Gundam: Battle Assault
is a series of fighting games released for the PlayStation
, Playstation 2
and Game Boy Advance
. The series was developed by Bandai
in co-operation with Japanese developer Natsume
(who also made New Mobile Report Gundam Wing: Endless Duel
). It featured mobile suits from several eras of the Gundam
metaverse and some non-traditional fighting game elements.
Gundam: The Battle Master
Gundam: The Battle Master was the first game in the series, released for the Playstation in 1997. It featured large multi-jointed sprites and 2-screen high stages (This graphical style would be retained for the next two games). It included the following mobile suits from the Universal Century era:
The Battle Master featured gameplay unlike most fighting games (including its pseudo-prequel Gundam Wing: Endless Duel which was a more traditional fighting game):
- Mobile suit movement was realistically slow.
- Repeated damage to a specific body part on an enemy will result in that part's armor breaking.
- The most distinguishing feature is the lack of a health bar. Instead, a mobile suit had a temperature bar that would fill up as it gets hit. When the bar is full, the mobile suit overheats and is knocked down. When a mobile suit overheats three times, it is knocked out and loses the fight.
- The standard punch and kick buttons were complemented by a shoot button (for firing beam rifles or machine guns), a weapon button (beam sabers, heat hawks, etc.) and a thrust button that allowed the mobile suit to fly indefinitely.
- Projectiles were unblockable.
- Special moves were limited. A mobile suit would have a rapid fire version of the shoot button and one or two unique moves. All special moves drained a bar below the temperature bar that could only be filled by connecting with melee attacks.
- A mobile suit could dodge into the background to avoid attacks. Some mobile suits, however, cannot dodge but instead can erect a beam barrier that can block projectiles. The barrier can be held indefinitely unless hit by a melee attack.
- Bosses were massive and filled up nearly half the screen. They could not be knocked back by any attack unless they overheat.
Gundam: Battle Assault
In 1998 Bandai followed up with a sequel: Gundam: Battle Assault (known as Gundam: The Battle Master 2 in Japan). It added seven new mobile suits to the previous game's roster:
Bandai made drastic changes to the gameplay to resemble a more traditional fighting game:
- Gone were the temperature and special gauges, in their place a standard health bar (of which each mobile suit has three), a boost gauge and an ammo counter. When a health bar is drained, the mobile suit will overheat and be knocked down as usual. It is knocked out when all three bars are drained.
- The shoot and weapon functions were replaced with another punch and kick. The former two have become special moves, and while projectiles are no longer unblockable, melee weapons are.
- The main projectile special move cost ammo, an amount proportional to the projectile's power. If a mobile suit runs out it cannot reload for the rest of the fight. Alternate projectile specials, however, do not need ammunition.
- A mobile suit can no longer fly indefinitely. Instead, each press of the thrust button costs one boost bar. When the gauge is empty, the mobile suit must wait for it to recharge before boosting again. The mobile suit can also activate a free flight mode that allows it to fly in any direction and not get fazed by any attack as long as it doesn't overheat or the boost gauge runs out. The only exception was the mobile armor Neue Ziel, which was always in flight mode.
- Dodging or using beam barriers drains health. Beam barriers, however, can now block melee weapons.
- Super moves were introduced. Every mobile suit (except some secret characters) now a had a super move that can be used up to three times.
- The new boss is the Hydra Gundam. It is fast, having two shoulder-mounted beam cannon that can track the opponent and fire twice without using ammo despite the suit being still during this attack. It can also guard against projectiles and without suffering block damage.
Changes for the US Version
The game came out in the US two years later under the title 'Gundam: Battle Assault'. In order to market the game to the American audience (just as the New Mobile Report Gundam Wing anime was recently aired on Cartoon Network and was gaining popularity), Bandai changed the storyline, changed the Suit pilots to the characters from the series they appeared in and replaced the Hamma Hamma mobile suit with the Wing Gundam (also used on the cover art). The Wing Gundam, however, was just an exact duplicate of the Zeta Gundam. This version is also missing the intro and credits. It was later released in Japan.
Gundam: Battle Assault 2
In 2002 Bandai released an exclusive US sequel to Battle Assault, titled Gundam: Battle Assault 2. The four Z Gundam mobile suits (Zeta Gundam, The O, Hamma Hamma and Qubeley) and the Wing Gundam were taken out and replaced with fourteen new characters: The main cast of Mobile Fighter G Gundam (including the Devil Gundam as a new end boss), Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz as well as the Gundam Epyon from the Gundam Wing TV show.
Dodging and using beam barriers no longer drained health, it used up the boost gauge instead. The story mode was replaced with a 'Street Mode', in which the player can select from a total of eight mobile suits and very loosely follow the events of the One Year War, the 13th Gundam Fight, and the Endless Waltz OVA.
The original Gundam, a sub-par character in the first Battle Assault, received a major revamp in Battle Assault 2. It now has several new moves and combo options, as well as a devastating super (the Gundam Hammer) which can take an entire life bar off the opponent.
Although Zeta Gundam, The O, Hamma Hamma and Qubeley were removed from Battle Assault 2, their game code data remains hidden and can be accessed using a cheating device like GameShark.
The game was eventually released in Japan as part of Bandai's Simple Characters 2000 series of budget-priced PlayStation games (the series was published by D3 Publisher instead of Bandai themselves), split into two separate games: one focusing on G Gundam and the other on Gundam Wing. One of the differences with the two split versions of the game (other than that Burning Gundam and Dark Gundam's names were restored to their original names, God Gundam and Devil Gundam respectively) was that the Psycho Gundam Mk.III retained its original pilot from the Japanese Battle Master games.
Early versions of this game incorrectly spell "Gundam" as "Gundum" on the spine of the case.
Gundam Seed: Battle Assault
In 2004 Gundam SEED: Battle Assault was released for the Game Boy Advance and featured units exclusively form the recent Mobile Suit Gundam SEED anime. The units included all the Gundams from the show sans the Providence, as well as Rau Le Creuset's CGUE and the Gundam Astray Red Frame. It was released exclusively in the US.
The gameplay for this portable installment is similar to its three Playstation prequels, with the difference of being faster and more user friendly. The player had the option of choosing a manual method for executing special moves or an automatic one (similar to the easy mode of Capcom's Vs. series). The player could also adjust one of three parameters (HP, Phase Shift Armor or Thrust) at the cost of the other.
There was also a updated version of the game focusing on the sequel of the anime, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny. Unlike SEED: Battle Assault however, it was instead released only in Japan.
Battle Assault 3 featuring Gundam Seed
Battle Assault 3 featuring Gundam Seed is the fifth game in the series. It was released on the Playstation 2, four months after the GBA installment. It was the first to feature full 3D graphics and it also focused on units from the Gundam Seed anime, including grunt mobile suits like GINNs. However, Wing Gundam Zero Custom, Tallgeese III, God Gundam and Master Gundam appear as unlockable secret characters. It was only released in the US.
It was built off of the original Gundam Seed game for the Playstation 2, but modified from an action game into a 3D fighting game.
- In the US version of Battle Master 2, Valder Farkill (from the Gundam Wing: G-Unit manga) pilots the Psyco Gundam Mark III while Treize Khushrenada pilots Valder's Hydra Gundam. In the US sequel, Valder pilots the Hydra, Treize the Epyon and Ulube Ishikawa pilots the Psyco.
- The Psyco Gundam Mark III is an original unit designed for the first three games. It has similar characteristics to the previous two Psyco Gundams, including their large size and Scattering Mega Particle Cannon. It does not, however, seem able to transform into a mobile armor form.
- Battle Assault 2 features voice acting for several characters, most notably Amuro, Char, Dozle, and the primary casts of G Gundam and Gundam Wing. This also marks the first and only time that a side story manga character (Valder Farkill) has been voiced by an American actor.
- In the first two Japanese Battle Master games, the mobile suits were not operated by their respective pilots from the shows, but rather by a bunch of stock stereotypes that fit with the theme of the suits' design (e.g. A soldier for the Gundam, a warrior for Nu Gundam, etc.). In the US version of TBM2, as previously mentioned before, the mobile suits are piloted by their correct pilots with some exceptions.