Gundam games haven’t been the best to say the least in recent years so every time a new one comes along, I always approach it with a bit of skepticism. Recently, I got to try out the demo for the latest title in the franchise, SD Gundam Battle Alliance, from Bandai Namco and developer Artdink and I came away feeling good about it actually. I’ve now played the final game on PlayStation 5 and you can read my full review below to see whether it is worth your time.
For those who don’t know, SD Gundam is a version of the series that features tiny, cutesy versions of many of the iconic mobile suits. Battle Alliance takes the series and makes it an action-RPG where you’ll be fighting it out across battlefields either solo or with a team of friends. The story this time around takes place in the G: Universe and is more of a multiverse story. You play as a commander who gets transported to another dimension by an AI who watches over all the different Gundam universes that we are familiar with. The problem is that things called breaks are happening that are causing events to get messed up and so it is up to you and your friends Juno and Sakura to set things right. I’ll admit that I’m not the most well educated on Gundam lore but the game seemed to do a pretty good job of explaining things that were going on in each of these Gundam timelines. I’m sure if you’re someone who devours everything Gundam you’ll be able to appreciate all the nods much more than I.
The combat system in SD Gundam Battle Alliance is quite fun even if it is a lot of hacking and slashing. Your weapons include a melee attack, a ranged attack, multiple skills, and the ability to dodge and guard. There are 60+ mobile suits that you can use in the game with each one falling into one of three classes. Those being Sharpshooter for ranged fighters, Infighter for up close and personal fighters, and All-Rounder which of course is balanced for both. Suits come from a variety of series whether that be Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn, Mobile Suit Gundam 00, Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, and many others. While I haven’t tried every unit in the game out the ones that I have felt different enough from each other to not just seem like straight up clones.
Missions are broken down between Break and True missions. Break is where things from Gundam history have been distorted and so you can have characters from different eras crossing over. True missions are basically the same mission but played out in the actual canon way. A lot of the general combat isn’t too hard as I was able to use my combos and skills along with my defensive techniques to get by. Boss battles are a bit of different story though as they have a ton of health and can dish out a lot of damage with their attacks. These battles required me to be a bit more thoughtful in my approach as just mashing the attack buttons will quickly get you killed. Bringing your AI companions along makes things a bit easier to manage or you can jump online to take on missions in co-op with others. I played most of the time solo but did jump online a couple times to test it out and it ran pretty smoothly for the most part. Your progress even carries back to your solo play which is always a good thing.
Outside of all that there isn’t much else to the gameplay. You’ll be playing through these bite sized missions over and over in order to continue to unlock new mobile suits to use and obtain points to upgrade your stats. If the gameplay loop of wanting to just get that next mobile suit unlocked grabs you like it did me then you’ll likely have a great time with it. There were a few annoyances I had with the game with those being that the camera could be a bit annoying at times and that this is one of those games that you can’t pause for some reason. That makes sense when you’re playing online with others but I’ll never understand why when playing a game solo you can’t pause.
Visually the game looks pretty good in terms of the mobile suits but the environments aren’t the most detailed. I noticed pop-in at times which was a bit distracting but overall, I thought the visuals in the levels were fine enough for what they were. The audio on the other hand should please any Gundam fan as it includes a ton of music and sound effects from the franchise. It’s pretty evident from the range of mobile suits, the music, and the story events that the team that made this are huge fans of the series. Trophy hunters will find 43 trophies to collect including a Platinum and the list shouldn’t be too hard. It mostly consists of doing certain things a lot of times but if you end up enjoying the game that shouldn’t be an issue.
SD Gundam Battle Alliance is a fun action-RPG with a ton of love packed in from various Gundam universes. While the missions can get a bit repetitive over time, the gameplay loop of wanting to unlock more mobile suits and upgrade them kept me wanting to play and you can do it by yourself or online with a couple friends. We’ve had to go through a few rough Gundam games to find a good one but SD Gundam Battle Alliance finally delivers what the series deserves.
*SD Gundam Battle Alliance is available now on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. PlayStation 5 version reviewed. Review copy provided by Bandai Namco for this review.
SD Gundam Battle Alliance$59.99
- Fun action-RPG combat system
- Gameplay loop of unlocking and upgrading mobile suits is addictive
- Boss battles require more of a tactical approach
- Soundtrack and sound effects are packed with Gundam love
- Fun playing solo or online with friends
- Missions can get a bit repetitive
- Camera can be a bit wonky and no pause button