Would've created a new banner image for this entry had I not been so occupied with Borderlands 2. Damn you, Gearbox!
I like giant robots. Especially of the Japanese variety. After watching all of Gurren Lagann early last month, it got me way more into the concept of super robots, whereas I was more familiar and interested in the real robot genre with stuff like Gundam and Armored Core. During that time of being obsessed with super robots, I watched Genesis of Aquarion, read in depth about the Super Robot Wars series, and I remembered a game that one of my friends had for PS3, called Another Century’s Episode R. Since my friend doesn’t lend games that are still in his backlog, I figured I’d buy my own copy. It only cost me about 25 bucks on eBay, atleast it wasn’t damn near a hundred dollars like it was with Max Anarchy (though I didn’t have to pay for it, the price was still kinda ridiculous).
Given that this is a Japan only series, and the contents would make localizing it absolute hell from a licensing stand point, here’s a brief summary of Another Century’s Episode. From Software, creators of Armored Core and other mecha games of varying quality, created a more action oriented version of Super Robot Wars with gameplay that could be compared to something like Zone of the Enders. And unlike SRW which was a mix of super and real robots, ACE started out primarily with Gundams and other series that fell under the real robot genre. This was the main focus for the series’ first three games on PS2, with at least one or two super robot additions.
And that leads to Another Century’s Episode R, the series’ first and only game on PS3, and compared to the previous game is quite different. The lineup of series is varied between real robot series like Gundam and Macross as well as super robot series like Genesis of Aquarion and Overman King Gainer. And again, it’s different compared to the PS2 games, though that results in ACE being a rather middling game. A middling game that I have no problem playing because you don’t see anything quite like this and I like the lineup of robots because there was at least one series I knew in and out before going in that I could interpret what the hell the characters from that series are doing.
That series I keep mentioning is Genesis of Aquarion, with the titular Aquarion being a combining robot (similar to Getter Robo) ranging from about 46 to 51 meters in height, and its signature move is the absolutely ridiculously awesome Mugen Punch, an attack that extends the robot’s fist to incredible lengths, reaching the goddamn moon. So I chose that series as my first route, which led to me playing a few stages designed exclusively for Aquarion before the other series enter the story and everything starts going down a unified route. There are about 11 routes to play through, meaning you have to play through the game almost a dozen times, which means having to play the same 15 or so stages again with additional missions created for that route you’ve selected.
Even with the game’s middling quality, at least the robots play mostly different from each other. That thing with Aquarion’s height is accurately represented in both cinematics and gameplay. Aquarion is huge, while the Knight Mare Frames from Code Geass or the Arm Slaves from Full Metal Panic are the smallest (though Bonta-Kun is the smallest, once you unlock him). Playing as the Aquarion makes every enemy that is not a shadow angel look like a flea. Some of the units can’t fly while in certain forms (like the Valkyrie’s Battroid form), while the Arm Slaves can’t fly at all. Aquarion is the only combining robot in the game, and not only can you switch out the pilots with other characters from the series, but also you have access to all of Aquarion forms during a mission with a press of the right analog stick. Meanwhile the Valkyries from Macross have their signature forms they can transform into, from jet to Gerwalk to Battroid. And let’s not forget the various special moves you can perform that are from the robots’ different series. With all the attention to detail regarding accurate size and abilities, how could a game like this be disappointing?
Well, the problems come down mostly to the controls. For one thing, the game has an absolutely shitty camera and lock on system. When an enemy appears on screen, the game automatically locks on to it for you to attack. And it will randomly switch to the next target when it’s destroyed. Switching between targets is done by pressing L2, and the only way to cancel the lock on is to hold L2. During this you can move the right analog stick to move the camera. Holding those triggers on the PS3 controller aren’t fun, and when you let go of the trigger, the game won’t lock on to another enemy until a few seconds later. It makes no sense why they couldn’t have mapped the transformation abilities to the D-Pad instead of the right stick and then use that for camera control.
Other problems throughout the game are the boss fights, particular with huge, gigantic robots that will knock you away should you touched them when a part of them is moving, regardless of the speed at which they are moving that it would cause some sort of damage. The last problem with the game is the melee combat. All the attacks, even from the smaller units that don’t have to move as slow as the Aquarion, just feel really sluggish and deliberate that it feels disjointed from the speed at which you’re able to move and dash. Just shooting enemies is boring unless they are really weak to begin with, but the melee becomes more problematic when you include the above boss battles that I mentioned. It’s rather frustrating.
But despite all that, I’m willing to keep playing this game. I can admit to this one being a guilty pleasure. The gameplay is disappointing and it sounds like the PS2 games in the series would be far more playable and enjoyable, but I just like the series line up and the overall attention to detail with the different units. I’ve already played through the routes for Aquarion, Full Metal Panic, Macross Frontier, Code Geass, Gundam Crossbone, currently in the middle of an Overman King Gainer playthrough, and I’ll probably keep playing until I have completed everything. I don’t regret paying the price that I did for this game.
And the Rest
It would be pointless of me to write in depth about Borderlands now that Borderlands 2 is out now. I'll say that I have now finished all the DLC (excluding Underdome Riot), so I now know how Claptrap's New Robot Revolution goes. General Knoxx is still the best DLC.
The game I've been playing all week, and it's awesome. Next entry I'll have more in depth things to write about.
I replayed a little bit of this the weekend before Borderlands 2 came out. Still flawed as ever, but the characters and story are still well done. I especially love the mission in Taipei.
College has been alright so far, nothing real interesting to speak about that. As for my portfolio, I've been messing around in Blender trying to find how to best approach making a model in that software. Depending on how well it looks, I may or may not make it an item in Skyrim. Maybe Morrowind? At least I've had some experience in that game's editor.
And that's it. Still going to continue with my bi weekly schedule for this blog. Next time the main game will be Borderlands 2. Speaking of which, I need to return to playing it.