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Reviews: Super Robot Wars Z 2 Hakai Hen (9/10)

Posted on : 30-04-2011 | By : | In : Reviews



Back in 1991 a small and fairly unassuming GameBoy game inadvertently started a franchise of games that have now reached their 20th Anniversary. It pitted all manner of super and real robots in a turn based strategy framework, allowing super robots with suitably preposterous abilities to high five with more rational mecha. This functional disparity is one of the many aspects that has made Super Robot Wars such a loved and cherished gaming heirloom over the years.

Cue the initial sequel to 2008’s Super Robot Wars Z, featuring pristine animation and above all insanely powerful super robots from Gurren Lagann to Final Dancouga all of which fist bumping the grittiest of all the real robots; the sturdy little Scopedog. On fan service alone, Z2 technically goes up to eleven but what’s more impressive is how the game has been functionally distilled into a fiendishly compelling strategy game.

We loved the first Z, from the beautiful animations to the formation twist to the strategy. Z2 eschews some of that complexity to return the series to more of its portable gaming roots. In short, squads of mecha that are normally associated with the console iterations have been dropped. Instead Z2 opts for a single unit approach. In addition, units with multiple pilots have been simplified down into a main pilot and multiple sub pilots. Pilot upgrades are still present, from basic ability improvements to purchasable skills though. Mecha are also similarly upgradeable and can be equipped with bonus parts to aid them in combat. All of this is pretty standard SRW fare and for long term players of the games, then none of this should surprise you.

What is surprising though is that despite its almost standardised simplicity, the game itself is remarkably compelling. Animations aside, though I assure you we will get to these later, the game as a pure unbridled turn based strategy title is nigh-on perfect. Doubly so as bouts of gameplay can be handled on the move, regardless of mission length, due to the quick save feature that’s been a staple of the games for a good while now. Compared to the somewhat lacklustre DS outings, Z2 is really very addictive.

Managing your team of disparate mecha and their even more varied pilots is a refreshingly cerebral affair. Especially as much of the strategical nuance encourages the player to understand the history and context these individual units have come from. It’s one of the few series of games where knowing the various host works pays dividends in how you handle their usage in a mission.

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What’s also very special about Z2, probably even more so than the original Z, is how the animations have been handled. Despite re-using a good number of units from the first game, the vast majority of the animations and sprite work are all new. This is especially noticeable with units like the Nu Gundam, where almost every aspect of the sprite and its animation have been totally re-tooled. Though the really amazing aspect about all the game’s animations are just how dynamic they are to the point the make the original Z feel almost static. It also goes without saying that the detailing and just simple image quality far exceeds that of the first Z, to the point that this is by far and away one of the prettiest SRW’s we’ve ever seen.

There’s also an inordinate amount of love poured into this game, with each of the series handled with an almost craftsmanship zeal. The sheer amount of reverence in some places is almost palpable, with the Chirico Cuvie and his variety of Scopedogs being notable. Even the glorious introduction of Final Dancouga, almost two thirds of the way through the game, is brilliant. Harking back to the series that partially birthed it and the delayed introduction of the titular Dancouga itself. Naturally, upon our acquisition of said unit we subsequently maxed out all its attributes in one go. Something that felt unnervingly satisfying.

Clocking in at around 50 missions, with multiple internal branches, it’s not as long winded as the original Z but for a PSP game it feels about right. Missions are on the whole very well balanced with no real difficulty spikes to report. Considering that another Z2 will be following this one, as they cunningly only took many of the new series featured halfway through their story arc, means that yet another thoroughly excellent SRW can be expected. In the meantime, Z2 is probably one of the finest SRW games we’ve played in a long time and any self respecting gamer should pick it up forthwith.

Tamashii: 9/10


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Comments (15)

Still on mission 40 now, but I can vote for this review. In fact, with the inclusion of Code Geass, and thus its intriguing story, I’ll even go further to give it a 10/10. This is simply the best SRW game since I played the first one in the series (SRW3 for Super Famicom).

Well the game look likes a piece of art but i liked OGS more i play srw games 70% CUZ i enjoy seeing there OG robots and i didn’t like Z2 og maybe cuz hes kinda of range robot i like melee robots like dai lioh and Ialdabaoth…etc maybe just me !? looking forward for OG 3 and Z2 part 2 🙂

I’ve gotta say I wholly agree with this review. I’m only about 13 missions in at the moment but I’m loving every second of it. This one’s a real change for me as I usually take the real robot paths in SRW games but this time I felt compelled to follow the supers. Charging into the centre of a group of enemies with Gurren Lagann and Dai Guard at the front is something I’m not going to get tired of any time soon 🙂

truly an awesome game!

One thing I noted about Z1 was the animations for the Hyaku Shiki, they were some of the worst in the game and I was hoping they might have improved them for Z2, but nope, they are still some of the worst in the game. Besides GodMars that is, but that’s done in spirit of the original anime lol.

See here:

Its pretty much static as it flies towards enemies and when it flies back its also a static pose, except for an awkward leg bend at the end.

No one seems bothered by the unit count.

I am. 🙂 I think they should have implemented tri-system/twin system here to compensate for the large number of series included.

It does give the game good replay value though, having a number of units means being able to replay the game with completely new team combinations.

I’m on mission 33. It really is great. It has a lot of shitty new shows I can’t stand (who actually likes Gundam 00?) but more than makes up for it with UC Gundam (a little anyway), Godmars, Votoms, etc. I don’t miss the squad system at all (hated it, to be honest).

My only complaint is that the map graphics are pretty weak. I’d prefer simple head graphics like the SFC games instead of the much more detailed but much harder to identify things we have here. Some are just odd, like the Zeta in Waverider mode, WTF? With the default coloring I get the allies mixed in with the enemies. If I change to the red/blue scheme then I can’t easily tell the guys apart in my own army.

Its also too easy, but so is every SRW so its just part of the series.

Animations = best 2D in the history of gaming? Possibly. Probably.

What I’d like to see in the 2nd half: Gundam Unicorn, some other Macross, Gunbuster, Giant Fucking Robo! I’m sure we won’t see many new series for the 2nd half, but their will probably be some new stuff, as was the case in SRW F and SRW F Final. In the case of that game some of the mecha were actually available in the first game via Action Replay.

I thought 00 was pretty awesome, much better than Wing (which 00 is sort of a re-imagining of). The characters and mech designs were interesting. The political stuff was intriguing. The animation remained consistantly high quality throughout the series, (no quality drops or use of stock footage like SEED or wing). And the story kept me engaged and wanting to keep watching the whole way through. Compared with Wing or ZZ where finishing the series was a struggle to grind through the boredom in some parts.

I miss fast forward animation and squad system. But i rather stick with L twin system than squad system, Z2 chapter seisen must include fast forward animation and L twin system!

I’m loving Z2 at the moment, even if I can’t understand a word.

“We loved the first Z”

Not sure why, you must have been blind and confused at the time, probably high on drugs or something, as it was clearly the worst SRW on Playstation 2, most bland and unimaginative, it’s one saving grace being high-res sprites. It was an absolutely massive, incredible drop, from the peak of OGS.

I don’t know what you a smoking, but…

[…] classic games like Alpha 3 to the more recent Z series, notably that of Haikai-hen and Saisei-hen, Final Dancouga has made its presence known in Super Robot Wars often with some […]

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