There has never been a better time to be a fan of smashing robots.
Welcome to Pixels to Polygons, the series where we compare the games of yesteryear to more modern entries.
Most don’t know, but I’m a pretty big fan of the Gundam series, especially the nostalgically-charged love of Gundam Wing. There’s something about the balance between testing the rationality of emotions, fear and greed, mixed with giant, fighting robots as a vehicle to drive those feelings into absurd wars that I just love. I have watched the Wing series a few times through, have caught up with Iron Blooded Orphans, and dabbled with a few others. Although any of the shows I’ve watched lack complexity, there’s a charm to the straight-forward argument of the ethics and futility of war and using robots to get the job done. With this love of the series this obviously means I was excited about the prospect of any of the series crossing over to the video game market.
Even as a child, bright-eyed and oblivious to cash-ins, the word mediocre came to mind. Every single game I remember playing with Mobile Suits went to the one of 2 defaults back in the day: a platformer or fighting game. Those were the defaults for making the quick buck and moving forward with many licences. There were definitely instances where licences worked extremely well in these genres, but those were outweighed by the sea of mediocrity that typically ensued.
I remember my brother and I getting home from Rogers video with our recent rental of Battle Assault on the PS1. There were so many other wonderful games to choose from but we couldn’t resist seeing a game that had Gundams in it. It didn’t ruin our weekend like some rentals did, but it certainly didn’t make it exemplary either. The mechanics were simple, balancing was pathetic, and everything was clunky. We each played as every suit available, we did our ‘best out of _____’ matches, and then we got bored rather quickly. At least we didn’t get the pathetic Galaga-clone mobile suit game that was released in Japan (I accidentally got suckered into that purchase a couple years ago).
The PS2 era of Gundam games went under my radar as I was focusing more on RPGs and shmups. Going back to them, all of them are pretty good, but set the stage for, and pale in comparison to the PS3/4 eras. This is where we will focus more of our attention.
Gundam Crossfire is a clunky, mediocre game for fanboys like me. If you really, really want to check it out because you’re a huge fan of mobile suits, I enjoyed it and you might too. I appreciated the game was a little clunkier, as the suits felt like they had some heft to them. It was really need that components of your suit could get damaged in battle and that things weren’t solely based on a health bar. There was also a wide array of suits that gave different types of players something that they could latch on to. But this poorly-received mess paved the way for the Japanese-exclusive, Gundam Battlefield.
Doing everything it’s predecessor did and much, much more, Battlefield is a wonderful game that I have sunk hundreds of hour in to. It took all of the feedback from the previous title to heart and expanded things. There are different campaigns for different federations, more mobile suits, more customization, and further refined mechanics. If you can manage navigating a little bit of Japanese text, or find a translation guide, you owe it to yourself to pick up this title if you want to run around in mobile suits that have some weight to them. The biggest flaw of the game though, is that you noticed I used the word mobile suit, not Gundam. There are no Gundams in this game, which is such a shame. I always longed for a game that allowed me to build myself a Master Gundam, Deathscythe or Epyon. This is where the Gundam Breaker series comes in and the inspiration for even starting this article.
I am currently salivating over Gundam Breaker 3, so that’s what we’ll focus our attention to as it’s exceptional. Every Gundam I can think of and many that I don’t know are in this game, along with most of their weapons and special attacks from the respective series. To further how wonderful this is, you can customize your Gundam however you like. It could be various painting, or mixed up components and move sets. If you would like to create an Endless Waltz Tallgeese and follows the design and movesets from the movie, by all means. If you would like a Master Gundam head, with Heavyarms’ arms, Zaku body, legs of a Guntank, wings of Epyon with an fire-based axe and electric-based rocket launcher, all painted in hot pink, then all the power to you. To compliment the vast customization, you get listen to a great soundtrack, go through diverse levels and a dive into a simple, fast-paced combat system. If you would like to bring 3 of your friends on this journey, the game encourages you to as you get better parts and various items by doing so. There is a massive amount of content to be had and I can’t recommend this game enough, even to non-Gundam fans. And if this game isn’t enough for you, then you can take your skills to the previous titles in the series which have their charm as well.
So Gundam fans rejoice. There are more English Gundam games getting released in the future, and each seems to be exciting in their own ways. I am so glad that I get to be a part of this era of Gundam games because fans were treated to some rather bland, uninspired titles of yesteryear.