Gundam 2D Fighting Games
Gundam: The Battle Master was the first Gundam fighting game to leap into the 32-bit world. Like most Gundam games, it focuses on the Universal Century franchises (Gundam, Zeta Gundam, ZZ Gundam, and the various movies.) The engine is partially based on Endless Duel, but Battle Master attempts to be a much more technical game. The complex command moves have been ditched for a greater emphasis on timing attacks, requiring you to look for openings in your enemy's defense to land a successful strike.
The price of this more technical approach is speed - Battle Master is very sluggish compared to the lightning fast action of Endless Duel. In turn, this makes the mechs feel much more realistic. The weight distribution and the dramatically increased collision shock makes a lot more sense than in the previous fighting games, where the Gundams felt as light as air. There are also other elements to add to the realism, like armor parts that break and shatter when struck repeatedly. Also, instead of a traditional health bar, the mobile suits have a temperature gauge - when their temperature reaches a certain level (from taking damage), the mobile suit overheats.
One thing that can't be stressed enough is how amazing this game looks. It's by far one of the best-looking 2D fighting games on the PlayStation. In most 2D fighters, the fighters are animated with unique frames for every motion. In Battle Assault, each mech is comprised of multiple body parts which animate independently from one another, similar to many of the bosses in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. This allows for some extremely smooth animation and circumvents the RAM problem that usually effects 2D fighters for the PlayStation. All of the fighters are huge, much larger than the characters from your average fighter. Some of the bosses, like the Big Zam, don't even fit entirely on the screen. It's hard to control these, naturally, but it does look pretty cool.
It should be noted that the characters for The Battle Master games are completely original, and do not factor into any of the anime or manga storylines.
A government soldier, fighting for the safety of Earth. He is your typical hero, a noble and fearless knight. His mobile suit is a Gundam in the first game, and Z Gundam (pictured here) in the second.
This cutey is an orphan, who probably lost her family because of war. She lives with other orphan kids, who treat her like a mother (despite the fact that she's only 14 years old.) Her mobile suit is Full Armor ZZ Gundam.
This guy is an ex-serviceman. He looks harmless, but he's pretty devious. Perhaps he was hired by government or the opposition as an agent. Also he is a father of the main antagoist, Maria Nichols. His mobile suit is a Zaku II, pictured here. Also there is a secret MS, Red Zaku IIS, piloted by Nichols as well.
A blonde MS pilot. She is an heiress of Aiphath family. They own a mobile suit business, and Gloria, the protagonist in the sequel, works for their company. Her mobile suit is The-O.
He is a government security android, built to protect government property from intruders. His mobile suit is Q-Mantha. Heavy, slow and furious.
This sexy girl is actually a mobile suit hunter, a band of pilots who fights with their mobile suits, and take their enemies' mechs as a trophy. They work for no one, and fight solely for their own interests. Her mobile suit is agile Hygog. Small and fast.
He is a noble fighter, who lives his life in order to hone his fighting skills. In other words, he's like Street Fighter's Ryu, but in a more comical way. He is a parody of the Ryu-type heroes of many fighting games. He pilots a Nu-Gundam in the first game and Hamma-Hamma (pictured) in the second.
An Africian-American, he is, like Carol, a mobile suit hunter. He has an exuberant personality, not unlike SNK's Duck King. He pilots Sazabi, an all-around good mobile suit.
Largo is a farmer, who chose a mobie suit hunting as his hobby. His mobile suit, Gundam GP02A, is a real monster. That large shield and a similarly large bazooka might tell you something.
This guy is a real freak. He looks like mobile suit maniac, and works for the bad guys. He pilots Ziong / Zeong, a mech which has no legs, so it kicks with its thrusters.
This bald cutthroat is the first boss in both games. He is a mercenary, and works for the antagonists. His mobile suit is Bygzam / Big Zam, a behemoth among the others. But don't be confused with its size - Bygzam is rather slow and stupid.
Stein is a moonbase commander, a man behind the opposition. He looks like some nineteenth century general, and may have German blood in his veins. He pilots Neue Ziel, a really big floating fortress mobile suit, which is a real headache.
Overall, Battle Master is just a bit too sluggish to best its Super Famicom predecessor. This installment also suffers from a fairly small character roster, which has been fixed with its sequels.
The first Battle Master was fairly successful, so naturally, a sequel was made. The sequel is essentially the same as its predecessor, with a few refinements and quite a few new mobile suits to play as. Certain elements were added to increase realism, like ammo for special weapons, while other more cumbersome elements from the first game, like the temperature gauge, were removed (in this case, replaced with a traditional health gauge). The game also limits how much you can fly, whereas in the first Battle Master, you could fly as much as you wanted. The cast of characters here is identical to its predecessor, except that there are new characters for the new suits.
This guy is a government soldier. He looks like a SEAL, and his mobile suit, Acguy, is built specially for underwater missions. It's a small and very very agile fighter.
She is one of the enemy commanders sent to the earth. She pilots Qubeley, a freakishly designed mobile suit.
After Stein was killed in the first game, Symeon takes his place of moon base commander in The Battle Master 2. He is the new leader of the opposition, and pilots the good old Neue Ziel.
Gloria is the protagonist in the second game. She works for the Aiphath company, and works as a mobile suit hunter. One day she meets Pixie, an orphan, whom she takes care of. She can pilot almost every suit in the second game in the story mode. In Versus mode, she pilots Ball, a secret MS, which can be unlocked by completing the game with every other mobile suit.
Pixie is an orphan, unaware of his true identity. He suffers from amnesia, and has since become friends with Gloria. I don't want to spoil who he really is, but he pilots Hydra Gundam at the end of the second game. The Hydra Gundam is a really cheap mobile suit - fast, powerful, and supplied with an unvulnerable shield. It also has a SNK-esque Super Combo that can kick your ass. Beware!
The Story Mode puts you in the shoes of Gloria. You can pick your mech, and you fight against the rest of the cast members, exchanging bits of dialogue.
When the Cartoon Network began airing the Gundam Wing anime in the USA, Bandai decided to localize The Battle Master 2 for English audiences. However, perhaps feeling that the characters would alienate the burgeoing Gundam audience, they replaced the entire cast with characters from various Gundam series. A majority of these are from Z Gundam, in addition to Char (piloting the Sazabi and Zeong) and Akahana (piloting the Acguy) from the original Mobile Suit Gundam. Additionally, Heero Yuy was turned into the main character in the place of Gloria. The story mode dialogue has been changed to suit this. The Hamma Hamma suit was removed and replaced with the Wing Gundam, which is piloted by Heero in Versus mode. The Wing Gundam technically isn't a brand new mech, as it controls just like the Z Gundam from the other
Mikhail, from Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket, is a burly Russian mobile suit pilot employed by the Principality of Zeon. In Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket, Mikhail is part of a group of pilots sent to Side-6 to find and steal/destroy the federation's newest mobile suit, the Gundam RX-78NT1 "Alex". He is notable for being, along with his teammates, one of the few sympathetic characters amongst the Zeon ranks.
Anavel Gato, from Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory, was once known as the "The Nightmare of Solomon". Sadly, even his great skills could not win the One Year War. After the war, Gato felt lost, until he joined the scattered remnants of Zeon banded together and began a highly complex operation known as "Stardust". This involved stealing the Federation's new nuclear-equipped Gundam. He pilots the GPO2A here.
Scirocco, from Zeta Gundam, is a very shady individual whose true intentions are veiled in mystery. On the surface, he is a mobile suit developer, but he seems to have much more up his sleeve. He eventually leads a coup to take over the corrupt Titans (the branch of the Earth Federation military which controls the Earth Sphere after Operation Stardust). Scirocco is very much the Kefka of the Gundam franchise, treacherous and partially insane. Here, he pilots The-O.
Kamille Bidan (Kamiru)
Kamille, from Zeta Gundam is the antithesis of his predecessor, Amuro. He is angsty, brooding, emotional, and discontent with his life in the colonies. One day, he has a chance encounter with Char Aznable (who goes by the name Quattro Bajeena in Zeta Gundam) who is attempting to steal some of the Gundam Mk-II units from the Titans. Kamille decides to join Char and become his disciple of sorts.
Judau, from Gundam ZZ, is your typical Gundam hero. A wide-eyed, enthusiastic youth who is slowly twisted by the atrocities of war. He is much more like Amuro than his brooding predecessor, Kamille. Judau first gets involved with the events surrounding the Gundam saga when he attempts to steal the Zeta Gundam.
Denim is one of the two pilots who discover the activated RX-78 Gundam in the first episode of Mobile Suit Gundam. Denim has the displeasure of being the first person ever to be killed by a Gundam, piloted by an inexperienced rookie no less. In spite of his failure, Denim is still often used as a character in Gundam video games.
Puru-Two, from Gundam ZZ, is a clone of Elpeo Puru, a sweet, innocent girl who becomes obsessed with Judau. Like her original, Puru-Two is one of many characters who, by ZZ's time period, is suspected of being a NewType. As such, Puru-Two's abilities are enhanced so that she can be a better fighter. This allows her to pilot the monstrous Psycho Gundam, and ironically leads her to killing the original Puru.
Haman Karn (from Zeta Gundam, but appears briefly in the chronologically earlier 0083) is the last worthy heir to the Zeon Empire. In Zeta Gundam, she heads Axis Zeon, a group of exiled members from the former Principality of Zeon who seek to restore the old glory of the empire. She has a very complicated romantic relationship with Char Aznable, and attempts to use their former intimacy to lure Char to Axis, but Char remains faithful to the AEUG.
Dozle Zabi (Dozul)
Dozle, from the original Gundam series, is the second eldest son of the Zabi family. He specializes in mobile suit development and eventually heads the development of the Big Zam, a monstrous mobile suit that eventually fails when placed against Amuro and the Gundam at the Battle of Solomon. In death, Dozle leaves behind a wife and child, and is one of the more sympathetic characters in Zeon.
Gundam: Battle Assault was later released in Japan. This means that they received two versions of what is basically the same game.
Gundam: Battle Assault 2 was released primarily as a hype-builder for Mobile Fighter G Gundam which was airing on Cartoon Network. In other words, it's a whole game designed specifically for the American audience, released well in the later years of the Playstation. Despite this, Battle Assault 2 is an excellent game. It expands on the elements from Battle Master and Battle Assault tenfold, adding many new characters and finally incorporating the expanded universes.
The combat engine has been refined as much as it possibly could be. The roster is also by far the most pleasing, with thirty mechs altogether. The Zeta characters have been removed, but replaced with fourteen alternate universe characters; the Endless Waltz editions of the Gundam Wing mobile suits - Wing Zero, Deathscythe Hell, Heavyarms, Sandrock, Shenlong, Epyon (piloted by Treize), Tallgeese III - and many of the characters from G Gundam - God Gundam, Maxter, Master, Dragon, Rose, Bolt, and Devil. The Z-Gundam, The-O, Hamma Hamma (from ZZ, not Z), and Qubeley are missing, but are still in the GBA2 code and fully playable through any code manipulation device.
Treize, from Gundam Wing, is the charismatic leader of the OZ organization, which develops mobile suits for the Alliance Federation. Treize loves war and chivalry and believes that human beings are at their best when at war. He eventually develops the Epyon, a freighteningly powerful Gundam equipped with a system that enhances the pilot's performance, but in turn causes them to become battle-crazed.
Ulube, from G Gundam is a member of the Neo-Japan military and seeks to hunt down and destroy the Devil Gundam along with Domon Kasshu and Rain, whose father, Dr. Mikamura, is a close friend of Ulube's. However, like many characters in G Gundam, Ulube turns out to be in league with Kyoji and the Devil Gundam, and eventually betrays Domon. Like that creepy mask didn't totally give it away.
Shiro Amada (Shiroh)
Shiro, from Gundam 08th MS Team. is the young leader of a group of mobile suit pilots who engage in guerilla warfare in the jungles of Southeast Asia. In classic star-crossed-lover formula, Shiro becomes smitten with Aina Saharin, an ace pilot for the Principality of Zeon. Shiro and Aina decide to throw away their status as enemies and fall for each other, though this leads to some major complications. Shiro is all around a good leader, being very level-headed and tactical. Here he pilots the Ball mobile suit.
Valder Farkill (Valdor)
Valder is from Gundam Wing: Last Outpost, and is an ace pilot under the OZ organization. He is possibly even more skilled than Zechs Merquise himself. He is the main antagonist of the Last Outpost manga, which takes place in the same universe as Gundam Wing, but in the asteroid belt far, far away from the events of the TV series. He pilots the Hydra Gundam, which is far and away the most powerful mobile suit in the Gundam Wing timeline.
The game also has a new mode called "Street", where several characters from various Gundam universes travel through story arcs that loosely follow the progression of their respective series'. There's also a slew of different survival modes. The progression of the game is a lot like that of Soul Calibur, where most of the content needs to be unlocked. You start with very few characters and end up with a massive roster at your disposal.
In all, Battle Assault 2 is easily the best Gundam fighting game yet. It offers the most variety and refinement, and considering its status as a mere marketing plug for a mediocre TV show, it's a damn fine addition to any fighting game aficionado's collection, especially if they harbor any feelings for Gundam.
Gundam: Battle Assault 2 was split up into two budget release games in Japan, released separately as Simple Characters 2000: Kidou Butouden G Gundam The Battle, and Simple Characters 2000: Kidou Senki Gundam W The Battle. The English voices were removed, God/Devil's name was restored, and Maria was added back as pilot of Psycho Mk.III, meaning Ulube's gone. It's possible to load the save file from one Simple 2000 version to the other, but this ONLY allows you to add the six main G Gundam or Gundam Wing Mobile Suits. Other Mobile Suits unique to each version are not added. Yes, this means that Gundam: Battle Assault 2 is far better.