It’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).
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.
This review was undertaken on both the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita versions of the game.
[spoiler show=”Specific Unit Animations”]