Mobile Suit Gundam: Journey to Jaburo review
Universal Century 0079: Documenting the White Base' Journey to Jaburo

The good:

Plenty of Mobile Suits to unlock, great attention to detail, best beam effects of the U.S. gundam games, great missions that go hand in hand with what took place in the paralell events of the anime. Plus, 3 bonus missions that are fun in their own ways. And plenty of fanservice, trailers for gundam anime, and movies to unlock. Also, great music and sound effects!

The bad:

a few glitches when firing weapons in the air. (the aiming looks wrong, even though its right on the money), not enough bonus missions to use the other MS on, missions and controls may seem a bit hard at first, and enemies are as relentless as it gets. Both a good and bad thing there. Also, no space battles, as this game only chronicles the journey of the RX-78-2, the original and true Gundam, from the Side 7 colony, to Jaburo, skipping the space battles in between. Not only that, but although the series continues after the White Base and the Gundam make it to Jaburo, this game ends there. Dont expect the entire 0079 story from just this one game. Check out Capcom&Bandai's FEDERATION VS ZEON for a more complete look on the one year war story.


Mobile Suit Gundam: Journey to Jaburo.
First, a little backstory...

A half century has passed since Earth began moving it's burgeoning population into gigantic orbiting space colonies.
A new home for mankind, where people are born, and raised... and die.

It is the year 0079 of the Universal Century. The cluster of colonies furthest from the Earth, Side Three, proclaimed itself the Principality of Zeon, and waged a war of independence against the Earth Federation.

Initial fighting lasted over one month, and half the worlds population was lost. People were horrified by the atrocities commited in the name of independence.

Eight months had passed since the rebellion began. They were at a stalemate. With half the worlds population dead, both the Federation and Zeon had lost most of their military forces, and innocent youths were left to fight the war.

Unable to gain a decisive victory in the initial battle, the Principality lowered mobile suits to Earth to take control over mining territories and secure the vital natural resources for the long war ahead.

The Earth Federation faced a grave threat, as their military was without Mobile Suits. Zeon's Zaku Mobile Suit quickly crushed Federation forces, battle after battle. To counter the Zeon Front, the Federation began the V PROJECT, a project that would spawn Mobile Suits to fight against Zeon on equal terms.

Side 7. 3 Zaku II Mobile Suits were dispatched to overtake a Federation controlled facility, showing signs of production. When the Zeons arrived at the facility, they discovered the Federation had already created 3 prototype Mobile Suits.

Meanwhile, a young boy named Amuro Ray was ignoring the evacuation alert, heading straight to the Federation facility his father worked for. There, he encountered the Zaku II suits, and witnessed them destroy 2 Federation suits. Without hesitation, or better judgement, Amuro Ray entered the third Mobile Suit, the Federations most powerful weapons technology put to the test. Amuro entered the Gundam, and alone, he stood against the forces of Zeon.

And so the game begins.

You play as Amuro Ray, a newtype, who successfully defended the Federation base on side 7 from the threat of Zeon's Zaku II. Further more, Amuro is gifted. His mind is above the rest of humanity, and he is labelled a newtype. With his mental abilities, and Gundam, Amuro Ray must fight against the forces of the Principality, and help bring about an end to the long and cruel war.

Wage war on over 17 levels, and against over 14 different types of Mobile Suits and enemy aircraft.
Take the Gundam, the Federations prized Mobile Suit, protect White Base, and ensure that the White Base, Gundam, Guncannon, and Guntank are able to reach the Federation Headquarters in Jaburo, South America, from the testing facility on Side 7. Only you can hand over the Gundam's feild data, so that one day, the Federation can use it to fight off the Zeon menace.

Whew...quite a headliner there, ain't it?
Now, back to what you want to hear. The juicy details.
First off, this is not exact on the dot, to the shows MS warring. Mobile Suits do not die with one shot of Gundam's beam rifle, but with 4 or 5. It's an arcade type game, where fighting with some strategy, and muscle take precedence to detail, for fun factor. However, it's not too far over the edge to be called a pure arcade style game. It does require some thinking and planning, and has enough detail in gameplay, to also count as a Gundam Simulator.

First though...
If you are looking for a pure Mobile Suit action/arcade game, check out Federation vs Zeon.
If you are looking for a pure simulation MS game, check out Zeonic Front.

This game is a perfect balance between the two, and in the future, if you like this game, check out Lost War Chronicles, which is supposedly due out for a U.S. release in October, 2003.

Now, the controls. Pretty easy, though I admit, at first, back in the day when it came out and i knew nothing about Gundam, other than Wing (which i bet you also saw on cartoon network), i thought they were just as confusing and difficult as armored cores control system. I had a hard time playing the game, and after I barely beat it, I never thought of Gundam again. However, over the years, and after I made some gundam art and got into the Universal Century, i played both Federation vs Zeon, and Zeonic Front. I came back soon after, to this game. Once I played it, I realized how easy the control system was, and noticed little details I never knew before.

Example: Each Mobile Suit has its limits. Each has a certain turning speed, a certain running speed, a certain armor strength, and a certain amount of booster power. Mobile Suits that were pretty average, like the Federations GM, and Zeons Zaku I and II, were designed with a low setting of power in all category's, something I earlier saw as a glitch (since i had not known about the series). However, I noticed that the Gundam type MS, and more advanced Zeon MS like the Kampher, excelled in all categories, matching with the MS in the UC timeline.

Also, I noticed that the particle effects, the lighting effects, and some MS detail, were better than i'd seen in other games. Although the MS models were best seen in Zeonic Front, J2J is a very fun game, who's unmistakable mobile suits are rendered well enough for you to recognize them from looooong distances. And what i also noticed, the beam weapons, of all the current U.S. gundam games, looked nicest here, and the sounds for them were also best here. The beams were long, and travelled VERY fast, lighting up the landscapes and MS near it.

The levels are challenging, no matter what skill you gain, so it's always fun to replay. There are a few glitches, like when you're an MS, and you jump in the air and shoot at an MS you locked on to, your gun wont aim at all, but a bullet will come out and fly in the direction of the enemy, still hitting them. Looks odd at times. The other one I noticed, was that the melee slashing combos are really a pain to pull off. Sometimes in the middle of a combo, you'll freeze, and then restart the combo. However, if you stand still, and rapidly press the slash button at an equally times pace, you should be able to avoid the problem.
Also, sometimes when blocking, you will stay blocking if you already released the block button, or will be unable to block if you got shot the second you put the sheild down, until you get shot and fall down again.
Doesn't happen too often, but when it does, it can be irritating. Other than that, the game runs fine.
The AI isnt the smartest for enemy MS. They just flat out attack you, but if you are far away, they might wander around the map, shooting air. ;
However, the AI of enemy fighters is extremely well tuned. Fighters will attack you in formation, and when they get too close, they will break formation and evade your wrath, only to regain formation later, and come back for an assault when you least expect it.
Wathing the Federations CoreBooster fighting against the Zeons Dopp's is incredibly fun. And when they crash, they smoke and slowly fall back to Earth, skidding along the ground or into a cliff, etc.
I also noticed they attack you, literally aiming for your back, if you are fighting a lone enemy MS that is loosing a battle.

There are other great things you can do. In one of the missions, a Zeon Gaw attack carrier will appear, with a full formation of Dopps as escorts, around 22 of them in total. They will swarm you if you fire at the Gaw, and even better, if you jump on top of the Gaw, you can blow up the bridge, and then ride the Gaw down as it falls back to Earth, also crashing and skidding on the ground.

Battle enemies include Magella attack tanks, which are meddlesome jerks that break into two peices for a tank/aircraft combination attack, gun and beam turrets that protect buildings, Mobile Suits, The Adzam Mobile Armor, Gaw carriers, and Luguns, Wappas, and Dopp fighters. They all prove to be fearsome foes, and are fun to fight against.

During the game, the graphics alter depending on the situation. If an MS blows up a building, the building will turn into a girder pile, charred black. MS can't stand on buildings for too long, or structural damage will occur, and you'll fall through the building! Also, if you blow up other things, like a few rock formations and parts of enemy craft, like single turrets, engines, etc. Depending on the weapon used, the environs will light up to accomodate muzzle flash and beam fire. Also, Gaw's and the Adzam can leave shadows on the land as they fly overhead. My favorite effect is when an MS is defeated. It drops to one knee, malfunctioning, and finally blows up, nuclear reactors go kaboom, making for a 450 foot tall explosions that can be seen across the map! Don't stand too close, or you will be hurt.

Textures on the map and building are well within permissable ps2 boundaries, and the mobile suits are modelled well. Also, there's very limited frameskip, if any. I'd say the game runs at a constant FPS of 65 of better.

The sound effects too, are better here than in other gundam games. Straight out of the anime. Beam rifles, Vulcan cannons, beam saber slashing, the works.
Music is also great, with themes coming straight from the anime, from battles, making the experience add to the 'you are playing the show' feel.

The Extras: You can unlock a new opening movie, a music video with the gundam theme song, "Tobe Gundam!" (Fly Gundam!) That shows the MS you unlock in the extra 3 tactics battle missions, fighting against each other, Federation vs Zeon style, animated of course. Also, the pilots of these machines from each UC series are also depicted, which adds for the collectableness of the game. Also, there's a few other movies you can unlock, such as trailers for the other UC series, like Gundams War in the Pocket, 8th MS team, Mobile Suit Gundam, and Stardust Memory (my favorite), and Endless Waltz, the Gundam Wing Movie. (not related to UC in any way though!)
The other movies consist of congratulatory remarks made on your piloting skills of MS on certain missions, which only adds to the fun of being an MS pilot.

Now, the game is short, and takes only a few hours to beat. Once you beat it, you get 3 tactics missions, which are missions where you can use a Federation MS other than just the original Gundam, such as the GM, GM Sniper II, Blue Destiny, Guncannon, and more, and for Zeon, you can use Char's Zaku II Custom, The Zaku I and II, Hygog, Kampher, Dom, and more.

Now that the game is only 20$ (if somebody tries to sell it to you for higher than that, dropkick them in the throat, and search elsewhere), it's definitely worth buying without second notice. A MUST for any gundam fan, and definitely worth checking out for any non gundam fan.

Fly Gundam!

July 5th, 2003

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