Mobile Suit Gundam: Gundam VS Gundam
Straight from the arcade and onto your PSP, Mobile Suit Gundam: Gundam VS Gundam is a port of a very popular Japanese arcade game using one of the country’s most-beloved franchises. The original features the Gundam franchise’s most popular mobile suits and pilots duking it out in a fast-paced 3rd person action game that had simple controls but still had a bit of depth. And the PSP version isn’t just the same game gone portable, though, and there are quite a few different additions included, such as the new mobile suits added to the rosters and unlockable art and movies.
While it’s unlikely the game will get a release in the West, Gundam VS Gundam is readily available on many online stores, and as a PSP game, it’s region-free. Do you have to know Japanese to play? Not really, though it might make navigating the menus easier. As it’s an action game, there really isn’t much text to read, and the little that there is can be skipped through or looked up online in an FAQ.
The Gundam VS series has been around for quite a long time. This is the second entry for a handheld platform; Gundam VS Gundam in particular, though, is a special release as it is the first to feature mobile suits from various Gundam TV shows and movies in an attempt to give Gundam fans the chance to use any of the major characters from Mobile Suit Gundam to Gundam 00. Each series also has its own special movies, so when you choose a character from a specific series, it will play their respective theme song or introduction, though there are a few exceptions due to licensing. What’s even cooler is that various songs from the different series will play during the game itself, reflecting who or where you’re fighting.
Gundam VS Gundam’s gameplay is simple enough: you take control of your favorite mobile suit in a 3rd person view and battle it out with melee, short and long range attacks, and the special G-Crossover attacks. The latter are comprised of building up a gauge that will allow a super attack that can cover almost the entire level. Some of these include dropping a satellite or having orbital blasts rain down from space. Many characters can also charge their melee or ranged attacks, allowing for more depth than simply mashing buttons and trying to combo. The controls themselves do take a few minutes to get used to, but in the end they do their job just fine, and really, it’s hard to say what more could have been done with the lack of analog sticks on the PSP. The button mapping is fully customizable if you want to switch some things up, which is an option I wish more games would have.
The various levels are distinctive, though the environmental graphics are quite lacking, yet functional. Each mobile suit looks pretty good and is rendered just as they should be, down to even some of the more miniscule details on how they explode or are incapacitated. Everything is balanced by a point system that allows cheaper and less powerful characters to have more lives, and gives expensive and more powerful characters only an extra life or two.
There are a few different modes included with Gundam VS Gundam, though most players will be spending their time with the arcade mode, which is where you can unlock the extra characters, endings, art, etc. It’s also the meat of the game, though the free battle is also fun if you just want to play with specific mobile suits. Different “paths” are available, and who and where you fight will depend on this, as well as your difficulty. Also included is a wireless mode, though it’s only adhoc. This means no online play, but hopefully with the next release there will be an option for infrastructure support.
So, is it worth importing? If you’re a fan of anything related to Gundam, then you’re going to get the most out of the game, and there is a lot of fanservice here similar to Dynasty Warriors: Gundam. However, Gundam VS Gundam really is a solid mecha action game that plays like Virtual On, and actually comes off as one of the better titles in the genre. It’s a perfect match for the PSP as well, with multiple short yet intense battles that have a lot of replayability, and I wholly recommend checking this out regardless of your stance on the Gundam franchise.