Imagine the world’s most immersive action for anime fans: characters from mismatched universes hang out, go on adventures, and rescue the multiverse from a rogue gallery of familiar villains. Whatever picture you envisioned—no matter how superior—it almost certainly would dwarf Super Robot Wars, a 30-year-old strategy RPG series that pulls together dozens of animated shows to create ridiculous sets of robot violence.
Marking the series’ 30th anniversary, publisher Bandai Namco finally cut (or bought) its way through an inferno of bureaucracy for a license to take this nonsense around the world. The series has so far always been stuck in Japan. but Super Robot Wars 30 It launched in the West on Steam last week, and as a longtime fan of SRW who has continued with unofficial imports and subtitles, I couldn’t be happier. Let me tell you why you should be.
Super Robot Wars Basics
First, let me temper some expectations: If giant anime robots and pilots aren’t your thing, or if you don’t know Getter Robo’s Gundam, you’ll feel a little lost. In essence, SRW games are good if not so Brainstorming Strategy RPGs in the context of Fire Emblem, Disgaea, or similar. It can be very easy unless you raise the difficulty settings or intentionally limit yourself, and with a little max you can break it above your knee. However, give Super Robot Wars a chance to work its magic and these shortcomings can be easily overlooked.
Without a soul, the SRW 30 would be an unforgettable experience. But if there’s one thing this game—and the series—is in spades, it’s the character. These games seem to have been written by enthusiastic teens with head-banging what-if scenarios. If mecha anime characters have any place in your heart, these stories are a weapon-level security investigation. Enthusiasm is really contagious.
Familiar heroes are put through the wringer but come out from the far side happier, stronger and more supportive of that. Tragedies averted, fates shattered. It’s melodramatic stuff. Despite some wild plots to bring all of these settings together, the characters interact authentically, even when they are confined to an increasingly bizarre new storyline.
SRW 30 drops players into a hybrid world set simultaneously before, during, and after several animated shows, all tied to a dedicated story about a group of teens who lead a semi-conscious spaceship on a mission to save Earth (whew!). events Gundam mobile suitAnd Mazinger Z And Code Geass Already played with the beginning of the game, while SSSS Gridman And Brave Police J Decker about to start. Another show called Knight and magic Featured here, the protagonist (a mecha anime nerdling teenager named Ernie) has a deep genre savvy. His thrilling meta-narrative brings a hilarious comic relief to SRW 30’s many battles.
And oh, what battles.
SRW battles are all about big numbers and big anime explosions
Be prepared for dozens of giant robots fighting each other, as well as kaiju, aliens and even stranger things. Strategic battles are booked into visual novel-style dialogue sequences, and missions often recreate popular scenes from featured shows, but with new crossover twists and scenarios featuring new characters and villains to piece it all together. And there’s plenty of opportunity for what you’re most likely here for: big cartoon explosions.
The fights look and sound authentic. Each creative attack is animated in great detail in full screen with unchanged all the tracks, voice acting and appropriate music. You’ll probably start skipping the longer animation when you’re cutting out fodder foes, but even after years of immersing yourself in the series, I’m still letting the more dramatic exchanges come up in full.
Under the hood you’re looking at piece of ground of numbers. Every mechanic and pilot has a comprehensive stat sheet of capabilities and perks. There are special rules for how the smaller mechanics deal with damage to giants the size of skyscrapers (and vice versa) and many flavors of leveling up and experience. The mechanisms, pilots and your carrier mother ship can be separately upgraded and customized, and pilots can even be assigned to different vehicles at a later time.
Unless you’re intentionally limiting yourself, there’s plenty of room for expressive play in the SRW 30, even at higher difficulties, giving it the feel of playing with a child’s toy. You are free to inject resources into your favorite action characters to turn them into mechanical gods, or try to create a balanced tactical force with synergistic skills that support each other.
SRW 30 is the biggest of these game chests to date, with characters and units from 22 different shows and movies, plus a few all-new characters and mechas. And there are still five more crossovers coming as DLC. Even if you’re not familiar with all the shows on offer, the SRW 30 is a great introduction. I know I’ll check out some of the worlds offered here – most of them are easily streamed on services like Crunchy Roll.
So what makes Super Robot Wars special?
Crossovers are more common these days than they were when Super Robot Wars began in 1991. We live in a world with Fortnite and Dead By Daylight previewing seasonal ties, and where Kingdom Hearts offers a quick tour through Disney’s back catalog loosely linked through High anime camp. What makes Super Robot Wars special is that these characters and the worlds they come from are more closely related. Each game creates a whole new hybrid setting from its component parts, with a glossary full of history to go through. Almost all of them stand alone.
Aside from being the first major game released outside of Asian soil, the most defining feature of SRW 30 is its non-linearity and scalability. SRW games are typically long, linear progressions from mission to mission, occasionally branching out and converging back into the main plot. The SRW30 gives you a choice of hero and road right away, and once you’ve completed a few intro tutorial missions, you’ll be surprisingly unleashed.
Aside from the educational battles, I found myself offered 27 head-spinning missions available to play in any order, scaling the main story missions in somewhat of a difficulty, encouraging you to choose your own path. This is only the first chapter in the story. These aren’t typically short games, and it probably takes me weeks to finish them all at once. My next comeback will be longer.
While previous SRW games have dabbled in DLC, 30 has two major expansions coming, each adding 13 story missions and nine bots from more universes. The first wave will include the Sega SRPG franchise Sakura Wars and the recently adapted Ultraman for Netflix. Curious data researchers have found files hinting at the passage of Season 2, featuring more missions and crossovers.
Is there such a thing as too much anime? Bandai Namco is clearly aiming to find out.
The trade-off is that this anime surplus doesn’t come cheap. While the SRW 30 is massive in its own right and one of the cheapest entries in the series, if you want the definitive edition, you’re looking at a $105/£80 cut if you don’t wait for a discount (and that doesn’t count potential future season passes).
Much of the high price tag of the final version of Premium Sound DLC, which adds (expensive licensed) audio themes from each premium series, comes in to replace the virtual instrument covers. Purely aesthetic, but I feel the music adds a lot. However, SRW 30 has a fully customizable soundtrack, so if you want to replace every track yourself from your 100% legal collection, there is a menu for that in-game. You can even customize different music for Single AttacksIf you want to be fancy.
If – when – did you start craving more super robots…
If Super Robot Wars becomes your new obsession, there are plenty of games to play if you don’t mind putting in a little extra work. SRW 30 is a good place to start, but it’s actually not the only SRW game to be released in English on Steam – it’s just the first game that hasn’t closed in the Southeast Asian region. There is more to choose from if you are willing to work around this limitation. Just remember that Valve says that using a VPN to change your region “is completely against Steam’s Terms of Service and may result in restrictions on your Steam account.”
2017’s Super Robot Wars V (Evangelion Reconstruction Processing) and 2018 SRW X (Featuring Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann) Available in English on PC, PlayStation and Switch. It can be easily found if you want to import a physical copy or circumvent Steam region lock. 2019’s SRW (starring the Cowboy Bebop crew) is out on consoles, and the Switch version simulates perfectly on PC.
Bandai Namco previously released a file Super Robot Wars OG chain all over the world. Super Robot Wars OG is a secondary game without any of the cross-cutting 3rd party characters. Some of these games have been translated, although not as fluently as recent flights. Some OG characters appear in SRW 30, with more appearing in the form of DLC. And if all this is still not enough, there is Eleven other games subtitled by fans, and seven more localized enough to be playable, although you’ll miss the story if you can’t read Japanese.
To start off with the latest and brightest, Super Robot Wars 30 is out on Steam For $60 / £40. The more expensive deluxe edition includes the season pass, and the definitive edition adds official vocal themed songs at the top as well.