SD Gundam Battle Alliance | Review

SD Gundam Battle Alliance | Review

My first approach with SD Gundam Battle Alliance was weird. I'm not a big fan of the legendary Japanese robot that marked the childhood of many members of Generation X, and despite its fame has managed to arrive almost intact to the present day, the only time I really interacted with the franchise is was at the time of the first airing of Gundam Wing in Italy, with a lot of sweetened dubbing and almost distorted themes, and consequent fascination that led me to complete the collection of De Agostini's VHS.

Similarly I therefore cannot explain to myself what is the magic formula for which the charm of the Mobile Suit has managed to resist the change of generations and tastes, proposing itself each time with formulas of variable success that in any case have allowed the mythology to be handed down in an almost religious way. So how to approach such a title? Simple, playing light-heartedly and enjoying the screaming aesthetics of these exceptional war machines, albeit translated into the SD (Super Deformed) style which in part dissembles their epicness.

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The narrative trigger is quite simple and it is also quite common for all those projects that try to pack several game universes in a single package: an unspecified threat is getting its hands on the story of all the Gundam narrative lines, intervening in the very first moments of the game to change the cards on the table between teammates and enemies, and it is up to the player to take the reins of the situation to ensure that the database of the all-encompassing history of this world is not altered. A little like Dragon Ball Xenoverse, if you like, with a greater detachment guaranteed by participation in a simulation and not in real events.

The robots enter the scene, the beautiful ones

Before taking the field you need to get ready fully, choosing our favorite mobile suit from those available and completing the team with two elements support, which are controlled by the CPU. The number of "robots" at our disposal increases with the progress of history and with the achievement of dedicated projects, so too will our companions.

In the field the The “weight” of the chibi graphic style is not felt excessively, thanks to the faithful rendering of the characters' art and the high level of detail with which the mechanical structures are made, to the point of underlining their wear. From this point of view, nothing to complain: fans of the series will have something to enjoy, being able to admire the mobile suits reproduced with great care also as regards the weapons used.

A choice that can be considered a good choice also for a question of "scale" of the experience, as a hypothetical realistic representation would have required a significant surge in the commitment to recreate historical scenes and events, reported here in a very effective way, as well as having a counterproductive impact on animations, movements and impacts, which should have met a need for plausibility that goes beyond the faithful reproduction of what is seen in the animation.

The lightness that transpires from the use of the Gundam version Super Deformed, however, must not be misleading, as SD Gundam Battle Alliance needs attention and dedication to be mastered properly. Starting from the usual combination "light blow / powerful blow", complete with stamina masked under the use of the thrusters, we find an interesting area combat system that provides for the alternation of close and distance shots, the strategic use of the lock and encirclements, to make the most of defense, counterattack or cancellation mechanics of the animations.

Of course we are not talking about the depth of an action classic, but we can at least appreciate a licensed product curated in collisions, interactions and response of commands, so as not to appear inaccurate or unfair to the player. Each Mobile Suit has peculiarities and limits, to be known and mastered in order to better face the bosses that can vary in size, type and kind of attacks, resulting more or less sensitive - if not immune - to some of our offensive options.

The structure is therefore that of a title divided into chapters and missions, which from time to time see topical moments in the history of Gundam overturned by bizarre interventions by pilots and Mobile Suits that do not belong to that era. Once the anomaly has been resolved, it is possible to tackle the mission again in its "classic" version, making sure that everything runs as planned. Back at the base, it is possible to use money and materials collected to upgrade our robot and improve its general statistics, as well as equip items that affect 1 to 3 situations in combat (e.g. attack increase, laser defense increase, slow thruster consumption , automatic defense, etc.).

As we play we will improve as a pilot, acquiring new levels that give access to specific skills such as speeding up the use of rescue kits, increasing the number of enemy drops or making it even wider the range of action of the explosives. There is therefore some fundamental micromanaging work to have the best in battle, as the Mobile Suit that best fits our game skills should not be chosen, but also to equip it correctly and support it with allies who can cover our shortcomings, perhaps offering more damage at range or close range.

Catch them all (blueprints)

Overall the experience offered by SD Gundam Battle Alliance is quite fun thanks to the gameplay sufficiently gradual loop in requiring more commitment and resources from the player, capable of making replayability interesting by putting on the plate the acquisition of new Mobile Suit models (which are really LOTS). Even more intriguing are the Chaos missions, which will appear in the second part of the plot, which plan to revisit old missions to find specific anomalies - previously not present - in which to find powerful enemies and face them in an attempt to obtain the projects of the respective vehicle.

The interaction with the CPU drivers is also good, often able to divert the attention of the boss on duty and repair our Gundam when we are shot down and there are no more kits available. Perhaps a bit dull in the attempt, going to get in line with enemy attacks to heal the player, but certainly willing.

If the package can be discreetly packaged and fun, it is anyway the nature of a non-first-line product is evident, which is a bit clumsy in some of its supporting elements. First of all, the camera, highly customizable and fairly receptive in locks, is not always of great use to the player as it is perhaps too low on the horizontal plane, leading our vehicle to impale the view on the enemy and therefore slow down the reaction times on small enemies. cuts that do not clearly communicate the next attack. Not to mention the moments when we find many disturbing elements, such as narrow corridors or buildings in abundance, which almost drive the view crazy, becoming unmanageable.

We find another negative note in addressing the audio question : the game itself deserves praise for the presence of the main themes of the various series - complete with circumstantial gags with the game characters expressing their preferences - and for the voice over on all the dialogues in the story, but it stumbles awkwardly into adaptation phase with the absence of an English dubbing. Apparently this is a trifle, were it not that each level is filled to the limit with contextual dialogues between the various characters in the game and the player is then asked whether to pay attention to the fight or look away to read the text and understand what's going on. A big pity.

SD Gundam Battle Alliance is still a technically solid title (even on a first model PS4 it is fluid, clean and fast in loading) that does everything to recreate a authentic Gundam experience, despite the classic pretext useful for generating the crossover between worlds. The fidelity to the source material is excellent, with lots of pampering for the fans, and the basic structure is good.

Perhaps in the long run, the repetitiveness of the missions is yielded a little, but with the thrust of the rarer models to be unlocked and the ability to tackle the various levels even in local and online multiplayer, you can easily alleviate the annoyance. On your own you have to rely on your passion for action rich in farming and / or for the universe of Moblie Suits, otherwise you risk not finding the right hook to hold up to the heaviest or most difficult moments.

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