I’ve long been fascinated with battling robots, most likely because of a childhood obsession with Hasbro’s Transformers. This affection has stayed with me over the years and prior to this review, the game which had best served my robotic destruction was probably Custom Robo Arena on the Gameboy Advance nearly ten years ago. When Play-Asia sent over the latest Gundam Breaker title for us to review I had to see what all the fuss was about.
The story behind Gundam Breaker 3 is very simple. You’ve recently moved to a new town and the local shopping precinct is in danger of being closed down. Being a highly proficient model Gunpla fighter, it falls to you to save the day as you find yourself battling alongside your new friends, and creating more excitement – leading to more people visiting to see your progress.
At its core, Gundam Breaker 3 is a third person shooter/brawler with gameplay heavily focused on combat. Playing very similarly to Koei Tecmo’s Warriors titles (any of them) you will find yourself mashing many of the face buttons repeatedly in order to defeat your enemies, most notably the square button. Normally this would be a huge turn off for me, not only for the sake of my precious Vita’s lifespan, but because these kind of games usually annoy me due to the highly repetitive nature. Somehow, Gundam Breaker 3 is different…
After setting up your Gunpla for the first time you will start your first mission, and very quickly you’ll be in the thick of the action. The objectives for all missions are essentially the same – defeat all of the enemies before moving on to the next area – but there are often different objectives such as defeating the enemies shield (or defending your own) among others, and each mission can vary in length from around ten to twenty minutes, which is perfect for pick up and play sessions. This set up is present for the course of five different chapters which get more intense as you progress.
Successfully destroying your robotic foes will leave many of their components scattered for you to salvage and cannibalise into new equipment for yourself and therein lies the biggest draw for the game and what sets it apart from a monotonous Warriors game: Customisation.
Every part you collect can be merged with others and can create many different pieces in the process, and the level of customisation here is pretty impressive. The more you play, the more you’ll gather and the higher level your Gunpla will become – with the variety and sheer number of parts available allowing you to create your perfect machine.
From a presentation viewpoint, Gundam Breaker 3 is a mixed bag. Whilst you won’t necessarily notice the deficiencies of the visuals whilst playing – you’ll be too busy blowing up other robots for a start – the screens will show you some pretty bland textures. Whilst some of the environments you’ll encounter look nice enough, some are very rough around the edges and with the sheer amount going on at times you’ll notice some frame drops and slowdown at times – although since the release a patch has improved this a little. It does have to be said that in game, the character models are pretty well done and look good in action, perfectly capturing that plastic/custom toy feel.
The game’s audio is in Japanese, as you’d expect from an Asian import, but it does have a full English written translation, which greatly improves the game’s accessibility to English-speaking importers. The music suits the game well and the sound effects are pretty spot-on, with the twang and smash of your encounters incredibly satisfying on the ears.
Alongside the game’s campaign mode, you have a choice of online and ad-hoc multiplayer as well as the Arena. I wasn’t able to test out the ad-hoc, and despite many attempts, I couldn’t find any multiplayer lobbies so I cannot describe anything about that. I can tell you about the arena mode, though, which sees you downloading other creations from players (or uploading your own) and facing off against them. As well as being a great source of inspiration for you to develop your own Gunpla, it’s also a great way to access more parts.
Bandai Namco’s Gundam Breaker series seldom sees a release outside of its native Japan and so far, Western plans for Gundam Breaker 3 seem to not be forthcoming. I’ve always been hesitant to import a Gundam Breaker title because I didn’t know if I’d enjoy it enough to justify the cost. Having played Gundam Breaker 3, I cannot recommend it enough for those that are in a similar position.