Mobile Suit Gundam: Journey to Jaburo
Based upon a well-known and very popular franchise, Mobile Suit Gundam: Journey to Jaburo is a game that will no doubt be adored by fans of the anime series, for no reason other than the fact it allows you to control the giant robots from the series' lore. As far as licensed games go, however, it's a decent effort that melds an enjoyable, if somewhat limited gameplay experience with an intriguing storyline, although many will be more than familiar with the latter.
The One Year War serves as the backdrop for this mech-based action game, dropping players in the middle of a galactic conflict, the likes of which the planet has never seen before. Amuro Ray, a civilian with no previous combat experience commandeers an experimental Gundam in an attempt to stop an attack on his home. Through a series of events he is eventually thrust onto the frontlines, and will in time become Earth's greatest champion.
Missions are laid out in a very linear fashion. Each is preceded by an animated cut-scene, after which you can read up on the mission objective and equip your Gundam with various armaments. The missions themselves are varied, helping to keep the gameplay from becoming repetitive and stale. You might find yourself in a wide open desert area, facing an onslaught of tanks and enemy mobile suits, while others will see you in a claustrophobic urban environment, littered with buildings and obstructions.
Players can engage the enemy in ranged and close combat using weapons such as the Hyper Hammer, a mace-like weapon, and the Hyper Bazooka. Despite possessing the ability to strafe, perform various sword attacks and even fly for limited periods, combat is usually a clumsy affair. Just keeping the enemy in plain sight is hard enough, and players will find the skill to manipulate both the camera and the robot at the same time an invaluable one. Granted, no one really expects a 60-ton robot to be very agile, but simply turning your Gundam can become a chore, especially in the urban areas where it's nearly impossible to move unhindered for more than a few seconds at a time. Thankfully, buildings can be destroyed, making for a more pleasurable, or at the very least, tolerable experience.
Viewed from a third-person perspective, the game suffers from a number of problems that seemingly plague the genre. Aiming at objects above and below can be an exercise in frustration, and unless vital to the success of the mission, will usually be ignored in lieu of ground-based threats. It's not all bad however, taking on, and destroying the waves of enemy units is very gratifying, as is besting a skillfully piloted Gundam -- usually one of the show's more predominant characters.
To its credit, the game does feature a host of unlockable extras, ranging from DVD-like trailers and cut-scenes to entirely new modes which allow you to align yourself with the Principality of Zeon, and fight from their perspective. The Gundams and various enemy units are fantastically detailed, but stick out like a sore thumb against the fog-laden backdrops and sub-standard textures. Clipping does occur throughout the title, but in all honesty, it's nothing terribly disconcerting. Slowdown rears its ugly head, but only in the most action-heavy scenarios.
The presentation is really where Mobile Suit Gundam: Journey to Jaburo shines. For instance, characters appear in the viewfinder when conversing with Amuro; just like in the cartoon series. The pace of the music keeps up with the onscreen action, speeding up and slowing down for the relevant moments. Some annoying problems aside, this is a title that will no doubt appeal to fans of the series and casual action fans alike. It's good, just not great. ~ Gavin Frankle, All Game Guide
Some nice special effects and decent animation are marred by low-quality textures and substandard environments. ~ Gavin Frankle, All Game Guide
Die-hard fans of the show may cringe at the character's dubbed voices, but like everything else in the sound department, serve their purpose well enough. ~ Gavin Frankle, All Game Guide
Blowing things up never really gets old. The frustrating control may be annoying, but the game is definitely enjoyable. ~ Gavin Frankle, All Game Guide
A number of missions, hidden modes, and the ability to go back and achieve better mission rankings will keep you playing this for some time. ~ Gavin Frankle, All Game Guide
Gameplay hints and tips are a welcome addition, but do not make up for the bare bones story description. Covers the basics well enough. ~ Gavin Frankle, All Game Guide