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SD Gundam: Dimension War Reviewed by Ferry Groenendijk on . Rating: 64%
SD Gundam: Dimension War
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SD Gundam: Dimension War SD Gundam: Dimension War
  • Review Score:

  • B-
Before playing this game, I watched the entire Gundam Wing series on TV. Featuring awesome mech action and political driven plots, it's one of the most entertaining anime series. So far games based on a series can only dream about translating the look and feel from the big screen. I suggest you watch some Gundam before you play to whet your appetite.

Turn-based strategy is what this Virtual Boy game is all about. You select and move your units across the field with a cursor. The objective is to defeat your computerized opponent. You do this by strategically moving in and attacking the enemy units on a space map (which get bigger as you progress). When you're moving your units, the field will be displayed as a checkered map in which you can move back, forward, up and down. To confirm a move with one of your Gundams or Spaceships, the computer will ask "Are you OK?" Which seems friendly, until you realize the game means either "Are you SURE?" or "Are you CRAZY?" But I digress...

What surprises me about the game is that aside from the storyline (at the start and in between missions), all the screen text is in English. As the game goes on a fair timed screensaver, it even states: "Auto pause - 20 minutes have passed since you started the game - Take a rest for a while". This strikes me as kind of odd considering the game was only released in Japan (and based on a Japanese series). You can choose from the following options by pressing Select, use them anytime: Turn end, Save game, Exit. After you finish all your turns (one for each unit per round), the computer will make its move. Selecting a unit on the field will display not only it's attack options, but also it's specs like level and size. While browsing the map, you can automatically select your nearest unit by pressing A. When you're done playing, you can save and continue later on in one of the three save files. Or start a new game again to improve your moves.

In the background there's always something to see, whether it's a space colony where millions live, reminding you of who you're fighting to liberate (I assume). A mining facility or a massive armada. Or simply a (flat) moon or mars planet. Stars, asteroids, and space debris a plenty too.

A few bits are rendered in full 3D in-game -- starting with the title screen - but, even more exciting than that, all the units on the multi-dimensional playfield are in 3D. (Too bad they don't rotate or animate while you're strategically moving them around.) In general, though, you'll find cardboard cutouts ruling the landscapes and action scenes (army units are suddenly flat here). So you'll really have to be familiar with the TV series' mobile suits and other surrounding models, to know what you're actually seeing.

Even the Virtual Boy's boxes are having some troubles with the high pitched background tune, which sadly is the same tune throughout the game's first 5 level-playfields. It's actually not that bad when you're playing, but now that I'm typing this I do notice it's very repetitive. In level 6 & 7 the new background tunes turn up, but it's torture getting there. In the action sequences where you're shooting at (or dog fighting) with enemy mobile suits or spaceships there are different tunes however. Those few (three I reckon) other music tunes are exciting and give a real "action!" feel. Sound effects are around in the forms of appropriate selecting, moving, shooting, slashing, and explosions that are followed by a defeat or victory tune.

What's odd in the game-speed department is that in the later levels, when you move a unit on the map there are a couple of other units onscreen along with some objects blocking the unit you're moving. Then the background music will actually slow down a notch. I vividly remember my projectile crazy battle with Alpha-Azieru CPU, there was too much action on the screen for the engine to handle, so half the battle ended up being fought in slow-motion. It really ended up being one of slowmo-before-you-die moments for my older model Gundam. I don't know what's up with that though, but it might have something to do with the product being rushed to meet the Christmas '95 launch.

Despite the not-too-high difficulty level, the game isn't easy. There is a sharp learning curve in getting used to using ALL the Virtual Boy's controls for a welcome change. And you'll have to marginally adapt your attack strategies to the many different kinds of enemy units, that you'll face in this three dimensional war zone. If you're going for the straight forward frontal attacks time after time, then you're probably not going to have a lot of fun here. You need to think in the Gundam series universe and try different tactics, that way you'll have more of a challenge and the game won't come off looking easy. Even though there are plenty of mobile suits to play with, you can't help but miss a 2-player space battle VS-mode.
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