I’ll admit me this right now; I hate SD Gundams. SD (Super Deformed) are the bane of my existence, because I think they’re ugly as hell and well…that’s my main reason for hating them.
I love Gundam though (I’m a UC guy) so that’s why I’m putting aside my hatred for SD Gundams to put Cross Rays through the wringer, objectively and without bias (hopefully).
So…at the end of the day, does Cross Rays make the cut?
What is SD Gundam: G Generation Cross Rays?
SD Gundam: G Generation Cross Rays (just Cross Rays from here on out) is a strategy RPG in the vein of Super Robot Wars.
It’s a single player title, developed by TOM CREATE and published by Bandai Namco for the PC, PS4 and Switch. I’m reviewing the PS4 version.
The first thing you should know about the game is that it’s a retelling of Gundam anime. Cross Rays can be thought of as the opposite side of the coin to Genesis (the previous SD Gundam title).
Genesis covered the UC era of Gundam, while Cross Rays covers Gundam series in the other timelines (A.C., C.E., A.D. and P.D.). These include Gundam Wing, 00, SEED and Iron Blooded Orphans (and other spin-offs set in those timelines).
Gameplay in Cross Rays is strikingly similar to Genesis (or most SRPGs really). You take turns moving your Gundam on a grid, taking into account weapon ranges (so you can fire your guns at enemies) and your Gundam’s energy reserves.
Energy’s used to power your moves, with the flashier ones usually requiring more. It’s also used to counterattack (if you’re able to). If you run out, you’ll be a sitting duck until you can recharge (via skills, returning to a carrier ship or getting back into formation).
The energy aspect actually adds much welcomed layer to the complexities of the otherwise basic battle system. Go all out in the beginning of a fight and you’re definitely going to run out of steam in a few turns. Conserve too much energy and you’ll find your unit will be overwhelmed in short order. It’s a delicate balancing act that you’ll need to juggle as you play.
One thing that I love from Genesis (I’m not sure if this was in previous SD Gundam games since they’re not in English) is the ability for a Gundam to continue to attack (and move) if you manage to destroy an enemy. Plan it right and it’s awesome; your Gundam goes on a berserker spree, killing off enemy units one after the other.
The more you kill in a single turn, the better your morale, which in turn raises your offensive damage. Get hit and it’s the opposite; a morale drop with a decrease to your evasive powers.
Like the energy factor, morale plays a major role in offense as a single Gundam with ultra high morale can decimate legions of enemies until taken down a notch.
Utilizing the morale system to your advantage is the only way to win in most of the stages.
The game’s certainly not shy in placing you at a disadvantage, with your side almost always being outnumbered. If you’re going after the Historic Moments (anime mission objectives), you’ll be even more hard-pressed as they can be really tricky to achieve.
Missions are all incredibly lengthy, almost always lasting an hour (sometimes more). If you’re impatient, you can always turn battle animations off and speed movement up, but I feel doing that ruins the flow.
Besides, the battle animations are damn fun to watch…They’re incredibly cool (even cooler than the ones in SRW) and makes the game feel like an anime.
After the battles, you get Capital, the currency of the game. Here’s where things get fun!
With Capital, you can buy new Gundams (and put them into customized squads to deploy in the game) and even upgrade the stats of your custom character. There’s a TON of incentives to replay stages due to this!
Even if you’re not playing the game, you can still get Capital and XP by sending your squads out on timed missions.
They’ll return after an interval (each mission has different times) and if you’re successful, you get rewards. Great if you’re going to sleep or can’t play for a few hours!
The biggest leap for Cross Rays over Genesis though? That’s got to be the visuals. Now that the series has dropped the Vita, the visuals have taken a giant leap forward.
They’re still a bit basic (probably due to the Switch port) but still light years ahead of what we got from Genesis.
Cutscenes are better animated, looking sharper and flashier. Gundams and ships are more detailed. Best of all, special moves are much, much more spectacular.
There are still no intro themes included with the base game, perhaps we’ll see them as DLC down the road? Some of the music from the series are included but no vocal themes (probably due to licensing fees involved). You can import your own mp3 songs into the game to use as custom BGM or pilot themes so it’s not that hard to customize the game to your liking, just time consuming.
Voices are all in Japanese though I’m not sure if they’re the originals. It’s been years since I watched Wing or SEED but they do sound similar, at least from what I can remember.
The bottom line.
If you’re looking into getting into the series, I really suggest you pick up Genesis alongside Cross Rays. Sure, if you had to pick go with Cross Rays (Genesis regularly goes on sale on the PSN) but you’ll want both to complement each other.
Cross Rays is definitely a step up from its prequel/ counterpart. Everything’s better; the writing, the animation, visuals though the gameplay does remain largely unchanged. That’s good because Genesis was fun to play, despite its rather basic looks.
Still, Cross Rays won’t be for everybody. It’s nowhere near as complicated as the Super Robot Wars games, but there are still pretty technical gameplay mechanics in play. On top of that, not a ton of people are willing to invest hours upon hours of grinding for capital OR to play through the stages.
It takes a certain kind of hardcore fan that will find Cross Rays an awesome experience. If you’re it, then Cross Rays is heaven. However, if you’re looking into something light and breezy (like the Fire Emblem games) or an action packed title (like Gundam Breaker) you’ll definitely want to look elsewhere.
It all wraps up into a nice package that’s a great complement to Genesis and a much superior sequel.
Awesome SRPG with a ton of longevity and content.
- Lots of series to play through.
- Battle cutscenes.
- Fun gameplay.
- Battles can drag on.
- No vocal themes.
- SD Gundam designs.