What could be better than giant mechs, armed with swords and guns battling it out between themselves? Well, the same mechs shrunk down to be super cute of course! Welcome to SD Gundam Battle Alliance!
SD Gundam Battle Alliance developed by Bandai Namco does what every good anime/manga title should do. It lays a narrative on you full of fanservice that’s gripping enough to keep you piloting on until the wee hours of the morning.
A Tale Often Told
You play as an unnamed pilot who through happenstance ends up trapped within a simulation. The only way to escape from this digital hell is to correct the Gundam timeline by making sure historic events go as planned.
This sets up the perfect narrative for fans to see the many iconic battles of the franchise, get involved, and recreate them in a way that won’t ruffle the feathers of the die-hard fan base this franchise has.
You’ll be weaving yourself into the strings of narrative from Mobile Suit Gundam, Gundam SEED, and one of my personal favorites Gundam 00. While the original narrative is rather forgettable, the sheer series representation helps this title appeal to fans of the long-running series.
SD Gundam Battle Alliance is described as a 3rd Person Action RPG. It’s very similar to the well-loved Gundam Warriors series from the PS3/360, but with less focus on a giant enemy count and more on pulling off combos and piloting like an absolute boss.
The game treads a very thin line between the all-out action of a Warriors title and the intricacy of titles such as Mobile Suit Gundam Battle Operation. This makes it feel much more like a “character action” game such as Bayonetta and Devil May Cry, only with cute mechas of mass destruction.
You have the traditional action game combat layout with weak and strong melee attacks. In addition, there’s a ranged attack and special abilities for each Gundam depending on what Mobile Suit you’ve brought to the dance.
Combos are performed with a combination of weak and strong and you also can launch your foe into the air for a cheeky juggle. Guard breaks and ultra abilities which fill up overtime also add to your combat options, giving you an answer to just about every situation you’ll be thrown into.
Movement is smooth and responsive. You have a lock on which helps you keep tabs on who you want to wreck, and it’s all done easily and intuitively. A few missions in and you’ll be the next Setsuna F Seiei.
Slave To The Grind
As SD Gundam Battle Alliance shares its blood with the RPG genre, you can expect there is some form of leveling up.
Not only can you level each Gundam up in several different areas such as Attack and Defence, but you can also level up your pilot. This gives your pilot abilities to help you push forward and make tougher fights that little bit easier.
Mobile Suits from all the reaches of the Gundam universe can be used. You can develop these using materials found within missions. This can seem quite daunting at first, but fortunately, all the Suits are categorized into one of 3 types, All Rounder, Ranged, and Infighter. As such, it’s easy to pick up one of each to cover your bases.
This also sees you grinding out missions as you get further into the game to get better suits, improve your current stats, and the like. While not for everyone, the combat and fan service available do alleviate the grind somewhat. Just be aware that it is there, and you’ll be revisiting missions from time to time.
You’re Not Alone
Each mission sees you attempting it alongside another two pilots. You can choose who you take into battle with you, and this feature allows you to cover the blind spots your chosen suit may not cover.
Fortunately, you don’t have to always rely on the A.I. as you can play the game online with another 2 players. This can certainly ease the tedium of the grind.
The online seemed fine when I tried it out. I played the Nintendo Switch version of the game. Considering that the little console doesn’t have the best online capabilities, PC and other consoles shouldn’t have any issues with the multiplayer.
Cute But Destructive
On the visual side of SD Gundam Battle Alliance, I can see it being a rather divisive aspect due to the “chibi” nature of the Mobile Suits. It shouldn’t be a surprise with SD being at the start of the title, but I can imagine some players will prefer the more traditional designs over the super-deformed cute looks on offer.
The graphics are fantastic on the little hybrid in both docked and handheld. It runs at a decent 30fps for the most part, and it’s only slightly behind the other versions in terms of missing effects. This trade-off for playing the game on a handheld more than makes up for a little less spark here and there.
Battlefields tick all the checkboxes from the series as you’d expect. There are giant fields, deserts, cities, and space areas that are all ready for you to throw down in. They all look suitably well modeled, even if the cities are not quite as gloriously destructive as I would have liked.
The game features Japanese voicing throughout. When the action picks up, this can make it a little difficult to follow the story, but as mentioned it’s fairly inconsequential.
The music on hand is fine but there aren’t any licensed songs I noticed from the anime. I’m led to believe that they are part of a Premium DLC pack, which isn’t the best practice in my opinion.
SD Gundam Battle Alliance is a good action RPG wrapped in even better Gundam fanservice wrapping paper and served up in a way that makes sharing the treat the best way to experience it.
It can be a little grindy, a little cute, and displays some practices that I just can’t get behind. Despite that, the core gameplay and fan service are just too good for me to refuse that itch of “one more go”.
SD GUNDAM BATTLE ALLIANCE IS RECOMMENDED
Many thanks go to Bandai Namco for a Nintendo Switch review code for this title.
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Pride of utopia & greatest thing ever, I found the One Piece, Collected the Dragon Balls & won the Mortal Kombat Tournament in one night, it was quiet for me that night! Follow me on Twitter @powahdunk