My absolute favorite anime franchise has to be Mobile Suit Gundam. The original series and it’s sequel show the atrocities of war perfectly. In addition to launching the “real robot” genre of anime, time and time again they change things up by going back to the default “super robot” style of series like Mazinger Z. Because the franchise has been so successful, it’s no surprise that there have been countless video games based on the series involved in them. From perfect 2D fighting action in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Endless Duel and the Gundam Battle Assault series, to awesome hack n’ slash in their team up series Dynasty Warriors Gundam with Tecmo Koei, the Gundam franchise has had it’s share of awesome games. That said, the two games we will be discussing are Mobile Suit Gundam: Encounters in Space and Dynasty Warriors Gundam Reborn. For each of the five categories, a win is worth 1 point, and any push is worth ½ of a point.
Cast of Characters
Granted, DWGR was released eleven years later, so it figures that the roster would be larger. Encounters in Space had around 45 pilots, while DWGR has around 100 different playable pilots. So while you think DWGR would run away with this, you’d be surprised how close this one is to call.
DWGR had an amazing cast of playable characters, spanning from nearly every Gundam franchise. Nearly all of the characters from the Universal Century anime timeline are playable, in addition to a good bit from the side timelines, such as Wing, G, 00 and (ugh) SEED/SEED Destiny. Some series only have one or two characters devoted them to them, like the surprisingly dark Victory Gundam or the OVA series 0083 Stardust Memory. In terms of variety, there is a good amount to choose from. You would be hard pressed to find a roster as good as the one in DWGR. That said, it is lacking in some areas. There are a lot of filler characters I can’t imagine anyone ever using, and I think these spots could have been given to more deserving characters (such as Quatre and Wufei from Gundam Wing, Shiro Amada from the 08th MS Team, or Johnny Ridden and Shin Matsunaga of the Mobile Suit Variations mangas).
On the flipside, Encounters in Space concentrates solely on the UC timeline up until Gundam 0083. Sadly that means the cast of Zeta Gundam are not in the game (they would be put into the sequel to EiS, Gundam vs Zeta Gundam, however). But the mass amount of characters, including those featured in MSV manga series are featured. Both Ridden and Matsunaga are playable, and they are two of the most beloved pilots among the diehard fans. The game also featured a few bonus pilots, Domon and Master Asia make an appearance, in addition to Kira Yamato and Athrun Zala from SEED. But the thing that separates Encounters in Space from DWGR is the ability to create your own pilot. This was definitely an awesome perk that already made the roster of characters even better.
This one is really too close to call. DWGR has more series and way more pilots, but Encounters in Space has create-a-character and a good list from the only time line it features. I’m gonna have to call this one a push.
Mobile Suit Roster
This one isn’t even close. DWGR has nearly every suit you’d want to play as in a Gundam game, while EiS only has the Universal Century suits plus the six bonus ones (Tallgeese III, Zero Custom, God, Master, Strike and Aegis). Encounters in Space has a lot of the cool variant suits, but so does Reborn. However, even if you remove the fact that DWGR was released 11 years later and keep it to what series were both out in 2003, Reborn wins due to the fact it encompassed all of the Gundam franchise, rather than just the original series.
Result: Dynasty Warriors Gundam Reborn
This is yet another category that isn’t cut and dry. DWGR has very nice, easy to use controls. Everything is within a finger’s reach and doesn’t require any complex button presses. Your suit controls like you’d want it to, and the result is seamless and fluid. No complaints here.
Encounters in Space borrowed it’s control scheme from Zone of the Enders. It takes time to get used to. I feel like if the PS2 controller had more buttons it would be much, much better. But it’s also much more realistic, you lock onto targets and shoot them down, or hit the button to swoop in for a melee attack. The dodging is also very difficult, it’s a lot of the what I call “flippy shit”. Granted, I’d imagine that controlling a Gundam wouldn’t be as easy as it is in DWGR, and in terms of realism the Encounters in Space set-up definitely wins.
Dynasty Warriors Gundam Reborn has two story modes. One is the actual story mode which follows the series. The other is the ‘Ultimate Mode’, which has many little stories that use a mix of characters from every series. In previous DWG games they had a specially written story mode that used all of the characters. It’s a shame they couldn’t do the same in Reborn.
Encounters in Space had the story mode, but also included a mission mode for created pilots and a “Thoroughbred” mode which was made specifically for the game. The Thoroughbred mode would eventually become a side story with manga and a minor hit in it’s own right.
If this were a previous DWG game, like the first with it’s amazing story mode, it would get the edge. But because we are weighing Reborn against Encounters in Space, the edge has to go to the latter. Any time we get a well written mode for a game it is an absolute treat.
Result: Encounters in Space
This is what it all boils down to. Which game is inherently more “fun”. Encounters in Space is a shorter game, it can be completed in about a week or so. There is no grinding suits to enhance their abilities, which is nice. However, unlocking the pilots in the game is a pain in the ass. Everything is determined by “mission grade”, and if you don’t complete a mission fast enough, or get hit too much, you won’t unlock the pilot. The missions though, do not have any sort of fail objective other than dieing, which is nice. But it’s very frustrating and for me resulted in having to use a Gameshark to unlock everyone. That said, it’s a great game and even has a versus mode to fight against your friends. But Encounters in Space is very much a game you have to sit down and want to play, it’s not something I would want to play after a long day. It’s fun for sure, but it lacks a co-op mode which would have been great.
Dynasty Warriors Gundam Reborn is much longer. Obviously with most of the franchise in the game that would be the case. But a lot of it is busy work. Grinding to enhance your suits or max them is also frustrating, but less frustrating than having a mission grade determine whether or not you unlocked someone or something. But there are certain failure objectives which can be grating since the allied AI are completely stupid at times. DWGR has no versus mode, which is a shame because other Dynasty Warriors games included one. But it does have a co-op mode, and an online co-op mode, which is nothing short of fantastic. Being a hack and slash it’s easy to come home from work and unwind by bashing some mooks in. I think if Encounters in Space had a co-op mode it would be dead even in the fun department. That said, I give an ever so slight edge to Dynasty Warriors Gundam Reborn.
Result: Dynasty Warriors Gundam Reborn
I think both games are a great representative of the Gundam franchise, and do a good job balancing the realistic and “giant robot pew pew pew” elements that you’d expect from such a series. You can’t go wrong with either game, and I highly recommend that you pick up both. But if you had to get just one, I would recommend Dynasty Warriors Gundam Reborn. You’ll get a lot more play time out of it and experience the entirety of the series. That said, if you really like your games to be realistic and more suited to what captures the essence of being a Gundam Pilot is about, I’d have to recommend Encounters in Space. Between these two games and Gundam Battle Assault 2/Gundam Wing Endless Duel, you’ll be set for the time being with top notch Gundam games.
Winner: Dynasty Warriors Gundam Reborn 3-2
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