Review: Gundam Seed: Battle Assault (Game Boy Advance)

Gundam Seed: Battle Assault (GBA)
Genre: Mech-Fighter
Platform: GBA
Rating: Teen
Publisher: Bandai
Designer: Bandai

Gundam games come and go. There has been countless of them, some very good, and some bordering on the abysmal list. So today, we find ourselves with the latest addition to the series, based on the anime (Gundam Seed) that can be seen Saturday nights on the Cartoon Network: Gundam Seed: Battle Assault. Released on the GBA handheld system,this mech fighter comes at a time where the competition is somewhat tight on the GBA in terms of good fighters. With other decent fighters out there like Dragon Ball Z: Supersonic Warriors can Gundam Seed: Battle Assault, successfully become a game based on a relatively watchable anime that actually is worth your money? Let’s find out as we put Gundam Seed: Battle Assault (which I will now refer to simply as Gundam Seed) to the test with the dreaded Inside Pulse Games review format.

1. Story

If you have watched the anime then you can figure out what the story of this is going to be. While Gundam Seed does not follow the anime it was created out of step by step, it remains relatively faithful to the characters and plots that you’ll find in it. Still, by nature fighters usually don’t have intricate and well planned stories. True, it does remain faithful to the Gundam Seed anime plot/plan or whatever you want to call it. Yet it doesn’t stop Gundam Seed from being a bare bones plot that doesn’t really add anything of relevance to the game. Those of you familiar with just about any Gundam series (for reference my initiation into the series was with Gundam Wing) know what that means in terms of a story. People fight in their Gundam Mobile Suits, and the world as we know it is really a universe of planets, some colonized and some not. Earth and some of the colonies aren’t getting along and thus we fight. Usually (and Gundam Seed is no exception) one or more Gundams are head and shoulders above the rest and are the only ones that can make a difference in the battles. So the video game plays off of all that and thusly you have a fighter with some of the cooler Gundams and characters in it at your disposal for some mindless mech bashing. While usually I would dock a game pretty heavily for a poor story, fighters get a little bit of a reprieve from me since if they do the other things a fighter should do right it’s really quite alright. Well Gundam Seed really doesn’t do those things, but we’ll get to that soon enough.

Overall Story Rating: 5/10

2. Graphics

Sorry, but I can’t forgive or make excuses here folks. Gundam Seed is, in every aspect of graphics, as average as it gets. When I think about the great titles on the GBA that really push the limits of the system graphically I can’t fathom how such a mediocre product was the end result of the development of a game based on a anime that I always considered pretty well done in terms of it’s animation. The detail given to each individual character is severely lacking, which is something that could have easily been more well done if the time needed had been put into it. The backgrounds as well are very underwhelming in terms of detail and effort. Their boring, somewhat repetitive, and don’t add any interesting atmosphere for when you are playing the game. The color schemes for the Gundams aren’t all that bad really, but bright colors and no detail with it still doesn’t equal a worthwhile product. I’m not sure what the developers were doing when they were working on Gundam Seed, because when compared to other fighters out on the GBA these graphics simply do not stack up well. I’ve said it before in reviews, but laziness in development really irks me, and that is what it all boils down to here: laziness. They had better material then most to work with (with an anime series to draw upon) and the results are extremely disappointing.

Overall Graphics Rating: 3/10

3. Sound

Gundam Seed doesn’t sound horrible, and in regards to a fighter it probably sounds just about as you would expect it. The background music is decent, but after awhile you will begin to get tired of it. In smaller doses though it does do the game a bit of justice where the other categories of Gundam Seed just fall short. The sound effects are pretty standard for a fighter, and considering that you’re fighting with giant mech robots it flows pretty smoothly in terms of the sounds needed for two gigantic robots kicking the crap out of each other. The sound could be better, but then again most games don’t hit the mark the way they should in terms of the audio aspects anyways. Nothing special here, but nothing too offensive either. Overall, it’s probably the one category that I can’t fault when I take a retrospective look at my experience with Gundam Seed.

Overall Sound Rating: 6/10

4. Controls

I’d like to say Gundam Seed does what a good fighter should do: provide a good control scheme that lends itself to an enjoyable fighting experience. I’d like to say that, and I’d also like to say I’m married to Julia Stiles. Sadly I can say neither. It’s a button masher, and not in a good way. Every now and again a button masher can still be enjoyable (I hark back to my review of DBZ: Supersonic Warriors). Here though I really don’t get the same enjoyment. The scheme itself seems easy, but in reality nothing comes off the way it should. You’ll try to pull off chain combos of some decent length and nothing will happen. In frustration you’ll resort to just hitting buttons and as a result you’ll pull some shorter combos and probably win the round (seriously, the challenge level of Gundam Seed is not set very high). In addition to this every Gundam has a special or “super” move if you will. Broken, I believe, is the popular term to use in reference to these moves. Horribly overpowered, I disdain them myself, but to those looking to breeze through Gundam Seed then you’ll found you’re solution. They’ll decimate your opponent in no
time at all.

One good part about Gundam Seed is the differences between each Gundam. After the poor graphics, and everything else, I was surprised to see that a decent amount of customization had been put into each Gundam. They all have their unique fighting styles, weapons, and moves that can add some intrigue to the game as your progress through it, and you can allocate certain stats to your Gundam for a highly unique Gundam all of your own…It also lends itself to what little replay value is to be found here, because you can play through the game a few times and have a different experience each time depending on what Gundam you choose to fight as. Still, the bad control scheme hurts Gundam Seed in the worst way possible. A fighter lives and dies by its ease of use and control scheme and Gundam Seed fails this test that it desperately needed to pass.

Overall Control Rating: 5/10

5. Balance

Well at least you won’t find yourself shutting Gundam Seed off for insane difficultly. While a challenging game is a good thing, a challenging game with a sub-par control scheme would be simply a disaster. Gundam Seed is not going to be setting your world on fire anytime soon in the way of a challenge, and you’ll pretty much breeze through it after a little bit of button mashing. You can honestly win some rounds by simply blocking the whole time and having more energy then your opponent when time runs out. It’s disappointing, because once again, if more effort had gone into this game a much better overall product could have come out of it. The only way to really experience a challenge here is to play two-player mode and challenge a human opponent. Then at least you’ll have to actually fight to win. None of the other modes (which I’ll get into a bit later)present any kind of worthwhile challenge either. Anyways, if you’re looking for a fighter that will really test your abilities then look elsewhere.

Overall Balance Rating: 4/10

6. Replayability

If you find yourself playing this game over and over again you may need to take up a new hobby. The replay value of Gundam Seed is, by far, the worst aspect of the game. While you would think that having very different characters, with secret characters to unlock, along with some other goodies would be enough to entice you into playing Gundam Seed; unfortunately, you would be dead wrong. Playing through the game time after time to unlock the best secrets and whatever else proves to be a tedious task that will quickly tire you out of Gundam Seed. Not to mention that once you get these secrets, you’ll need to be sure to keep your passwords written down, because that is the ONLY way you’ll be able to use them from here on out. I mean what the hell? Did we go back in time to 1990? Would it have been that damn hard to have the secret characters accessible after you unlock them? It’s really unforgivable in my eyes to make using your unlocked secrets so annoying, because I know I don’t feel like carrying around some pieces of paper with Gundam Seed passwords written down on them.

In terms of the other modes of the game, none of them will keep you coming back. Story Mode is just that, adhering, more of less, to the Gundam Seed plot line. The two player versus mode I already alluded too, and that is just as you would expect it to be, and it’s perhaps the only mode worth your time if you have a friend to play Gundam Seed with. Free Battle mode is pretty much the same as versus mode, except for the fact you play against a computer controlled opponent instead of a friend. Other modes include Survival Mode which, as is its namesake, pits you against Gundam after Gundam to see just how long you can last against their onslaught. In addition to this is two time based modes, one which gives you five minutes to see how many Gundams you can send to the scrap heat, and the other to see just how quickly you can dispose of one Gundam. What it all comes down to is that all of these modes are vastly underwhelming and the replay value here is next to nothing.

Overall Replayability Rating: 3/10

7. Originality

This is a game in a long line of Gundam fighting games. It doesn’t add anything particularly new, and it doesn’t particularly do anything better then any of those other games. What it is, is yet another sorry attempt at cashing in on an anime series that has enjoyed some success on the Cartoon Network. Nothing here is ground breaking, and in terms of fighters on the GBA while not being the absolute worst it still ranks in the lower echelon of the totem pole. Do yourself a favor and look elsewhere for your fighting game goodness, because Gundam Seed just won’t be enough for even the average fighter fan. It fails the key tests, and it only barely succeeds in the very categories I had some praise for it in.

Overall Originality Rating: 4/10

8. Appeal

Diehard Gundam fans are the only ones that need apply here. For those of you who love all things Gundam, and I know you’re out there, I think somehow you’ll manage to scrape a decent experience out of this game. Everyone else though will find themselves quickly tired of playing a sub-par fighter with little to appeal to the average gamer who is interested in the fighter genre. Multi-player is nice, but unless you have a friend around, and the necessary carts, cables, and GBA’s you will not be able to take advantage of it. Ultimately this game is only for the Gundam faithful. Any appeal to the typical gamer got lost along the way.

Overall Appeal Rating: 3/10

9. Addictiveness

Well, if you’ve been reading this review, this section more or less has written itself already. While not quite the worst fighter I have ever played, it certainly brings back bad memories of some of those fighters I had buried in the vault of bad games. Nothing in Gundam Seed makes you want to come back to this game after spending a minimal amount of time with it. Like I said before, this game just screams that it’s nothing more than a quick cash in on a mildly successful anime series. Unfortunately, as I covered in a past edition of From a Gamer’s Basement, this has become a trend in games based of anime. Gundam Seed just continues that unfortunate trend, and once again we are left asking what could have been. The potential for something special was there, but that’s all it is: potential. The actual product is no where near worthy of word addicting.

Overall Addictiveness Rating: 3/10

10. Miscellaneous

Nothing else can be said that I haven’t already covered about Gundam Seed: Battle Assault. It’s poorly done in nearly all aspects of game play, and fans of the GBA and fans of fighters should and do expect more than this in terms of the games they purchase. Hopefully, if any of you were potentially thinking of picking this up I’ve caught you just before you’ve wasted your hard earned money. While this isn’t as bad as Dragon Ball Z: Taiketsu (which is BY FAR the worst fighter I have ever played), it’s still pretty damn disappointing. Mediocre at best, Gundam Seed is doomed for obscurity.

Overall Miscellaneous Rating: 4/10

Story: 5/10
Graphics: 3/10
Sound: 6/10
Controls: 5/10
Balance: 4/10
Replayability: 3/10
Originality: 4/10
Appeal: 3/10
Addictiveness: 3/10
Miscellaneous: 4/10

Overall Score: 40/100