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Mobile Suit: Gundam vs Gundam NEXT Plus PSP Review

Mobile Suit Gundam VS Gundam NEXT PLUS, recently released last December 3 of the previous year,  is the latest “team battle action” game of the popular Gundam VS series for the PSP console. If you are a mecha fanatic, this is a dream-come-true  Gundam dream match / crossover, wherein you can pit various Gundam heroes’ mechas or fellow antagonist units against other mobile suits from other series.

Being a mobile suit fanatic and self-proclaimed gundam pilot that this gamer was, I immediately grab my hands off a copy of the game and immediately installed it into my PSP unit. And then voila, play time! Test subjects? My friends of course haha!

This is one of the most anticipated Gundam games not only in SouthEast Asia(Japan and surrounding countries), but also within the North America region as well. Unfortunately, no English version of the said game has been granted by the Namco-Bandai Games for release to the non-Japanese gamers(due probably to the added license/voice-acting copyrights required and such). Masyado lang kaming adik at natutuwa sa mga mecha actions within the prequel game in the sense na nakabisado na namin ang mga options and such LOL! XD

In lieu with the celebration of the Gundam’s 3oth anniversary, it now features over 60 mobile suits from 18 Gundam series(from the very first Mobile Suit Gundam of 1979 up to the latest Mobile Suit: Gundam Unicorn of 2009 – ANDAMI LOLOLOL). What’s crazy about this is the fact that new mobile suits are included within the roster – 00 Raiser Gundam, and Reborns Cannon Gundam(Gundam 00 Second Season), Providence Gundam(Gundam SEED), Altron/Nataku Gundam and Wing Zero Custom(New Mobile Report Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz), Gundam Unicorn and Kshatriya(Gundam Unicorn) and several others! Only PSP-Exclusive! 😀

Mobile Suit selection screen
Mobile Suit selection screen - ZGMF-X20A Strike Freedom Gundam

You will generally fight on a 2 vs 2 basis(be it in a mission mode or ad-hoc versus mode/against AI), and reduce the enemy’s cost gauge from the full gauge (6000 by default) to 0 by eliminating the enemy units while keeping your mobile suit(as well as your teammate should you have any) to be busted out. The cost of each unit is based on the overall skills/capabilities of the suit, and is divided into 3 tiers: 1000, 2000, and 3000 – so basically the higher the cost, the more powerful the mobile suit it is(often the main protagonist/antagonist of the series). However, using units with higher cost means you have fewer chances to respawn.

Keep in mind that this is not your ordinary Gundam VS game, as this new installment features the revolutionary NEXT Dash System – wherein by simply tapping your boost twice in rapid succession(usually X button) can make you cancel whatever you are doing previously(either for attack evasion or combo-chaining purposes). Oo, mga kapatid, beyond godlike ka sa paglalaro nito kapag magaling kang mag-cancel/combo at umilag sa mga kalaban!  However, this consumes a bit of your boost gauge. 😀

RX-78 Gundam using the NEXT Dash

Basic controls(by default) are the beam pistols/rifles/projectile weapons in Square, Boost/Thruster in X, Melee weapon attack/combo in Triangle, change target in Circle, and special mobile suit attacks in both the L and R button, respectively. Some mobile suits feature their own unique special abilities – worth mentioning are the Newtype Destroy Mode by the Unicorn Gundam, Biosensor Mode by the Zeta Gundam, Berserker System by the Noble Gundam, Shining Mode by the Shining Gundam, Hyper Mode by the God/Master Gundam and even the famous TRANS-AM System of the Exia/Double 00-Raiser Gundam and  SEED Mode of the Freedom/Strike Freedom Gundam.

Screenshots
Gundam battle royale(booyeah!) screenies 😀

As if the number of mobile suits aren’t enough for you to chew on, Namco-Bandai games even featured several Boss Mobile Armors included within different gundam series. They can be engaged with different mission routes(modes), most notably Route K and L, respectively(Boss Mode versions) within both the arcade and PSP version.

Game Route
Various game routes(mode) from the Arcade play. Clearing each route can unlock hidden mobile suits and new routes.
Mobile Armor Bosses
Mobile Armor Bosses - unleashed for the first time!

*Secret – a hidden mobile armor boss from Gundam SEED Destiny(ZGMF-X20A EX Strike Freedom + METEOR) can be fought if you attain a high-score in the most difficult mode. It will reveal itself as a FINAL NEXT Boss eventually, wherein you will fought it in its EX Boss version first, and then in EX METEOR Boss version after it sustained about 1/3 damage and finally, the EX Ultimate SEED Mode Boss version. It has 2,000 HP, special abilities, wide variety of weapon arsenals, unique combo attacks, different mobile assist form and infinite SEED Mode power that the playable Strike Freedom Gundam doesn’t possess.*

Another nice thing about this game is that (with the exception of New Mobile Report: Gundam Wing Endless Waltz and Gundam Unicorn) it features the various opening themes of the different anime series – of course all Japanese pop/rock bands/singers in full play while you’re engaging in the battlefield! Also, upon completion of a certain mecha in any mode, it will also unlock its corresponding series’ 3D animated opening theme, voice actor/actress’ works, victory poses and pilot cut-ins, as well as its own ending design theme by Namco-Bandai. Also, the battle stages are based on the actual anime series themselves, for instance – Heliopolis colony and Messiah Fortress/Requiem Superweapon stage for the Gundam SEED/Destiny series, Veda for the Gundam 00 series, World Tournament Stage and Devil Colony for Mobile Fighter G Gundam series etc.

Officially released on the 3rd of December last year, some people in Japan and even in surrounding countries have got the game early already(including the thousands of PSP gamers waiting also for the new GEND3 firmware for the PSP so as for the said game to be compatible). The general feedback among various polls is very positive, and apparently the game plays much smoother than the previous one(even the laggy 2-on-2 ad hoc gameplay has been improved significantly)!

Much to my dismay though – if Namco-Bandai really wants to make this the biggest Gundam game yet to date as they claimed, they should have included ALL series, even the spin-offs(Gundam SEED StarGazer, Astray etc). Sayang pa naman, andami pa magagandang gundams out there na hindi makilala mabuti ng general populace because of lack of promotion – even with games such as this one.

Also, the graphics and effects are re-tweaked from the original prequel, whereas most of the modifications are based on balancing and even improving some of the bugs found at the arcade version. Personally, there are still some laggy scenes when using certain abilities/playing ad hoc versus against your opponents in a wide stage, but nevertheless, it can be seen that the game engine was significantly improved from before.

For those who doesn’t know, the game features a Plus Mode wherein you can form your own team and battle it out against several mission sorties – winning can give you experience points to level up your mobile suits of choice. Also, non-playable units(in versus mode) from various gundam series are featured here, like the Blitz and Buster Gundams from the SEED series, Union Flags from the 00 series and such.

Anyway, if you’re relatively new with this game, and walang basic know-how about Gundams at all, you may find it boring, or eventually annoying in the sense that even your AI opponents are very much stronger for you to defeat(despite the easy mode). This game is recommended for gamers who have experienced playing the previous Gundam VS series(Alliance VS ZAFT, Gundam Battle Assault series and other similar games) or simply mecha enthusiasts.

Graphics – 8

Sound – 10

Gameplay – 9

Replay Value – 9

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