I wouldn’t consider myself a big Gundam fan, but I do love the history of the famous franchise and what it’s done for anime and movies. Most Gundam titles don’t make it over here in the States, so it was a nice surprise when Bandai-Namco picked up Gundam Versus to be released over here. Taking a page out of titles such as Armored Core mixed with Marvel vs Capcom, this one is really made for hardcore Gundam/fighting game fans, but newcomers (and quite possibly anyone who plays) will have to overcome some steep learning curves in order to really enjoy the frantic action here.
The first thing I thought of when I played this is doubles from Tennis, as you select a Gundam unit from over 90 choices (with more coming via DLC of course) along with a AI-controlled partner or online co-op buddy, and take on another two AI-controlled or two people via online play and battle it out. It may sound simple, and it is for the most part, but the controls or more like learning the controls for your movements, jumps, and dashes is what will trip most players up as they start. Seeing as there’s no block button to go along with your melee attack, long range attack, boost, and jump buttons, you’ll have to learn how to jump and dash quickly to avoid attacks and incoming fire. This is made even more tricky thanks to the addition of a boost gauge that depletes when you jump or boost into the air. Once it’s empty, your Gundam suit locks up and makes you vulnerable to attacks, which obviously isn’t something you want to happen. So the balancing act comes in the form of micromanaging your gauge while also trying to get into a good position to strike when your opponent finally shows an opening.
Once you spent a lot of time getting frustrated then eventually better at controlling your unit when done with the tutorial and practice matches you can do, then the fun begins to kick in as you’ll enter 1v1, 2v2, or 3v3 modes as you and your team take on all sorts of units made famous throughout the decades long run of the Gundam franchise. There’s three categories to choose from when selecting a unit that fits your playstyle such as Shooting for long range fighters, Fighting for those who like to get up close and personal, and lastly Various for those who like to mix things up. Another thing that make the game tricky is the cost of each unit you use as you lose Cost Points when you die/respawn during matches. So if you’re using one of the more fancy suits that cost 500 points, and you only have 1000 points when you play, you’ll lose if you die two times.
Those looking for a single player/offline mode are going to be disappointed as this game is meant for hardcore, online multiplayer action. While there is a single player mode where you can take on various opponents as you fight your way to the top, complete with moments where a voiced cutscene will appear now and then, it’s still not a full-fledged single player/story mode. While the game looks sort of bland looking as far as backgrounds go, the Gundam units themselves are nicely detailed and look like you’re playing with the models/toys based off various entries of the series. The audio perfectly captures the sounds of the units, their pilots who are voice acted in Japanese with subtitles, and the famed music from the shows including the famous original 70’s theme from the very first Gundam series.
If you love games such as Armored Core and also love Gundam, and don’t mind playing online only multiplayer action, you’ll want to strap into a unit and pick up Gundam Versus. It has a steep learning curve to be sure, but much like the recently released Cuphead, things quickly become fun once you understand how everything works, and you’ll be blasting and boost jumping with the best of them.