2 out of 10
"Mobile Suit Gundam Battle Operation Code Fairy" is the actual title for an actual video game that actually released this year. It's hard to believe that in this day-and-age we are still being inundated by awful anime shovelware but much like death and taxes, phoned-in anime cash grabs are inevitable.
For those who don't know what a "Gundam" is, it's a long-running franchise that has spawned dozens of anime series, movies, and OVA's. The titular giant robot is a cultural icon in Japan and has sold thousands upon thousands of model kits, video games, figures, and DVDs. In other words, it's a big deal, and a new game based on the main Universal Century timeline of the original series should be a bigger deal than whatever this game is.
The plot, as little as there is, is about a group of young girls in a military academy during the war between the Earth Federation and the Principality of Zeon, the "One Year War" that was the setting for the original Gundam anime. Zeon, by the way, are the bad guys in the series. The idea of playing as young cadets on the losing side of a war is interesting and allow for some tense, even scary battles. In my head, I see the palpable fear of Zeon soldiers as Federation's Gundam joins the fray.
So far, very little of that. "Code Fairy" is releasing in three $20 increments, each with five "episodes". As of right now, we only have that first five episodes to work with, about four or five hours worth of gameplay. I am sure there will be more moments on insurmountable destruction in coming chapters, but so far it's more an embarrassing slice-of-life than a proper game set during a war.
That's because the mech pilots you play as are three very cookie-cutter anime girl stereotypes with nothing interesting about them. There's the bookish nerd, the tomboy, and the main girl, a go-get-em airhead. And I can't remember any of their names off the top of my head which only further shows how poorly written this whole affair is.
Episodes are structured in the same way, offering up a little anime intro, a training session, some plot, then a pair of operations that conclude with another cutscene and credits.
That structure grows thin fast. Five chapters in, why am I still learning the games unnecessarily large number of systems? It slows what little momentum the game has considerably to spend ten minutes bumbling about trying to perform attacks and maneuvers that you'll likely never use.
When you finally do get out of training and the terrible story portions, you finally get to lay the beat-down on some giant robots. And its...pathetic. Button inputs have a delay, every attack your Zaku does has a cooldown or reload time long enough to watch an episode of Gundam. Even jumping comes with a massive delay followed by the most awful hop in gaming history. How is it so impossible to jump when your robot can do side somersaults or even go prone with little to no difficulty? The physics and mechanics make no sense and input delay on top of cooldowns make battles look like your unit got called into the operation immediately after a bar crawl.
The graphics don't help either. This looks like a PSP game. There's screen tearing, horrible frame rates, and good luck seeing anything if there's any smoke on the screen. Topping all of this off, environments are not destructible at all. You're telling me in a game where you're playing a giant robot with a massive rocket launcher I can't take down buildings? You can't even destroy trees; there is so little effort put into this game and were this released even ten years ago for PSP it would be terrible.
Aside from the awful main story, there are side operations allowing you to suffer even further the abysmal gameplay. Why you would do so is beyond me.
The worst part about this is it's being sold in the aforementioned three parts for $20 dollars a pop or $50 for the complete set. $50 dollars for a game that would be barely passable ten years ago on a portable device. Nothing about "Mobile Suit Gundam Battle Operation Code Fairy" is worth even half that price. The boring characters, the cheap animation, the awful graphics and the increasingly awful gameplay ruin what had all the potential to be an interesting and powerful story.
I guess if nothing else, we know why Zeon lost. You can't win a war if you need a half hour to take a breather between a single sword swing.
Played on PS4. Publisher provided a review code.