Previously I’ve written about how the turn-based structure of the Super Robot Wars games makes them a perfect depiction of the sort of throwdowns seen in comic books and superhero films – the heroes and villains take it in turns to give it their best shot with plenty of one-liners and shouted dialogues in between. Yet while many turn-based strategy games have short, simple animations for their attacks, the SRW series instead turns those animations into a reason to play and a major selling-point. With immense care taken in reproducing scenes from specific series in the franchise’s licensed entries (down to specifically not animating sprites if the series in question was renowned for cheaping out on its animation budget), when the developers are freed from trying to be accurate to the source material the results are imaginative parodies of the source genre. These five videos show some of the attention to detail put into some of the most surreal and extravagant finishing moves in SRPGs.
- Royal Heartbreaker (SRW 2nd OG)
Of all the attacks listed here, this one is easily the most ridiculously fourth-wall breaking. Taking the idea of the girl characters getting a girly special to the absolute extreme, Royal Heartbreaker combines a brutal beating on the enemy with a more feminine touch. From the off, it has its two participants quite literally take to the stage and then from there just gets stranger. With one robot dancing while the other lays into the enemy, colourful sparkle-trails, and a riot of colour all to the saccharine strains of the character’s theme tune Fairy Dancing, it suddenly takes a far stranger turn. Logic flies out of the window as the two pilots undergo Sailor Moon style costume changes and begin painting rainbows across the sky before finishing the enemy back on the stage to confetti and spotlights. If the attack manages to kill the opponent, as our heroines pose the camera pans back to reveal a screaming crowd of fans with glowsticks.
- Tatsumaki Zankantou (Tornado Ship Cutting Sword) (SRW Alpha 3)
This attack is not the longest, or flashiest, but it is certainly a candidate for the most absurd. When noble warrior stereotype Sanger Zonvolt and his gunslinging companion Elzam Branstein finally get their ultimate units in-game, any kind of combination between them is going to be something special and Tatsumaki Zankantou fits the bill. Rather than some kind of dual beatdown in which both parties use their units’ strengths to finish the enemy, though, with a cry of “Blade and Horse are one!” the two machines combine to form a rider and steed. The sight of a skyscraper-sized robot samurai riding his wingman’s robot horse and wielding a sword three times the size of his own unit has to rank as one of the most gloriously over-the-top attack animations in a RPG. And, as if it could not be any more strange, a game glitch which has since become a feature means that no matter what the level might intend, the theme tune, Trombe!, will interrupt any other background music. The second video here is a clip from the TV series spinoff of the franchise showing the move in even more lavish animation.
- All In One (SRW MX) – (from 6:47)
Most of these attacks have been from the heroes of the games; the player-controlled units. However, given it is almost a rule of RPGs to have the final boss throw out some kind of overly long and bizarre move as exemplified by Sephiroth’s Supernova, the bosses of SRW give a decent enough showing. However, it is All In One, used by the grotesque AI1, that is the most unusual. While its basic attack involves spawning multiple clones of its previous forms to team up and attack, this finisher has a far less predictable nature. After the unfortunate victim is consumed by AI1, it runs into a giant vision of the thing’s pilot and, after being shot with lightning and fire, gets kissed by a giant naked woman in space and thrown into a black hole before being expelled from inside the final boss in flames.
- Twin Bird Strike (SRW 2nd OG)
At first sight, Twin Bird Strike is a fairly standard kind of attack by SRW standards – flashy aerial stunts, plenty of ammunition expended and the expected banter between the two pilots involved. Finishing with a ridiculously long windup on its final punch, the move looks to be completely unremarkable, if a nice piece of sprite animation, until one of the two units involved suddenly runs out of fuel and crashes rather than flying coolly away from the explosion. It’s details like this – playing with the dynamic kill animations (longer versions of a move’s animation used on a successful kill) that make SRW stand out among games of its kind – the graphics are flashy and elaborate but there’s often a lot of heart in them as well as empty spectacle.
- 8,710 Dragon and Tiger Style Barrage (SRW 2nd OG) – (from 1:52)
This move is actually one of a whole series of homages to the classic comic, game and anime Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure; the whole yankee school tough look of pilot Michiru and the poses his machine the G-Bankaran strikes are just some of many pop culture references that pepper the SRW games. Yet even without this context, 8,710 Dragon and Tiger Style Barrage is a moment of insane genius; a robot piloted by the school tough gets out a giant robot sized PE bag and starts whipping the enemy with it. And as if that was not enough, the move also includes a kick into the upper atmosphere, dramatic coat removal and the staple of martial arts showing off, on-screen calligraphy reminding you of the move’s name.