A celebration of the Gundam property that welcomes newcomers with equal vigor.
Honestly, even if you are not a fan of Gundam (I am sure someone like this exists somewhere), SD Gundam Battle Alliance is probably still going to be a worthwhile purchase for you. This is a really well designed and almost frighteningly addictive action role playing game. The game’s excellent combat system (which starts off almost deceptively easy, and then layers more and more on top until you don’t realize just how much you are juggling at once) is worth the price of admission by itself. You end up with a bunch of simple to pull off maneuvers and moves that, when leveraged properly, lead to an almost endless combination of ways for you to deal with any problem that comes your way.
The thing that makes this depth in the combat actually worth it in this case, unlike in so many similar games, is that the game is explicitly designed around you properly taking advantage of all these combat mechanics too. The game’s mission-based structure, which seems to recall Monster Hunter series in a lot of ways, almost always culminates in a big boss fight – and these fights are deviously designed, incredibly well crafted encounters that call upon the player to remember and properly apply all the tools in their arsenal that the game gives them access to. From melee attacks to ranged attacks, from combos to stun locking enemies, from dodging to dashing, SD Gundam Battle Alliance gives you a lot to properly win your way through all that it throws at you.
And that is before we get to the “Monster Hunter” inspiration I alluded to earlier, which is the whole thing where as you fight and complete missions, you get the ability to craft new Gundam suits, or upgrade your existing ones, making you better equipped to take on more powerful enemies, that enable you to craft even more powerful suits, and so on. The gameplay loop is incredibly compelling – and can put up a hell of a good challenge too.
“Everything I’ve talked about so far covers how this game will appeal even to non-Gundam fans. However, if you are a Gundam fan, then you’re really in for a treat with this game as, in addition to the extremely well designed core gameplay loop, you also get a game that’s essentially an almost overbearing love letter to the property and everything that fans love about it.”
Everything I’ve talked about so far covers how this game will appeal even to non-Gundam fans. However, if you are a Gundam fan (also known as being normal), then you’re really in for a treat with this game as, in addition to the extremely well designed core gameplay loop, you also get a game that’s essentially an almost overbearing love letter to the property and everything that fans love about it. The story in it is almost inconsequential – you’re essentially a nobody who is trapped in a virtual recreation of Gundam history, trying to fix the corruption in the data so you can escape back to the real world. This setup allows the game to not be limited by any one specific “era” of Gundam, so to say, and allow the game to include Gundam suits from across the franchise’s entire storied history, as well as evoking some of its greatest moments across the innumerable works it has put out over the years. What this means is that the story itself is largely incoherent, and just barley functional enough to set up the premise and get you into the core loop – but moment to moment, the game is filled with loving references and homages to the entire Gundam universe, which, if you are a fan, you know encompasses quite a range.
The one thing I can see turning off some fans of the IP, at least at first, is the game’s aesthetic. SD Gundam Battle Alliance adopts a chibi look during gameplay, meaning your Gundams show up as small, exaggerated, stylized renditions on screen. This can feel disappointing to those hoping to see the various Gundam realities collide, because what you see can feel disconnected from the rest of the IP. However, as mentioned, the game is really good with its homages and references, and while the gameplay itself does adopt a chibi art style, character portraits for dialogs and cutscenes are properly proportioned, so you do still get a hint of the traditional Gundam art style in this game regardless.
While the chibi stye can be (unfairly, in my opinion) a deterrent for some, on the sound side of things, SD Gundam Battle Alliance is great. The music is fantastic, and the voice acting is great – though, unfortunately, there are some caveats associated with each. The voice acting is Japanese only, meaning if you don’t like subbed audio tracks, then you’re a bit out of luck here. The music is roundly excellent, and in and of itself has no failings – but unfortunately, the music (and the almost Draconian rights that come along with the Japanese music industry) is the reason that this game completely rocks video clip recording. You can’t record a single frame of it – which is especially a shame because, as mentioned, there are some thrilling fights in this game that would lend themselves well to being captured and shared.
“The one thing I can see turning off some fans of the IP, at least at first, is the game’s aesthetic. SD Gundam Battle Alliance adopts a chibi look during gameplay, meaning your Gundams show up as small, exaggerated, stylized renditions on screen. This can feel disappointing to those hoping to see the various Gundam realities collide.”
Over on the gameplay side, thankfully, there are no similar stumbles. The big one I can see being off-putting to many, especially those who might just be looking at a straightforward action game, is how much the game can tend towards grinding the further you get into it. This, of course, makes sense. It’s a role playing game, and more importantly, it is a role playing game that seems to take a lot of cues from Monster Hunter. Grinding is almost built into the design – but it does mean that if that’s not the kind of thing you like in your games, or at the very least, if that’s not what you were looking for from your Gundam game, then this game may not be for you.
These issues aside, though, SD Gundam Battle Alliance is an excellent outing, and a game that holds almost equal appeal to everyone, regardless of how much they are a fan of the property it is based on. Whether you are looking for an ode to all things Gundam, or just a well designed and compelling action RPG, SD Gundam Battle Alliance might be exactly what you are looking for.
This game was reviewed on PlayStation 5.
Game’s story and setup allows for it to pull from all eras of Gundam lore; incredibly compelling combat and boss fights, as well as loot and upgrade system; love letter to the Gundam property.
Chibi look might be off-putting to many; game can get a bit grindy; the story itself is fairly trite.
Gundam fans and newbies alike are in for a treat with SD Gundam Battle Alliance, which delivers a really well designed action RPG, on top of homages upon homages to decades of the Gundam franchise.