Reviews: Super Robot Wars Z 3 Jigoku Hen (9/10)

srwz3_coverIt’s been a while since the last entry in the Z series, Saisei Hen, not to mention the noticeable lack of a full blooded Super Robot Wars game on current console hardware. Admittedly we’ve had the odd side story game but no real proper 2D multi-anime series game on either the PS3 or 360. Jigoku Hen pretty much changes all that.

The first in a two part finale for the Z series, Jigoku Hen is also the first major release to have both a home and portable console version. This has produced some very interesting design aspects to the game as a whole. It’s also one of the prettiest Super Robot Wars games around and an enormous amount of fun.

It’s clear from the off that the tech and engine used in the recent PS3 OG and Masoukishin games has been appropriated here. The big difference though is that the sense of forced perspective in their battle animations is very much absent here. Resulting in a more traditional side-on viewpoint. The downside to this is that the engine was optimised for the prior setup and whilst the battle animations in this game are suitably polished, there are issues with texture pixellation in some instances. It’s a small gripe really but it is there. In addition to this, the PS3 version is definitely at a higher resolution compared to the Vita release. Admittedly this is only a minor discrepancy but again it is there.

The upside of having both releases is the cross version game saving. You can save both inter-mission and mid-mission, then upload that online to be retrieved by either version at a later date. This setup requires an account with PlayStation Plus enabled but considering the convenience this feature affords, it’s definitely worth the meagre asking price in terms of subscription.

As for the game itself, there has been a substantial amount of re-working. Instead of single unit groups, we now have a dual units system (similar to UX). Likewise, this allows combined or spread attacks from either the player or enemy units. There are also multi-unit attacks that target both units simultaneously but at the cost of only one unit attacking from that pairing per turn. To help this work, some units also have party seishin commands. So getting the unit pairing right in terms of their respective seishin deficiencies is pretty key. Like the original triple unit setup in the first Z, we now have a similar level of strategy but streamlined for portable usage (as setting up teams between missions is quicker).

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Following on from this we also have the staple mecha parts and pilot skills, in addition to the unit upgrading. Setting up each mecha is still very rewarding and watching their potency grow to somewhat crazy levels, we’re looking at you Burglary Dog, is really satisfying. The big new additions to the game are the Tag Commands and Maximum Break attacks. The former are triggered by killing enemies in sequence within a turn, resulting in combos. This then allows you to boost your seishin points as well as a variety of other options on your next attack. As for the Maximum Break attacks these are a new forced dual attack with an increase in potency, that not only doesn’t require seishin to amplify but also doesn’t restrict the usage of multi-unit attacks. In short, you can conceivably use two multi-unit attacks side by side with a nice attack boost for good measure. Like the Tag Commands, the Maximum Break attacks are built up over time and you can have multiple occurrences per level too.

Both the Tag Commands and Maximum Break attacks have the added affect of making the game more aggressive and decidedly offence focused. Whilst you still have the various support units and support seishin, these are a fall back as you can take on tougher enemies without the need to be overly defensive and protect your support lines. That said, this isn’t an instant win setup but one that has to be used correctly at the right time. It emphasises the use of strategy without diminishing it. It also has the added bonus of again streamlining the game for a portable environment.

This is the crucial part though, at 60 missions and all manner of other streamlining this game is very much geared to the portable approach. The upside is that the console version is much more direct and dramatic, with added graphical finesse to boot, but it’s an interesting hybrid in terms of design.

Overall then what with the convenience of being able to exchange saves between versions, an all new and streamlined game system not to mention and some of the most amazing battle animations seen in the series thus far; this is very much a game you want in your collection. Even if you are not a big Super Robot Wars fan, this is definitely one of the best in the series as a whole and as such comes thoroughly recommended.

Tamashii: 9/10

This review was undertaken on both the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita versions of the game.

[spoiler show=”Specific Unit Animations”]

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[/spoiler]

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11 Comments

  1. I’m in the opposite camp here. I’m actually pretty disappointed with this entry in the series.

    My initial complaints stem from the fact that (the PS3 version at least) just feels like a cheap port in places mostly due to the fact that its been optimised to play identically across both the Vita and the PS3. Some of the units look horribly upscaled, with the biggest offender being Dancouga Nova which has horrible jagged edges and the colour looks severely washed out.

    It also feels like a lot of the units have been scaled back in terms of the number of attacks. A prime example would be the 00 Raiser which only has 4 this time around compared to I think 7 in the last title. Initially I would have thought this was so that they would make the 00 Quan[T] better, but that machine seems even worse, with only 1 extra attack and pretty boring animations.

    The character potraits also leave something to be desired, with some of the worst possible reaction shots (Alto’s are terrible). The original characters are also some of the worst I’ve seen in the whole series.

    While I’m really enjoying the gameplay and the difficulty increase for some of the missions (some of the SR requirements are quite interesting), it feels like a lot of the game’s mechanics have been geared solely towards the use of the Maximum Break. Against most bosses you’re likely to find that assists are useless due to the only attack they use being one of the weakest – and some barriers (*cough* Lambda Driver *cough*) are practically impenetrable with normal attacks. Most of the time it feels like you go through an entire mission with maximum tension, not using any abilities because you need to save the MB for the boss that may or may not appear.

    I’m not saying its a bad game, I just feel like I was expecting more from it. Z2.2 was fantastic, and as far as console titles go OG2 was brilliant as well. Maybe I was expecting too much as I was expecting this to top both of them

    1. The pixellation is to do with the engine’s origins, not the actual assets weirdly (though I think the Vita assets were downscaled from the PS3 “master”). It is an issue though and I have called it out. As for attacks, some units get a lot more love this time around compared to what they got in Saisei Hen. I am still blown away by how sexy Zeta is though.

    2. okay so where to begin.

      Nova – I never used it, can’t talk.

      -00Raiser: Is NOT the standard Raiser. It’s the Dual Condenser type. The Twin drives are missing, so many of the Raiser’s most OP abilities CANNOT be used.

      -00Q: The story has not demanded the Qan[T]’s full power. Which is believed to have been enough to solo the ELS if I remember.

      -Faceshots: You didn’t see Aoi’s face when you have her fight Kagura on the first stage of EVOL, did you? I think they’re fairly spot on.

      -Barriers: A welcome change imho. Requires strategy and skill early game.

      -MB Saving: I didn’t. I used it on a LOT of Attack Agains and PP gains.

      >Expecting more

      It is a Prologue to the finale. Z2.2 was a finale to the interqual. They’re literally holding back on their top gear in order to make things as insanely good as possible for 3.2.

      And fun fact: Before anyone posts about the Mithril units: they were done by newbies in Banpresto, hence why they look clunky. BUT, for Rookies you have to lighten your expectations and admit they did a DAMN good job.

      1. Good point about the Raiser, I completely forgot about the whole twin drives being missing. I think I’m just a little miffed because it was the only 00 series gundam that I actually liked the design on and I’ve always hated the design of the Qan[T].

        I did get Aoi to attack Kagura as there was bonus Z-chips attached to doing it but I can’t remember what it looked like. I’m not saying all of the face shots are terrible but some are.

        Like I said in the first comment I’m not saying its a bad game or anything. As you say I just need to lighten my expectations a bit. I’m still playing it every night (and bringing it in to work to play on my lunch break), which I wouldn’t do if it were truly terrible. I just wanted to share a couple of opinions I’d had, as no-one in my office cares for mecha games so there’s no-one for me to discuss this stuff with 🙂

        1. Let’s just say Aoi has her own Rape face. And it’s awesome.

          And lightening expectations over Z2.2 is generally a good idea. Like Z2.1 and other “Season 1s”, it IS a prologue. The truly mind numbing stuff obviously wouldn’t occur until the end.

          …And my word, my mind’s still numb.

          1. Having completed the game on Thursday night I’ve changed my opinions considerably. Those last 5 or so missions were pretty mind blowing and I loved them! I’ve started a second run now so should be getting to the Aoi Vs. Kagura scene again today or tomorrow 🙂

            1. See that’s the point. A prologue isn’t meant to be mind blowing all along, just near the end. And I swear this is the most awesome end known to man.

              >Amuro Vs Char
              >Char Vs “Char”
              >Anti-Spiral Hyjinx
              >ZA CURABU!
              >The promise we won’t be seeing Blue Cosmos (I know, Seed passed LONG ago) in Z3.2: We’ll be on GREEN Earth 😛

  2. I’m only on the 22nd mission (I’ve been busy) but I love this game so far. Next year’s finale will be INSANE if they pull out all the mechs they could.

    I wish my Japanese was better though. I’m having a hard time understanding how all these Gundam characters are together, alive (not brain dead, for example) at the same time. Did we decide if ZZ ever took place yet?

    1. If I remember correctly the Z series uses the movie compilations rather than the TV series for Zeta Gundam (which changed some of the details at the end). Having only seen the TV series I don’t know if that retcons anything ZZ related or not though. It would make sense to assume ZZ had taken place at some point due to Gundam Unicorn being present in the game – unless they’re going to throw it in for part 2.

      1. Well, sorry to spoil anything, but the most significant change in the Zeta movies (which are great, btw) is that Camille doesn’t go brain dead after taking out The O. This means that in the ZZ era he would have done stuff instead of just sit in a wheelchair. It seems like Judo would probably not have been the ZZ pilot if Camille was still around.

        Many things from ZZ still exist in Bandai’s new world though, a crapload of Puru-pilted Quebleys, for example.

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