Reviews: Gundam The 3D Battle (8/10)

g3dbattle_coverOne of the main factors in Artdink’s renaissance as a studio is how it managed to land the Gundam and Macross licenses. Turning them into very capable PSP games and a few decent PS3 games to boot. The former of these licenses started out as the Gundam Battle series and this is where we come to The 3D Battle.

Much like the previous Gundam Battle games The 3D Battle re-uses content but unlike the execrable Assault Survive, it remembers that this is foremost a handheld game. As such it’s much more in line with the older games in the series and subsequently pretty damn good.

The game is split across three main sections corresponding to three eras of Universal Century Gundam. Namely the One Year Way, Zeta and Char’s Counterattack. Following this there is an Extra and VS section with additional missions, some of which include mecha from Gundam Unicorn. On start you pick your side for each campaign and this in turn gives you different missions and mobile suits to choose from.

Once in game it is pretty standard Gundam Battle fare. In that you orbit enemies via a fixed lock-on in either land, water or space and use all manner of ranged and melee attacks on your foes. The shooting setup also retains the auto-targeting mechanics. This is why you hold down shoot and the reticule auto-leads the target. Following this we now also have different weapon types that either do pure damage or damage that the enemy can regain. Melee attacks do the latter until the combo is complete and then the damage inflicted becomes permanent.

Most weapons have finite ammo that once depleted needs to recharge. You can then switch to your other weapons or initiate a special attack. The latter’s gauge fills up over time and is sectioned off into six portions. Basic specials use one portion, whereas more potent attacks use more. The other key aspect to all this is the upgrading of your mobile suit.

Mobile suits accrue upgrade points when you use them on a mission. You can then use these points to upgrade the unit itself as well as its various weapons. Points are non-transferable between suits, meaning you have to sometimes grind missions in order to upgrade your mobile suit enough to survive an encounter. Now normally this would have been the case but we now also have additional points earned separately that can be cashed in for use on a particular mobile suit. This hugely alleviates the grind seen in the old games and allows you to max out units quicker without the burden of having to replay missions incessantly.

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The big change to this game though is its use of 3D. In general, the 3D side of things is handled really well and the engine has had a partial overhaul from the PSP games too. partial in the sense that it looks and feels warmer but lacks more bespoke memory management. In that, it was likely that the memory management for the 3D wasn’t re-written for how the textures are handled. This means that bigger units, such as mobile armors and capital ships, have very bland and washed out textures.

This visual blip aside, the game does look and run pretty smoothly. Whilst there are a few framerate hiccups here and there, for the most part it is really solid. Controls are also taut, with movement handled via the analogue stick and camera via the d-pad. Though the camera doesn’t really need to be modified in-game much, as the fixed lock-on takes care of proceedings. It is a nice touch though, as you can ogle your mobile suit if you want.

The touch screen isn’t really used much but the upside of moving the bulk of the HUD to the lower screen, means the top screen is very clean in terms of visual messaging. The new UI is also nicely clear too, as it’s larger than the PSP counterparts.

The general downside, bar the washed out textures, is that content-wise it’s a bit light and we’ve played these games before. Whilst it doesn’t feel like a budget release, as there’s definitely enough of a game here, not much of it is new. That said, it is competently executed and the game is still compelling (if only for the fact we can still play with the Hi-Nu Gundam).

If you have a hankering for a bout of Gundam action, then this is actually worth a play. Especially if you’ve never played any of the PSP games. As such we can recommend this to most gamers who like a fast paced action orientated mecha shoot-em-up.

Tamashii: 8/10

Nintendo 3DS games are region locked, so you’ll require a Japanese 3DS to play this game.

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8 Comments

    1. You can probably get a Japanese 3ds for under $150 if you look on ebay long enough. I found one for $127 right now, but I can’t seem to find one that’s lower.

      1. Hm not a bad idea but given how so many things are coming out the end of this year and early 2015, it’s somewhat tough to do… but I will get one eventually.

  1. So which of these is the best on the psp? I think this is the first time
    you’ve reviewed any from the series. I just recently picked up a psp,
    it turns out the thing became quite a hot bed for good to decent mech
    games, so as a fan it’s hard not to have one, which is funny because I
    remember debating with you that it was foolish of bandai to move the
    Gundam vs series over to the psp for awhile, I’ve picked up nextplus and
    ace p also. Will get around to the likes of Macross etc later, but I’ve
    heard good things about the Battle series, but not sure which of the
    games is better, I’m guessing Universe is the best one? I agree with
    9breaker, shame you need a Japanese 3DS to play this, can’t see the 3DS
    getting many good mech games to make it worth buying, perhaps one will
    appear on the Vita.

    1. battle universe is great! it contains missions and units from previous gundam battle games, so theres no reason to get the older games, assault survive is newer than universe, but has tweeked controls and systems that most people dont like, but you do get season 1 gundam00 units, and other extras, so it is worth it, but get universe first, after that, get macross ultimate frontier, that game is amazing, as complete as universe, with frontier mechs, zentradi units, the freaking macross giant ships themselves, etc. newer game is macross triangle frontier, has frontier movie mechs, but the way your pilot get stats depends on how you play the dating sim like mode, in japanese, which sounds fun, but more of a nuisance really, and acts like a character creation game, but after that you no longer get stats, unlike ultimate which levels you up like while playing missions, regular rpgs, same system in the gundam games. so gameplay wise, ultimate is still the simpler, more fun way to play the macross games.

      sorry for the long post, but just get gundam universe, then ultimate frontier, and you’ll be set, you wont miss oout much if you dont get the other 2 games 🙂

      1. Hey there, I don’t mind a long post if it’s good info and that sure was, so thanks for pointing the gameplay styles out. I’m not in a big rush to get these games, I still haven’t even played ace p yet :D(big backlog of games to play) but I will be getting the games you mentioned for sure.

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