Cross Over Games and Why Banpresto Still Does it Best

Note: Can't seem to upload images at the moment, so you'll have to make due with this giant wall of text for now.

In the quick look for Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3, the staff made many criticisms of the game. While people can battle over the validity of some of the things said, there was one particularly poignant remark made by Jeff that is spot on. It was that the lines of dialogue were poorly done. They felt disjointed and did not form coherent mid battle banter. Viewers familiar with Gundam shows can tell you why. Those lines were simply quotes lifted directly from their respective shows, and placed within the game with a complete lack of context.

Cross-over games are not easy to do. Many fail simply because of poor game mechanics. However, the far more difficult thing to achieve has been proper usage of their source materials. Story justifications for any such melding of the worlds are thrown out the window almost immediately. There is however a series that seems to get things right, and I would argue is the best cross-over game I have experienced to date in taking advantage of their source materials. Here, I would like to examine just what Super Robot Wars does right that many do not.

There is a inside joke amongst Super Robot Wars fans that Banpresto has a three year rule. No mecha will make it into the game until 3 years has past since its original debut. (The image to the left is actually a mock fanart of the series Eureka Seven in a SRW game, made years before the release of SRW Z which included the show a full three years after its original airing.) When asked about this directly, the Banpresto developers denied this, but offered the reason why this seems to be a prevailing trend: story. A lot of time is spent trying to weave the plots of various, vastly different shows into a single coherent storyline. The latest game in the franchise, SRW Z2 debuted 8 new series, and incorporated the major plot points from each of them, and meshed it together with the usage of their own in-game characters aptly dubbed Banpresto Originals. While not exactly Shakespearean in quality, these games' carefully crafted story lines give the game itself a degree of forward momentum more than simply "I want to see what this guy's attacks look like." Further, it is this plot which intermingles the cast of the shows together for prolonged period of time in continuity that allows for this next point.

It is worth pointing to the first game in this long reigning franchise. The original SRW was a gameboy game released in 1991. It did not feature any pilots, and instead made the robots sentient, and had them team up to fight a planet of enslaved robots. This was the last time a SRW game was like this. What made the shows so popular were not just the robots themselves, but also the personalities and traits of the pilots.

A proper plot allows for such personalities to interact with each other in very satisfying ways. The infamously wimpy characters like Shinji of Evangelion fame grows and develops as they are forced into the company of men like Bright Noah. It takes purely unlikable characters and make them far more badass than the source material ever could while giving iconic ones the ability to shine even better. Characters who have lost loved ones have the ability to consul each other. Pilot teams with lacking team work receives pointers from ones that learned to work as one. Things like that makes the mash up of various series that were never imagined to coexist feel far more cohesive and natural. It also makes long time fans like me feel warm and fuzzy inside as I listen to Kamina and Ryouma argue over who is the more hot blooded man.

Speaking of warm and fuzzy feelings for long time fans, the final point that the series excels at is fan service. Things like the interaction mentioned about is one form of it. However, there are far more specific ways the game appeals to those familiar with the source materials. The ability to keep alive characters that died tragic deaths as well as the ability to recruit antagonists that were ultimately good but misguided are some of them. The creation of new partner attacks by taking advantage of series with common creators is another.

My personal favorite however is the existence of voice actor jokes. Perhaps it is because of the voice actor culture that exists in anime and not in western cartoons, voice actors that become prolific within the genre reaches high levels of fame amongst fans. The games help reflect that with inside references when those series interact. The most notable for me is when the Turn X's Shining Finger attack is used against any character voiced acted by Tomokazu Seki, the VA for Domon Kashuu, the originator of that attack in an earlier show.

So what does Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 need to improve upon itself? The customization of dialogue so that they form a coherent conversation and plot. Equal emphasis placed on both exhibition of the robots they pilot and the pilots themselves. And a degree of respect for the intersecting cultural legacies of many of its shows. While these things factors cannot be transplanted as directly to other cross over games like MVC, it is something that all developers need to get a grap on. Making a competant game is important. But taking full advantage of the history of your cast of characters is just as so.

14 Comments
15 Comments
Edited by Turambar

Note: Can't seem to upload images at the moment, so you'll have to make due with this giant wall of text for now.

In the quick look for Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3, the staff made many criticisms of the game. While people can battle over the validity of some of the things said, there was one particularly poignant remark made by Jeff that is spot on. It was that the lines of dialogue were poorly done. They felt disjointed and did not form coherent mid battle banter. Viewers familiar with Gundam shows can tell you why. Those lines were simply quotes lifted directly from their respective shows, and placed within the game with a complete lack of context.

Cross-over games are not easy to do. Many fail simply because of poor game mechanics. However, the far more difficult thing to achieve has been proper usage of their source materials. Story justifications for any such melding of the worlds are thrown out the window almost immediately. There is however a series that seems to get things right, and I would argue is the best cross-over game I have experienced to date in taking advantage of their source materials. Here, I would like to examine just what Super Robot Wars does right that many do not.

There is a inside joke amongst Super Robot Wars fans that Banpresto has a three year rule. No mecha will make it into the game until 3 years has past since its original debut. (The image to the left is actually a mock fanart of the series Eureka Seven in a SRW game, made years before the release of SRW Z which included the show a full three years after its original airing.) When asked about this directly, the Banpresto developers denied this, but offered the reason why this seems to be a prevailing trend: story. A lot of time is spent trying to weave the plots of various, vastly different shows into a single coherent storyline. The latest game in the franchise, SRW Z2 debuted 8 new series, and incorporated the major plot points from each of them, and meshed it together with the usage of their own in-game characters aptly dubbed Banpresto Originals. While not exactly Shakespearean in quality, these games' carefully crafted story lines give the game itself a degree of forward momentum more than simply "I want to see what this guy's attacks look like." Further, it is this plot which intermingles the cast of the shows together for prolonged period of time in continuity that allows for this next point.

It is worth pointing to the first game in this long reigning franchise. The original SRW was a gameboy game released in 1991. It did not feature any pilots, and instead made the robots sentient, and had them team up to fight a planet of enslaved robots. This was the last time a SRW game was like this. What made the shows so popular were not just the robots themselves, but also the personalities and traits of the pilots.

A proper plot allows for such personalities to interact with each other in very satisfying ways. The infamously wimpy characters like Shinji of Evangelion fame grows and develops as they are forced into the company of men like Bright Noah. It takes purely unlikable characters and make them far more badass than the source material ever could while giving iconic ones the ability to shine even better. Characters who have lost loved ones have the ability to consul each other. Pilot teams with lacking team work receives pointers from ones that learned to work as one. Things like that makes the mash up of various series that were never imagined to coexist feel far more cohesive and natural. It also makes long time fans like me feel warm and fuzzy inside as I listen to Kamina and Ryouma argue over who is the more hot blooded man.

Speaking of warm and fuzzy feelings for long time fans, the final point that the series excels at is fan service. Things like the interaction mentioned about is one form of it. However, there are far more specific ways the game appeals to those familiar with the source materials. The ability to keep alive characters that died tragic deaths as well as the ability to recruit antagonists that were ultimately good but misguided are some of them. The creation of new partner attacks by taking advantage of series with common creators is another.

My personal favorite however is the existence of voice actor jokes. Perhaps it is because of the voice actor culture that exists in anime and not in western cartoons, voice actors that become prolific within the genre reaches high levels of fame amongst fans. The games help reflect that with inside references when those series interact. The most notable for me is when the Turn X's Shining Finger attack is used against any character voiced acted by Tomokazu Seki, the VA for Domon Kashuu, the originator of that attack in an earlier show.

So what does Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 need to improve upon itself? The customization of dialogue so that they form a coherent conversation and plot. Equal emphasis placed on both exhibition of the robots they pilot and the pilots themselves. And a degree of respect for the intersecting cultural legacies of many of its shows. While these things factors cannot be transplanted as directly to other cross over games like MVC, it is something that all developers need to get a grap on. Making a competant game is important. But taking full advantage of the history of your cast of characters is just as so.

Posted by Hailinel

As much as I enjoy Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3, you're right. The game could do a lot to improve upon making the crossover feel more cohesive. I understand what the developers were going for in keeping with everyone's dialogue, but in the context of the game itself, it doesn't really help. That Banpresto is able to do such a fine job of integrating the casts of the myriad series they feature in SRW is a welcome show of quality in games such as these.

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Edited by Turambar

Woo, pretty pictures. Thanks to people that let me know image uploads still work on Chrome, just not on firefox.

Except it refuses to show any captions...huh

Posted by satansmagichat

@Turambar said:

there was one particularly poignant remark made by Jeff that is indefensible. It was that the lines of dialogue were poorly done. They felt disjointed and did not form coherent mid battle banter. Viewers familiar with Gundam shows can tell you why. Those lines were simply quotes lifted directly from their respective shows, and placed within the game with a complete lack of context.

That sounds like the opposite of indefensible. That sounds like Jeff was spot on. Don't put in lines out of context just to please fans. I don't care if it's Gundam or Simpsons or Whatever. It's lazy. Pure and simple.

Edited by Turambar

@satansmagichat said:

@Turambar said:

there was one particularly poignant remark made by Jeff that is indefensible. It was that the lines of dialogue were poorly done. They felt disjointed and did not form coherent mid battle banter. Viewers familiar with Gundam shows can tell you why. Those lines were simply quotes lifted directly from their respective shows, and placed within the game with a complete lack of context.

That sounds like the opposite of indefensible. That sounds like Jeff was spot on. Don't put in lines out of context just to please fans. I don't care if it's Gundam or Simpsons or Whatever. It's lazy. Pure and simple.

I meant his criticism is indefensible by the game because it is spot on, not that his statement is indefensible by himself. Note what I wrote: it is a criticism of how DWG3 inserted the dialogue. Either you misunderstood that, or you just thought the term indefensible meant the opposite of what it actually means.

Edited by Turambar

@Hailinel said:

As much as I enjoy Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3, you're right. The game could do a lot to improve upon making the crossover feel more cohesive. I understand what the developers were going for in keeping with everyone's dialogue, but in the context of the game itself, it doesn't really help. That Banpresto is able to do such a fine job of integrating the casts of the myriad series they feature in SRW is a welcome show of quality in games such as these.

New custom dialogue written for characters with a very established, er, character isn't easy to do. Even some of the in between battle texts for DWG3 felt extremely out of character considering the mouths of the people they were coming out of, particularly Fullfrontal. The English version of the game of course went the extra mile of giving Char and Fullfrontal two different voice actors, excluding the sound tracks of the shows themselves which were included in the Japanese version, and the oh so saddening "Mineva." Man, I thought we were past such shoddy localization work. But I'll end this here since I complaint thread about DWG I do not intend for this to be.

Posted by satansmagichat

@Turambar said:

@satansmagichat said:

@Turambar said:

there was one particularly poignant remark made by Jeff that is indefensible. It was that the lines of dialogue were poorly done. They felt disjointed and did not form coherent mid battle banter. Viewers familiar with Gundam shows can tell you why. Those lines were simply quotes lifted directly from their respective shows, and placed within the game with a complete lack of context.

That sounds like the opposite of indefensible. That sounds like Jeff was spot on. Don't put in lines out of context just to please fans. I don't care if it's Gundam or Simpsons or Whatever. It's lazy. Pure and simple.

I meant his criticism is indefensible by the game because it is spot on, not that his statement is indefensible by himself. Note what I wrote: it is a criticism of how DWG3 inserted the dialogue. Either you misunderstood that, or you just thought the term indefensible meant the opposite of what it actually means.

I have on idea what that means. Can you walk me through it?

Edited by Turambar

@satansmagichat: I meant that his criticism was spot on and that fans of the game cannot defend against it. Maybe I'm just using the term incorrectly, though it's how I've always used it. Regardless, I'll edit it to prevent future confusion.

Posted by satansmagichat

@Turambar said:

@satansmagichat: I meant that his criticism was spot on and that fans of the game cannot defend against it. Maybe I'm just using the term incorrectly, though it's how I've always used it. Regardless, I'll edit it to prevent future confusion.

I'm really sorry. You make perfect sense. I might be intoxicated right now.

Posted by ArbitraryWater

Man, it's too bad silly things like "Copyright and Licensing laws" prevent the SRW games from coming to the US. Because really, any sort of game where I can deliberately rush Shinji Ikari to a quick death is a game I want to play. Whiny emo bastard.

Posted by Enigma777

@ArbitraryWater said:

Man, it's too bad silly things like "Copyright and Licensing laws" prevent the SRW games from coming to the US. Because really, any sort of game where I can deliberately rush Shinji Ikari to a quick death is a game I want to play. Whiny emo bastard.

I'd pay lots of money to have that option as well.

Posted by Hailinel

@Turambar said:

@Hailinel said:

As much as I enjoy Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3, you're right. The game could do a lot to improve upon making the crossover feel more cohesive. I understand what the developers were going for in keeping with everyone's dialogue, but in the context of the game itself, it doesn't really help. That Banpresto is able to do such a fine job of integrating the casts of the myriad series they feature in SRW is a welcome show of quality in games such as these.

New custom dialogue written for characters with a very established, er, character isn't easy to do. Even some of the in between battle texts for DWG3 felt extremely out of character considering the mouths of the people they were coming out of, particularly Fullfrontal. The English version of the game of course went the extra mile of giving Char and Fullfrontal two different voice actors, excluding the sound tracks of the shows themselves which were included in the Japanese version, and the oh so saddening "Mineva." Man, I thought we were past such shoddy localization work. But I'll end this here since I complaint thread about DWG I do not intend for this to be.

Gundam localization has always been kind of weird. I have the U.S. DVD release of Z Gundam, and because of licensing issues, the opening/ending themes had to be replaced with other tracks. (This is something I'm surprisingly okay with, as the track they picked for the opening works surprisingly well for it.)

As for Mineva, well, they're just keeping the name the same as it was localized in Z Gundam, I suspect. Honestly, I have no idea who controls all of that.

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Posted by Turambar

@Enigma777 said:

@ArbitraryWater said:

Man, it's too bad silly things like "Copyright and Licensing laws" prevent the SRW games from coming to the US. Because really, any sort of game where I can deliberately rush Shinji Ikari to a quick death is a game I want to play. Whiny emo bastard.

I'd pay lots of money to have that option as well.

Bright bright-slaps him into manhood. For extra deliciousness, Shinji in turn bright-slaps Kira Yamato into manhood.

Posted by Hailinel

@Turambar said:

Woo, pretty pictures. Thanks to people that let me know image uploads still work on Chrome, just not on firefox.

Except it refuses to show any captions...huh

Ah, yeah. Actually, if you edit it again, you should be able to add captions. Why it doesn't let you add them when you first add the pictures, I don't know.

Online
Posted by Turambar

@Hailinel: Nope, still doesn't seem to be working. Oh well.