Dynasty Warriors: Gundam. As odd as the pairing sounds, there’s no denying that the premise sounds unbelievably cool. The Dynasty Warriors series has already set a standard for fast-paced beat ‘em ups, so throwing giant robots into the mix only sweetens the deal. Already released in Japan for the PS3 as Gundam: Musou, Namco/Bandai is bringing the game to the states along with an Xbox 360 version.
Three modes of play are available: Original, Official and Versus. In Original, you play as characters from various Gundam arcs in a story involving a planet that has suddenly appeared near Earth and is threatening to run into it. In Official, you’ll have the chance to play as familiar faces from the Gundam universe in missions that tie into various story arcs from Gundam lore. Official Mode will offer a total of 6 pilots, while Original features 12. 15 mobile suits from the different variations of Gundam are available, though most will need to be unlocked.
Gameplay in both Official and Original follows the same formula as the Dynasty Warriors games. You begin by selecting from a set of pilots which then determines what suits you can pilot. Missions send you through zones on the battlefield as orders are called out from other pilots. Most of your time is spent plowing through lower-rank suits to get to stronger Guard suits. Multiple objectives are spread across the battlefield, though they are spread out among ally pilots. My set of missions primarily involved capturing areas, though there were times where I was ordered to reinforce positions or lend backup to my ally, Master Asia.
Though most of the game is action-oriented, some minor RPG elements also pop up. Pilots gain experience that translates into skills that can be used in battle. You will also come across parts that buff the stats of your mobile suit. Some parts will upgrade your attack attributes, while others increase your defense or hit points. You can even pair up parts to further enhance your suit’s stats.
Versus Mode features three game types that allow you to take unlocked suits into battles against your friends. Normal is a no-frills, straightforward match where you take on friends in one-on-one battles. Warrior’s Match follows the same route, though before facing off against your friend, you fight a group of A.I. controlled suits to gain power-ups. The final mode isn’t a direct head-to-head competition. Instead, you are placed on opposite sides of a battlefield and try to reduce the number of mobile suits on your side.
Visually, DW: Gundam isn’t overly impressive, but meets all of the standards fans want in a Gundam game. The mobile suits match their look from the show and battles are punctuated with all sorts of flashy effects. One of the Zero Wing’s special attacks sent a large blast of energy towards groups of enemies, while another sent short blasts in all directions using a cool, dual-gun crossover animation.
Missions are introduced by characters from the show. English voice work is featured, though purists will be able to switch to Japanese audio with English subtitles.
Even after playing the game, Dynasty Warriors: Gundam is still an oddity. As strange as the combination sounds, it translates into a fun beat ‘em up that should please both Gundam and Dynasty Warriors fans.