Mobile Suit Gundam: Side Stories is the Gundam game to get if you want to keep playing Gundam games for the foreseeable future. Packed with content, Side Stories does a nice job of celebrating the franchise’s 35th anniversary with a new collection of missions and a seemingly bottomless well of remade Side Story games.
Side Stories‘ main course, Missing Link, lets players choose from the Federation or Zeon and their respective Slave Wraith and Marchosias squad storylines. The Earth Federation Space Forces are faced with a critical shortage of skilled mobile suit pilots, forcing them to initiate a top-secret program called the Slave Wraiths. Travis Kirkland leads the special operations team, which uses experimental mobile suits and guerilla tactics in a series of suicide missions deep in Zeon-controlled territory.
Meanwhile, Zeon has put together a group of disgruntled mobile pilots known as Marchosias. The plot threads eventually begin to weave together, building toward a conspiracy that concerns both sides of the conflict.
Sorties are mostly straightforward and the controls are easy to pick up and master. Things start off kind of slow and plodding on both ends as you get the hang of things—which you can also do in a handy and brief tutorial—but it’s not long before missions throw more wrinkles your way and make things relatively hectic. The best moments in Missing Link have your small squad pinned down against virtually impossible odds, as faster and more experienced mobile suit pilots close in on your units and force you to switch up your tactics in step with the change of pace.
Missing Link isn’t the prettiest game, but it doesn’t really matter. At first I laughed at the pixelated billowing smoke that almost looked like mosaic censorship, but the action is addictive enough to knock that to the wayside pretty quickly. Importers take note, though, as there are a few missions with objectives that are just specific enough to warrant understanding a bit of Japanese. While you can blast through most stages, some will task you with, say, destroying all but one enemy mobile suit and then luring it to a new target area. It’s the kind of thing you’ll fail over and over again with a befuddled expression unless you know what’s going on.
While some will find it disappointing that they can’t level up their mobile suits throughout the main campaign, VR Missions with customizability features and places to dump earned credits more than make up for it. In fact, there’s so much content here that you’ll be playing for quite some time. Once you complete the Federation side of Missing Link a remake of one of the previous Side Story games, The Blue Destiny, unlocks. Finish the Zeon side and you’ll unlock another, Zeonic Front. There are also remakes of 0079: Rise from the Ashes; Space, to the End of a Flash (from Encounters in Space); Lost War Chronicles; and even 1995 Super Famicom (Super Nintendo) entry Mobile Suit Gundam: Cross Dimension 0079.
Mobile Suit Gundam: Side Stories is a great release for fans of Gundam. Maybe you’re not feeling the style of something like Dynasty Warriors Gundam: Reborn, or maybe you just want a more complete Gundam game collection. Either way, the odds of this coming out stateside are slim to none, so it’s a safe import bet and a collection worth digging through from start to finish.
Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
Developer: B.B. Studio
System(s): PlayStation 3
Thanks to Play-Asia.com for providing a PlayStation 3 copy of Mobile Suit Gundam: Side Stories for review