Super Robot Taisen: Original Generation is a high-quality tactical title. Thus it should be no surprise that Super Robot Taisen: Original Generation 2 is just as worthy a prospect for the seeker of a most pleasing GBA tactical title. Certainly the differences between the titles are distinctive and need enumeration, but any players who enjoyed the first will enjoy the second. Any players without a background in Original Generation 1 will probably be a bit lost in the story but will still find much to appreciate.
Six months have passed since Operation SRW, the last-ditch effort to defeat the Aerogators attempting to conquer Earth, succeeded. The members who participated in Operation SRW have been scattered around the globe now, but peace refuses to come easily. Though the DC's leader, Bian Zoldark, is dead some of his supporters have been galvanized by the casualties suffered during the Aerogator attack to revive the DC and thus reignite planetary civil war. A new alien threat describing its members as the Inspectors menaces Earth simultaneously. There is another mysterious presence with odd mechanical soldiers termed Einsts which evinces an unusual interest in Kyosuke and Excellen, all while certain members of the DC Remnants appear oddly concerned with preventing events from taking the course they did in 'their world.' Complex is an adequate word to describe all the story of Original Generation 2, and any player unfamiliar with the events and personages of the first Original Generation will be lost very soon.
Combat takes place under the broad outlines of Fire Emblem, with story taking place before battle is engaged (though also during battle). The player will take a turn, and upon ending that turn enemy units will take their own turn. For every action involving combat during battle the player can turn animations on or off, again akin to Fire Emblem. Super Robot combat animations take considerably longer to play out than those in Fire Emblem or Shining Force, however. Characters gain experience from attacking enemies and much more from defeating them, with 500 experience points garnering a level-up.
The intricacies of Super Robot Taisen combat lie within the interplay between pilots and their robots. Pilots can be reassigned, within certain parameters, to various robots that best suit them. Robots have both assigned weaponry and optional weaponry, with the player being able to freely give optional weapons to any unit in need provided the robot has sufficient weapon space to accommodate. Weapons in combat have three primary attributes: range, accuracy, and ammunition/energy requirements. Range and accuracy should be self-explanatory, while ammunition is also self-explanatory. Energy is used in small amounts moving robots around the battlefield but is also consumed by certain weapons. Energy does restore itself slowly over time but is much easier to use than replace.
The pilots of robots have their own attributes. Leveling-up gains skills and spirit commands to use, which must be differentiated. Skills are innate and take effect automatically while commands must be manually used by the player. Spirit commands are absolutely essential for survival, with the Alert command (which guarantees the next enemy attack will miss) being particularly helpful. Skills are gained automatically but can also be acquired by player action, up to a total of six (though many skills have multiple levels to attain). Acquiring skills via player action is done through Pilot Points, which characters acquire mainly by killing enemies. Pilot Points can also be used to increase character attributes and to improve character proficiency at battling in certain terrain.
Upon being attacked the player is presented with the option to proceed with a counterattack, evade the enemy's action, or defend. If the player initiates the attack this option is absent. Evading the enemy's attack halves the chance of it connecting, while defending halves the damage done should it connect. The player also has the option of altering the weapon being used to fight, within the limits of range. Should the character in play be next to another character with a defensive support skill (in case of being attacked) or an offensive support skill (in case of attacking) the other character will alternately take the hit at half damage or initiate his/her own attack without taking a formal action.
Most of this is essentially unchanged from Original Generation 1, but a new addition is the Chain Attack. Provided the player is targeting enemies in a straight line with a weapon capable of Chain Attacking, the player can strike more than one opponent with a single attack. Battles in Original Generation 2 tend to have multiple phases, also, usually with incredibly powerful bosses popping up midway into the fight. There are a few more robots that can change their form without using up their turn, also. Changing a robot's form alters its weaponry and statistics. The only big gripe with battling is an inability to gauge what damage will be done: the chance of the player and enemy hitting is shown but not their expected damage. In cases where the player's unit is knocked out in one hit by the counterattack, this lack is regrettable.
Outside of battle the player can, again, use the money earned from defeating enemies to upgrade the armor, HP, maneuverability, or energy of their robots. This money can also be used to improve the hitting power of weapons. Under no circumstances will the player garner enough money to completely upgrade everything so discretionary spending must be utilized. Parts to either replenish attributes or improve functions can also be equipped to robots. New to OG 2 is the ability to sell unused Parts, which is most welcome. There is also the Frame option, whereby a few robots can be combined into a stronger unit. This option is infrequently used however.
Apart from the visuals of units attacking each other, there are no animations that tax the GBA in any way during this title. The battle animations are considerably upgraded from the first Original Generation, though, and certainly look on the level of the highest SNES-quality. Audio quality has taken a downturn from OG 1, unfortunately, but only in the actual sound instead of the composition quality. The compositions here are quite good, and after enough playing time will become very memorable. Their OG 1 renditions simply have better fidelity, while the new tunes are just as good.
Original Generation 2 is roughly as long as its predecessor; this means a minimum of perhaps 45 hours is necessary. Achieving that completion time will not be easy and many more hours will probably need apportioning. An incentive for replay exists in the triple junction points: thrice during the game the player must choose between two story tangents with their own battles to partake of. Also each battle has a way to achieve Mastery, which will increase the challenge should the player manage to Master battles often. Increasing the challenge is only for the truly confident to attempt, though. Original Generation 2 is harder than the original with many instances of very powerful opponents appearing while the player is incapable of defeating them, making the episode an attempt to survive. Many battles will grant 'Game Over' if certain characters are shot down, usually when bosses can do so with one hit. Being able to save at any time does ameliorate the difficulty a bit, but rarely to the point where victory is assured for the player.
Should this and its predecessor be the only Super Robot Taisen entries to ever reach the English-speaking world, the English-speaking audience still ought to be grateful for Atlus's localization effort. This title's story will not make much sense to those who have not played its predecessor, but the combat is certainly reason enough to seek it out. And to all the RPGamers with an affinity for gigantic robot involvement in their game experiences, herein lies a fine opportunity to obtain plenty. To all other potential players with an eye for worthy tactical combat: much is to be found with Super Robot Taisen: Original Generation.