Based on one of the hottest animated TV shows of the 80's.「MOBILE SUIT Z GUNDAM」the PC game is an antiquated (even for its time) action shooting game that fails to do justice to its excellent source material.
For a long time Japan's toy and video game giant BANDAI had a terrible reputation when it came down to their video game products. Apart from some notable exceptions, like that of their renown game studio BANPRESTO(formely known as CORELAND), as well as a few other quality game studios that they hired from time to time. BANDAI was generally seen as a game publisher that cared very little for the quality of their mostly licensed video games.
MOBILE SUIT Z GUNDAM the PC game is but one example of why BANDAI had such a lousy reputation among savvy gamers. In spite of the fact that Z GUNDAM turned out to be one of the most successful anime series of the decade, the best that the company could do with the franchise on the PC was coming up with an over simplistic and yet unpolished game that was generation behind of the action game standards of the time.
■SHOOT THE CORE !
In Z GUNDAM the player takes control of the eponymous Gundam unit. Your mission is to break into the various TITAN (the main antagonist faction in the tv series) secret bases across the galaxy and destroy all of the guardian cores inside them. Once all cores have been destroyed a「master core」will appear. Destroying this master core will complete your mission and open up an escape route that will take you to the next stage.
There are 5 maze-like stages in the game that will get progressively harder (not to mention quite frustrating). The game lacks a continue or save option, so if you lose you will be forced to start back from the beginning.
Unfortunately (or maybe not so much in this case) Z GUNDAM is the type of game that is bound to give most anybody a terrible first impression. The gameplay is fast-paced yet feels very poorly put together. Everything, specially the enemy MS units moves too erratically, and at first it might appear like you're getting shot at from every direction.
Don't be surprised if on your first run you get downed before you get the chance to learn just what the hell is going on. Not even whoever did the attract mode gameplay demos seemed to have a clue on how to play the game.
In this aspect Z GUNDAM resembles one of those cheap arcade games from the late 70's or early 80's that seemed designed to take your coins and get rid of you before you could learn how to play it.
The awesome Z Gundam mobile suit comes equipped with a「BEEM」rifle and sabre. You can also transform into a waverider aircraft mode, altough the controls and usefulness of this form leave a lot to be desired. I specially dislike how you will turn around whenever you get hit in this form, so for me it's beyond useless.
Naturally you will want to use the beam rifle as your primary weapon. However, firing the rifle will spend some of your energy bar and that is something you will soon discover to be more disadvantageous than what it needed to be.
You see, scattered around each stage there will be multiple [E] tanks that as expected can be used to restore your energy bar. Far more importantly than that tough, they can also be used to repair the Z Gundam so long as your energy bar is already maxed out.
Because in this game is pretty much impossible not to get hit constantly, the use of [E] tanks for repairments will be essential for your survival. Thus your best bet for success is to stick with the beam sabre for the most part and leave the rifle for the more problematic cores as well as for those that cannot be destroyed otherwise.
Something neat about your trusty beam sabre is that it can deflect back enemy beams just like a giant robot-sized lightsaber. Moreover spamming sabre swings is the only way to guard yourself against heavy enemy damage.
Too bad the game forces you to rely on the beam sabre so much, otherwise this would have come as a nice gameplay addition.
MOBILE SUIT Z GUNDAM was released for most of the major Japanese PC systems of the time with only an MSX version missing. Still, you'd be hard pressed to pick out a「BEST」version, really.
Both the FM-7 and X1 versions come in cassette tape format. I don't want to deviate from the subject matter here but I think the newer gamer generations should know that the tape format is one of the worst (if not the worst) game media format in history. It was just terrible in every way.
The PC-88 version in turn comes in disk format but lacks direct joystick support which unfortunately makes the game an even bigger chore to play.
The mid 80's were relevant breakthrough years in PC gaming. 1986 in special saw the release of titles like DEVIL'S CASTLE DRACULA, VALIS : THE FANTASM SOLDIER, BABYLON, and SILPHEED. Just to mention some of the games that were setting new quality standards for all future action games to come.
But yet here we have a game like MOBILE SUIT ZETA GUNDAM which feels like something someone at BANDAI developed a couple of years earlier but was put on hold indefinitely for whatever reason (maybe they didn't had the right licensed franchise to slap on it then).
And even so I can think of various older PC games like HERO, HOVER ATTACK, and ENDLESS BATTLE that are immensely more interesting to play than this production.
Overall, MOBILE SUIT ZETA GUNDAM the PC game is an uninspired, unpolished, and unrewarding action game that I find very difficult to recommend even to the most hardcore of Z GUNDAM fans out there.