Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
Having released a few weeks ago, SD Gundam Battle Alliance has been a blast in multiple senses. Fun gameplay alongside tons of in-game explosions as you battle your way through a digitally corrupted history of the series. The love put into this project was clear to see for both the fans, and the series itself.
Starting off with a few tutorials to get you used to piloting an SD Mobile Suit, you’ll soon have plenty of choice for both you and your AI controlled partners if you’re playing offline. Online? While I would love to comment on that, I could not find a match either through Quick Play or Room Search. Thankfully, with or without other players the concept is smooth enough as it still lets you launch a multiplayer room to get your two online specific trophies for your Platinum.
For a bit of a recap on the basics that were covered in my preview of the Demo Version, SD Gundam Battle Alliance’s gameplay even 20-30 hours in is never overly complicated. Moving around with your left thumbstick and looking around with the right, you’ll have melee attacks, ranged attacks and three sub attacks alongside the ability to guard or dodge. Melee attacks have a few different options from a standard combo into pressing and holding the melee attack button to perform a 360-slash. You’ll also have a stronger melee attack available that when held can launch enemies into the air for an aerial combo to do more damage.
Range attacks are simple enough with your mobile suit simply firing off its weapon on a limited ammo supply that will autofill itself back up over time. As for the sub weapons though, these will be mobile suit specific in which suits like the default MS-06F Zaku II can throw a grenade while others like the Gundam Barbatos (6th Form or Lupus) will charge forward with some devastating attacks being an up close and personal type. Mobile suits like the ZGMF-X10A Freedom by contrast will have extra ranged attacks with more powerful energy based weapons from the hips or shoulders. While its successor the ZGMF-X20A Strike Freedom will still have the hip cannons but replace the more powerful shoulder weapons with funnels that will chase down the enemy and then fire on them point blank.
Each of these mobile suits and so many more will fall into one of three categories. In fighter: Up close and personal, All rounder: Good balance of melee and ranged attacks, and the Sharpshooters: Ranged specialists that you don’t want to be on the receiving end of. With the ability to choose one of these types for yourself, you’ll easily be able to select from these three types of allies that support both your mobile suit type, and your own playstyle. So it’s a good thing with the different types of unit categories that the controls never get overly complicated, however you’ll want to make sure that your fingers are ready to move as the difficulty will start to ramp up soon enough and you’ll either need to adapt, or, grind some money in order to level up your unit(s) of choice!
Mobile suit strength is based on four attributes that require money to upgrade. Hit Points, Boost, Melee and Ranged. Hit points, the more you have the longer that you can potentially last on the battlefield. Boost, this is what’s required to use your thrusters as well as attack, think of it in terms of stamina. Melee is the damage that you’ll be doing with your melee attacks and Ranged is the damage that you’ll be doing with your ranged attacks. It’s rather self explanatory, however, there are limits on how much you can upgrade one of these stats. So it’s a good thing that once you’ve reached the cap of each of these limits, there are items that can be obtained to push the stats of your machines further as you’ll need them in the later chapters.
What worried me perhaps a little bit in the beginning with the few hours that I spent with the demo was, how much content are we going to have? We were presented with a few stages in a Break format meaning that history in these missions is corrupted and anything can happen. Being given one True mission, this expanded the current lineup from the three that were present into four leading us to believe that the rest would follow suit. They do, but more than that, both Break and True missions both contain objectives to be met in order to unlock schematic parts for new mobile suits before eventually getting access to Chaos Missions which really up the ante. This means not only do you on average have six to ten missions per chapter (Break, True, Chaos and Final), but if you want allllllllllllllll the mobile suits? You’re going to need to dive in quite a few times to do so.
The format of these Break and True missions from a gameplay perspective is one thing, more content to be sure, but from a narrative standpoint? While they present a VERY condensed narrative on the many series presented, it’s a great way for longtime fans and new ones to get an idea of some series that they may not know much of, or in certain cases, even existed. Taking myself as a perfect example, I started with Gundam Wing like so many others back in the mid 90s when it aired on cable television. From there, I watched Gundam SEED and then sought out everything else I could get my hands on from Gundam, to Zeta Gundam, Char’s Counterattack, and then some of the manga that dove further into other series that were not made into anime or OVA / OAV (Original Video Animation).
Note: Many series can now amazingly be found on YouTube through GundamInfo including the Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch of Mercury – Prologue that aired just last week.
Will all of these series to pull from through, the major timelines that SD Gundam Battle Alliance explores are the
- Universal Century: Mobile Suit Gundam, 0080: War in the Pocket, The 08th MS Team, Zeta Gundam, Char’s Counterattack, Gundam Unicorn
- After Colony: Gundam Wing
- Cosmic Era: Gundam SEED and Gundam SEED Destiny
- Anno Domini: Gundam 00
- After Disaster: Iron Blooded Orphans
and plenty in between with cameos such as the FA-78 Full Armor Gundam from Gundam Thunderbolt and the MSZ-010 ZZ Gundam from Gundam ZZ. Sticking mostly to the major battles that can occur, I really enjoyed that the dialog was fully voiced in Japanese with English subtitles as some series didn’t get as great dubs as others. This helps keep you in the moment and really get a feel for the emotions that are being thrown around this digital world whether in cannon or in what’s basically a fun to play fan fiction.
For only sticking to some of the main battles, the pacing isn’t bad as a lot of the important “why the hell is thing going on” is covered by the main cast through the mission briefings, or, as supplementary information that is added to the library. Most of these missions also add in more context within the mission between banter of the main cast or of the supporting cast that exist in these various timelines. If I had an issue though is that sometimes you are so busy with the battles and trying not to be shot down that you can miss some of the dialog being presented. It’s an issue that I’ve also had with some of the Dynasty / Samurai Warriors series, but it is what it is.
With all of the great content, mobile suit variety that aren’t just Gundams, but other mobile suits that make an appearance, I found that there were certain little things that could have helped the gameplay experience out a bit. The first of these would be the lack of a pause button. Without being able to pause, if something happens in the middle of a mission, such as needing to get up and answer the door, take an important phone call for an appointment, or grabbing something from the oven to make sure that it doesn’t burn, there’s a chance you can be shot down.
The second would be the in stage banter and the end stage mandatory dialog that cannot be skipped to end a mission. Having it present the first time or three is obviously a good thing, but after you’ve already played through it several times in Break, True and Chaos in order to get all of the schematics? You’re now up to anywhere between 9-10 times and it would have been nice to simply “mute” the in-stage dialog and “skip” the end stage banter especially since you now need to dive back in because you are missing one last schematic to unlock a new mobile suit and potential AI partner.
On a final much higher note, I want to take a moment to praise the music. SD Gundam Battle Alliance has some decent background music alongside its sound effects and voice overs, but it’s the use of well known opening themes that really adds that extra layer for fans. From the second opening of Gundam Wing, Rhythm Emotion, the third opening for Gundam Iron Blooded Orphans, Rage of Dust, or the musical scores in Gundam Unicorns by Hiroyuki Sawano, when these drop you know it’s go time! Plus, you can listen to them to your heart’s content in the library.
SD Gundam Battle Alliance is a solid entry into the video game world of Mobile Suit Gundam. With loads of content to play through and with loads of mobile suits to play through the content with? This is a mash up that exceeded my expectations and will hopefully tide me and others over as we keep wishing for a new Dynasty Warriors Gundam that has been known to do the same.Score: 8.5 / 10