Even though the Game Boy Advance has been on the market for more than three years, the one-on-one fighter genre hasn't exactly taken off on the platform. The system does have its fair share of these games, from Street Fighter II
to Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance
, but only about a dozen games out of several hundred can be considered part of the genre, barely a drop in the bucket in comparison. And for hardware that's meant to excel in the 2D department you'd figure more companies would pounce a bit stronger than they had. Bandai's made the attempt to fill the void with an original fighter based on the giant robot series, Mobile Suit Gundam Seed
, and while we can appreciate the direction the company went with the product, the overall feeling is that it's a slightly bland and underwhelming experience on the GBA.
Gundam Seed Battle Assault
- 12 characters
- Seven modes of play
- Password save
- Link cable support for two players
takes those gigantic robotic fighting machines out of the anime series and into a mano-a-mano Street Fighter
style brawler, pitting as many as twelve different machines against each other. The game offers eight to start with, with the other four unlockable as certain tasks are completed (or you simply cheat and enter the password
that unlocks them; since the game features no battery save, a password system is in its place to record progress).
The idea of having gigantic robots duking it out is extremely appealing, if done right. To the game's credit, the developers really give the robots a lot of weight to their movements, and make them feel "mechanical." It does follow anime physics, so these guys can zip around and slash faster than the eye can comprehend, and they let off some pretty stunning energy when blasting their proton cannons. But even though their movements are exaggerated, they still have an appropriately stiff feel that makes them fit their mechanical nature. It might not be the best "feel" for a fighter, but at least the developers rooted these guys into an appropriate reality.
The real problem is, the game never gives the player any sense of scale. These machines are supposed to be massive beasts several stories tall. They're supposed to blot out the sun with their immenseness. They're supposed to leave craters where they walk. Not anywhere in the game do players ever feel like they're controlling a 50 foot mechanical beast. Instead, it's a generic rock-em-sock-em robot fest that only true Gundam fans will really understand what they're controlling.
The fighting mechanics are certainly competent, if just a bit simplistic. Though all four buttons on the Game Boy Advance are utilized, it's really a two button fighter. The idea of adjusting the Gundam's abilities and shifting the energy from boost to weapons is a good one if it really came into play, but the balance here is so minor that it's really not worth the management time. The simple controls definitely reduce the strategy of Battle Assault, but there is some technique to discover...especially in the boost mechanics where players can zip across in the air to escape a potentially devastating attack. Just like most fighters nowadays, Battle Assault puts emphasis on combos by adding a little counter in the corner during a flurry of hits. But it's not sensitive enough, and flurries of attacks you think are connecting one after the other won't make that counter budge.
And while the game definitely impresses in a fast-paced energetic presentation that'll make fans of the series feel at home, the rest of the presentation -- namely the story mode -- is thrown in with very little "story." Every so often you'll get text that tells the tale of what's going on during the fight, but nowhere do you get any real idea of who these characters are or why they're fighting. Beyond, of course, "it's war!"
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