I was always quiet a fan of Japanese stuff not only games but also anime, the very first Japanese animation shows I saw were thanks to my dad and at the time I didn't have a clue what anime even was. As a young kid I loved transformers and having basically watched everything there was transformer wise my dad started to try to find something else to occupy me, I remember he found this video rental place in one of the shopping centres not too far from us and they rented these cassettes called Force Five, eventually when the shop was starting to go out of business he brought me a whole bunch of them. Force Five was basically 5 different shows 4 of which were focused around the idea of giant robots, robots with cool sounding names like Grandizer, Guyking and the StarAvenger. This started a love in me of giant robots which did lead to me buying certain games because of it but often when it came to imports I was worried about them having text in which would stop me enjoying them. It wasn't like it is nowadays when you can just jump online and put the name of a game in to a search engine and look for the answer to questions such as ''Do I need to be able to read Japanese to play this?'' You also couldn't get a Japanese cartridge of ebay for a couple of pounds like you can now.
The risk of there being a language barrier issue
was the reason why I never tried to get my hands on SD Gundam V Sakusen Shidou, I had heard of Gundam but I wasn't prepared to throw down a load of cash on the chance the game would be manageable but in the case of this game language its not really much of an issue at all. You see how big an issue language is depends on the type of game, in an RPG it is pretty crucial but in other genres like fighters, shooters and sports titles as long as your OK with missing some of the story or finer details and just enjoying the game play its not really much of an issue at all. So what kind of game is this? Well basically the game on first appearances is sort of a cross between something like R-type
and Cybernator with cute chibi Gundam based graphics. According to my research the game was developed by TOSE who I have mentioned before (they are a company who have worked on quite a few games but basically remain in the shadows by choice) and published by Bandai (now apart of Bandai-Namco) and was released in Japan in 1992.
The first thing to point out is that a lot of how you feel about this game will come down to a couple of things one of which is how you feel about the whole chibi style itself. Do you like seeing cute pudgy little style characters? Do you mind your death dealing mech being a cute pudgy little mech whose eyes pop out when he is hit? If you don't like this then it will put a serious dampener on how you feel about this game. I need to talk about the games music. At times even though your out there dealing death the music on some levels can be so unbelievably upbeat and happy but then there are actually some quiet tense and menacing bits of music here and there. I have to admit I am a big fan of the music in this game, the tune in the third stage is absolutely great even if it does make me think more of a horror film than mechs. One issue though some of the music ends up being reused so you'll hear some pieces multiple times on your way towards finishing the game but its not to bad when you think how limited some other games are in this department.
OK so back to how you feel about this game depending on certain things well one of them is the fact that for a game that looks so childlike it is actually as tough as nails. If you see cute screenshots and think your in for a walk in the park then you will soon find that you were unbelievably wrong. I personally don't think it ruins the game but I can see why it would annoy some people, regular enemy mechs the cannon fodder so to speak can actually take a decent amount of shots from your starting weapon and are more than capable of hurting you, as for the bosses well they are initially hard but its all pattern based, if you've put down the robots in megaman or bosses in the castlevania games then you will soon notice that the enemies here have a similar sort of thing going on. One for example will stay away from you and fire a certain pattern of rockets before trying to then get in close with an energy sword, once your used to this its not too hard to manovour your way into the gaps in the pattern and start dealing some real damage to him. OK so on to the weapons you start off able to use your sword and shoot little round bullets that don't do a lot of damage but you gain the ability to use a laser gun which is a lot more powerful, a shield to block a sort of rocket cannon and an extend able mace weapon. The shield blocks which can be very helpful and the other weapons do higher damage than your starting weapons, they are all pretty fun to use and you select which one you need from a bar at the bottom of the screen. In all honesty I am not sure if its just time or your actions that fill the bar up but the weapons only seem to last for a bit so its a case of using them then waiting for the bar to build again, so do you want an early choice now like the laser or do you want to wait for the bar to build up more?
As for faults well I think the game controls well but the computer controlled robots seem to be just a little too quick for my liking its like they know where you are and give you very little chance to get away with out taking some damage from them. On top of this you could say that the game is a little repetitive basically offering the same kind of game play from start to finish and if your a skilled player it wont take you that long to finish it at all, you can play it with a friend which I think helps but if you finish it or turn it off will depend greatly on what you think about this kind of game and if you have any love for the source material and its style. I would give the game a 6 out of 10 but if you cant stand either the Chibi style or the challenge or you find it hard to deal with repetition then I would warn you to stay clear. This game only came out in Japan so if you want to try it then your going to have to have either a converter, a modified system or hardware from that region. On the plus side the game only cost me £3 although I did have to dig through a lot of Gundam listings as there were a whole bunch of Gundam games a lot of which I have been led to believe have a lot bigger language barrier so if you choose to do so then order with care.