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The Gundam franchise is one of the main series that first got me interested in anime and Japanese imports, and nearly 40 years into its existence, Gundam is still one of the most influential sci-fi and mecha works of all-time. Mobile Suit Z Gundam was the second series of the franchise, a direct sequel to the original run, and it follows a war between the Earth Federation and the Anti-Earth Union Group.

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The anime was well received, paving the way for a sequel of it’s own, ZZ Gundam, and its success allowed Bandai to continue to build a Gundam merchandising machine centered around games and model kits that is still very popular today. Adding to their already successful line of plastic models, Bandai published the first ever console Gundam video game in 1986, launching Mobile Suit Z Gundam: Hot Scramble for the Famicom. The game features three theme songs from the anime series, originally composed by Neil Sedaka and arranged by Nobuyuki Ohnogi (Xevious, Pac-Man NES, Mappy-Land) which lends the early game some authenticity.

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Hot Scramble is basically divided into two parts of game play, the first being a sort of first-person rail shooter where the player tries to blow up approaching enemy mobile suits (Hizacks in this instance). You’ll come across various bosses at the end of these stages based on enemies from the anime, eventually coming to the side-scrolling part of the game. During those levels, the player guides the Zeta Gundam through an enemy base, trying to destroy its reactor. It’s a pretty repetitive game, as it does loop after a while, and the graphics are about as bare bones as many early Famicom releases. That said, it’s still fun for some quick mindless fun and a must-have for fans of Gundam, because it’s absolutely dirt cheap at the moment.

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Zeta Gundam models were a no-brainer for Bandai after the success of their original run of kits, and in 1985 they began offering their line for the new series. This time, the kits featured polycaps, which added some badly-needed articulation to the formerly somewhat primitive models. These models featured incredible box art representative of the time period, and the models themselves are quite varied and nice.

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If you want to get into the world of Gundam, there is a daunting amount of material out there, but many people recommend starting with Gundam 0079 and the Universal Century timeline that Z Gundam is a part of. There are literally dozens of Gundam-related video games out there for practically every system out there, and model kits (gunpla) are plentiful and not really that expensive to get into, depending on the type you’re looking for. If you’re looking for a new world to become interested in and maybe start a new hobby, I recommend checking this stuff out.