Fans began discontented grumbling when notorious Super Robot Wars series producer Takanobu Terada (who also had a hand with this series), announced that Another Century's Episode R would be limited to approximately three mecha per series. In an impressive turnaround time, Terada made a second post the same day, explaining any mecha with upgrades (such as the Lancelot Conquista and Albion) or alternate equipment setups (like the VF-25F Messiah) would be considered a single unit for the purposes of headcount, meaning that "three per series" was true From a Certain Point of View. Of course, fans weren't too upset, seeing as this meant there will be more playables than previously anticipated; for example, Code Geass has six machines (the Lancelots, Guren Flight and SEITEN, Shinkirou, and C.C.'s Akatsuki) and Macross Frontier has all five primary pilots (Alto Saotome, Mikhail Blanc, Ozma Lee, Luca Angelloni and Klan Klein).
Unfortunately, this sort of headcount method was slightly taken a bit too far: Lancelot Conquista and Albion? Great; Guren Flight and S.E.I.T.E.N. Eight Elements? Also good; Crossbone X-1 Kai and X-1 Full Cloth? Very good. The problem is some units are used as an excuse addition (the original Guren MK II is playable for a brief moment, only to be replaced by the Guren Flight a la the same "missile upgrade sequence" from the Anime), considerbly inferior to its upgraded iterations (the Lancelot Conquista performs far better than the original Lancelot and Lancelot Frontier) or the same machine, but with something less (the Crossbone X-1 is really just the X-1 Kai, but without the "Screw Whips"). Even the M9 Gernsback has identical equipment to the Arbalest minus the "Lambda Driver" and its Specials, thus the M9 is only good if players want to go throughout combat spamming powerful shots.
On the other hand, some of the unlockable units gave players a surprise: Klan in a skin tight suit with a VF-25's "FAST Pack" strapped to her? Cool and canon; a playable Nineball Seraph? Awesome.
Given his reputation, Terada lied about one thing: he stated R would use instrumental Super Robot Wars-style Leitmotifs, which is true, but the game features a background music editor, which means players can bring in the original openings and soundtracks to the series by putting it into the console's hard drive. This little addition was universally praised.
Another Century's Episode Portable was largely considered this, since it came right on the heels of the critically panned R, was roughly 90% completed when it was announced (presumably owing to the fact that almost 90% of it is recycled from past games) and it does away with elements from R that were unpopular (see Scrappy Mechanic below).
A back-to-back set made up the game's final two levels.
Also subverted earlier: players must play through two back-to-back levels - one involving an Escort Mission, the other involving a Duel Boss, whom players must face with damage carried over from the last mission.
The "Limiter Removal" option allowing infinite ammunition once a mech's stats are upgraded to max. It's especially bad for the likes of the Wing Gundam Zero Custom and the two METEOR-equipped Gundams, who can clear entire maps with ease when they don't need to reload.
The Buster Ark's "Riot Shot" attack in 2, due to a Good Bad Bug, can literally One-Hit Kill any enemy if used at point-blank range.
The Nirvash type-ZERO Spec 3 in Another Century's Episode 3: The Final, easily the most powerful unit in the game (and a Bragging Rights Reward for clearing each and every hidden mission): it only has three attacks/weapons, two of which are on par with the RX-78-2 Gundam and its "Beam Rifle" and the Wing Zero Custom's "Rolling Buster Rifle" attack, and a third which prevents nearby (non-boss) enemies from attacking for a short while. Couple that with reduced damage compared to other mechs and moderately swift reload/recharge times and players have a unit that can make the Final Boss look like a cakewalk.
Similarly to the Spce 3, unlock the Limiter Removal for the ∀ Gundam: one of its attacks is hurtling an infinite supply of hand grenades. Doesn't sound like much? Well, these hand grenades happen to be nuclear warheads. Combine that with the "Moonlight Butterfly", which deals high damage to all units within close proximity to the Turn A, alongside its extremely potent Healing Factor, made all the nastier by a really high armor rating it'd have by then, and players have another unit who can defeat the Final Boss in a matter of seconds.
Altron Gundam in 2 has its "Dragon Fang" attack that does damage on par with the Wing Zero Custom's "Twin Buster Rifle", but the cooldown time on the machine reloads much faster (as soon as the fang returns to the Altron's arm, it's ready to go again). Sure, the Buster Rifle has better range, but the Altron can single-handedly tear through any Mook in the game. The exception are large-sized enemies like battleships and mobile armors, since the Fang doesn't work on them. Of course, even if players don't spam the attack, the Altron is by no means a poor-performing machine with relatively above-average stats.
Good Bad Bug: R features a handy little trick allowing players to max out all playable mecha's attributes in the game as soon as players can upgrade a unit for a single level, legitimately. Characters require at least 1000 experience points each to pull off the same trick, but it's possible to maximize just about every single character in a single play-through.
It's Easy, So It Sucks!: A common complaint about The Final is it's significantly easier in difficulty than its predecessors.
Introducing a "Tension" gauge and an ammunition system built into it: - by replacing the classic ammunition-based combat system of the previous three games, R ensures a unit's standard weapons will consume infinite ammunition, but anything other than its basic weaponry, the rest of the unit's attacks can only be triggered by building up the Tension gauge via Limit Break fashion, then expending the gauge to perform these attacks. This form of game-play takes away the fast-paced action from the prior installments, forcing players to spend time building on Tension.
The use of the boost system in the earlier installments was similar to the way Armored Core did it, which many players were very familiar with, but the way R uses it reduced the combat speed of the game. This got worse when they needed to get to a location fast during combat, in which case, the boost effect made the unit move so fast, players felt like they were controlling a runaway freight train.
Finally, the Rail Shooter segments called "Swift Chase" were lambasted for being incredibly out-of-place and unneeded for a Mecha Game series focusing on high-octane combat with players in control.
2 has two (no pun intended): the Neue Ziel, which only takes 25% damage from any and all Energy Weapons (it's the only boss battle that separates into two missions; player need to damage 50% of its full Hit Points in each), and the Buster Ark due to it being generally harder than other bosses in the game.
The Nirvash Type-theEND in The Final: insanely fast mobility, will deflect any and all missile-based attacks thanks to its chaff, and frequently Beam Spams players from long-range with incredibly deadly accuracy.
R with "The Two Divas", a level tossed onto the scrappy heap by fans not for being difficult, but for consisting of nothing but Swift Chase sequences interspersed with lengthy, unskippable cutscenes and ending with a Cutscene Boss.
They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: R generated harsh criticism in Japan for removing nearly everything about the older games but the Crossover nature and action-oriented style, fixing what wasn't broken.
For similar reasons to The Final, R as well: of all the included series, only Macross Frontier has its plotline resolved within the context of the game. The other series' denizens are simply sent back to their original worlds in order to work out their differences amongst themselves.
Unexpected Character: When The Final was released, did anyone seriously expect Shin Getter Robo to show up, or even go into the Getter Robo Armageddon storyline?