I remember being curious about the innumerable Mobile Suit Gundam games that were advertised in the back of magazines like EGM and Gamefan. They seemed like the coolest games in the world but sadly up until the Dreamcast they never left Japan. My curiosity would later turn to horror when I finally played those games and realized that the majority were all terrible. It’s a mystery how Bandai consistently put out trash considering the strength of the license. How hard could it be to make a decent game about giant robots? While the license has had its bright spots (Super Robot Wars & Gundam Vs.) its lows are really low. SD Kidou Senshi Gundam – V Sakusen Shidou is one of those low points as it is clearly a game released early in the Super Famicom’s life to capitalize on early buyer’s remorse and is simply not good.
Despite how powerful their cannons and beam sabers are in the show your primary weapons here are actually pretty weak. The standard shot lacks power and doesn’t even travel the length of the screen while your beam sword can only be used in melee range. Luckily your Gundam is heavily armed with a variety of weapons all available from the start. There are four sub weapons; a laser rifle, shield, a multi-directional ball and chain, and a bazooka. Using a weapons initiates a brief cooldown as each item recharges to prevent spamming. Which I guess is a tacit admission that your basic weapons suck.
Technically this is primarily a platformer but of the auto scrolling variety. Even calling it a platformer is a stretch as there is very little of it in the game. This is more along the lines of an action game like Contra. Except really slow and plodding. Games with auto scrolling levels are not necessarily my cup of tea but I’ve played my share of great ones like Star Fox and any number of other shooters. But a side scrolling action game built entirely around that concept is a different beast, one that would have to be exceptionally well done to hold my attention. Unfortunately SD Kidou Senshi Gundam is not that game.
What ultimately kills the game aside from its simplicity is the pacing. I don’t mind auto scrolling games however much like Blaze-On SD Kidou Senshi Gundam is just so boring. There are long gaps between enemies with some stages being incredibly short. Most enemies simply run in a straight line or perform their lone attack before moving on. On top of that there is very little enemy variety; there are a total of six or seven enemies altogether which gets repetitive fast. Most of these faults could be forgiven if the game had interesting level design or wasn’t so straightforward. There is no excitement to be found in the game. Well that’s an exaggeration, the aggressive bosses will get your pulse pounding. But that’s more because these fights are incredibly cheap rather than exhilarating.
Reaching the end of the game is a tall order as credits are limited. Despite the slow and plodding pace of the game this is actually pretty difficult. But that is due to the fact that the enemies might as well be the flash in terms of their movement compared to how slow you are. Your main cannon is weak and despite the laser being pretty powerful it lasts a brief period before going on cooldown. The game is incredibly stingy with life restoring power-ups and in a fucked up twist you can actually shoot the damn thing down! It’s certainly manageable with practice but when the game is this boring why would you even bother?
Super deformed art isn’t my cup of tea but after seeing what Banpresto did with the Great Battle series it grew on me. As a 1992 release this cannot even compare to the Last Fighter Twin, a game with similar issues. The production seem incredibly lazy and barely passable as a 16-bit game outside of its large sprites. Add a completely forgettable soundtrack on top and the whole production screams mediocre.
I wish I could say SD Kidou Senshi Gundam – V Sakusen Shidou had some redeeming qualities but then I would be lying. There is a long history of bad Gundam games and sadly this is another one to toss on the pile. Save your money for something else.