A Brave Attempt to Rank 30 Years of Super Robot Wars Games

A Brave Attempt to Rank 30 Years of Super Robot Wars Games

From the Game Boy to the Nintendo Switch, this is the best (and worst) Super Robot Wars has to offer.

From time to time, I'm asked by curious newcomers which Super Robot Wars game I would recommend as a starting point. I always struggle with this answer, because Super Robot Wars—or Super Robot Taisen, as it's sometimes known—is one of the most sprawling, complex, and downright confusing franchises in gaming history. Its roots go all the way back to the Game Boy, and everyone has a different opinion on which one is best.

The one thing they all have in common is their celebration of the mecha genre, which combines shows as disparate as Neon Genesis Evangelion, Voltron, and Macross into a weird, wonderful whole. At its best, Super Robot Wars can elevate the material it adapts, combining it in ways that improve the original story. At its worst, it can be a naked cash-in; an $80 advertisement for whatever show Bandai Namco wants to push at that moment.

If you're new to the series, it can frequently be difficult to discern one from the other, leading to much confusion. In putting together this ranking of the best Super Robot Wars games, my hope is to cut through the noise and point mecha enthusiasts toward the best the series has to offer.... or you can also just ignore this list and play Super Robot Wars L because you happen to love Linebarrels of Iron. Don't worry, I won't judge.

A few notes before I get started: I waffled on whether I should include games like the Super Robot Wars OG and Super Robot Compact, which ultimately received superior remakes, ultimately deciding to keep them because they're distinct games in their own right. I did not include weirdo spinoffs like Endless Frontier and that one real-time strategy game, as they have little to nothing to do with the series proper. I also left Super Robot Wars DD off the list because it's frankly hard to fit a mobile game on this list. OK, let's get started. Super Robot Wars Ranking! Switch On!

The Scrap Heap

49. Super Robot Wars Operation Extend [PSP, 2013]
48. Shin Super Robot Wars [PlayStation, 1996]
47. Super Robot Wars 64 [Nintendo 64, 1999]
46. Super Robot Wars EX [Super Famicom, 1994 / PlayStation, 2000]
45. Super Robot Wars GC / XO [GameCube, 2004 / Xbox 360, 2006]
44. Super Robot Wars Neo [Wii, 2009]

These entries are mostly very bad, with the possible exception of Super Robot Wars Neo for the Wii, which is fun enough to play but is hampered by an underwhelming series list. They are a collection of strange experiments, usually for less successful consoles like GameCube and Nintendo 64. Almost all of them discard the series's normally beautiful sprite art for blocky, featureless 3D graphics.

Super Robot Wars Operation Extended has the distinction of being the worst game in series history—a bizarre episodic experiment replete with terrible 3D graphics and wretched pacing. It's a genuine pity that it's one of the very few entries to include Heavy Metal L-Gaim, a classic mecha series by Gundam creator Yoshiyuki Tomino that seems to have been lost to history. Here's hoping it makes an appearance in a more deserving entry so Operation Extend can be relegated to the scrap heap where it belongs.

The Lord of Elemental Tier

43. Super Robot Wars Lord of Elemental OG Saga: The Lord of Elemental 3 Pride of Justice [PlayStation 3 / Vita, 2013]
42. Super Robot Wars: The Lord of Elemental 2: Revelation of Evil God [PSP, 2012]
41. Super Robot Wars OG Saga: The Lord of Elemental F Coffin of the End [PlayStation 3, 2014]
40. Super Robot Wars Gaiden: The Lord of Elemental [Nintendo DS, 2010]

I can hear hardcore fans offering tsks of disapproval. Oh, you don't like the Masou Kishin games? I thought you were a real fan? Look, I know that Super Robot Gaiden is the first game to feature all original characters, and that the modern remakes and sequels have their merits. But they're very much their own thing, trading the distinctive super deformed versions of classic robots for their own unique style, and telling a story that's only tangentially connected to the better-known Original Generations games. They're also known for being really, really hard, especially Pride of Justice. Ultimately, Super Robot Wars OG Saga is an interesting footnote in the history of the series; a throwback to its earliest days. It's a fascinating rabbit hole for old-school fans to explore; for everyone else, it's little more than a curiosity.

Not So Super

39. 3rd Super Robot Wars Z: Tengoku-Hen [PlayStation 3 / Vita, 2015]
38. 3rd Super Robot Wars Z: Jigoku-Hen [PlayStation 3 / Vita, 2014]
37. Super Robot Wars [Game Boy, 1991 / Vita, 2014]
36. 2nd Super Robot Wars [Famicom, 1991 / Game Boy, 1995 / PlayStation, 1999]
35. Super Robot Wars L [Nintendo DS, 2011]
34. Super Robot Wars K [Nintendo DS, 2009]
33. Super Robot Wars Reversal [Game Boy Advance, 2002]
32. Super Robot Wars Original Generation: The Moon Dwellers [PlayStation 3, 2016]

We're now firmly into the mainline series, with a tier that features an odd mix of ancient entries (the original Super Robot Wars); disappointing standalone games (Super Robot Wars K), and peculiar follow-ups to otherwise strong entries. Moon Dwellers in particular tends to draw a lot of criticism because of its unbalanced difficulty that feels like a step down from its exemplary predecessor, 2nd Super Robot Wars: Original Generation, and due to how its English translation is basically incoherent. No seriously, it's really bad.

And then there's 3rd Super Robot Wars Z, which is the definition of diminishing returns. The second part of 3rd Super Robot Wars Z—yes, it's split into two full-priced entries—brings an otherwise strong subseries to a sputtering conclusion with glitches, recycled assets, and a multitude of licensed shows that are just sort of hanging around the story for want of anything to do. After spending hundreds of hours playing through the first five entries, I couldn't even bring myself to finish the second part of Super Robot Wars Z3, which says it all really.

Super Robot Wars Compact featured numerous innovations, including branching paths | Bandai Namco

The Tweeners

31. Super Robot Wars Compact [Wonderswan, 1999]
30: Super Robot War Wars Compact 2, Part 3 [Wonderswan, 2001]
29: Super Robot War Wars Compact 2, Part 2 [Wonderswan, 2001]
28: Super Robot War Wars Compact 2, Part 1 [Wonderswan, 2001]
27. Super Robot Wars Compact 3 [Wonderswan Color, 2003]
26. Super Robot Wars Advance [Game Boy Advance, 2001 / PlayStation Portable, 2008]
25. Super Robot Wars Destiny [Game Boy Advance, 2003]
24. 3rd Super Robot Wars [Super Famicom, 1993]
23. Super Robot Wars MX [PlayStation 2, 2004 / PSP, 2005]
22. Super Robot Wars W [Nintendo DS, 2007]

This tier features the entries that aren't exactly bad, but also don't quite reach the heights of other games in the series. It includes the likes of Super Robot Wars W and MX—a pair of breezy and enjoyable entries that nevertheless rely a little too heavily on recycled art, and are almost hilariously easy to boot.

On the other end of the spectrum is Super Robot Wars A Portable, a PSP remake that is both extremely punishing and suffers from long load times. All of these games have something to commend them—great OG characters, strong music, sharp mission design—but are dragged down by their flaws. Then again, this is the only SRW tier where you'll find Escaflowne and Voltron, and it has one of the most enjoyable renditions of Mobile Fighter G Gundam to boot in Super Robot Wars MX, so entries in this tier are worth checking out regardless.

Powering Up

21. Super Robot Wars: Original Generation 1 [Game Boy Advance, 2006 in North America]
20. Super Robot Wars: Original Generation 2 [Game Boy Advance, 2006 in North America]
19. Super Robot Wars T [PlayStation 4 / Nintendo Switch, 2019]
18. Super Robot Wars UX [Nintendo 3DS, 2013]
17. Super Robot Wars BX [Nintendo 3DS, 2015]
16. 2nd Super Robot Wars Z: Saisei-Hen [PlayStation Portable, 2012]
15. 2nd Super Robot Wars Z: Hakai-Hen [PlayStation Portable, 2011]
14. Super Robot Wars X [PlayStation 4 / Vita / Switch / PC, 2018]

This is the tier with two of the games that North American fans probably know best: Super Robot Wars X and T. Both make for strong entry points into the overall series, as they feature decent English translations, and are available on Nintendo Switch to boot. They also feature some unique licenses, including Gundam Reconguista in G, Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, and Aura Battler Dunbine. The only ding against them is that they bear a little too much of a resemblance to Super Robot Wars V, which for my money is the best of the bunch (you may disagree).

As for the rest, I think Super Robot Wars: Original Generations 1 and 2 hold up very well on GBA, and unlike the PS2 game, have an official translation. 2nd Super Robot Wars Z gets a bad rap for compromises endemic to the PSP, but it's by far the best-looking SRW on that platform, and does a tremendous job of weaving together Gundam Wing, Code Geass, and Gundam 00. The 3DS games include well-regarded stories, but are difficult to obtain and recycle a good deal of older material (a constant with this series). Ultimately, they could probably fit into the tweeners tier just as well, but their surprising popularity pushes them just over the line.

Super Robot Wars V was the first of the traditional games to get an official English translation | Bandai Namco

The Historically Significant Entries

13. Super Robot Wars Impact [PlayStation 2, 2002]
12. Super Robot Wars Original Generation Gaiden [PlayStation 2, 2007]
11. Super Robot Wars Judgment [Game Boy Advance, 2005]
10. Super Robot Wars V [PlayStation 4 / Vita/ Switch / PC, 2017]
9. Super Robot Wars Alpha 3 [PlayStation 2, 2005]

These entries are broadly popular and offer something distinct to the franchise. Super Robot Wars Alpha 3 is perhaps the single biggest Super Robot Wars ever made—a sprawling epic with a huge number of series, multiple unique pathways, and some of the best graphics in the franchise's history. All that's really keeping it out of the next tier up is the fact that it features a multitude of shows that have already wrapped up their main stories, giving them little to do. It's also a bit broken, with Ideon being an absolutely unstoppable god capable of nuking pretty much the whole map.

Pretty much all of these games are very easy to recommend, with the caveat perhaps that you might need a modded PlayStation 2, or that you should play another game in the series first. They're showpiece entries, and many have fervent fans to this day. English speakers take note: Super Robot Wars V is available on Nintendo Switch in English and it features the outstanding Space Battleship Yamato 2199. A worthy pickup for sure.

2nd Super Super Robot Wars Alpha is in some ways the "real" conclusion to the Alpha subseries | PlayStation

The Classics

8. Super Robot Wars Alpha [PlayStation, 2000]
7. 2nd Super Robot Wars Alpha [PlayStation, 2003]
6. Super Robot Wars F [Sega Saturn, 1997 / PlayStation, 1998]
5. Super Robot Wars F Final [Sega Saturn, 1998 / PlayStation, 1999]
4. Super Robot Wars Original Generation [PlayStation 2, 2007]

These are the classics; the entries that many of the old-school fans swear by most. This tier prominently features the PS2 remake of Super Robot Wars Original Generation, which helped to cement the popularity of the OG games with fans, and Super Robot Wars Alpha 2—a monumental entry featuring the best rendition of Char's Counterattack in the series. Indeed, more than a few fans consider Alpha 2 to be the "true ending" of the Alpha subseries owing to how many disparate story threads it brings to a graceful conclusion.

Its predecessor, Super Robot Wars Alpha, is similarly gigantic, if a bit more dated owing to its presence on the original PlayStation. It's famous for being the bright dividing line between the old-style SRW games and the new. Super Robot Wars F and F Final are similarly historic, representing the grand finale of the original "Divine Crusaders War" story arc that began with 2nd Super Robot Wars, in addition to being insanely hard. None of them are especially accessible, with only the original Alpha getting an English fan translation, but all are held in high esteem by Super Robot Wars fans to this day.

Super Robot Wars Alpha Gaiden is one of the most beloved games in the series. | Bandai Namco

The Best

3. 2nd Super Robot Wars Original Generation [PlayStation 3, 2012]
2. Super Robot Wars Alpha Gaiden [PlayStation, 2001]
1. Super Robot Wars Z [PlayStation 2, 2008]

Finally, we have what are broadly considered to be the best Super Robot Wars games ever made. Super Robot Wars Z is perhaps the most ambitious game in the series—a late PlayStation 2 entry featuring multiple story paths, high-quality OG units, and some of the best graphics the platform has to offer. It also famously saved the extremely flawed Gundam SEED Destiny, transforming prickly protagonist Shinn Asuka into a genuinely sympathetic hero in the process. Boasting a wide range of popular shows—including fan-favorites like The Big O—along with brand new graphics, no Super Robot Wars since has been as big as Super Robot Wars Z.

The other two games in this tier are no less excellent. Super Robot Wars Alpha Gaiden has a good deal in common with SRW Z, featuring as it does oddball shows like Turn A Gundam and Combat Mecha Xabungle, as well as probably the tightest and most entertaining story in the series. You can even play it in English thanks to a fan translation. Meanwhile, 2nd Super Robot Wars Original Generation is just beautiful, seamlessly melding 2D and 3D to create the best graphics in the series to date.

Sadly, the games in the top tier are among the least accessible in the series, whether because they're on old platforms or because they've never been officially translated. But if you have the courage—and some classic hardware—you should give them a shot. Super Robot Wars Z in particular is not to be missed.

So there you have it: A list of the best Super Robot Wars games ever made. Hopefully it can be useful in deciding which games to pursue and which games to avoid. If you're still in doubt, check out the series list for each game. Super Robot Wars T is probably the weakest entry in the current batch of games, but if you're a giant Harlock fan, it'll probably be your jam. Even lesser games like Super Robot Wars K can be pretty fun in the circumstances. With that in mind, I'd love to hear about your favorite Super Robot Wars games. Share them in the comments so we can remember this highly entertaining series together.

Screenshots from Let's Play Archive

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Kat Bailey

Editor in Chief

Kat Bailey is a former freelance writer and contributor to publications including 1UP, IGN, GameSpot, GamesRadar, and EGM. Her fondest memories as a journalist are at GamePro, where she hosted RolePlayer's Realm and had legal access to the term "Protip." She is USgamer's resident mecha enthusiast, Pokemon Master, and Minnesota Vikings nut (skol).

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