Returning to SD Gundam

This week has me feeling pretty stressed. I’m expecting two very important emails in the next few days, and each of them will either contain very good news or very, very bad news. In an effort to distract myself from my anxiety last night, I fired up a game I haven’t played in a while: SD Gundam G Generation Cross Rays.

Yeah, I know. It’s a mouthful.

Cross Rays is the latest in the popular SD Gundam G Generation tactics RPG series, having released in late 2019. These games feature adorable chibi versions of mobile suits from the Gundam franchise, which I am, as we all know, obsessed with. Depending on the specific title, the games either tell original stories using Gunam characters, or they adapt pre-existing Gundam series into playable missions.

This particular entry does the latter, featuring storylines from Gundam Wing, Gundam SEED, Gundam 00, and Iron-Blooded Orphans, as well as numerous spin-offs and sequels for each of those. There’s a truly staggering amount of content in this game–so much so that I actually still haven’t finished it, despite pouring a ton of time into it since release. Of course, that’s partially because I haven’t played in months.

I love tactics RPGs, and the G Generation series are particularly good ones. You can assemble your own custom squad of mobile suits, with stats that differ not only from suit to suit but pilot to pilot; you can upgrade and level up your units as you like; and there are a number of mechanics that keep gameplay interesting. My favorite is the Chance Step, which allows you to take an extra turn if your attack defeats a target. With careful planning (or a powerful suit), you can chain together several turns and wipe out a huge chunk of enemies.

It’s also the ideal game for a Gundam fan like me. One of the biggest appeals is the ability to collect and curate the exact group of suits and pilots you want. You can recreate your favorite pairings from the anime, or mix and match units to create something that appeals to you. Personally, I love my IBO squad headlined by McGillis in the Bael and Mikazuki in the Barbatos Lupus Rex… but I could just as easily replace one of them with, say, Setsuna F. Seiei piloting the Strike Freedom.

Something I really appreciate about Cross Rays is that it features adaptations of several manga series I’ve never read, like the Gundam SEED Astray series. It’s cool to get to experience a story I might otherwise have missed out on.

Really, though, the thing that drew me back this week was how pleasantly mind-numbing the game is. I don’t mean that in a bad way! It’s a tactics RPG, so there’s definitely strategy involved, but I’ve sunk enough time into that I have ridiculously strong mechs and pilots. It’s nice to be able to sit down, shut my brain off, and just delight in the chaotic robot destruction rather than stress out about what’s happening in my personal life.

If you’re a fan of either Gundam or tactics games, check Cross Rays out! It’s an absolute blast. It’s also the first G Generation game to get an American release, so you don’t even have to import an English-language version from Singapore, as I may or may not have done with its predecessor, SD Gundam G Generation Genesis!

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