Earlier in the year, Bandai Namco brought Super Robot Wars 30 to Steam in North America. This game, Super Robot Wars 30, is the first time a game in the series (aside from a few titles not featuring licenses) has been released in this region. If you’re a fan of mecha anime such as Mobile Suit Gundam or Neon Genesis Evangelion, you have to take a look at this series.
I am one of those people, who has long appreciated Super Robot Wars from afar but have never been able to play one until recently. After importing one of the English-localised entries (Super Robot Wars V), I knew I had to stick around. I’m having a great time with SRW 30, but more importantly I’m just jazzed it was so easy to get a hold of and enjoy.
Whenever something weird like this happens in games, my mind immediately starts generating questions, like a nerdy production line in a weird-smelling factory. Thankfully I was able to get a hold of two folks at Bandai Namco who worked on Super Robot Wars 30, producers Takanobu Terada and Shohei Mogami. They’ll be referred to as “SRW Team” through most of the interview, since they answered questions together until the end.
For the sake of clarity and reading flow, some of the exact words in this interview have been edited.
Super Robot Wars 30 Interview
Lucas White, Prima Games: This is the first Super Robot Wars (using licensed IP) to be released in North America. How was Bandai Namco able to clear the hurdles preventing such a release until now?
SRW Team: We have also seen comments from people who were disappointed about the lack of distribution in North America for previous titles: Super Robot Wars V, X and so on. From a business perspective, we decided to take the opportunity of Super Robot Wars’ 30 anniversary to make adjustments, and we explained the rights issue to the relevant parties and got their understanding for Super Robot Wars 30 worldwide release.
Less import-savvy players might see some of the DLC, especially the Premium Sound and Data Pack, as strange. But it’s fairly common with games based on properties like Gundam or Kamen Rider, for example. Can we have a little bit of high-level context on why this DLC exists the way it does, and how Bandai Namco was able to offer it in this region?
SRW Team: We believe that music from the original animations is one of the major elements that brings back memories when enjoying a game based on them.
In the past, the Premium Sound version of the Super Robot Wars series has been sold only in Japan for a limited time as a bundled edition with the full game rather than DLC, and has been supported by many fans.
However, if people purchased the Premium Sound Edition after purchasing the Standard Edition, they needed to re-start a new game because save data cannot be transferred.
Moreover, as time passed after the game launch, the market would go out of stock since the Premium Sound Edition was a limited-time production. Eventually it would be impossible to purchase at a reasonable price.
At the same time, we were also aware that many fans in Asia were purchasing the game even though it was not available in their language since the Premium Sound Edition was only distributed in Japan.
For these reasons, we decided to discontinue distributing it as a boxed version this time, and sell it as DLC in all regions.
This may seem strange to North American people who are not familiar with the past trends, but the above is how the Premium Sound and Data Pack was prepared.
For fans who already have sound sources, we have also prepared an Edit BGM function in the Steam version, so players can enjoy it any way they like.
What has the response to Super Robot Wars 30 been like so far from the North American audience?
SRW Team: We have an impression that the North American distribution was greatly welcomed by those who were already familiar with SRW, and were enthusiastic about it. We hope it will spread from those people to people who are interested in simulation RPGs and robot animation.
What sort of factors are involved in settling on a SRW title’s final roster?
SRW Team: Entry titles are determined by multiple factors. The minimum requirement is that the title can be licensed for game production. The other factor we can tell you about is that customer surveys have inspired decisions.
What’s something small about SRW 30 that might not be considered a marquee feature, that the team hopes players and fans notice?
SRW Team: When you exit the game, there is a short fully voiced conversation [Editor’s note: basically fourth wall-breaking skits between various in-game characters] as an “interruption message.” We do not promote it as a selling point of the game itself, but we hope that first-time players will enjoy it.
When it comes to recurring characters or series for SRW (Gundam being a good example), is there work done to make each appearance feel fresh, or is it better to stick with what works?
SRW Team: These decisions depend on the time and situation, so it is hard to say one way or the other
How does the team go about accurately portraying the various series in SRW? Do individuals get assigned specific characters to research, or is it more of a collaborative effort? Do the source material rights-holders provide materials to work with?
SRW Team: Once the entry titles are decided internally, the team gathers documents before starting to develop the game. Sometimes they purchase books, and sometimes they get them from licensers.
30 years is a long time! Does the team have any veterans who have been working on SRW for a while? How do generational shifts in development teams affect the approach to a series based on so many classic properties?
SRW Team: B.B. Studio, the developer, has staff members who have worked on the first SRW [Editor’s note: The first SRW was a 1991 Game Boy release!], and including the development period of the first generation, it has been 31 years. There are also many other staff members who have been working on scenarios, drawings, and programming for about 23 years, and they also participated in SRW 30’s development.
As mentioned above, the core staff is still in place, so there has been no sudden generational change. If the scenario writers were to suddenly get younger, I think that would have an impact on the players’ experience.
What are some of the best things about working on Super Robot Wars?
Takanobu Terada (Super Robot Wars series producer):
I am very grateful to be in a position to share my passion for the robot animation I have watched since I was a child with as many people as possible through a game. Furthermore, I am very happy that through SRW 30, players in North America can learn a little more about Japanese robot animations.
Shohei Mogami (Super Robot Wars 30 producer):
I have met many people through the production of SRW games. As a person involved in game production, I am very happy that many people play the games, so it is a good thing that we brought SRW 30 to North America.
That’s all for our Super Robot Wars 30 interview. If you thought this was interesting, check out the game! We don’t have a review yet, but keep your eyes peeled for when I eventually get one up on Prima Games. In the meantime, enjoy this peek behind the mecha curtains. As usual, I want to thank Mr. Terada and Mr. Mogami for the time they took to field my questions, as well as the super cool PR representative who helped make this happen. If you want to see more interviews like this on Prima Games, let us know!