It sure is tough to love a strategy RPG sometimes. At the moment, I’m playing Super Robot Wars A Portable, a remake of SRWA for the Game Boy Advance, making it one of the “old school” SRW games. I was doing alright until I hit Mission 8, where I came face to face with old Master Asia.
He pilots the Master Gundam, which I’m hoping to unlock at a later date. In the meantime, I’m supposed to kill him. Quite a task when only one of my units can even survive his attacks, let alone hit and kill him. And when I finally manage it? The jerk regenerates. Sheesh, if this is only Mission 8, can the remaining thirty-one missions actually be harder? Well, no, because SRW shares a quirk that seems inherent to all SRPGs: it’s actually much difficult in the early going than at the end.
I’ve found that SRPGs almost always seem to have a certain threshold that you have to cross before they become the least bit enjoyable, and it usually seems to lie somewhere around Mission 10 or 11. Until then, you’ll be forced to use weak characters who can barely deal adequate damage to mooks, seem to die at the slightest touch, and can’t easily be healed and revived. Later on, you’ll have a well-organized death squad composed of characters who can practically beat a map all by themselves, but it takes a lot to get that far.
Net result? Final Fantasy Tactics A2 and Fire Emblem DS are both at that “awkward” stage, and both lie unfinished in the bottom of my drawer. SRWA Portable has been temporarily set aside for the more visceral thrills of Gundam Battle Universe. I could never get into Final Fantasy Tactics for the PlayStation because I just didn’t have the patience to level up my handful of entry-level squires. Rondo of Swords met a similar fate.
Some of it comes from the fact that I just don’t have a lot of time to invest in my games, and I don’t want to spend those previous moments grinding my teeth hard enough to generate sparks. The rest of it comes when I’m gamely working my way toward that magical point of no return, only to bump into something like Mega Man 9 or Battle Universe, both of which are fun from the get-go. Don’t worry; I know I’ll be back sooner or later. But I wonder how many others just don’t have the patience to deal with the mandatory pain of an SRPG, and whether they’re ultimately missing out on something great.