Few series in the world have been as long lived as Mobile Suit Gundam. The epic space opera between the Earth Federation Forces and The Principality of Zeon. Theirs is a battle that will last an eternity, and is one that few anime fans haven’t at least heard in passing. Mobile Suit Gundam: The Ace Pilot was released in 2004 by Bandai on the Nintendo GameCube. The Ace Pilot promises all of the excitement, hardships, and experiences of being a gundam, packaged in a tiny GameCube disc. Did it keep its promise? Yes it did, but only if you consider the fact that being a gundam pilot involves an insane amount of difficulty and stress. But regardless of stress, and how challenging The Ace Pilot is, why did we never see a release in the West? Could Bandai have thought it was too challenging for us in the western hemisphere?
Mobile Suit Gundam: The Ace Pilot is no laughing matter. It doesn’t hold any punches, and can be extremely frustrating on more than just a few levels. The game is so difficult that after passing the second stage, I had to grind until level ten, if only to even the battlefield out. Even then, I still had my rear handed to me on several occasions, and The Ace Pilot did not let up. The gundam units are rather fragile, and actually true to the anime as a few saber cuts would normally be enough to down an unit; gundam would have to rely on their shields, and parrying capabilities. It goes to show that the best way to play Mobile Suit Gundam: The Ace Pilot is pragmatically. Trust me when I say, there will be times you’ll want to throw your controller out the window in rage, especially on a level where some dumb broad steals the gundam suit you’ve been using for the last three or four (or 50) battles.
Take advantage of the enemies sporadic artificial intelligence, and use the special skills/abilities as required to provide yourself ample advantages. The skills available to you in the game are your standard fare of resupplying, increasing damage, stealth, etc. Without these perks, the battles will be much harder, and you’ll be setting yourself up for failure. You’re meant to take advantage of every little thing that can assist in beating a level as you’re also being graded during the stage. S ranking every stage also provides a special bonus at the end of the game, which is a nice perk for completionists out there. The prize, though, might not be worth it to casual fans of the series, and beating the levels in S rank might be a reward in itself for those seeking a challenge. All things considered, Mobile Suit Gundam: The Ace Pilot is a great entry in the video game history of the series. It is however, not going to be very interesting for those unfamiliar with the series in general.
You see, Mobile Suit Gundam: The Ace Pilot covers the One Year War of the Universal Century. Many diehard fans of the series will know exactly what is going on at any given moment, and will be happy to participate in some epic battles alongside their favorite character such as Amuro Ray and Char Aznable. For others who aren’t familiar with the series, these names will be meaningless, and couple with the fact that The Ace Pilot is all Japanese will ensure they’ll be at a loss the entire time. I was part of the latter group and simply enjoyed the challenge in piloting my own gundam suit. A challenge which nearly made me throw the game in the garbage.
While The Ace Pilot is nowhere near as difficult as the Dark Souls series from Namco Bandai, it’s certainly a precedent for their unique love of challenging games. Anyone who’s experienced playing The Ace Pilot will recount tales of woe as their suit is continually destroyed, and having to steamroll their way into higher levels by repeating the early stages. Back in 2004, a lot of companies feared their games wouldn’t sell due to their difficulty, and I guess Bandai thought the same way about The Ace Pilot. A lot of companies did not understand that Western gamers were equally as hardcore as their Japanese counterparts. Companies did eventually learn their lesson as we started getting more challenging games in our shores…
I wouldn’t doubt for a second; the developers of Dark Souls were probably fans of this game in their youth, and wanted to turn the dial up to eleven for their own games. Mobile Suit Gundam: The Ace Pilot these days can be bought online or on game shops in Akihabara for a rather cheap price. If you’re ever in Japan, love gundams, and want to purchase a GameCube for the exclusives, this is a title you shouldn’t miss. Otherwise, save yourself a headache, and avoid the title if you’re too much of a wimp to beat it.