SD Gundam Battle Alliance by developers Artdink Corporation, Alvion Inc. and publisher Bandai Namco Entertainment—Sony PlayStation 5 (Demo) preview written by Pierre-Yves with a copy downloaded from the PSN.
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
While there’s never a bad time to be a fan of the Mobile Suit Gundam series, this is definitely a year to be a fan. With the 40th anniversary celebration only two years ago, this year should be seeing a new upcoming arena shooter titled Gundam Evolution, a new anime series titled The Witch of Mercury this fall and plenty of shiny new Gunpla models if that’s your thing. While Gunpla models are definitely a me thing now, that aside, Bandai Namco recently dropped a demo version of the other gaming release this year and I’m already sold on the premise.
SD Gundam Battle Alliance is a single player, or co-op, adventure in the Gundam universe starring various protagonists and antagonists all while piloting SD Mobile Suits. What’s SD you ask? SD stands for Super Deformed meaning that instead of these hulking masses of metal fighting on a battlefield, we have adorable Chibi models instead! Piloted by “humans” instead of having their own personalities, this SD adventure will follow along various broken storylines from across the Gundam Universe and it’s your job to put them back together.
The premise is an interesting one and made me think back to the original Dynasty Warriors Gundam where all of the timelines meshed and anything goes. While this approach allows for a purely custom story, SD Gundam Battle Alliance takes it a bit further as instead of being in the “real” world, you’re instead in a digital one. Taken from the real world and digitized, alongside your navigator, your trusty spherical mascot robot Haro and an AI, it’s your job to put history back into order one breach at a time. Know your history? Good! Because there’s going to be plenty of plot twists ahead if the first chapter is any indication of what’s to come.
Starting off with nothing more than a RGM-79 GM which is a mass-produced Earth Federation model based off of the RX-78-2 Gundam, you’ll move through a few tutorials to get the hang of things. Split into three phases, the first phase will be your menus where you can select a stage, view your units or make upgrades to them. From there, you’ll drop into a more visual novel approach for story elements before being dropped into the action where the conversation could continue while you move around the combat field. It’s not a new formula but it works well enough to get you to where you want to go.
Once in the field though, all bets are off. Starting in the Universal Century (main Gundam timeline), it won’t take long for appearances from the Post Disaster (Iron Blooded Orphans) and the After Colony (Gundam Wing) to show up and potentially ruin your day. Seriously… having a grunt unit and being faced with the Gundam Barbatos in its 6th form or the Gundam Epyon? Why haven’t they let you run away yet!? Well, being a protagonist has its bad days and you have a mission, so what else are you supposed to do but fight? Win, you’re supposed to win and was it ever fun!
The gameplay for SD Gundam Battle Alliance isn’t anything overly complex but it still has multiple elements that you’ll need to keep in mind. Each mobile suit, whether balanced, closed range or long ranged, will have a melee attack, a ranged attack, three sub attacks specific to the unit, boosters to move faster and dodge, a block and a super attack. Combined with those are two NPC allies (or co-op players) that act independently from you in the field. These NPCs for the purpose of the demo can also launch a super attack on command as long as their gauge has been filled up first.
Moving around the map is pretty easy and while things feel natural enough, that can slightly change depending on the unit that you are using. The starting GM for example moves differently from the MS-06F Zaku II that you’ll soon get the parts to build and call your own. These both handle differently than the MS-09R Rick Dom which you’ll soon unlock which while not a grunt unit per say, is still not a Gundam level unit. Designed for melee, the Rick Dom’s base speed is slow but its thrusters are nothing to sniff at and the damn thing can move once those are on. Jet Stream Attack! Or… would be if I had two others with me… ahem… moving on.
Each stage that you enter will have an objective that can change on the fly which makes sense for two reasons. The first, combat scenarios never go according to plan. The second, history is out of whack. So while you’re going in expecting to fight Ramba Ral in his MS-07B Gouf as it’s attacking the Earth Federation’s space ship White Base that’s currently within one of the Earth’s deserts, you’re instead faced with ASW-G-08 Barbatos piloted by Mikazuki who exists in an entirely different universe’s timeline. One is MASSIVELY scarier than the other but it allows for these new tales to be told as you move through the story.
The other cool thing about the broken history is that as mentioned above, it’s your job to fix it. So chasing down the broken links you’ll be moving forward and backwards through the chapter’s stages and can then select which version of the stage you wish to take on. Broken history or mended, while one leads to the other, you’ll want to be doing both as this leads into the last element that I’ll cover for the Demo version of SD Gundam Battle Alliance. Making new units.
The first few units are basically given to you. The GM, the Zaku, the Rick Dom and for the duration of the demo, the Barbatos to really let you feel the power! Out of these units, they can be upgraded for melee, ranged, thrusters and armor, and for the demo, only up to Level 5. Each of these upgrades costs money so you’ll both need to save up and not spend your cash on every single unit until much later in the adventure. Nothing is stopping you from doing this of course, but if you do, you won’t have the cash flow for the unit you really want to be using.
From these units however, the rest? You’ll have to basically from the looks of it grind out the blueprint pieces in order to be able to use it yourself. You technically do this for the Zaku -> Barbatos, but in a speedier fashion to give you a bit of a taste of what’s to come in the limited time that you are given with SD Gundam Battle Alliance. With each unit being designed differently enough, so far anyways, I’m looking forward to being able to take out many of the others such as the Unicorn Gundam (Universal Century UC96), the Crossbone Gundam X1 (Universal Century UC133), the Astray (Cosmic Era – Gundam Seed) and the Wing Gundam (After Colony – Gundam Wing).
With an interesting premise and tons of models to come, I’m super excited for SD Gundam Battle Alliance later this month. The overall pace feels well done and the structure seems to offer a replayability that will be able to keep you going in either solo or co-op modes for some time to come!Score: N/A