Gundam has seen dozens of video-game adaptations over the years, ranging from live-service shooters to tactical RPGs. Some have been outstanding adaptations of the beloved anime and manga series, while others have been less remarakable. SD Gundam Battle Alliance feels more ambitious than other recent Gundam games, and anyone familiar with the history of the franchise should find a lot to love.
The core gimmick of Battle Alliance is multiple timelines crossing over, creating alternate versions of events that should never happen. At the beginning of the game, the main character and their operator are pulled out of their timeline in the One Year War and dropped smack-dab in the middle of Amuro Ray’s battle with Ramba Ral, only to have the enemy suddenly turn into Gundam Barbatos from Iron-Blooded Orphans.
The crux of the game involves solving these “Historical Breaks,” and setting the timeline right. You never know what timelines and mobile suits are going to cross over, and that’s a big part of the fun.
Battle Alliance makes fantastic use of original sound effects and music from the classic series. For example, when you escort Amuro the campy original theme song from 1979 plays, or when Epyon appears the electronic “Rythm Emotion” plays. It helps imbue each scenario with so much personality that also adds a healthy dose of nostalgia for longtime fans. The game’s visual design is also incredibly charming, with the adorably squat versions of Gundam trampling over trees, buildings, and generally causing massive amounts of mayhem.
A fairly robust combat and upgrade system makes everything feel that much more polished. Combat feels reminiscent of other hack-and-slash games like Dynasty Warriors, but with a bit more versatility. You have heavy and strong melee attacks, ranged attacks, and two slots for special equipment. You can also bring up to two partners to support you through each mission.
Combat puts a big emphasis on mobility, letting you blast around the battlefield with boosters while you unleash your variety of attacks. It’s not the deepest system you’ll ever find but feels like a decent midway point between something like Devil May Cry and Dynasty Warriors. In my roughly hour-long demo, I played as six different mobile suits, and each one felt nicely differentiated. There are various classes that suits fall into, and on top of different strengths, they usually come with different equipment and movesets as well.
Of course, like with any good Gundam game, you have a ton of options for improving your mobile suits outside of battle, using different blueprints to upgrade the stats on your suits. There also seems to be some sort of relationship system with partners, with a gauge that raises after each battle.
SD Gundam Battle Alliance has all of the core features that Gundam games always do, but the interesting time and multiverse gimmick really help it stand apart. While fans of the anime franchise will absolutely get more mileage out of Battle Alliance, the fast-paced combat and simple but fun story could easily hold appeal to any newcomers as well.
SD Gundam Battle Alliance comes to PlayStation, Xbox, Switch, and PC on August 25.