Look, we don’t judge. Sometimes there is no substitute for the kind of entertainment that only the Land of the Rising Sun can offer, and we’d all be lying if we said that robots, attractive big-busted women, and explosions didn’t appeal to the 13-year old in all of us. But let’s just be clear that these qualities – not any sort of strategic depth or compelling gameplay – are what makes Super Robot Taisen OG Saga: Endless Frontier worth buying. The game is completely, unabashedly, almost gleefully trashy, with costumes that get smaller as the battles heat up and sex jokes everywhere. But if that’s your style, have it your way – we’re not here to guilt trip anyone. We’re just here to tell you how it plays.
We originally thought about opening this review with the sentence “SRTOGS:EF is a smartly-executed game with a deep fighting system and a lot of visual flair. It also happens to have half-naked androids with evaporating power armor and double-D catgirls with garter belts, but that’s neither here nor there.” Why did we initially think Super Robot Taisen was smartly executed? Well, because it is… at least at first. Though the fighting system is initially daunting (20 pages of tutorial before your first fight - bleargh) you’ll be surprised at how intuitive it eventually becomes. The Super Robot Taisen series used to be a tactical RPG a la Shining Force or Fire Emblem, but now it’s turn-based with timing-triggered combos, like the Mario & Luigi portable RPGs. You control an ever-growing party of plucky mercenaries and attack with timed button presses.
You’ll want to keep your enemies in the air, as juggling prevents enemy counterattacks and racks up damage quicker. Experimenting with the timing of your attacks is encouraged - cancelling moves mid-animation feeds the “Frontier Gauge,” which leads to show-stopping “Overdrive” maneuvers when filled. You’ll need skill to find the quickest and most effective ways to dispatching your enemies. In fact, this turns out to be Endless Frontier’s biggest asset. Well, one of its biggest, depending upon your tastes…
Above: One of the game’s biggest assets. Or two, depending upon how you count.
After about 10 hours, though, things turn sour. The combat system is all well and good for our heroes, but you’ll find that the folks you’ll be fighting against are nothing but glorified punching bags. There’s more to creating a good turn-based RPG than inserting enemies who soak up hits, inflict lots of damage to your party and occasionally induce lame status effects. We found the best strategy was to buy all the revives and healing items we could carry at a time and keep slashing and healing away until whatever we were hitting died.
The bosses are harder, sure, but mostly because they take forever to take down and can usually K.O. an individual party member in a single move. Revive, heal, and resume attacking: the lack of challenging enemy A.I turns otherwise climactic battles into dull slogs.
Sadly, interesting puzzles to solve are as scarce as the ladies’ clothes. Nor are there many NPCs to interact with, or cool sidequests to extend replay value. The story is completely linear and hopelessly convoluted - the strongest amusement comes from the character designs, which are so over-the-top in their fetish appeal that we can predict a sociological study forming devoted to dissecting them.
Buyer beware, then: Super Robot Taisen OG Saga: Endless Frontier starts out strong, but falters. You’ll soon grow so bored with the repetitive boss fights and brain-numbing exploration that only the reveal of the next sex object will pique your interest. Before long, you’ll have wasted almost 20 hours playing through every dungeon only to see the next breast animation. And we won’t judge you for that, but still.
May 19, 2009