Review #1 by Ken
Gundam the Battle Master was a rather unique 2D fighting game focusing on the mobile suits from the world of Gundam - a highly acclaimed and well known sci-fi anime. Reviews for the game ranged from mediocre to excellent, due to the fact that it was either just another 2D fighting game with a robot theme, or that this was rather "fresh" for Gundam video games. If you are a fan of Gundam, and have played enough of 3D simulation/first perspective type mech games (considering that the import Mobile Suit Gundam 1.0 and ver 2.0 were not that great to me), then this is definitely a breath of fresh air.
Gundam the Battle Master 2 follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, using "sprite based animation" to make the robots become more lively. The game offers only 4 choices at the menu screen: story mode in which you choose one mobile suit and duke it out with selected CPU characters, vs mode, options (adjusting difficulty, time limit, controls, turning the vibration on or off [used only if you have a dual shock or the old Japanese analog vibrational control pad] ), and memory card.
While the basic concept of gameplay remains somewhat similar, the controls and battle system have changed. First of all, the buttons are allocated in this manner: jab and strong punch, and "jab" and strong kick. You can no longer press a button to fire your gun/beam rifle nor "light saber" or beam sword. In order to execute these moves, you have to perform a quarter circle forward motion + punch (i.e. Street Fighter fireball motion) for firing the mobile suit's gun/file, and a reverse half or quarter circle + punch button to execute the swing of a beam sword/saber. What is worse is that you can only use the sword while on the ground, and you have only 500 units of energy for your gun. Once you use up the energy, that's it! In addition, using the jab punch button to execute the gun firing will use up less energy, and hence less damage. The only buttons that have retained their functions are the punch + kick buttons which allow you to "avoid" enemy fire or cast a protective shield around you (only applies to certain mobile suits, eg ZZ Gundam), and the R1 or R2 buttons to thrust/boost. Oh yes, the thrust/boost capability is time limited. Once the boost meter fills up, you will have to wait until the meter goes back down before using it again!
In addition, each mobile suit is equipped with a super move and can only be executed a maximum of 3 times. This is performed with a double quarter circle forward (ie Street Fighter Super Fireball motion). Damage depends on the mobile suit, and some I feel are rather unbalanced in terms of power (although the rest may be compensated by other attributes, such as speed).
The game is not terribly much of a challenge to seasoned Gundam Battle Master players with Street Fighter experience in easy or normal mode in the first couple of battles against the CPU, but does gradually become harder. This game is definitely more challenging and sometimes frustrating than before. If you have a Japanese dual shock analog control pad, I highly recommend using it to play the game. When your mobile suit is damaged, the dual shock pad vibrates, and does so even more if your suit is destroyed. The game doesn't support the analog function, just the normal directional pad. Vibration is not essential to gameplay, but it makes things more exciting.
Selectable Mobile Suits:
1) Zeta Gundam (replaces the old & classic first RX-78 from Gundam 0079). However I would like to note that when I was playing a story mode game with Gundam GP02, the first mobile suit I battled against was RX-78, the first Gundam ever! I have no idea if this is accessible as a hidden character.
2) Zaku II
Most of the super moves are animated quite well, and some "wining" poses are just too cool and amusing (check out Zeta Gundam's winning pose, and AcGuy's !)
The verdict? If you really enjoyed the first Gundam Battle Master, and if you are a Gundam fan, you definitely owe it to yourself to own this amazing game. Some of you may not particular like the new battle system, but it does pose an interesting challenge (using everything in your arsenal to defeat the enemy, including arms and legs....not just your weapons). This game may even be more fun with 2 players, although I have yet to try this.