Players can inch the suit forward and use occasional jetpack blasts, but the gauge for using these boosts runs out very quickly, especially in the early going. This problem virtually ruins space battles, as the suit won’t even move forward normally. Holding the stick up doesn’t seem to move the suit like it does in the land and water battles. Know anything about physics? Thanks to not having friction or gravity, once something gets pushed in one direction in space, it will continue moving that direction at that same speed indefinitely, until it comes in contact with something or gets within range of a gravitational pull. Despite this, once a mech’s boost ends in Gundam Seed Battle Destiny, the suit comes to a dead stop. The hell? That…doesn’t happen. That can’t happen. That’s what makes space space to begin with. The show and anime have so much respect for space and the way it works, yet as soon as a suit’s boost turns off, it slows to a halt. It doesn’t make sense in the game’s universe or the real one. Mechs can be upgraded by spending points as the game goes on, but they can never put more than a small dent in the boost problem.
The controls could also benefit from a quick-180 button, as the art of turning around in most mobile suits is painfully slow. It’s understandable for it to not be included right away, or to not be on all suits in order to emphasize their differences in quality, but for the sake of playability, something should have been modified.
At least the battles on Earth are great, fast-paced fun. The only hiccups on Earth are that the camera and targeting are sometimes at odds with each other (both using the right stick) and close combat is limited to simple slashes and a token stab. It’s quite exhilarating to work your way in, dodging and using ranged combat attacks, get in close, then lunge in with a sword strike. Take that, Nichol. I killed you and now your parents are gonna cry about it. No regrets.
The music and sound effects are perfectly done, exactly what a fan would want and expect. Studio Artdink really deserves a nod for making this game look and sound just like you’re really “playing the show.” The move to Vita really gives this game a graphical edge over its predecessors, as it’s easily the best-looking of the Gundam Battle games. Being the product of a high-profile anime series, character portraits are as good as expected.
A stunningly huge variety of mobile suits will greet all comers, and winning battles allows one to improve a given suit’s attributes. Every single suit can be upgraded in some way. It’s a good inclusion, but not nearly as deep as it could have been. Those gamers looking for a game in which a player can get all sorts of new parts to really customize a mech might want to look to other giant robot action games. In this one, it’s more about improving abilities and parts already on a machine rather than adding to one.
Seed fans will appreciate that the game closely follows the stories of the Gundam Seed universe; it’s exciting and satisfying to play through those monumental battles. Some changes were made to the order of events and impact of others, but on the whole, it’s as similar as it ought to be. A small detriment might be that there are no story scenes outside of the combat stages. Any dialogue between characters is done on the battlefield or not at all. While the battle scenes were of great importance in Gundam Seed, it had just as much plot thickening and story progression outside of combat situations. New fans — or heck, even fans who have only been through the saga once — might have a hard time remembering all that had gone on up to a certain point. While some games can get bogged down by a copious amount of lengthy cutscenes, Gundam Seed Battle Destiny is a game on the other end of the spectrum; a small handful of dialogue scenes in the Story Mode could have gone a long way.
Overall, Gundam Seed Battle Destiny is a decent robot action game, recommended for Seed fans and for anyone who enjoyed other romps in its universe. Gundam lovers will look past its problems, but said problems are likely deal breakers for anyone outside of the franchise fanbase.
(Post-review notes for importers. Read the PSLS guide to importing here.)
Despite being a Japan-only release, interested importers need not worry very much about this one. If you don’t understand any Japanese at all, you’ll need to use some trial and error on the menus, but should be OK otherwise. Life gauges and other important info is displayed in English. If you can read katakana, it’ll be all the easier, as you can get by with only some slight guesswork here and there. The menus are very visual and include occasional English, so it should be easy to figure out what’s what even if you can’t read it. Spoken dialogue is all in Japanese, but if you already know the story, you should be alright there; then again, if you’re wanting to relive some of the story in a way that you understand, that could be a factor for you.
Multiplayer might also prove tricky for those outside of Japan, as local will be an impossibility if you can’t convince a friend to import a copy of this along with you. Online, you’ll always be trying to connect to a Japanese server, and as I am in Japan, I can’t testify as to what kind of latency you’re looking at, or what difficulties you’ll have finding other players when you’re in a time zone so far away from the majority of the players. I can tell you that I didn’t have any trouble with lag, though other players can still be few in number at certain times. This might be partially attributed to the small install base of the Vita.