Import darling Gundam Versus is heading back to handheld following Bandai Namco's announcement that the latest version will be for the PlayStation Vita. The newly-christened Gundam Extreme Vs. Force won't be just a port, either, but a brand new game with new robots and stages.
Bandai Namco made the announcement during TGS, confirming that it would be a brand new game exclusive to the Vita. Those hoping for a PlayStation 4 port of last year's Maxi Boost are going to have to wait at least a little while longer. With the PS4 still mostly irrelevant in Japan, Bandai Namco is taking a conservative approach to the series.
A 2v2 competitive robot fighting game that mixes elements of Virtual On and Zone of the Enders, the Gundam Versus series is a notably popular competitive game in Japan. It is typically lauded for its in-depth combo and energy system, the teamwork that it enders, and its extremely deep roster of robots. You can take a look at the video below to get an idea of what this game is like in action.
Suffice it to say, it's a ton of fun, and Bandai Namco does a really good job of making the different units feel fully-realized and faithful to their respective shows. Unfortunately, Bandai Namco has long since given up on bringing anything but the middling Dynasty Warrior Gundam games to the U.S., so it is virtually unknown over here outside of a small community of diehards. Still, it has its fans over here; and if you're in Japan, it's hard to miss, with Gundam Versus machines frequently taking up half a floor in the average game center.
The franchise's last foray onto handhelds was Gundam vs. Gundam Next Plus for the PlayStation Portable - an admirably strong port with a lot of good single-player content that made the best of the PSP's limited capabilities. Unfortunately, its framerate had a tendency to tank hard when playing with a friend via local multiplayer, making it more of a single-player training tool than anything else. It was still a pretty good game, though, with lots of challenges to undertake and a surprisingly control setup.
The Vita is obviously quite a bit more powerful than the PSP; but where Gundam vs. Gundam Next was based on PlayStation 2 tech, the Extreme Versus is based on the PlayStation 3. As such, it's easy to wonder whether the Vita will have similar framerate problems when playing with other people. Its framerate, and whether or not it ultimately supports online multiplayer, will go a long way toward determining its ultimate appeal.
In the short-term, it's apt to be a pretty solid handheld Gundam game. Just the fact that it's a new game rather than an arcade port suggests that Bandai Namco will be putting more effort than usual into this release, which should lead to a robust array of single-player challenges. Americans will also be happy to know that it will be relatively easy to import and play on their domestic Vitas, and that the language requirements should be rather light, with only a handful of menus to contend with.
Thus far, not much else is known about Extreme Vs. Force. A post at NeoGAF has a partial listing of the mobile suits that are likely to be included, and it appears that the Gundam G-Self from Gundam Reconguista in G will be included as well. Other than that, it's most speculation.
Whatever happens, Gundam fans should keep an eye out on Gundam Extreme Vs. Force. With luck, this is just a prelude to a port for the PlayStation 4. But alas, whatever happens, Americans are still going to have to import it.