There are a lot of reasons why Gundam games are so common. Not only are the units and characters immediately recognizable, even to those without much experience with anime/manga, but it’s also a pretty diverse world. Over the years, Gundam moved past simple mechs shooting at each other with a political plot line to more grandiose designs or pointed story arcs. It also gives players a familiar face to experience a relatively under-utilized genre. SD Gundam Battle Alliance doesn’t quite go for the quasi-Armored Core style game, but rather, a more action-driven game with a wide array of units. It makes for an exciting idea, but is it enough to sell the experience?
Unlike a lot of these games, SD Gundam Battle Alliance attempts to offer a unique take on the crossover idea. Instead of some crazy unpredictable event or cosmic tomfoolery, it takes place in G: Universe where the canon history is distorted and needs to correct or find answered.
Various Series Included
This doesn’t amount to much in the grand scheme. Typically, a location will have one version, followed by something weird. The characters explore this until an answer is found. This makes for some interesting takes on several iconic moments, though it tries to make it a bit more than it needs to be.
After a lengthy tutorial, players are given a unit and expected to fend for themselves. Even though this is an action game, it takes a lot from the typical Gundam experience.
Most units have an array of options to overcome any given situation. These include long-ranged attacks, melee, boosters, and even a super move. All of these mechanics are balanced by various gauges. Boosting can only be done for some time; guns need to reload, and certain powerful moves have a cooldown and that balances everything.
How well it works depends on the player in question. Surprisingly, SD Gundam Battle Alliance has a lot in common with Dynasty Warriors, and I mean this beyond both featuring notable figures who appear in Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
The vast majority of enemies exist to allow players to feel powerful. In this sense, it feels pretty satisfying to slice down Zaku and other foes at various vantage points. As for boss battles, they’re typically against iconic antagonists from the series in some of the most notable units. They will not be taken down by mindless slashes, forcing players to block and change their tactics. What makes these fights work is a good sense of balance. There is a reward for doing them just right and a punishment for trying to strong-arm them. The general idea is to wait for attacks, block/counter, and punish. The better this is done, the more often you’ll break the enemy unit, making them vulnerable to mindless attacks, combos, or even back attacks that do significantly more damage.
Relive Various Moments from the Franchise
Since every unit is different, there are a lot of attacks that don’t help players. Generally, gunfire and other ranged attacks are about mitigating damage, not gaining the upper hand. As a result, players need to be thoughtful with their upgrades and plan multiple steps ahead.
Instead of making a couple of intense units, there are a wide array of relatively simple units. Each of these is then assigned a type, which dictates their intended style of play, with attacks that match said style. Where this works best is some of the more traditional units, as they’re more general function than something you’d find out of, say, Mobile Fighter G Gundam.
As a result, gameplay can often feel somewhat repetitive. Every mission involves destroying dumb enemies, moving forward, and then waiting until you can attack the boss. Fans of multiple units or the genre will likely enjoy it more, as the variety of possible units keeps things fresh.
For this review, we were lucky enough to get a Switch copy, which encapsulates the system’s best and worst qualities. With missions typically taking a couple of minutes, it’s perfect for the on-the-go nature of the Switch. Those looking for a bit more can take the fight online and work with others to battle upcoming threats or just really overwhelm enemies. Where things could be a bit better are graphics. This is far from a stunning game, with many areas looking muddy or blurry. Even nicer mechanics, like destructible environments, feel rather superficial next to more modern games.
SD Gundam Battle Alliance Review Verdict
SD Gundam Battle Alliance: Generally speaking, fans of Gundam games or experiences like Dynasty Warriors will likely enjoy SD Gundam Battle Alliance. It's mindless fun with the ability to upgrade units, build your ideal suit, and even feature some of the most beloved characters/events. Likewise, if you're looking for a more traditional Gundam experience, you'll probably be disappointed. Something especially true given how quickly things devolve into trading melee blows. – Mark