Encounters in Space, as the name implies, is a game set in the Gundam universe in which all battles take place in the depths of outer space. There are two types of gameplay: on-rails, arcade-type segments, and more prevalently, fully three-dimensional combat. Fully voiced, animated cutscenes and narrations punctuate the story missions.
Setting-wise, this game is based on the third film of the original Gundam's three-part movie series, also named Encounters in Space. There is also a sizable amount of content based on Mobile Suit Gundam 0083 and other side stories. Units and pilots from various Gundam media can be unlocked by attaining high rankings in the various game modes.
White Base mode: The primary mode of the game, in which players fight through the events of the Encounters in Space movie as protagonist Amuro Ray. A "TV Version" of this mode can be unlocked after completing the default "Movie Version". This follows the 1979 anime's post-Jaburo arc with subtle differences and includes several "what-if" scenarios (such as battling Shin Matsunaga, "the White Wolf").
Thoroughbred mode: An original storyline, referred to as Mobile Suit Side Story: From Place Beyond the Blaze by future Gundam games. Players follow Ford Romfellow, pilot of Gundam Unit 05, during the final stages of the One Year War.
Ace Pilot mode: This mode follows the battles of several key figures in the original One Year War and Operation Stardust eras.
- Char Aznable (Mobile Suit Gundam)
- Black Tri-Stars (Mobile Suit Gundam)
- Johnny Ridden
- Shin Matsunaga
- Yuu Kajima (The Blue Destiny)
- Kou Uraki (Stardust Memory)
- Anavel Goto (Stardust Memory)
- Cima Garahau (Stardust Memory)
Mission mode: Create a Zeon or Federation pilot for use in Versus mode. Build his or her stats and passive abilities by participating in a wide array of missions ranging from aerial firefights and protecting allies in large-scale battles to mini-games such as clearing debris fields and helping construct solar ray cannons.
Verses mode: A one-to-two-player splitscreen mode. All pilots, mobile suits, mobile armors, and mobile fighters unlocked in the other modes (as well as a handful of suits from G Gundam, Gundam Wing, and Gundam SEED) can be used here.