Review: Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme Vs. Maxiboost On (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • 4K HDR

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme Vs. Maxiboost On
Format: PSN (11.19 GB)
Release Date: July 30,2020
Publisher: BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment
Developer: BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment
Original MSRP: $59.99 (USD)
ESRB Rating: T
A code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
A few years back, I reviewed a Gundam game for the Vita that was largely a single player game. Turns out, that was a spin-off of an arcade/home series that is more of a fighting game. The Extreme Vs series has been gracing Japanese fans for a decade, and now a proper entry is finally leaving the island, in the form of Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme Vs Maxi Boost On. And yes that’s a mouthful, so I’ll use community nickname going forward: MBON.

At a base level, MBON is primarily a 2v2 fighting game. The default game mode is that set up, with an interesting point system. Players can pick from a variety of Mobile Suits which have different costs, and the battle uses those costs to balance the Suits. Each team starts with 6,000 points, so if your team has a 1,500 point suit, they can potentially die and respawn several times, while a 3,000 point suit only gets a single respawn.

For anyone who played the Vita game, the gameplay is pretty much the same. As I said in that review, there’s a tight line to make the player feel like they’re controlling a large, lumbering robot and making things not feel so sluggish as to be boring. The Extreme Vs series toes that line by making the robots pretty slow overall, but making boosting a key gameplay element.

Movement ends up being one of the biggest parts of the game. Boost meter is used for dashing, flying, and a ton of other things. Which of course means you want to use it a lot, but using more of it at once will also make it take longer to recover when you finally stop. It’s feels like the central mechanic that not only makes the game tick, but keeps it interesting.

Of course, you’re controlling a Gundam, so you have plenty of ways to attack your opponents, from beam sabers to a variety of of guns, beam weapons, and more. Some characters can even summon assist Gundam to help them out briefly. These attacks all vary heavily between the different Suits, with some being more ranged or close quarters focused.

One positive of MBON is that the game is very easy to pick up and there aren’t any difficult inputs. Unlike most fighting games, there are no quarter circle inputs here; even special attacks are just a couple buttons pressed together, and by default these button combinations are tied to the PS4’s shoulder buttons. Even the advanced mechanics of the game, such as dashing to cancel attacks, are very easy to physically perform.

However, that simplicity hides a lot of strategic depth. And by hides, I mean it’s actually difficult to see even where that depth is until you know where it is. The tutorials in the game don’t even begin to scratch the surface (as I’ll get into more in a bit), and it wasn’t until I found some online fan guides that I started to see the depths of the game. (For reference, this is a great guide for giving answers to questions you didn’t even know to ask.)

The gameplay systems are good overall, but the rest of the game is a little on the light side. MBON is heavily geared towards multiplayer, so the single player feels a bit more like an afterthought. If I recall, the game even dropped me directly on the multiplayer menu upon first boot. However, there are two single player modes to explore. One is pretty much the standard ‘arcade mode’ you would find in a fighting game-just eight battles back-to-back. Though, you can start at various difficulty tiers and jump to more difficult tiers between battles, which is nice.

The beefier singleplayer mode is a mission mode of sorts, where the game dumps you into various scenarios. While not as in-depth as the large scale missions in the Vita title, this mode does play with the systems a bit. For example, you often fight against more than the normal two opponents. There’s also a leveling system here plus a simple customization menu to boost your Suit’s stats by installing mods on the suit. This mode is also the tutorial for the game, but it really just plays out as some text before the first few missions. There’s no indication of this though, so I had already played other modes before I jumped in here and found the tutorials.

Each mission gives a ranking at the end, and there are actually a lot of missions in the game. But there’s no real connective tissue here, just jumping between missions. Sure, there are some boss missions, and some optional missions that weaken the boss. But overall, the mode feels like what it is-something easy added to the home release of an arcade fighting game. I don’t dislike the mode, but I wouldn’t buy the game just for this and the other singleplayer mode.

As far as other content goes, there is a little bit, but again feels largely like content tacked onto a fighting game. Playing earns in-game currency that can be used to unlock things like name plates and styles, navigators, and other minor cosmetics for your profile.

On the impressive side, though, is the game contains 183 Mobile Suits, spanning a ton of Gundam universes. There’s a lot to explore, no matter which Gundams you like. For me, I was excited to see Gundam Unicorn, while my girlfriend instantly jumped to a few Suits from Gundam Wing. It’s not 100% comprehensive, but I would be surprised if anyone who has seen any Gundam couldn’t find at least one they liked. That’s a lot of different play styles to explore too, for fans who want to dig deep.

Visuals:
Functional is how I would classify the visuals of MBON. The Gundam themselves look decent, though, to me, they sometimes look more like they’re made of plastic than metal depending on the lighting. However, the arenas are pretty low on detail overall, including low res textures and simple geometry. The arenas are very functional though, with moving components and varied terrain to hide behind or use to confuse opponents. Some parts, like buildings, can even be destroyed.

The HUD is a little busy, as it is doing a lot of heavy lifting. There’s a ton of information to present and even some “nice-to-haves” like the lock-on indicator telling you if you’re in melee range or if your opponent is in an invincible recovery state. Getting used to the HUD takes a while, but it does provide a lot of useful information. However, most of the nuances of the HUD aren’t really explained in game, and the only reason I know that the lock-on indicator gives you those statuses, for example, is because of fan guides.

Audio:
As one might expect for a niche release, Gundam MBON does not feature an English voice over. Not that there is a ton of voice over, but the yells and taunts in battle are only in Japanese. Obviously with no real story mode to speak of, there isn’t anything to voice there. The soundtrack, like the selection of Mobile Suits, draws from across the franchise. Seems like there are only a couple of tracks per property, but that’s still a lot of tracks. You can even select your favorite track to give it a better chance of being played during multiplayer matches.

Online/Multiplayer:
As noted, MBON is primarily a multiplayer focused game, using a 2v2 style of battle that I think is fairly unrepresented among video games. I personally kind of like how it allows for some teamwork and interplay, but also prevents a strong player from being completely dragged down by their team. This also makes it pretty simple to jump on with just a single friend rather than having to find multiple people to play with to queue as a full team.

The online functions here are pretty standard: there are player matches, where you can create a room for friends to hang out and play; a casual matchmaking queue; and a ranked matchmaking queue. The ranked matchmaking queue is further split between those queuing solo and a queue for those with a set partner (though you can choose to matchmake a partner for this mode, who will stay with you between matches). Online features are rounded out by ranking boards (including scores for the singleplayer modes) and the ability to upload/download match replays.

As always, online performance will depend heavily on player connections, but my online matches all seemed decent. I was a little afraid that getting four people on would make it more choppy than a traditional fighting game, however I didn’t have too many laggy matches. You can see your connection status with your opponents before you accept a match.

One downside is that the 2v2 does mean waiting on more players between games. You’re dropped into a practice area while waiting on matchmade online modes, so at least there’s that. None of my attempts took too long to queue, at worst just a few minutes. I do fear that it could become harder to get strong connection matches as the game gets older and fewer people are playing.

For local multiplayer, there are still some options. The ‘arcade mode’ style singleplayer mode can be played fully co-op with a couch buddy, and you can set up the simple versus mode with them as well. This mode could even allow 1v1, AI teammates for each player, or 2 players vs AI. Sadly, it does not appear that two local players can play online, they are stuck with just each other and AI.

It also did not appear that a full four players could play on a single system; however, I did notice that MBON has a LAN option, which I was unable to test for obvious reasons (COVID among them). This is a great feature to allow local 2v2 tournaments, though it obviously requires additional systems, TVs, and copies of the game. I can’t think of many, if any, PS4 games that allow local LAN play, so it’s a welcome feature to be sure.

Conclusion:
Gundam is one of those anime franchises I haven’t dug too deep into and playing a game like this always makes me want to. Seeing all of the cool and interesting mecha designs in a single place is a lot of fun on its own, and Maxi Boost ON layers an interesting and nuanced fighting game system on top of that. There’s a lot of depth to this fighting game that’s not apparent at first blush, and my biggest complaint is that the game doesn’t do a good job of showing that to players.

Whether or not this game is for you comes down to a lot of factors for a game like this though. I don’t think the single player options are entirely worth it unless you’re a huuuge Gundam nut who just wants to see all of the suits in action. Players who are willing to dive into multiplayer play will find a lot more to like, but obviously being a fan of Gundam is a big plus. Being 2v2 offers a unique take on fighting games, and I think the game would shine the most for those who can get someone to play with regularly, which is pretty par for the course for fighting games, but extra true here where you can potentially partner up with this friend rather than having to face one-another.

Score:
7.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Andy Richardson

Andy Richardson

A longtime PlayStation fan who enjoys JRPGs and rhythm games when he’s not tweeting about his parrot.

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