If you, like us, had your brain completely exploded by Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury, I’m sure the Sunday drops are bittersweet: it’s great to have a new episode, but each one marches us closer to the mid-season break.
But have no fear! You can keep those big robot feelings rolling with one (or more!) of these five games with similar vibes to the most recent Gundam entry. We’ve got some TTRPGs for if you want to turn your anime watch party into an anime game night, a mech strategy game for if you want to feel the catharsis of launching a big cannon, and even a one-page journaling game so you can try your hand at building your own Gundam series.
If you’ve got other games you like to play to keep that Gundam or The Witch from Mercury feeling alive, let us know in the comments! We’re definitely going to need them…
Armour Astir: Advent invokes the magical side of Gundam, putting players in control of magical mechs called “Astirs” as they mount a resistance campaign against some malignant Authority. Pilot characters must have some magical connection to their mech, allowing them to move with more precision, dexterity, or power than a traditional mobile suit. The “Imposter” playbook is particularly interesting—instead of having their own genuine magical power, the character can interface with their Astir due to “enchanted augmentations” to their body. Remind you of anyone?
Non-pilot characters, who don’t need to have a magical connection to a big robot, are like most of The Witch from Mercury‘s Earth house: mechanic and diplomat types who make it possible for pilots to fly their Astirs around. Also like The Witch from Mercury (and most other episodic stories), Armour Astir has dedicated “B-plot” mechanics that Support characters can use to increase the chances of their pilots’ success: while the pilots are off fighting, a Support might keep another enemy busy, discover a vital tool, or do other stuff that might occupy the secondary character of an anime.
Armour Astir is a Powered by the Apocalypse TTRPG for 2–6 players and a GM. It borrows the idea of Downtime from Blades in the Dark, building an action-recovery rhythm into play sessions (and allowing the players some dedicated time to fix up their robots, pump up their skills, or just have their characters relax together!). Armour Astir would be particularly effective at recreating the idea of “witches” and the GUND system from The Witch from Mercury.
Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to have to balance being a mech pilot with the psychosocial nightmare that is high school, well, boy howdy do I have a game for you. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is ostensibly a mech strategy game, but it plays much more like a visual novel with distinct mech strategy sections sprinkled in. Over the course of the game, players take the perspective of 13 discrete characters—the eponymous 13 Sentinels—as their stories intertwine and slowly unveil the game’s puzzlebox narrative.
13 Sentinels is very much in the legacy of Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors: the twists are deliciously twisty, the characters much deeper than they originally appear, and the structure of the game delightfully unique. Like The Witch from Mercury, the way it approaches the teenage protagonists’ relationships and identities feels both mature and kind to those characters, despite their unrepentant teenager-ness. That said, 13 Sentinels‘ relationship to giant robots is a bit more reminiscent of classic Mobile Suit Gundam—it doesn’t shy away from the inherent horrors of putting kids in giant robots with a bunch of laser cannons strapped to them.
There are also time travel shenanigans. That doesn’t have much to do with Gundam, though.
Worst Girls Games
Mac, PC, Linux, iOS
Heaven Will Be Mine is a “queer science fiction mecha visual novel” that ticks many of the same boxes as The Witch from Mercury. Though Heaven Will Be Mine skews somewhat more mature, it shares a number of spiritual similarities with The Witch from Mercury—namely, big feelings, big mecha, and big corporations with warring interests in both the mecha and their pilots.
Players can choose to follow one of three pilots during their playthrough: bratty, impulsive Saturn, icy veteran Luna-Terra, or psychic prodigy Pluto. The story focuses on the pilots’ relationships with each other and with the various factions, or, in its own words, “joyriding mecha, sexting your enemies, and fighting the pull of gravity.” If you enjoy the characters’ fiery interpersonal relationships in The Witch from Mercury and Suletta’s unique connection to Ariel, you’ll probably find a lot to love in Heaven Will Be Mine. And because the player’s choices influence the outcome of the game, Heaven Will Be Mine is worth playing multiple times to discover all the secrets and endings the game has to offer.
Possible Worlds Games
A HOUND is a Human-Operated Utility-Neurolink Device—a mech (or lawnmower, or forklift, according to the book) that is mentally linked to its pilot. Prolonged linking sometimes means that the HOUND develops an attachment to its pilot and, eventually, an individual personality… so pilots are required to wipe their HOUNDs’ memories once every couple of years to avoid things getting hairy. But pilots get attached too, and in HOUNDs, you’ve decided to go on the run to protect your friend.
HOUNDs is a GMless storytelling TTRPG for one or more players. Players stage scenes as they flee or fight the authority figure who wants to wipe the HOUND, stacking dice to determine whether they succeed in a given scene. When the tower falls, they only barely escape… and the HOUND loses a memory. The book also includes a way to play by rolling dice instead of stacking them, for remote play or for people who don’t want to rely on their fine motor control to tell a story.
With HOUNDs, it’s easy to imagine a future where legislation turns against Suletta and Ariel—or a possible past, charting her mother’s escape from the Ulysses and the Council. It’s not a happy thought, but… maybe the dice will fall (or stand) in your favor?
Orion D. Black
If you’ve watched your fill of Gundam shows yet crave more or simply want to take a mech story in your own direction, plot ARMOR is your next stop. plot ARMOR is a single-player journaling RPG that puts the player in control of the protagonist of a mecha anime. If you want to spend more time with the characters and setting of The Witch from Mercury, you could easily do so with plot ARMOR.
Players choose a setting and protagonist archetype and flesh out these character pieces in their “Episode 1” journal entry. In addition to a journal, plot ARMOR requires only a d6, which the player rolls to determine the broader story beats. As a one-page RPG, plot ARMOR allows for a lot of flexibility by leaving the finer details up to the player. You’ll have control over the characters, their reactions to each broad scenario prompt, and even the designs of the ARMOR (mecha) if you want to get granular.
Of course, you can’t have a mecha anime without the heartbreaking ending. The unique twist of plot ARMOR is that the protagonist has plot armor until they die during the final episode.
Organized by John R. Harness & Takuma Okada
The Emotional Mecha Jam (or Sad Mech Jam, if you’re in a hurry) was a game jam where organizers John R. Harness and Takuma Okada invited folks to design games that focused on the emotions at play in mecha genre—generally a lot of melancholy, as well as ruminations on the body, the relationship between a mech and its pilot, the emotional impact of combat… you get it.
The jam was originally focused on TTRPGs, but there’s also a page for digital games if that’s more your speed. Though it’s no longer possible to purchase all the games included in the jam as a bundle, they’re all still collected on the jam’s Submissions page. There are a ton of incredible games, including solo games, two-player games, GMless games, and your traditional party-plus-a-GM TTRPGs. All of them will scratch a different part of the giant robot story itch, and all of them will make you feel feelings. Have fun!
Zora Gilbert cares a whole lot about words, kids, and comics. Find them at @zhgilbert on twitter, and find the comics they edit at datesanthology.com.