As some of you may recall from my review of the original Gundam vs Gundam, I was left largely impressed with the 3D arena brawler, but felt it needed to up it's game (so to speak) if it was going to take on the far more comprehensive Macross Ace Frontier.
Well, since that time we've been given the gift that was Macross Ultimate Frontier, which means that Gundam vs Gundam Next Plus has its work cut out.
The most noticable update to the new game is the massively boosted number of mechs on offer from the start. Each series has at least 1 new mech added, and most cases, several new machines are on offer. The game also adds a couple of mechs from the soon to be animated Gundam: Unicorn to drool over, and it's a lovely preview of what's to come.
The game mechanics are the same as the previous game, in so far as you start each round with 6000 points, and the mech you pick has a value ranging from 1000 to 3000. Every time your mech (or partner mech) is destroyed, the cost of that mech is deducted from your points total, and if you hit 0, you lose. This gives you a certain number of respawns, and should factor into your strategy when choosing the right Gundam for your style of play.
Controls are pretty straightforward - you have 3 basic attacks; primary, secondary (usually beam rifle/beam sabre respectively) and a special. Some units have the ability to charge shots for more devastating attacks, others can change form (the Strike Gundam can alternate between Aile Strike, Sword Strike and Launcher Strike configurations at any time for example). You can also call in support by pressing 3 buttons together for extra firepower.
The main advantage to the new game is the variety of what's on offer - every unit has a special ability that makes it a good choice in combat, and getting through all 60+ units is going to take some time (yes, SIXTY PLUS!).
One of the big changes to the gameplay is the removal of the G Crossover attacks, which was the previous game's air-raid mechanic - you could, once your bar hit full power, call in a giant mech/orbital laser strike etc and decimate the enemy. In it's place is a far more subtle mechanic called Next Dash, which allows you to cancel moves even when making them. This makes the game far more strategic, and coupled with a far more intelligent AI than the previous game, it's much more of a challenge.
If there are any flaws with the new game, it's that the music is far worse. Awesome tunes like "Just Communication" have been dropped in favour of far less distinctive tracks, yet all the worst songs from the first game appear to have been retained.
The arenas are still fairly indistinct, though not ugly. Since you'll just be zipping past them anyway, it's not a major issue.
The Gundams and other assorted mecha are all extremely detailed and work well, especially impressive given the sheer variety of what's on offer.
There's another mode added, called Next Plus, which takes you down a career path, but unless you understand Japanese you're probably best off sticking to the arcade mode and playing either the CPU or your friends in an Ad-Hoc battle.
So, we have a game that's bigger than before, with far more variety and a cunning new AI. Sadly it still falls slightly short of the standard set by Macross Ultimate Frontier, but straight out arcade thrills on the move, GvGNP is a cracking game and well worth picking up.