Gundam Versus Review – Fleeting Power

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?

Gundam Versus
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Developer: Bandai Namco
Platform: PlayStation 4 (Reviewed)
Release Date: September 29th, 2017
Players: Single Player or Multi-Player
Price: $59.99

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

The Good:

  • A lot of Gundam and non-Gundam mecha to choose from.
  • Good looking environments and mecha
  • Fun combat and fights
  • A ton of unlockables

The Bad

  • 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
  • Zanard Bell

    We may have different sentiments about the graphics of any Gundam games: they look like shit, better suited to a PS2-era style game than a modern one. Sometimes faring even worse.

  • OldPalpy

    Particle effects look nice but that’s it, the models are too simple and clean looking like a straight build HG Gunpla when they could get RG/MG quality with the current hardware.

  • Mighty No. 56008

    “Regrettably, there is no arcade mode in the game.”

    Gundam it, is it really THAT difficult to include the most simple and fundamental mode of the game?!

  • Pilebunker

    No local play and the soundtrack are the biggest flaws to me. The soundtrack isn’t even remixed and and mainly borrowed over from Extreme. Also the connection is a huge problem if you only play casual. In US rooms, I’ve found many blue bars with maybe one red guy in the room. After playing 1000 matches, I still find myself needing improvement but I’m pretty adept at the game now.

  • Some furf

    First one released to the west in over a decade (Aside from that Vita spinoff) and it’s one of the laziest efforts.

    I love Gundam, but I’m not paying for PS+, I’m not paying outrageous prices for DLC mobile suits and I’m sure as hell not buying a game that lacks a whole bunch of features that were in every PS2 game in the series.

  • Exien

    Was Gundam Battle Operation 2 next year also online only ? I hate these online only games, I miss the old Gundam games were you could play the story or atleast offline.

  • OldPalpy

    They’ve done goufed.

  • Will_Z_Macht

    The PS4 will play games from all regions. You can get an international version of the other Gundam games that’ve come out with English subs. Gundam Breaker 3 and SD Gundam G Generation Genesis are both pretty great games. Released on PS4 and Vita, for those interested. For convenience, Play Asia carries both.

  • ‘I’m pretty sure there are multiple arcade mode equilavents in the game even with bosses though I must say that I’m a sibling of someone who plays these games religiously so I’ll need to check. It is nowhere near being a Street Fighter V mess though it is missing some things from prior installments (the roster is big but missing G Gundam and seems to be saving later characters from the series for DLC)

  • Local coop would have been great even with reduced performance, no idea how they got the idea to jump into 3 vs 3 gameplay but not maintain local multiplayer in any way.

  • Pilebunker

    Most likely to push the DLC more.

  • I guess any case of worse local play (multi or not) ties into increasing the odds of people being DLC, but I hope it was mostly the new engine and bad priorities (more effects, but they coloured some things wrong >_>). We scaled back from the PSP Versus games to some degree when Extreme Vs first started as well, a fact which makes me want that Extreme Vs Infinite Boost (or whatever) to come to more platforms.

  • Checking my bro’s save, it appears we have 10 Trial Routes of increasing difficulty which have splitting paths much like StarFox’s story or the arcade mode of 3rd Strike, as well as four “Ultimate Battle” (also called “Survival”) modes with Easy, Normal and Hard followed up by a Boss difficulty. Personally, I haven’t played that much Gundam Versus but think this is pretty servicable even if it isn’t really optimising on the potential for single player gameplay or tutorials to teach people. Arcade mode is basically here in multiple forms, it just isn’t called “Arcade”…

    With that said, I’m not sure whether to have a lot of doubts about this reviewer or just overlook this. I don’t expect every reviewer or even ones on sites I particularly like to learn or click with every series I have an interest in outside of the included tutorial, but still…

  • I hope I can hold to the same resolve when Nintendo starts charging for online on the Switch, Smash Bros should be the only thing that can break me. I personally missed the PS2 era of Gundam games (I played some PS1, GBA, 3DS and PS3 stuff) so I’m a little curious about those missing features and whether Gotcha Force stacks up with em.

  • Mighty No. 56008

    Yeah the “10 Trial Routes” seems to be very similar to what the Arcade mode in Extreme Vs was like, except it also ended with a boss battle (not sure if the Trial Routes do as well?), so that’s good to hear.

    Though to be honest the game wasn’t really on my radar to begin with as I’m pretty occupied and backlogged with other ones, but at least I’m not a little interested in the game again….although the fact that characters are being locked behind DLC is still a sad thing to see.

  • Pretty sure that the Trial Battles end with bosses (not going to check each one >_>), but yeah I wasn’t trying to push you into getting the game as much as make sure that you put it off for the correct reasons. It doesn’t hurt to wait for the Infinity Burst edition since it is safe to expect a Gundam Vs game to get an upgraded version.

  • JellyfishMonarch

    gundam breaker 3 unfortunately is sold out right now…

  • Elisa Cole

    “Not for people wanting single player” dude are you retarded? They have trial mode and survival mode. Trial mode has many path and final bosses and you unlock more path has you beat certain ones. And survival mode has a few options. How about you play the game first before doing a b.s. review. The game has a lot of single player content. I wish it had local 2 players now that I agree with.

  • Chris Mendivil

    I so badly want Gundam Breaker which is NOT clunk af o.o