"I’m sure this is very accurate to the actual anime, as I’d guess virtually every episode was highlighted by robot battles, but it just seemed tiresome to fight the same foes over and over again, especially in such a short period of time."
When I picked up Mobile Suit Gundam SEED: Never Ending Tomorrow, the only thing I knew about the Gundam series was that a bunch of large, human-controlled robots constantly were fighting each other. After putting this game in my Playstation 2 and playing through a couple stages (called “phases”) of the quest of a young man named Kira Yamato......my knowledge of the series had barely increased.
But that’s what the Internet is for, isn’t it? After a wee bit of searching, I was able to find that the anime series Never Ending Tomorrow is based on actually has a very deep and involving plot — one that can be condensed into a handful of sentences....like this:
Kira Yamato and childhood friend Athrun Zala find themselves on opposite sides in a war. The two, along with all respective buddies, proceed to beat the crap out of each other for an eternity or two before they (and the majority of said cohorts) gradually realize that war is bad and the leaders of both factions are kill-crazy psychos. So, Kira and Athrun join forces, slaughter the opposition (in the name of peace) and, after 50 episodes, finally succeed in potentially creating a better universe for all. The end.
After playing through Never Ending Tomorrow, it is obvious this game was created SOLELY for those who watched all 50 episodes of the show, loved each and every moment of it and immediately started lusting over the opportunity to personally engage in a number of the more epic fights and moments of said series. As for the rest of us....good luck in figuring out what’s going on.
The main attraction of the game is the ability to play through multiple-phase missions as either Kira or Athrun. Like I said, an extensive knowledge of the TV show is necessary if you want to follow the plot (given to you via cutscenes displayed before, after and even during phases). Let’s put it this way. The show had 50 episodes, while Kira’s mission (the longer of the two), consists of a mere 15 phases. How much do you want to bet that a lot of important plot devices might have been cast aside in order for the game to run somewhat smoothly?
The big problem is that when you’re on the battlefield, things really don’t run that smoothly. Fights tend to be more of an exercise in button-mashing than anything memorable. Mashing one button emits a stream of bullets, beams or whatever your robot’s projectile attack happens to be — perfect for handling foes from a distance. Get up close and personal to your opponent and you can then mash another button to “control” your robot as it slams its sword into the metallic hide of your foe. Some of these fights look pretty neat on the screen — I just wished I was doing more to contribute to the cool flips and combos I was watching.
Another flaw I noticed was that I was doing the same things and fighting the same foes over and over again. Look at Kira’s mission, for example. For many of the early phases, you’re escorting a gigantic ship (the Archangel) around while fighting off foes. Time and time again, Kira will be locked into confrontation with Athrun and his three sidekicks, usually needing to protect the Archangel from their attacks. After Kira reconciles with Athrun, the game comes up with a new group of foes to occupy your time. For the remainder of the game, you’ll find yourself fighting a trio of robots piloted by genetically-enhanced humans on a phase-by-phase basis. I’m sure this is very accurate to the actual anime, as I’d guess virtually every episode was highlighted by robot battles, but it just seemed tiresome to fight the same foes over and over again, especially in such a short period of time.
So, after a certain amount of this repetition, it became time to relieve the tedium by diving into some of Never Ending Tomorrow’s many diversions. The most intriguing was the “mission” mode, where you could control a large number of supporting characters for one stage each. The game starts out by giving you access to a handful of these missions, with many more waiting to be unlocked. The problem, once again, lies in the general tedium of these missions, although I did find myself really challenged by a few of them.
With few exceptions, most of these missions involve you getting background information on your character, aimlessly wandering around blowing up lesser foes until the level boss makes its presence felt, beating it and getting more information about said character. And, once again, people with little knowledge of the series will be lost in trying to figure out the context of each individual mission. For example, Cagalli’s quest, which is one of those initially available for consumption, sends you through one of the climactic events of the final episode. Other missions, which are unlocked after a decent amount of effort, involve characters and events from early in the series. All that bouncing back-and-forth in time does make it a bit difficult to put things in chronological order.
To give Bandai some credit, many of the game’s other extras did make some sort of effort to enlighten Gundam novices to those minor details such as who people are and what they’re doing. For completing any level, you’ll receive a number of SEED points, which can be used to purchase (unlock) a slew of things at an in-game shop. Players may release new characters to control during the main missions of the game, or obtain a six-volume encyclopedia, which gives a bit of background on heroes, villains, organizations and virtually everything else in the world of this anime.
Which was, admittedly, a nice touch, but not something I can recommend Never Ending Tomorrow on. I can definitely endorse this game for rabid fans of the series looking to control their favorite characters through countless fights against hordes of enemy robots, but there just isn’t much here for anyone not into Gundam. The action is simplistic and repetitive and the clipped, condensed story will make little sense to anyone not familiar with the anime. All-in-all, Never Ending Tomorrow makes a better collector’s item for Gundam fans than it does a game.
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (October 20, 2005)
Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.
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