The Gundam series started in 1979 and is still going to this day. My first introduction to the series was from my childhood friend Ben who had me binge watch the original series on bootleg VHS tapes. The series is somewhat sentimental for me as I have not seen him in years. Because of this I was excited for the release of Gundam Versus in the United States. After watching a lot of gameplay online, I was excited to have a fast pace and fun looking mecha game based on the series I became a longtime watcher of. However, now that I had it in my hands, is it as fun as I was led to believe?
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Developer: Bandai Namco
Platform: PlayStation 4 (Reviewed)
Release Date: September 29th, 2017
Players: Single Player or Multi-Player
Keeping the aesthetic from the shows intact, the visuals of the show transitioned to 3D well for the most part. Almost every aspect was pulled from the series visually to keep it as authentic as possible. Everything related to the mecha has a beautiful simplicity to them due to this. They are blocky as per the show but still have a great amount of detail to them.
Both inside and outside of the fighting areas, visually the stages you fight within have a good amount of detail as well. Accompanied with the terrain are backdrops off in the distance, adding more to the visuals of the stage, especially in stages where the battle takes place in space.
Obstacles and breakables within the stage all range in detail, mainly due to how some of them are taken from the shows and kept as authentic to the source material. While they are not the main focus as the game tries to keep you involved in the fights, the detail of them range between ok and unimpressive.
Music and sounds are mostly taken from the show and they work great. As I stated before with the graphics, Namco Bandai are trying to keep everything as close to the source material as possible. Iconic sounds from the shows help elevate the feel of Gundam fighting one another.
Voice acting is kept in its original Japanese as well. There is an absence of subtitles so those not fluent in Japanese will not be able to understand what characters are saying when they speak outside the on-board assist navi.
Also, while I could not help but laugh as I listened to the original Gundam theme titled “Fly! Gundam” at the start of the game and the tutorials, I wish they kept it strictly to those areas as its the background music I listened to the most throughout the game.
However, during battles they mix in not only the theme track but many other iconic tracks from the series as well. With a mix of both vocal and pure orchestral tracks, the entire soundtrack to the game is almost a “best of” compilation from the show.
The game is insanely packed with selectable Gundam and non-Gundam mecha for you to use. Each Gundam is piloted by their respective pilots from the show. As you use them you level them up, you can unlock alternative pilots, profile emblems, titles, navi characters, and character assist strikers to use.
During normal gameplay each one of the mecha has some variation of melee attack, ranged, and ranged melee you can use to defeat your opponents along with hovering and dashing around the map. The game also borrows from fighting games, enabling the player to cancel frames of animation to chain attacks together or quickly evade an oncoming attack as well.
For those of you seeking a solid single player experience, this game sadly is not for you. The single player experience consists of survival mode, trials, and free battles. Survival mode consists of wave of enemies to defeat and also is allowed to be played with another person online.
Free mode allows you to pick a Gundam, a partner, a stage, and so on for a quick fight. Trials is a set of missions for you to complete with bosses and branching paths. None of the missions take too long to complete and this is where most of the single player experience is contained.
Regrettably, there is no arcade mode in the game. This a huge missed opportunity to the game and would have added a ton of replayability. There’s also no set story to the game or any type of long campaign, as it is built purely for online battles.
The online play can be fun and frantic but also comes with its own challenges, which can make or break the experience for the player. When playing online you will be pitted up against other players in one-on-one, two-on-two, or three-on-three combat.
Matches usually take about 2 to 5 minutes depending on the amount of players involved. I had fun playing online against other opponents with my major focus being two-on-two games. For the more competitive players, you are also able to play in ranked mode.
After the initial wow factor from the game, battles started becoming quickly repetitive and I found myself only playing in about 15 minute sessions.
I thought maybe it was because I did not find mecha I loved to play like in fighting games where I would drive myself to master one of them. After playing with the majority of them, I did not feel any urge to master a specific one whatsoever. I could not find anything to really hook me to play for long periods of time.
When playing online and players have less than decent internet connections the game can quickly become unplayable. I had moments where the game would run for three seconds before stalling for two seconds repeatedly, which became a major interruption to my enjoyment in two-on-two play. Every two out of three matches I had was plagued with connectivity issues.
This happened in about 40% of all the pair matches I played, even when setting it so I would only play against people in my region. I did not have the lag issue in one-on-one matches for the most part thankfully. In three-on-three play I had the same issues as well, yet highly elevated and far more frequent to the point of pure frustration and aggravation.
One recent match in particular I had no more than 30 seconds of gameplay while the game constantly tried to resync its connection on and off for 5 minutes before a communication error came up and forced me out of the game. It was bad enough that I got to the point where I avoided three-on-three in its entirety.
As a Gundam fan I can appreciate what they have done with it by keeping it as authentic to the series as possible. I do love the attention the game kept to the source material and the amount of mecha added in the game. Still, I can’t help but to feel conflicted with this game and lean more on the side of being disappointed.
I had fun playing Gundam Versus, but couldn’t stand it over a long period of time. I love to play it against online opponents, but at the same point in time it is a struggle to have players with solid internet connections. With a games major focus being online play and the biggest flaw being its lag, this is hard to overlook and therefore recommend.
Gundam Versus was reviewed on PlayStation 4 using a review copy purchased by Niche Gamer. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.
The Verdict: 6.5
- A lot of Gundam and non-Gundam mecha to choose from.
- Good looking environments and mecha
- Fun combat and fights
- A ton of unlockables
- No subtitles for Japanese voice overs in a lot of areas
- Not for people wanting single player
- Matches can get repetitive over long sessions of gameplay
- Lag can harm or kill the online experience – the main area of the game