Remember those times as a child when you would rush home from school and turn the television on? When I did that, Mobile Suit Gundam would be airing on Toonami. Giant mechs versus giant mechs. These were stories on a grand scale, where each person was affected.
But this isn’t true for the video games. The Gundam games have always been a mixed bag. Each of them has its own flair, but most of them have been fighting games since the release of Mobile Suit Gundam: Federation vs. Zeon in 2001. Though each game in the series since has improved on its predecessor, none have been truly good games until now.
The most recent iteration of mecha fighting, dubbed Gundam Versus, has hit shelves. And it seems that Bandai Namco has finally been able to take data and lessons from previous games and create a truly enjoyable Gundam video game experience.
The objective of Gundam Versus is to work with your ally and deplete your opponent’s life points while preserving your own. But the Gundams themselves factor into this equation, as players lose Cost Points whenever they respawn during a match.
You only have 100 Cost Points in a standard match, and the mobile suit you choose will range from 200 to 500 Cost Points. So while you may want to pilot that insane 500-Cost mecha, you’ll end up losing the entire match if you die twice. But opting for that 200-Cost mecha will net you 5 deaths before you go down permanently. So picking suits isn’t random at all — you have to play a numbers game and consider how many risks you’re willing to take.
Gundam Versus also features a few different game modes, along with 1v1, 2v2, and 3v3 online matches. Ultimate Battle mode pits you against a neverending wave of enemies and boss battles. Trial Battle is a solo play mode that has you clear multiple missions along a route. Free mode lets you test out mobile suits with a variety of environments, music, etc. In all of these, you can earn XP that can be cashed out for Strikers and other vanity items.
With 94 total usable mechs, there are a variety of mobile suits to choose from — each with its own unique power, weapons, and very creative armor. Every conceivable playstyle will have a mech to match it, which was great to see.
I have to say, though, that I felt overwhelmed by the sheet number of mechs. All 94 of them are split into 3 main types — various (melee+ranged weapons), fighting (swords and sais), and shooter (guns and cannons). And each of those subsets has a few subclasses. And in addition to that, you can equip a striker that gives you a limited power to call yet another suit to your aid.
After trying around twenty mobile suits with little to no success, I finally found one that suited me — Gundam Sandrock Custom. A custom Close Quarters Combat Mobile Suit with a submachine gun and two curved blades, this Gundam suit felt balanced to me. Offensively, you can slice and dice your enemies with the curved blades. Plus, the speed of the suit fits nicely with the offensive weapons.
There are so many mobile suits, I could not try them all before writing this review. That might appeal to players who like variety, but it might also be a problem for newcomers to the series. While giving me every single Gundam in every Mobile Suit Gundam series is fine, new players may be overwhelmed.
The game’s controls are fairly simple, even though it was adapted from an arcade stick layout. I would say this gives you a distinct advantage when playing. You only have to memorize one button instead of a button combo. The neat thing here is you can switch between the control styles if you want, as well.
One thing I would criticize the game for is the mechanic that has you auto-locking on enemies. While this works well for playing with your partner, alone it hinders your goals. Oftentimes I would attack an auto-locked enemy, but another enemy will come at me and throw me off — costing me damage in a crucial fight. I could change the auto targeting, of course, but it transfers me to the enemy closest to the target and not the enemy closest to me. So it would have been nice to be able to turn off auto-locking or even have a semi-locking system instead.
Gundam Versus is a gorgeous game. Nostalgia washed over me every time I played it. Beautifully rendered opening visuals make it seem like you are watching a battle, just like you might see in the anime.
Every single mobile suit in the game is exquisitely designed and detailed — comparable to the Gunpla models based on these mechs. Classic characters with their original Japanese voice actors make the world feel alive, and each battlefield tells a story of what these battles are about. I would play the free mode to just to wander around and soak up the atmosphere.
Along with that, there are so many classic soundtracks within this game. While I was playing my first match, I noticed the original G Gundam music. All of these elements add up to a developer that knows what their fans expect and provides it to them.
All in all, Gundam Versus is a good game that reminds fans why giant robots are cool. If you’re a fan of the Gundam series, you should feel right at home here — though I would highly recommend that newcomers opt to play the tutorial. With so many suits to choose from and some messy UI design, some gamers might not enjoy it quite as much. But if you can look past those issues, this game is a truly enjoyable mech-fighting experience.
[Note: A copy of this game was provided by the developer for the purposes of this review.]