REVIEW: Gundam Side Story 0079 – Rise from the Ashes (1999)

A Videogame for the Sega Dreamcast

I never had a Sega Dreamcast, so most of the games for it completely passed me by unless they eventually ported over to other consoles ala Sonic Adventure. I was always a Sony guy, and had the PlayStation 1 and later PlayStation 2 instead. While I was poking around on an article on Gundam videogames that made it stateside, I noticed a listing for Gundam Side Story 0079: Rise from the Ashes for the Dreamcast and realized I completely forgot about its existence. Despite the age, I decided I’d give it a go because I have always heard it had a good story when referenced online. I’m going to be honest, I did not run out and get a Dreamcast in any way. I am unapologetically playing this on an emulator because I’m not about to drop tons of money on a single 23 year old game for no reason.

“Step into the giant, mechanized suit of the Gundam. There, across battlefields of a war-beaten Earth, you’ll command your forces against units of the Zeon army. You’ll need to master every move in your suit–and weapon in your arsenal–to outflank the Zeon and complete each mission. And although you’ve got armored vehicles and ant-sized infantry on your side, the battle will be lost or won by your ability to jump, hover, and fly into battle while zooming in your weapons on the enemy.

A cross between first-person shooter and strategy game, Gundam Side Story 0079: Rise From the Ashes comes from a series that originated on the Sega Saturn. This title features such enhancements as detailed 3-D mobile suits, cinematic interstitial scenes, a dramatic soundtrack, and actual sound effects from the anime TV series, Gundam Wing.

First impressions – it’s clunky and the controls have not aged well at all. This game came out before the advent of dual analog joysticks and this uses a similar control scheme to something like the first two Resident Evil games, only imagine they were in first person. You basically have one thumbstick that moves your head camera and The D-Pad that moves forward, backwards, and side-to-side. Since these are right by each other, and I can’t imagine how terrible it was to use that, I was thankfully able to map the D-Pad controls to the other thumbstick on my PC controller, although it’s not much better.

The controls remind me of old Nintendo 64 first person shooters like Goldeneye or Turok. You know, the ones we all fondly remember playing as kids, but if you try to go back it’s a rough experience. After time, you realize they had some egregiously BAD controls that we simply got used to at the time. This game is a chore to try to un-train my mind on how the last two decades of game control technology changed so its manageable.

One you get used to that, for the most part, the game is pretty fun for Gundam fans largely due to it’s storyline. The game shows what happened in Australia after Operation British, which was the catalyst for the entire war to start in the first place. For casual fans – Operation British was when Zeon dropped a huge colony on the Earth wiping millions of people out. Being a ground war simulator, it was interesting to take not of the characters talking about what they might have thought was going on at space at the time, or experiencing big events like the death of Garma Zabi.

In many ways one could argue it’s one of the ONLY Gundam simulation games with the player experiencing the missions from the point of view of a pilot sitting in a cockpit actually piloting the machines. If I had any sort of big controller rig, it would be cool to map it to some joysticks or something, although the aforementioned poor controller se-up could hinder that. After this game, pretty much every Gundam game has been some sort of third person action game, which is a shame.

Overall, if you can find this game anywhere (or just do what I did) it might be a fun diversion for hardcore franchise fans. It’s only nine missions long, but it has some replay value after you beat the game in form of unlockable mobile suits, (GM or Guncannon for example), and weapons. If you can get past the antiquated controls and 20 year old graphics, it’s worth playing!

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