Super Robot Taisen OG Saga: Endless Frontier
If you’ve got a sense of humor, open arms for a fun battle system, and a bit of a perverted side, it’s really going to be hard not to love Endless Frontier. It’s something of a meta-game that takes obvious pot shots at traditional, Japanese RPGs, and to that end, it’s almost perfect, top to bottom. The fact that the game comes complete with a really addictive battle system is simply gravy.
Your tale begins as you take control of Haken Browning and his trusty, side-kick android, Aschen. Haken is something of a futuristic cowboy, and Aschen is more than just a lifeless robot; when she goes into “fun mode,” she really lets it all hang out. The layers of plot slowly peel away as you progress through the story, but it’s the dialogue that will keep you coming back for more. The characters (and outfits) are outrageous, and the lampooning never seems to end.
When connected worlds become overrun by Mild Keil crystals, Haken and Aschen are tasked with unraveling a mystery. Along the way, they’ll team up with a colorful collection of misfits, and though little of the story makes sense, it’s surprisingly well-paced and entertaining.
Endless Frontier plays out, in many ways, like any other traditional JRPG. Move about an overworld, explore dungeons, engage in random battles, fight a boss, rinse and…well, you get the picture. However, what sets this game apart from the pack is its battle system. It’s probably best comparable to Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time (DS), and though each character and enemy takes turns in executing actions, you’re constantly engaged in each battle.
There are quite a few factors to consider during battles, though things never get too complicated or convoluted. Your party is made up of two rows, with four spots for the front row and four for the back. Party members in the front row are your main combatants during confrontations, while members in the back row act as support, adding attacks alongside your main team. The basic idea of the game’s battle system is to keep enemies juggling. The more times you can juggle an enemy without letting them land, the more damage you’ll do with each additional attack.
In order to choreograph this battle dance, your characters use what the game refers to as COM (combo energy). Each character has a variety of skills (basic attack combos), and you’ll use a certain amount of COM in order to execute each skill. In the menu, you can set which attacks you want your characters to use during combat, allowing each front-row party member to pull off up to five skills per battle phase.
Where the real fun comes in is in chaining attacks. For instance, you could command Haken to begin a combo (by pressing the A button), and while the enemy’s still in the air, you can then call in a support character (by pressing left on the D-pad) to add an attack to Haken’s combo; next, have Haken pull off another attack, call in another support, and so on and so forth. However, the chain doesn’t have to stop there, as you can call in the next front-row character (by pressing right on the D-pad) to allow them to begin their turn without ever breaking the attack chain.
In addition to increasing damage to enemies, there’s another important benefit to continuing attack chains. Each time you land a blow or one of your characters takes damage, you’ll add energy to your Frontier Gauge. Once this meter is full, you’ll be able to execute an Overdrive combo (by pressing the Y button during a character’s attack phase). This attack does not use COM, so it can easily be chained at the end of a character’s attack phase in order to maximize the round. Overdrive combos usually do massive damage and add an entertaining animation sequence for whatever character is using the technique.
Rounding out your arsenal are Spirits, Special Skills and Mentalities. Spirits are your basic spells, such as healing techniques, buffs and disables, and they can be used anytime before a character begins their attack phase. You can also cast Spirits as much as you like (given you have enough spirit points and COM) before a character’s turn. Special Skills, however, act as your character’s full attack phase, and these spells usually do substantial damage to all enemies. Lastly, you’ve got Mentalities, which are passive abilities that activate based on a percentage system before a character’s turn. These babies often add a bonus to a particular stat.
As purposefully shallow as the story and characters are, the battle system is surprisingly deep, and new skills and additions to your party help to keep the gameplay feeling fresh. There is even something called C-canceling (combo canceling), which allows you to cancel out of an attack, á la a 2D fighter. By C-canceling, you’ll fill up your Frontier Gauge faster.
The actual exploration elements of the game, however, are fairly straightforward, almost to the point of being bland. That said, there’s almost no level-grinding required (at least, not until the latter portions of the game, that is), and the pacing never really falters. There are some tough enemies – enemies that will lob off more than half of a character’s health in a single round – but the game allows you to keep moving forward with ample challenge, minus the slog.
Visually, Endless Frontier is an attractive package. However, there’s nothing here that goes beyond GBA-quality. From the menus, to the cut scenes – it’s all very polished and looks good on DS. The in-battle character sprites are excellent, and everything animates fluidly. There’s also a wonderful attention to detail during combat, and you’ll often see elements of the overworld represented in battles. Character stills during dialogue sequences and other events are an obvious highlight, and there’s plenty of titillating extras for lonely gamers. Endless Frontier wears its perversion on its sleeve, and the overall production is both embarrassingly sexy and hilariously entertaining.
The game’s music is also a nice fixture, and it, too, is designed to be intentionally ironic. The overworld music is completely generic, the battle themes are hard-rocking, and Atlus (the game’s U.S. publisher) left all of the spoken dialogue in its original Japanese. All of this will likely only serve to make Endless Frontier even more of a niche title, but those folks who get the joke will be generously served.
Super Robot Taisen OG Saga: Endless Frontier (even its name is over the top) is to RPGs what Delta Tau Chi (Animal House) was to fraternities. It’s a joyride for the sake of going on a joyride. The story makes enough sense to justify moving from Point A to Point B, but beyond that all you’ll get are double entendres and sexual innuendo. The crazy link tying it all together is an addicting, incredibly entertaining battle system. If you take yourself and your RPGs too seriously, then chances are you’re not going to get much out of this game. If, however, you just want to hang out with a bunch of hot anime chicks and kick some butt on the way to nowhere, Endless Frontier is your game.