! Iron Leaguer
Hao Taikei Ryu Knight
King Golion
Detonator Orgun
Xenosaga
Namco X Capcom
Fafner of the Azure
GunXSword
Daiku Maryu
Zoids

Now, after spending all the time to type that all out, I've never played a Super Robot Wars games, I tried to get one for the PS2 and play it using HDLoader, but it froze before I could to any actual gameplay, also it was in Japanese, which I don't speak or read. So, why am I talking about SRW then? Toys! Just about every toy that I've purchased from the Soul of Chogokin line has been feature in one SRW title or another. The most recent one I've aquired is a set of Dyguengar and Aussenseiter, who are actually original mechs from the SRW line. On top of that, there is a really nice line of snap together model kits of original mechs from the line. Eventually I'll be putting up plenty of pics of all of these on this blog, but I'm waiting until after I move and I have the space to take some nice photos again.

What I really wanted to talk about through all of this was a classification system that they came up with for giant robots. In SRW units fall into two basic classes, Super Robots, and Real Robots.

Super Robots are generally close range fighters, they have very high hit points and armor, do a lot of damage, but require a lot of energy to perform their attacks.

Real Robots on the other hand, are typically designed as long range fighters, they are faster, more mobile, and more energy efficient, but conversely they do less damage.

Voltron (AKA Golion) would be a good example of the former, and a Macross Valkyrie would probably be a good example of the latter.

I started applying those criteria to the various giant robot anime that I've seen, and I came up with a different way to classify them, that works a little better from a non videogame perspective:

Real Robots are mass production models. They can be built with readily available materials, and don't require any kind of metaphysical power source to operate. Again a Macross Valkyrie is a good example of this, much like fighter jets, they are mass produced and become a staple of the military force in that cartoon.

A Super Robot on the other hand would be something that is unique, irreplicable, and/or posess some sort of metaphysical power. To go with the previous example, Golion still fits in this classification, in the Japanese version of the cartoon, it's actually an extremely powerful god, that is cursed to be split into five mechanical pieces in order to learn humility.

Using that classification, let's look at a few other anime series.

Vandread - Initially we only have the Vanguards to satify our robot fix for this series, these are very obviously in the Real Robot classification, until after comic into contact with a mysterious artifact, one becomes powered up, along with a trio of Dreads (large fighter craft). The resultant powered up Vandread would be considered a Super, it also gains the ability to combine with any of the three Dreads in order to form a Vandread, or all three at once to form the Super Vandread.

GunXSword - This anime features a number of mechs that are built by the human population, probably not mass produced, but still replicable. That main character's Dann however, is one of only seven "Original Armors" which are of a class all their own, at first it might seem that these would be Supers as well, but the backstory is that the planet is a penal colony, and that the Original Seven were actually the guards or wardens, which implies that they are still the result of an industrial complex, and thus reproducible, just not with the primitive technology available.

That's all I got time for right now. I might want to revisit this later.

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