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Another weak attempt by Bandai to cash in on a popular TV show
Author: B. Hodges | Date: 2008/12/11 | Rating: 3/10


Introduction

SD Gundam: Dimension War was released only in Japan in December of 1995. It will work on an American Virtual Boy without any modifications. All menus are in English, but all other text is in Japanese.


Gameplay - 2/10

SD Gundam: Dimension War is a turn-based strategy game. The goal is simple, destroy all of the enemy units. At the beginning of each battle, your units are randomly placed on the map screen, a 3-dimensional 16 x 16 x 3 grid. There are only two types of units in the game: ships and mobile suits. During each turn, you can give each unit a command: they can move, attack, lie in ambush, or launch a long range indirect attack. The only real problem so far is that there is really no strategy involved, all you need to do to win is attack, attack, attack!

Combat is where this game truly suffers. When you launch an indirect attack, the CPU does everything, you just sit back and watch while your unit scatters some shots while the enemy tries to dodge. Any direct attacks that involve ships are also spectator events. The only time you are in control of the action is when both units involved are mobile suits. These battles consist of two phases. During the approach phase, all you need to do is fire on your opponent by pressing any direction on the right control pad, they rarely return fire! This phase lasts for exactly 10 seconds (there's a timer). After you get close, you have 49 seconds to destroy the enemy. There's absolutely no skill involved here, you just fire as fast as you can while trying to catch your wildly dodging opponent. The battle ends when one of your life meters reaches zero or the timer expires.

After you have finished giving your units commands, your turn ends and you wait for the opponent to move. Then it's your turn again. This continues until one side destroys the other. If you win, you are treated to a dull cutscene (just a picture of a ship and Japanese text), then you move on to the next battle. This all gets old very quickly.


Play Control - 3/10

The controls in this game are terrible! First the map screen. While on the map screen you use the left control pad to move the cursor left, right, forwards, and backwards and use the L and R buttons to move up and down. When the cursor is over one of your units, you press A to open the command menu. Pressing A while not over a unit sends you to one automatically. This isn't as good an idea as it sounds, you have to have the cursor PRECISELY on a unit to select it, if not you will be taken to another unit instead. Very frustrating!

Combat is even worse! The fact that the CPU does most of the combat for you might actually be a blessing in disguise. Combat is just a button mashing mess! You attack by pressing a direction on the right control pad. Pressing down, swings your sword, the rest depends on your unit and of course the only way of knowing which attacks you are equipped with is by trying them out! There is a significant delay from the time you press the button to the time you actually fire, this is very frustrating because your opponent is rapidly flying all over the screen! You move around with the left control pad and can move towards and away from the background using the R and L buttons. Did you catch that? The buttons that you use on the map screen to move up and down are now used to go forwards and backwards! Talk about inconsistency.


Graphics - 7/10

The one bright spot of the game. There are some nice 3D effects, particularly the starfields, and the map screen looks nice as well. The problem is the character models, I know they are SUPPOSED to be deformed, but they still are a bit of a turn off. The cinemas in the cutscenes are very bland and they all look the same.


Sound - 5/10

Like nearly every other Virtual Boy game, this game's sound could have used some more work. For the most part, the music is actually quite good. The map screen score is upbeat and enjoyable though the percussion is a bit scratchy. The combat music also fits well with the action. The problem is the sound effects, they are very generic and sound like they came from a Gameboy game. Why does a laser shot sound like a pistol?


Playing Time/Replay Value - 2/10

Don't plan on playing this one much, a better name for the game would have been SD Gundam: REPETITION War, all of the battles, combat, and even the cutscenes look the exact same. The CPU controls way too much of the combat, it's more like watching a TV show than playing a game and when you are in control, it's more frenetic than fun. The game does have a backup battery, so it is possible to take a break from the monotony and come back later, but I doubt most gamers will even bother.


Buy, Borrow, or Avoid? - Avoid

This game is of the same quality as most other games based on a license (which isn't a good thing). And of course, like most of the Virtual Boy games that were only released in Japan, it is very hard to find and expensive. SD Gundam: Dimension War is another one you should leave to the hardcore collectors.


Overall Score - 3/10

Fans of turn-based strategy games are basically out of luck when it comes to the Virtual Boy; this was the only game in the genre released for the system. No actual strategy is needed, just attack, attack, attack. And this ends up being very weak as well, for 75% of the combat you are just a spectator, and the rest consists of just mindless button mashing. This is one import that should definitely be left overseas.