SD Gundam Battle Alliance review for Switch, PlayStation, Xbox, PC

Platform: Switch
Also on: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PS4, PS5
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Developer: Artdink
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-3
Online: Yes
ESRB: T

I should probably admit right up front that SD Gundam Battle Alliance is my first ever Gundam game. I feel like this is worth mentioning, since the game not only proudly notes that it brings together suits and characters from past Mobile Suit Gundam games, its whole plot is about fixing a tear in the series’ canonical history and restoring it to the way things should be. Based on that, I have to imagine that someone with better knowledge of the series’ lore would have a much better appreciation for everything that happens in this game.

Whereas for me…well, I was just attracted by the promise of giant fighting robots leveling cities around them. How could that possibly miss?

Turns out, quite easily – though not because I felt like the plot was way over my head or anything. I mean, SD Gundam Battle Alliance is full of endless expository dialogue, so I assume those things would have been more enjoyable if I knew who the characters were, but there’s no way a lack of familiarity made it harder for me to enjoy the game. As I said, it’s a game about giant fighting robots: even if you don’t know the background, it’s not that hard to fill in the blanks.

Having said that, there are a lot of very lengthy explanations as to how everything works that generally felt like they were unnecessarily padded. Given that the controls aren’t hugely complex, it frequently felt like the game was holding your hand to explain things that were generally pretty obvious.

In any case, it’s that simplicity that’s SD Gundam Battle Alliance’s bigger problem. Simply put, the fighting just isn’t that interesting. You have a couple of different melee and ranged attacks, but you just do them over and over again until you’ve wiped out the enemies, ending with a big boss fight, and it never really mixes it up.

What’s more, everything here feels oddly weightless. You can fire bombs and rockets at everything around you, you can crush city blocks beneath your metal feet, you can get pummeled by rampaging enemies: whatever happens, you never feel like you’re watching metal behemoths battle it out. Compared with, say, an EDF game, where every time you take out a building or topple a giant metal enemy, it feels like an event, and you can see why this feels so underwhelming.

Because really, that’s the bigger issue here. Whether you’re intimately familiar with Mobile Suit Gundam or a total newcomer, the basic gist of the game should be enough to suck you in and keep you riveted. That it’s not shows just how forgettable this gameplay is – and forgettable is never a word that should apply to robots trying to blow each other up.

Bandai Namco provided us with a SD Gundam Battle Alliance Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: C+

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