Wednesday, March 30, 2011

March Mecha Madness Round 4: Sunrise Eiyuutan R


I'm quite thankful to this blog.

Rather than aimlessly shuffle through games on my shelf and never truly completing them, it has given me focus and direction in clearing out games from the ever growing (but thankfully now, also ever diminishing) stack.  In addition to that, it also gives me the opportunity to write about one of the things I enjoy most:  Gaming.  However, in my zeal to finish games and have posts up, I occasionally lose sight our purpose here at the backlog.

See, for better or worse, I like to see things through to completion:  If you kept up with Disappointment 2011, that much should be apparent.  Indeed (as I may have mentioned before), any game that I buy, with the rare exception (I'm looking at you, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 days) has to be finished.  Similarly, any game I start with the intent of writing about for the backlog has to be one that I'll eventually finish:  Thus most of the games you see me write about are well on their way to completion (though I will admit, I'm still lagging with SRW MX, and even my first post, Spectral Force 3), and not to be returned to the backlog permanently.

As I bring March Mecha Madness to a close, however, I'm finding that isn't the case, which brings us to the subject of this post:  Sunrise Eiyuutan R.

It's not that Sunrise Eiyuutan is a bad game.  It certainly has an innovative battle system (for its time), beautiful graphics (for the PS2 era), and is a crossover in the vein of my much-loved SRW series.  However, my declining skills in Japanese, the lack of solid FAQs to supplement that gap in knowledge, and the game as a whole just lacking a certain depth makes it a game that will earn it a permanent spot on my backlog.

Background

Since the era of the SNES, I've always had a modified console:  Believe it or not, it was for the purpose of playing those import games that were never released here, rather than playing backup copies (after all, why add MORE to my backlog)?  Having a PS2 was no exception to this rule, though admittedly, the early days of PS2 modification were anything but simple.  Eventually, though, I did acquire a modded PS2 (my first of two -- a story I won't bore you all with for now), primarily for the purpose of playing SRW: Impact, which was the first of the PS2 entries into the series.

Of course, in my head, I thought that it would be silly to go through the trouble of modifying my PS2 just to play one game.  With this in mind, I went to my good friend EBay and purchased a few import titles for cheap:  Sunrise Eiyuutan R, as well as Sunrise Eiyuutan 2 were among the games I purchased (both came as a packaged deal for under $40).  At last, the money I had spent modifying my console was justified.

But was it money well spent?

Gameplay


Sunrise Eiyuutan, like SRW, is a crossover strategy RPG.  However, many of the similarities end there.  Whereas Super Robot Wars incorporates every type of mecha series imaginable, Sunrise Eiyuutan incorporates various series from the Japanese studio, Sunrise, imaginable.  While indeed, Sunrise is responsible for producing many of the giant robot shows we know and love, they're also responsible for these guys:

How they fare against a Gundam is a different story, however.

The game puts you in the role of Kanji Akatsuki, the main character and pilot of the mech, Cloudia.  The other "originals" joining Kanji are his sister Rie, his childhood friend, Lun, and some guy named Rondo.  As far as I've been able to discern from his personality, Kanji seems like a fairly likable guy, and at least thus far, is absent of the idiocy that seems to plague most teenage mecha pilots.  Even if it did, he's under the command of captain Bright Noa of Gundam fame at the beginning of the game.

Bright Noa:  Slapping you for a better tomorrow.
I'm not able to tell much else from the story yet, aside from the fact that all of the characters seem to coexist in the same world without having been pulled there by some alternate means (think Chaos Wars), so it is a lot like SRW in that vein.  It also seems that a mineral or alloy called "Cloudium" is a big deal.  Admittedly, I haven't gotten far enough yet to uncover much else of the plot.

The combat system basically boils down to a "sink the enemy battleship" deal:  Your battleship is positioned opposite of the enemy battleship, and you're allowed to deploy 3 mechs at a time.  Each mech has a rating for attack, defense, HP, and EN.  Some mechs have the ability to exceed their EN capacity and deliver special, devastating attacks.  Really, on the surface, the system seems rather simplistic, but I'm sure that as you go on in the game, the complexities begin to unveil themselves. 

Not SRW-level, but an example of attack animations.
Here's the kicker, though:  I mentioned that the game is about sinking the enemy battleship, right?  Really, that's the main thing that matters:  Your units can be employed indefinitely.  The battleship has an EN rating too, with different units requiring different EN amounts to be deployed (obviously, more powerful units require more EN).  If your unit has their HP depleted?  They're sent back to the ship, but they can be immediately redeployed the next turn.  If they don't, you can leave them out, but all units seem to completely drain their EN with a single attack.  

Even if you do laughable damage, it still drains all your EN, sadly.
Due to this, I lost interest in the game pretty fast, which is a shame.  I'm sure the combat system gets more intricate as the game goes on and you obtain more units.  Heck, I was pretty curious to see how the Ronin Warrior / Samurai Trooper units played out.  But there was something about the simplicity of the battle system, the seeming lack of variety in player units, and various other factors that just failed to sustain my interest. 

This is truly unfortunate, too, since there were things about the game I did like:  It has a heavy amount of voice acting, so even if your Japanese reading skills aren't up to par, if your listening skills are, you can deduce quite a bit of story.  The game makes use of gorgeous animated stills to convey the story, as well.  Furthermore, the game is divided into an episodic format:  When you complete each stage, you're offered a preview of the next stage that's identical to watching the preview of an anime series, which I thought was pretty cool.

Closing Thoughts


I've held conversations with David, the Enabler, Nick, and various other friends about not being the sort of gamers we were years ago.  To some extent, this is true:  The Enabler once told me that the tendency she had to go through games completely and get every single item is pretty much gone.  I admit that for me, that tendency does wane, though it still surfaces its head from time to time, which I'm sure David can sympathize with and understand totally.  Of course, we both know who to blame for that one:



However, I think that it's more accurate to say that with a plethora of excellent games out there and access to more gaming systems now than I had when I was younger, I'm much more selective about the games that I spend my time playing.  Perhaps back in my early college days, Sunrise Eiyuutan would have received much more attention.  As I look at my library, however, where games like FF13, Eternal Sonata, Valkyria Chronicles, Ys Seven, Resonance of Fate, and countless other games await to be played, I find it harder and harder to justify spending what limited gaming time I have playing something like Eiyuutan R.  Even if I was as fluent in Japanese as my good friend Koch, I still doubt I'd be able to play it for long (something my aforementioned grumpy old friend can attest to, I'm sure).

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that I sometimes lose sight of our purpose here at the blog.  If nothing else, I'm grateful to Sunrise Eiyuutan for helping me realize that I don't have to finish every game that I finish, and that sometimes, it's alright to put it on the backburner indefinitely. 

I'm also not saying you shouldn't try it either.  After all, if you have the level of Japanese language profiency to understand it, and the knowledge of the various series contained within to know what's going on in the story, you might very well enjoy this title.  Like many of the other things I play, it's certainly niche, but judging by the number of Eiyuutan titles out there, it certainly has a following somewhere.

But in the meantime, I have other, more worthy, games to occupy my time.

1 comment:

Michael said...

So basically, every unit is a mini Dendoh.
You realize I will never play this now.