Gundam is a highly popular Japanese Anime series involving war, big mechs and bigger fights. It’s had somewhat of a spotty release history in Europe in which we have only really consistently seen the Musou games released. Bandai Namco have decided to release Gundam Versus outside of Japan in hopes of expanding the franchise, will it transform it to greatness or is it just another cash in? Read on to find out.
Go Gundam Go!
So allow me to get this out straight away, I am not a fan of Gundam. This isn’t to say I don’t understand the appeal it just personally never really gripped me. I did on the other hand really enjoy the Musou games and put the effort in to watch Gundam 00 (Even if that was just because L’arc~En~Ciel performed the title song) so I have dabbled with the series.
The gameplay of Gundam Versus is mainly that of a 2 vs 2 Arena Battler, Your team is given a stock amount of points and each defeat eats away at that until victory. There are slight variations within the single player modes but the standard VS mode is the real meat of the product but more on that later.
There is no real story to speak of with this title, think of it more of a “Dream Match” style game in which Gundam from all the different series come together to blast chunks off of each other. As mentioned I’m not the biggest fan but the series representations here are extensive putting together one of the biggest launch rosters I have seen in a game to date.
An Ode To Mech
Each Trial Battle (Arcade Mode) usually starts with a brief CGI Cutscene introducing it’s boss, unfortunately they offer no english dubbing or subtitles so you’ll miss anything they say. This is also an issue which appears within character interactions, as this is usually one of the high points of any anime fanservice styled game it is disappointing that the translations aren’t there but you aren’t missing anything crucial.
Graphically the character models are all accurate and stunning to look at, the combat is bright and vibrant with beams flying across the screen, different boosts being applied with special effects and fast animations easily replicating the look and feel of the franchise. The downside being the arenas are all fairly basic and commit the sin of having indestructible environments, you’d expect giant mechs to topple the city of Japan in mere seconds but even after several rounds it still stands tall.
Gundam Versus dub is fully Japanese with english subtitles for the announcer, the game does hold the massive advantage of containing official songs from the various series. Some of these songs are blood pumping tracks and others have the charm and cheese of the original series which come off daft at first for new fans but soon you’ll be crooning along with all the vigor of a Gundam Meister.
So what modes will you be piloting through in Gundam Versus? Well there is quite a healthy selection I am happy to report. First off you have the Tutorial which is a must, it helps you get to grips with the various meters, control scheme and pros and cons of each attack. Gundam Versus runs on that old cliche that it’s easy to pick up but hard to master, the tutorial doesn’t teach you some of the more “advanced” techniques so I would advise a trip to YouTube and more specifically the video I have attached below to fully complete your training.
The core gameplay of Gundam Versus focuses on spacial awareness, meter management and risk vs reward. You’ll find alot of your time is spent learning when to switch from ranged attacks to dashing in with melee combos, learning how to cancel moves with dashes and keeping an eye on the meters so you don’t overheat. It’s very difficult to put into words the depth of the combat on offer here but take it from me, I enjoy the Fighting Game genre and this title has easily earned it’s place on my current rotation.
So you’ve passed the test and ready to pilot one of the many, many, many Gundam into battle, well Offline and Online you’re covered. Trial Mode stands as the series Arcade Mode, it features 10 Trials which scale in difficulty and also offer different paths upon completion, it also grades you on performance so should have you revisiting to confirm your skills and earn those tasty “SSS” ranks.
Next up you have the Ultimate Battle mode, this is playable online or offline and acts as the series “Horde” mode. You’ll pit yourself and if you choose to another person against waves of Gundam scaling in difficulty the higher wave you reach. While I was playing online we actually activated the “Bonus Wave” which put us into an online match with 4 other plays and it put me in the seat of one of the Boss Gundam characters. They were tasked with taking down my giant death machine as I button mashed and wandered around in confusion until I took down a Gundam thus winning the match. It broke up the wave mechanic and as confusing as it initially was I really enjoyed it and felt it helped add that little something the mode needed. Finally every 5 Waves you are able to distribute points earned in the waves to attributes on your Gundam, allowing you to gain an advantage when taking on the next set.
When playing through these modes you’ll earn EXP to level up the Gundam units and unlock more features for the Gundam units, more strikers and even more content for the game. You also earn GP through the modes which will help you level up other Gundam units you haven’t used, much like a shortcut if you want to start using a new mech.
Take It Online!
The online modes consist of Ultimate Battle, Casual and Ranked. Ultimate Battle I have already gone over, Casual mode is online battles which won’t affect your online ranking and with that I’m sure you can guess what Ranked mode is!. An interesting feature in this title is that you have to play a certain number of Casual matches before you are able to enter ranked, good for the majority who haven’t played any of this series but I can imagine long time fans may feel they are being held back somewhat.
Finally the game offers extras in the form of a Gallery mode in which you can view any of the games cutscenes and also get information about each Gundam series which has received representation. It’s worth a look in here just to see the rich history and the level of detail they have gone into to represent each part of the Gundam franchise.
Gundam Versus for me is one of those games that wasn’t anywhere on my radar, I had little to no interest in the series it draws from and went into it expecting cheap cash in trash, I came out of it with gold. The game is that rich with it’s roster that it’s actually planted a SEED (see what I did there!) in me that I want to know more about the series.
When it comes to successful fighting games it’s all about the gameplay and the community behind it. Gundam Versus has some of the most rewarding gameplay around, the sweet taste of victory after successfully piloting your mech into battle is almost without equal. The community for the time being is strong and welcoming but as with most fighting games the true test lies down the line, fingers crossed it stays healthy and welcoming.
Gundam Versus is one of my favourite games in recent memory, it gave me the feeling of importing from the SNES/PSOne era, learning about the core franchise and picking up the control system, especially that it worked so well with my arcade stick!. It’s fast, it’s addictive and faithful to it’s core franchise, it could of done with a little more offline content and the translation could of gone that little further but I honestly suggest anyone with a passing interest in either Gundam or Fighting games in general invest in this title!