Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Import Review: Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme Vs

Players: 1-2 offline, 8 online

Platform: PS3, Also available for Arcade

Rating: CERO-A (suitable for all ages)

Publisher: Namco Ban-Dai

A friend of mine was in Japan a few weeks ago, and brought back a bunch of games for me.  One of them was Gundam Extreme Vs. And man, is this game awesome!

The opening cinematic is nothing short of awesome. The quick cuts give a good synopsis of most of the mobile suits, and some of the action you can expect in-game. What was most surprising to me was the song in the background. Catalyst by Linkin Park! In a Japanese game! Who knew?

But that cinematic is all flashy action and not much else. It doesn't really tell you how the game is played. The entirety of the game is two mobile suits fighting two other mobile suits in a giant arena. Every suit has a cost associated with it. Both teams have 6000 credits to work with, and if a player needs to respawn, the team's balance is debited the value of the mobile suit to compensate. More powerful suits cost more than weaker ones. This leaves a lot of room for team customization, playing to the strengths and weaknesses of each other. Sometimes, the big, expensive suits aren't as useful as one might think.

Ban-Dai pulled out all the stops with this game. They went all the way back to the original Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, all the way up to Gundam Seed Destiny, which never aired in the United States. All the famous mobile suits are included. Wing Zero, Zaku II, Heavy Arms Custom, Astray, Deathscythe Hell Custom, and everything in between. When building teams, players are encouraged to mix teams from different series. There's no penalty for doing so, though sometimes it's just plain fun to have Amuro and Char, mortal enemies in Mobile Suit Gundam, fighting alongside each other. It's just plain funny.

As players work their way through the arcade mode, they have the option of choosing which path they take through the stages. There's eight different starting stages, and ten different stages at each difficulty. There's 80 stages total, and all of them have unlockable alternate stages, or "EX Stages," as the game calls them. The final boss is a smaller mobile suit that hops into a larger suit. The suit it pilots is determined by the difficulty of the stage. They're all really tough, though. But the big surprise is who voices the final boss. It's none other than J-pop artist, Gackt!

This guy! He voices the final boss!  Go figure...

Someone's not happy...
I obtained this game from a friend of mine who was in Japan back in September of last year. While he was wandering through Akihabara trying to find this game, he walked past an arcade that had eight of these machines linked together in 2v2v2v2 battle royale.  This was the inspiration for the online multiplayer in Gundam Extreme Vs.  Players will team up with a friend or random person and enter into a chaotic brawl.  Online matches are nothing short of insanity.  It's very easy to get caught up in the chaos and get distracted by a fight between two other players.

As arcade ports usually go, Gundam Extreme Vs includes additional content not found in the arcade releases.  There's a story mode for almost every character in Gundam Extreme Vs.  In it, players will complete missions, earn credits, and upgrade their mobile suits.  This mode adds to the overall experience, but not everyone will find it all that entertaining.

Speak softly and carry a big gun...
Now, with imports, there's a wonderful little thing called a language barrier.  For those that have an easy time reading Japanese, importing a game is not a big deal.  For those that don't, well...most imports aren't really the best thing to be looking into.  While this is the case most of the time, Gundam Extreme Vs is actually surprisingly easy to navigate.  Even without a lot of knowledge of Japanese, there's enough English words spread out in it to be able to figure out what you're doing.  GameFAQs also has guides for this game, and several include translations of the menus.

The PS3 is also a great system to buy imports for, because any region locking comes from the publisher.  At the time of this writing, the only game that is region locked on the PS3 is Persona 4 Arena, which is available in all regions with all the same language support and worldwide multiplayer. So as far as playing imports goes, Sony is very import friendly.

So now it comes time to issue a verdict. Gundam Extreme Vs is a fantastic game that captures the arcade feel in your own home. For those that don't follow the series, it's easy get bored with it. But for those that do, this is a must-have game for any Gundam fan. Unless you live near an arcade that has this game, this is as close as you're going to get to the arcades of Akihabara. Imports may be a spendy vice, but this one is well worth the money.

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