Note: This review is based on the Japanese version of the game.
Six months after the events of SRW 2, the governments of Earth unite to form the United Earth Government. However the remnants of the defeated DC army comes under the control of the Zabi family and begins to rebuild its forces. To combat this, the Earth government reorganizes the White Base Team into the Londo Bell, to fend off the DC forces. When a reconnaissance fleet disappears in space, the Lond Bell is sent to investigate. And thus the Third Super Robot Wars begins…
Continuing Banpresto’s remakes of their ever popular SRW series, the PSX remake of SRW 3 brings about most of the improvements we see in Super Robot Wars 4 Scramble to this game in order to make it more accessible to the new crowd; namely updated graphics to full 16 bit (yes, 16bit) color and fully voiced battle scenes.
Since SRW 3 remake is made using the same engine that powers the SRW 2 remake, there is no difference whatsoever between these two games. In fact, if you got the SRW Collection, which has the remakes 2,3, and EX on the same CD, you’ll see that they all use the same sprites. The only way you can tell each game apart is by some of the Anime series present, and by the borders around the battle scenes.
Actually, there is another improvement that isn’t easily noticeable: the story. While SRW2 played out like a very clichéd story of the evil dictator who wants to take over the world, with the introduction of the alien forces, not only do we see more original character and mecha designs, we see a better story overall. That and the superior writing (relatively) of the character’s dialogue makes it less likely that you’ll skip the dialogue scenes and move straight to each scenario/episode. In fact, Masaki Ando, one of the original characters that you control, is probably the closest thing you have to a main character in this game. A good deal of episodes deal with him and his unit, Psybuster (aka Cybuster. It’s officially Cybaster…but the Japanese are pretty bad with getting their English correct so…) and why he is on this universe and not the one he’s from, a cylindrical world of La Girox .
The gameplay itself remains mainly unchanged. You play out a series of maps against the computer with a set number of units on each map, sometimes well over 20 units on each side. By getting within range, you can attack the enemy with your wide array of weapons that correspond to each unit. Gundam units will use mainly beam rifles and funnels, Great Mazinger will use Thunder Break, Psybuster will use Hi-familars, etc. These attack sequences will have you go into a battle scene, where each side will attack each other with fully animated and fully voiced attacks. While every unit is super deformed (meaning they look like a miniature of the actual unit), the full voices helps it feel like an actual anime show, which makes it a major reason why this game series has been very popular with the mecha fan crowd.
Aside from the typical attacks, each character has a number of special skills (magic) that he or she can use. These are all supplementary skills, ranging from skills that improve your accuracy to increasing the amount of damage you do. Using these skills make up a major part of succeeding in this game, for most bosses have massive Hit points and you don’t.
There has been one change made to the game that I think was for the worse: its difficulty. While the SRW series has never been well known for how hard it is, SRW3 is the hardest game of the series…by FAR. Because the amount of money you receive is so low, you can’t upgrade your mecha as often, which leads to you trying to take on enemy bosses with weak weapons. While you’ll manage by in the first half of the game, by the latter half, where many units have over 40,000 HP and regeneration, defeating them require a hefty amount of luck as well as skill.
On the plus side, there is a vast increase in the number of paths you can take. While SRW2 limited you to only a handful of routes that you can go, there are now dozens of diverging paths, some important and some not. Not only does this add greatly to the game’s replay value, it also allows you to choose which type of robots you want to major in. If you stay on earth you’ll be fighting with most of your super robots like Majinger Z and Getta Robo, while if you go to space you’ll be fighting with mostly your Gundam forces.
The music in SRW is pretty much the same as its predecessor…actually, it is EXACTLY the same. For those who have watched the anime series, each mecha theme comes from its anime counterpart and the remixes of each song are very pleasing. The only thing about the sound in SRW 3 (or for 2-EX for that matter) is that they reuse too many of the sound effects. There are slight differences in beam rifle sounds in the anime for various series, but in SRW, they trim this down to a mere handful. While this really isn’t a big deal, it still is a bit annoying as to how weapons from various series sound exactly the same.
All in all, SRW3 is a vast improvement over SRW2 in terms of both story and gameplay. While the graphics look dated, it has at least 50 real game hours in it, and if you’re into mecha at all, you’ll enjoy every single one. While the difficulty may get to the average player, smart spending should get you by…