Published on September 2nd, 2020 | by Ignis
REVIEW – Mobile Suit Gundam: Extreme Vs. Maxiboost ON
Gundam is one of the most iconic series in Japan, pioneering the “Mecha” genre of Anime, dominating the plastic model market with people saying that Gundam is to Japan what Star Wars is to the West So when Gundam Extreme Vs. was released in Arcades back in 2011 it was no surprise that it became one of the most dominant Fighting Games, even competing for popularity with juggernauts like Tekken and Street Fighter.
Maxiboost ON is a port of the Extreme Vs. game that has been updated over the past 9 years and gives fans the ability to pilot all manner of new Gundams, stages, operators and more, but does it still stack up after all these years?
Concept/Story: The concept of the game is quite simple – Pick your favourite Mobile Suits over the 30+ year series and duke it out 2v2. There’s not much else to say due to it being an Arcade game, there is an arcade mode that can be played which is normally the ‘story’ mode for most fighting games, but aside from a short flashy animation introducing what series the Mobile Suit is from, there’s not much else here.
If you’re looking to buy this for some deep dive into the world of Gundam, you’re best to look elsewhere.
Graphics: The cel-shaded style fits the game and is the most common art-style that is used for Anime-style games and it looks great here. Mobile Suits and Gundams both look great and the various rifles, cannons, launchers all look exactly as you’d think with the iconic pinks, green, yellow and white beams that we all know and love from the series. Something else that’s surprisingly good that I wish there was a lot more of are the particle effects, it’s more prominent on Gundams like 00 Raiser who have abilities encasing them in green light, particles actually look really pretty.
Environments look nice enough, pretty much everything in the arenas you fight in are destructible, which is nice though it’s hard to look at what’s around you given how fast paced the game is, you barely have enough time to take a breath let alone take in the vast depths of space, or the sprawling cities.
Gameplay: This is by far the reason anyone should be picking this up, Extreme Vs. is at it’s core a Fighting Game, and it’s a damn good one here too. It’s a 2v2 team based game where both parties start off with 6000 points and the first to deplete the other teams resources wins. Each Mobile Suit in the game has it’s own ‘cost’ to bring out to the field, a basic Mobile Suit like the Zaku may only cost 1500 points per life where as the well-known Gundam Wing Zero will cost you a whopping 3000 points per life and their firepower, health, armour, speed and options are all dictated by how expensive they are. The more expensive the unit, the more it has to offer but the more it costs you if you die which adds a surprising level of depth even before the game starts, do we field 2 weaker Suits who are more limited in their options but will let us make more mistakes? Or do we field 2 top of the line Gundams with huge damage but get punished severely for dying?
With more than 180 Mobile Suits and Gundams on offer here with each of them having a moveset distinct to them, there is a huge wealth of content purely from a match-up perspective, learning all of the Mobile Suits on their own is an unrealistic feat but due to the sheer number of Suits on offer here, you will find one that you like and fits your playstyle. Then there’s all the different match-ups you can face (Yes, there are match-up charts with how each Suit fares vs each other that can get quite extensive) and there’s already a huge amount of content here.
The game is easy to pick up, but incredibly difficult to master. There’s a button to shoot your primary weapon (Whether that be a Beam Rifle, Machine Gun or swinging your Beam Axe), a button to use your Melee weapon, a button to boost and then 4 buttons for auxiliary moves, some of which will be you calling in assists from other Mobile Suits to give you covering fire while you move into Melee range, or firing off tracking drones to attack your target allowing you to continue pressuring your opponent from afar with more expensive suits offering more versatility with ranged/melee/shields and cheaper suits having more auxiliary moves being different axe swings.
The game also features a sort of ‘X-Factor’ where taking/dealing damage will allow you activate one of 3 abilities giving you faster ammo regeneration/firing speed, more damage/faster swings in Melee or somewhere inbetween but for an extended duration with focus on more boosting. The balance in the game is surprisingly good given the sheer number of options here, though given how long the game has been out I’d be surprised if it hadn’t, Extreme Vs. continues to be a popular Fighting Game in Eastern culture for a reason after all.
Anything you do will earn you GP which can be spent on alternate costumes for your Pilots, different battle announcers or navigators who will talk to you asyou move through the menus. There’s a lot of fan-service here for those who are huge fans of the series, and a lot of characters who aren’t featured as playable characters will be found here as either an announcer or a navigator which is nice.
This game does have a very glaring weakness however, and that’s in the tutorial. What’s available is bare-bones and outside of showing you basic controls it’s not going to do much else for players really looking to understand the game, and it’s up to them to do their own research to find fan created content showing them the ropes around how to move correctly, over-boosting, over-limit and all the various other features that are in the game but aren’t explained at length. Tutorials in general have been I think the most difficult part to get right in any Fighting Game, and while a title like SkullGirls does an excellent job introducing players to everything the game has including advanced techniques it’s a little sad for me to say that I’m not too surprised that the tutorial isn’t great and that it isn’t a huge issue for me; because I’m so used to this genre not explaining what I need.
The meat of this game is in it’s online presence and for most that’s a great thing, being able to battle vs other players is great and when I’ve been able to play online it’s been an awesome experience. Just to note here that this isn’t a huge title in the West and communities are going to be a lot smaller – the Australian audience for Gundam Vs. is quite small and while the netcode is good, finding games where I wasn’t yellow or red ping was difficult and while it’s by no means game-breaking, it’s dependent on whether other players will let you stay in the game and that kinda sucks, but it’s no fault of the game itself; just a side-effect of being a smaller Fighting Game but it is something to note if you’re from a country that doesn’t have a huge audience (Mainly Australia. I’m talking about Australia. Europe, the US and Asia shouldn’t have too many difficulties finding matches that’ll work).
The game is a blast to play though, with more than enough content and depth that any Fighting Game player will have a field day sinking their teeth into and simple enough that casual fans of the genre and the anime can pick it up and still have a good time.
Sound: Everything sounds exactly like it should which is awesome. If you’ve ever seen a Gundam series before, you’ll be right at home here. Beam Rifles firing just like you remember, explosions from launchers having that signature Gundam sound to them. The music on offer here is all about fan-service, with all of it’s tracks pulled from their various series – mostly older series mind you and can feel like you’re in the 80’s which will be hit or miss for some players I think. Being a fan of the Gundam series at large, I appreciate it but it really doesn’t fit the fast paced, action packed nature of the game.
The voice cast is entirely in Japanese as you’d expect and features all of the VA’s reprising their roles from the series which is an awesome experience as a fan and helps make the game feel like a more complete package. They’ve always taken great care with the Extreme Vs. series and the voice work here is no exception.
Awesomeness: Having this game brought to the West is a real treat. As someone who has been to Japan more than a number of times and spent way too long at their arcades, getting to play Extreme Vs. was always one of the highlights. It looks, feels and plays exactly like how I remember it and best of all – it’s completely compatible with arcade sticks to give you the true Arcade experience. Japan is more often than not an incredibly lucky place to be from a Gaming perspective, they get a ton of exclusive content and events and given a large number of titles only release in Japan, it’s nice to see one of their gems get release for us to play on PS4.
Final Word: Mobile Suit Gundam: Extreme Vs. Maxiboost ON is a more than competent Fighting Game that anyone who is a fan of the series or the FGC should give a try, there’s a huge amount on offer here for those who want an arena based Fighting Game with a wealth of content and the depth to back it up. It’s a shame this series hasn’t gotten the love it deserves in the West, I think it actually plays better than most Fighting Games on the market and could be a contender with titles like Blazblue and Guilty Gear if people gave it a chance.
Pick it up if you love Gundams, pick it up if you love Fighting Games, pick it up if you love Giant Robots or Mecha. Just pick it up.
Out of 5 Bugs!