If the Fighting Spirit is in Your Nature
The Gundam franchise is one that is rich in stories focused on the horrors of war and characters thriving to make their world better. It’s also one that is rich with iconic mechs and different variations of the titular mobile suit. Different games through its long history have presented opportunities to allow fans to pit their favorites against each other.
SD Gundam: Battle Alliance is a major departure from that traditional setup in several ways. It’s not so much about different mobile suits fighting each other but how would one mobile suit do in an alternative scenario. However; it’s also a game that doesn’t want to take this seriously (thus the use of SD Gundam’s). Instead, it wants players to have fun with the idea and the result is an excellent Gundam game.
From Odessa to the Sanc Kingdom
Players take on the role of a Federation mobile suit pilot who is about to go into battle during Operation Odessa. These plans change when an anomaly sends you along with Juno Astarte (from the GR Corps) back in time. You arrive to when Aumro Ray and Ramba Ral had their second battle (Ep. 19 “Ramba Ral’s Attack!”).
During the battle, a disruption in the timeline replaces Ral with Mikazuki Augus (from Iron-Blooded Orphans). The battle is stopped thanks to interference by Sakura Slash, an AI from another timeline working to stop the breaks before they shatter the universe. She recruits the player and Astarte to travel between different universes and timelines to correct the breaks.
If you played Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3, then you have a good idea of what to expect. Characters from different Gundam universes are being switched or brought into one world. Only this game decides to have a little more fun with that idea (a little Rick & Morty style). This is done through the many jabs and jokes regarding the universe. Of course, this is all done in good fun. At the same time, it dose pique ones interest in the Gundam series outside the UC timeline or the main story.
History is Much Like an Endless Waltz
SD Gundam: Battle Alliance gameplay mechanics are practically on par with Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 (FYI – I might be referring to this game a lot). It’s a hack-n-slash style JRPG. Players will work in a squad (be it with other players or with an AI) and battle across numerous worlds. After each battle, points are collected (that can be used to upgrade your mobile suit) along with parts to unlock new mobile suits. Combat is the standard hack and slash with some range weapons added into the mix plus a killer move.
As with other such Gundam titles, players will be given access to a variety of mobile suits from across different series. From the iconic RX-78-02 to the OZ-13MS Epyon along with the GAT-X105. Of course, one can’t forget the classic MS-06 Zaku II or the OZ-06MS Leo. Players can unlock these and up their stats with the points collected.
Best of all, you get to have fun with your favorite mobile suit in detailed worlds. The game has recreated numerous iconic worlds from the entire series. From the Sanc Kingdom in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing to Edmonton in Iron-Blooded Orphans. Each world is decorated with buildings, structures along with landmarks that defined the setting. The game has a few original worlds designed to fit its story and they too are unforgettable. You will have fun battling it out in these worlds or just causing havoc for fun.
All of this is complemented by the iconic soundtrack. Remember the songs featured during key moments or major battles, it returns for the game. Said songs are featured in their ideal moment and series, adding to the overall experience. Making it perfect for fans of said universe or series.
I Came Here to Laugh at You
My only gripes with the game are that it takes some time for everything to open up and it can get grindy.
One of my peeves in an RPG is when it takes some time to unlock all the basic gameplay features. While not the worst example, SD Gundam: Battle Alliance is still guilty of this sin. I was able to open up all the features and gameplay modes after a half hour or so of playing. This is something I’m not a fan of as I like to jump right into the game. I prefer to have access to all the gameplay elements right after the first mission (or 15min into the game).
Trying to level up in the game is an extremely grindy process. Unlike most RPG’s, the grind starts almost from the start. I get it’s an RPG and you need to work hard to level up. Also not an egregious example but it’s also not the best implemented one either. Overall it’s just annoying, especially when you prefer to level up before moving forward.
It wants to be a fun game for Gundam fans while also trying to introduce them to other elements of the series. It succeeds at doing both. The game is easy to learn and rich in replay value while also pique your interest in other series in the franchise. This is through the vast catalog of mobile suits, the engaging worlds, or the iconic soundtrack.
SD Gundam: Battle Alliance encapsulates everything that makes the franchise iconic while also wanting to have fun with its world. As a work of Gundam media, it knows what the fans want while also encouraging them to explore the series. As a game, it knows how to be fun and understand what the player wants.
Disclaimer: FortySeven Communications provided the game used for this review.
This review is the critique and thoughts of one writer. If you want to see how other critics felt then check it out on OpenCritic.
8Bit/Digi is an independent media outlet that provides an insight into the gamer community of the San Francisco Bay Area.
SD Gundam: Battle Alliance (PS4)
- Easy to learn gameplay and rich in replay value.
- It will pique your interest in other Gundam stories.
- Access to a variety of mobile suits from across different series.
- Worlds that are detailed and fun to play in.
- Classic Gundam series soundtrack.
- It takes sometime for everything to open up.
- Leveling up gets too grindy very early.