The Gundam franchise can be said to be quite late in entering the mobile realm compared to other animanga franchises. The reason is, until a few days ago, the official licensed Gundam mobile game was just a dream.
However, for Bandai Namco, it's better to be late than never. In response to fans who have waited a long time, they finally released Gundam Battle: Gunpla Warfare for Android and iOS (7/31).
Before starting a further discussion, there is one thing you need to note. Gundam Battle: Gunpla Warfare does not adopt the Gundam anime story. So, don't expect too much if this game will bring the fantastic story of Amuro Ray as an RX-78-2 pilot or other iconic Gundam pilot. As the title suggests, this game focuses on Gunpla (Gundam plastic toys/models).
In gameplay, Gundam Battle: Gunpla Warfare adopts the Gundam Breaker series on the platform console. Just like other action-RPG (ARPG), this game combines elements of role-playing and fighting action with hack and slash mechanism.
You will get the role-playing element through the creation and upgrading of Gunpla. The characters and parts that you use to assemble will also level up as the game progresses. Gunpla that you have assembled will you use to fight with enemies. Later, you fight to follow the story and mission given.
In terms of story, this game does not offer anything special. You will be confronted with the presentation of the story in the style of a visual novel and various choices of answers. Unfortunately, the alternative choice of answers does not affect the linear storyline.
Overall, Gundam Battle: Gunpla Warfare tells about the journey of the characters you play to prevent the disbandment of the Gunpla high school extracurricular club. As new members, you are also charged with the mission to become the best Gunpla fighter so that the club does not disperse. Although not special, the story is original and interesting enough to be followed as you play it.
Unfavorable fighting system
As mentioned above, Gundam Battle: Gunpla Warfare adopts a hack and slash fighting mechanism. However, the fighting format must be recognized as one of the weak points in this game. There are two factors that make this game fighting system feel less enjoyable. First, the hack and slash mechanism isn't like other similar games.
Compared to using buttons/icons on the screen, Bandai Namco instead chose to use the swipe mechanism as the main way to move and attack. The gunpla that you control will approach the enemy with two swipes, and two more swipes to launch attacks. In addition, you can also use skills by pressing the button/icon at the bottom of the screen.
Meanwhile, you can also withstand enemy attacks by pressing the button at the bottom on the left side of the screen. Like other hack and slash games, Gundam Battle: Gunpla Warfare also provides an Auto-Attack option if you are reluctant to do it yourself.
Admittedly, the Auto-Attack option makes this game "safe" from the sarcasm. Because the swipe mechanism can be said to be too simple so it makes the action of Gunpla fighting which should feel "wow" just normal.
The fun of fighting actually decreases because of the second factor, namely the game that is played vertically. Actually, Bandai Namco's decision to use this format can be understood in order to simplify the controls so that the game can be played with one hand.
However, the convenience of control is an aspect that must be sacrificed from the use of the vertical view. Using one hand turned out not to be as comfortable and fun as imagined. When playing, the fingers seem to be very big because of the narrow space to swipe.
The Typical Sensation of Virtual Gunpla Assemblies
Even though the action element did not meet expectations, the idea of the Gunpla-themed ARPG game had to be recognized as not a bad thing. In fact, the sensation of virtual assembly is the main advantage of this game. Because this game makes you feel how free to assemble Gundam toys that you might not be able to feel in the real world.
When playing for the first time, you will get nine different parts randomly through the free Gacha system. The part consists of the head, body, hands, feet, weapons (melee and ranged), shields, backpacks, and AI (pilot persona) that must be arranged to become one Gunpla unit. Each part also has its own skills that you can choose to use when fighting.
You also improve the ability of Gunpla with an upgrade system on each part of it. You can do upgrade levels by continuing to fight or manually by using special upgrade items. In addition to upgrading levels, you can also increase the ability of parts by upgrading the tier.
Admittedly, this customization element makes Gundam Battle: Gunpla Warfare so special. Because there are many things you can do when assembling Gunpla.
Because each part is separated, you can also assemble a custom Gunpla. For example, you can use variations of the RX-78-2 head with the Zaku II body, Unicorn hands, Exia legs, Barbato's weapons, to Wing Gundam backpacks.
In addition, each part also has its own trait. There are three traits that you can choose to determine the characteristics of the assembled Gunpla, namely Power, Speed, and Technique.
Unfortunately, variations on customization are slightly tarnished by the lack of options in color selection. You can't color your Gunpla as you wish. Because the color selection is determined by the collection of Gunpla parts that you have collected until it is complete. For example, you have collected all nine Gundam Exia parts. Only then will you get the color set.
For those of you who are not familiar with everything about Gundam, this might just feel normal. However, loyal fans of Gundam certainly understand how exciting the sensation of assembling Gunpla freely, especially for those who can't do it all in the real world.
Game Mode (Still) Limited
Another weakness that appears in Gundam Battle: Gunpla Warfare is the lack of game modes offered. Until this review was published, there were only a total of six modes available. That's just four modes that can be played, namely Tutorial Mission, Story Mission, Free Mission, and Daily Mission. Meanwhile, the Event and Arena modes still cannot be played.
Outside the Tutorial and Story Mission, which are the main game modes, Free Mission and Daily Mission are left as alternatives. Free Mission Mode can you make an alternative to get additional parts outside the main mission or Gacha. Meanwhile, the Daily Mission acts as a field of item upgrades for today, there is no, or at least not yet, an online or competitive mode in this game. The absence of competition makes this game potentially repeat the mistakes of hack and slash games in general, namely reps.
In addition, the existence of the Gacha system makes the pay-to-win aspect feel thick. However, it's quite strange to call this game pay-to-win when the competitive mode is still absent. For that, it feels wasteful if you totally spend money to get good parts from Gacha, unless it's your main goal to play this game to collect Gunpla (digital).
Just Ordinary Visuals, but Demanding
Aesthetically, Gundam Battle: Gunpla Warfare gives a good treatment to loyal fans of Gundam thanks to the visualization of plastic models that are quite detailed. However, overall this game is less able to spoil the eyes because of the graphics and animations that look "rough". Especially if it's already entered into battle mode.
For the record, there are two visual quality options provided by this game. First, there is Light Mode for low-quality graphics, while the second is Standard Mode for more optimal graphics.
The light mode can be selected when you want to maximize gameplay without regard to visuals. Unfortunately, in this mode, the visual quality was lacking so that inevitably chose Standard mode.
Ironically, this mode requires the smartphone that you use to work harder. Even this condition will make the battery drain faster and the smartphone is easier to heat. In addition, the graphics that are displayed also appear to be rougher.
Meanwhile, there is nothing special about the sound effects. It is unfortunate that Bandai Namco did not insert a set of Gundam anime characters in his game. In fact, there are some moments such as animation when using skills that will feel great with the presence of the voices.
Fans of Gundam mobile game have indeed been fulfilled by the existence of Gundam Battle: Gunpla Warfare. However, it must be admitted that this game is far from perfect. Even so, it is probable that Bandai Namco will fix the deficiencies through upcoming updates.
This game will certainly satisfy Gundam loyal fans with Gunpla customization variations. However, for the layman, this game will certainly be ignored because the gameplay and game modes are not optimal. Especially if we look at the many alternative ARPG / hack and slash like Honkai Impact 3 or Marvel Future Fight.