by James Alsup III
Gundam Side Story 0079: Rise from the Ashes is another in the series of the Gundam Side Stories. These games first appeared on the Sega Saturn, and did pretty well. How does the series do on the Dreamcast? I can give this game a resounding... eh. It wasn't great, but it didn't stink up the joint, either.
This one takes place in 0079, shortly after the Zeon forces dropped Side 7 on Australia. You play Master Pierce Rayer, leader of the White Dingos. Together with wingmen Leung Lee-Fai and Maximilian Berger, you travel to several hot spots around Australia, attempting to settle things down.
There were two things that really affected my enjoyment of the game. One will be addressed later, as it didn't bother me that much. The big problem with this game is that YOU CAN'T PILOT A GUNDAM! You're stuck in a crappy GM for the whole game. In my review of VFX-2, I give my two criteria for a game that is based off of a licensed product. So you don't have to go back, here they are again:
1) How well does the game convey the feeling of the series?
2) Do the game mechanics interfere with said feeling?
Mobile Suit Gundam is all about the Gundam. GMs are shown as being little more than cannon fodder. So why would I want to play a game driving cannon fodder? Why not change the game's name to " GM Side Story 0079..." It was a real let down that I wasn't able to pilot a Gundam in the game. Ah, well...
There's very little music. Most of this game's sound occurs in battle. Gundam Side Story 0079 has managed to perfectly duplicate all of the sounds of the series.
The GMs, Zakus, and other Federation and Zeon mobile suits are accurately reproduced. It was really cool to watch the Zaku pull out their axes. The edges had a menacing glow. The game's cut scenes are rendered in real-time. I liked that, because I hate it when a game uses these awesome looking CGI cut scenes, then switches back to the game, and the games graphics look like crap in comparison *cough* Final Fantasy VII *cough*.
The game looks and sounds great, but the control is horrible. The analog joystick moves the GM's head up, down, left, and right. The digital pad moves the GM forward, back, left, and right. And guess what? THEY'RE BOTH ON THE SAME SIDE OF THE CONTROLLER!!!! It's almost impossible to move side to side, track a target, and fire. That made the game more like piloting a tank than a sophisticated robot. Wait. Tanks can move their turrets while driving. What were the developers thinking? I wonder why Bandai didn't use the left and right buttons for this. I could get past level one, but levels 2 on up were extremely hard.
Part of the fun of playing a licensed game is being able to use the items that appear in the series. Yes, the GM does appear in the series, but it's a hunk of junk. Add to my disappointment that the game has sluggish controls, and you get a title I can neither endorse or denounce. If this were not a Gundam licensed game, it would've fared better. However, since it is, I can only give it....