Mark Simmons (scorpio@best.com)
Thu, 10 Feb 2000 13:02:39 -0800


Hey folks,

  I just received my (pricey!) special order of the Mekton-based Gundam RPG,
Gundam Senki. Haven't had time to go through it in depth, but here are my
initial impressions...

  It's a thick book, easily an inch-plus, and comprising hundreds of pages
(most of them mobile suit game stats). Apart from a few color pages in
front, and a couple of sheets of maps & counters in back, it's all
black-and-white and sparsely illustrated.

  As far as background material - usually one of the selling points of an
RPG adaptation - it's pretty thin. There are a number of maps, most of them
redrawn from out-of print books like Gundam Century and the MSV books, which
is nice. But there's only a few pages on pre-One Year War history, and
essentially none on space colony life or other civilian preoccupations.
Likewise, no substantial info on the organization or command structures of
either side, orders of battle, numbers/availability/introduction dates of
the mobile suits... in all, it seems at first glance like there's not a lot
of material for scenario-building, so you'd probably need a deep familiarity
with the Gundam world.

  As a Gundam info-freak, I don't find it as juicy as Hobby Japan's Gundam
RPG and One Year War expansion book, which provide cool stuff like charts of
fleet strength and diagrams of Solomon and A Bao A Qu. There are recaps of
major military operations, similar to those in EB 39 and Hobby Japan's
books, but otherwise the text is mostly a recap of White Base's well-known
adventures. It's harder to assess the relative merits from a gamer's
perspective, since I'm pretty rusty and I haven't perused the book in depth,
but the one-page sample scenarios seem pretty perfunctory and unimaginative
compared to the wacky and detailed examples in Hobby Japan's books.

  It seems especially curious that a Mekton-based game would have so little
info on campaigns and character development, and would omit the mecha
construction system. The mobile suits are presented as numerical stats, and
no info is given on how they're actually built as per the Mekton system.
Admittedly, the Mekton system is pretty damned arbitrary - what can you say
about a game where you can pay extra money to subtract X tons of weight? -
but this will surely be a disappointment to Mekton buffs who were looking
forward to dissecting and modifying the classic Gundam mobile suits.
Actually, unless I missed something, there's no way to customize mobile
suits within this game system.

  You do get writeups on a whole lot of mobile suits, including plenty of
MSV and MS-X ones, and on the cast of the original TV series (no OVA or MSV
characters). And I like the column that recaps Amuro's on-screen exploits,
tallying mobile suits, planes, and tanks destroyed each episode. But
otherwise, unless you really need to have those recreated maps or love the
game system itself, I don't think it's worth the money (Y4800 - $50 and up,
depending on vendor and shipment method).

-- Mark

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