Created by Go Nagai in 1972 as a serialized manga, and later an animated show that lasted for 92 episodes, Mazinger Z is often cited as the first "super robot", spawning a genre that lead to dozens of new giant robot shows throughout the 1970s and onward. The franchise built around the titular robot has gone through many renditions, re-imaginings, sequels, and more through the years, with popularity spread both in and outside of Japan. In the United States, the original animated series didn't appear on the airwaves until 1985 under the name "Tranzor Z". Heavily edited and dated by the time it was shown, it was criticized as being a "Voltron rip-off", which is ironic as Mazinger Z predated Voltron by a decade.
Statistics and Abilities
Mazinger Z stands at 18 meters tall and weighs in at 20 tons, is powered by photonic energy and built with the metal known as Super Alloy Z. It is often portrayed as having very strong armor and attacks, although it is lacking in speed and accuracy. Many of the cliches and tropes found in giant robot shows originated with Mazinger Z, from weapons to the act of yelling out your attacks beforehand. The most common and well-known abilities and attacks associated with the robot include:
- Rocket Punch - Mazinger Z fires its fists at its opponent like a missile. This is one of its most common attacks, and one of the most imitated. Upgraded later in the series with Iron Cutter, which adds blades to the sides of the wrists for added cutting. In games, it is primarily used as a standard, mid-ranged projectile attack.
- Koushiryoku Beam - Mazinger Z fires beams of photonic energy from its eyes. In games, it is used as a long-range attack, and is either one of its weaker attacks or of average strength.
- Rust Hurricane - Mazinger Z fires a gale of wind and rust at its opponents. In early Super Robot Wars games, it functioned as a strong, inexpensive attack, unusable underwater or in space. In recent games, it is a weaker attack that hits multiple targets, but with the added bonus of reducing their armor for a turn.
- Breast Fire - Considered Mazinger Z's signature, finishing move, it fires a wide, red beam of heat out of its red chest plates, melting anything it hits. In games, it is often his strongest attack. In Super Robot Wars games, it has the benefit of being one of the strongest attacks you can use right away, without building up Will throughout the match to access it, with the drawback of it being an expensive attack to use repeatedly.
- Jet Scrander - Originally, Mazinger Z lacked the ability to fly. The Jet Scrander is a set of rocket boosts and wings, giving Mazinger Z the ability to fly. In some games, the wings are used as blades in a melee attack called Scrander Cutter.
- Mazin Power - In more recent Super Robot Wars games, Banpresto introduced an ability for Mazinger Z, Great Mazinger, and Mazinkaiser called Mazin Power. At 130 Will, the unit deals 25% extra damage with all attacks.
Mazinger Z makes most of its appearances in the Super Robot Wars franchise of games, but it has appeared in other games as well. Banpresto released an arcade game titled "Mazinger Z" in 1994, which was a vertical-scrolling shooter featuring not only the title robot, but also the robot Great Mazinger with its pilot Tetsuya Tsurugi, stars of the sequel to Mazinger Z, as well as the robot Grendizer with its pilot Duke Fleed, stars of the sequel to Great Mazinger (with Kouji Kabuto in a support role). There was also a game based on a spin-off series for the Sega Genesis, "Mazin Saga: Mutant Fighter", a which was a beat-em-up game. Instead of Mazinger Z being a giant robot that Kouji piloted, it was more akin to the Ultraman series, in which Kouji dons a suit of armor that makes him become Mazinger Z, complete with the ability to turn himself into a giant to fight off much larger enemies. Mazin Saga is one of the very few games released in the United States to actually use the Mazinger Z franchise in any form.
Super Robot Wars
The very first Super Robot Wars game featured robots from the Gundam franchise, Getter Robo franchise, and Mazinger Z franchise. Since then, every Super Robot Wars game released using anime crossovers has included Mazinger Z and Kouji Kabuto in one form or another. In the early games, Mazinger Z's plot played a larger role, but in later games, its inclusion is either used to support other series created by Go Nagai or, in some cases, thrown in as a tradition, often mentioning early in the story that the events of Mazinger Z have already transpired and Kouji is helping the other characters in their fights.
Mazinger Z often serves in these games as an average Super Robot unit, with a high armor rating, average ranged weapon, and strong close-ranged attacks that require little to set up. It is often the unit with the most armor in the game, even more than larger and seemingly more advanced units, making it a relatively user-friendly unit with very few drawbacks. In the early games, when the Mazinger Z plot was utilized, the robot would often start off without the Jet Scrander, receiving it halfway through the game as an upgrade, boosting its stats, attacks, and giving it flight. In later games, in an effort to keep up with the power curve moving in favor of newer, stronger robots, Banpresto, with the help of Mazinger Z creator Go Nagai, created a new robot as an upgrade for Kouji Kabuto, called Mazinkaiser. Mazinkaiser eventually became one of the few instances where a video game series progressed a franchise, as Mazinkaiser would, years after its video game debut, would get its own OVAs and movies; the OVAs and movie plots would later be used in more recent SRW games.
In the past, the general idea for a crossover SRW game would be that the three franchises which were in the game franchise from the beginning would be guarantee to show up, namely, Mazinger Z with Kouji Kabuto, an iteration of Getter Robo with Ryouma Nagare, and either the original RX-78-2 Gundam or RX-93 Nu Gundam with Amuro Ray. Recently, however, there have been games released without a Getter Robo representative or a UC Gundam representative, yet Mazinger Z and its pilot have always made an appearance, whether it is the original 1972 anime version or the Mazinkaiser version.