Capsule Review: New Gundam Breaker

You had one job.

As an obsessive Gundam fan, I’m certainly in New Gundam Breaker’s target demographic. The series has always leaned hard into mobile suit fan service, with playable war machines from nearly every anime and manga, along with the ability to mix their components together as custom designs. The story revolves around building Gundam plastic models (a.k.a. gunpla)—something I’ve done quite a bit myself over the years. But even that mountain of predetermined interest can’t overcome New Gundam Breaker’s inescapable shortcomings.

Most of the game takes place entirely inside a single building: Gunbre High School, where the world’s greatest gunpla builders come to learn. But the teenage Gundam enthusiasts don’t just assemble their scale models. They ride them into battle with virtual reality control pods. It’s quite similar to Gundam Build Fighters—right down to overt themes about how fandoms bring people together, and how they shouldn’t be gate-kept by aggressively unhappy nerds.

See, while gunpla battles used to be for everyone, the Gunbre student council has restricted the activity only those it deems worthy of playing. This supposed meritocracy is backed up by a lot of rich parents strong-arming the teachers. Gunbre’s youngest students are cultured into believing that this is a just system, against their own best interests.

It’s an oddly… politically poignant plot for what’s ultimately a third-person brawler with a dusting of visual novel dating. And the game doesn’t carry those themes particularly far. Still, the earnest optimism blends well with some short, silly vignettes of your faceless protagonist dating their fellow gunpla lovers.

Big Zam. BIG ZAM. Big Zam. BIG ZAM.

The real trouble comes with the gameplay. New Gundam Breaker’s combat is a stiff and often buggy mess. The action flips wildly between complete chaos and eerie stillness. When you’re actually in the thick of things, there are often too many robots covering the screen to get a sense of what’s happening. It doesn’t help that so many objectives just demand that you kill enough of a specific enemy type—using the complex naming conventions of the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise.

That’s fine if, like me, you know what “Johnny Ridden’s MS-14B Gelgoog High Mobility Type” looks like at a glance. But thinking about the average player trying to decipher what those words mean, much less what the thing looks like, is downright laughable. And good luck if you happen to miss or forget the objective. After it flashes on-screen precisely once, it’s replaced with a generic “destroy target” objective in tiny text on the side of the screen. In fact, the game is full of bizarre user interface oversights like this.

There’s some joy to be found in New Gundam Breaker’s core loop, but it’s always in service of the same thing. You participate in one boring battle after the next. No amount of new parts and abilities make it feel any better. And some cute (and surprisingly thoughtful) story isn’t enough to carry the game all the way through—not even for a die-hard Gundam fan.

VERDICT

No, nope, nah.

Main takeaway: Bugs and godawful UI issues make this one a dud even for the most committed mobile suit pilots.