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Scintilla
Aug 24, 2010

I BEAT HIGHFORT
and all I got was this
jackass monkey


Let’s Play Zone of the Enders: Fist of Mars

Title Music: Z.O.E. 2173 (Here because it's a pretty kickass theme)



Zone of the Enders: Fist of Mars is an SRPG released for the Gameboy Advance in Japan in 2001 and in other territories the following year. The game is part of Hideo Kojima’s ‘Zone of the Enders’ series, focusing on futuristic mech combat. Kojima himself was not the director or writer for this game, with those roles falling to Atsushi Kamata as Director and Kazuyoshi Horikawa as the Scenario Writer (He, along with a few others on the development team, also had a hand in Rondo of Swords for the Nintendo DS).


The Game
Chronologically, ZOE: Fist of Mars takes place in 2173 AD, one year after the original Zone of the Enders and one year before Zone of the Enders: The Second Runner. It is a sidestory in the series and shares a number of concepts and plot elements with the other games. You do not need to have prior knowledge of either of the other games in the series, although the background of the story and certain events that happen in it will have a better context if you do.

In terms of story, Fist of Mars is liberally sprinkled with anime tropes – there are even 26 chapters, like there are 26 episodes in the average anime series. Nonetheless Fist of Mars has an enjoyable plot that does a lot of things right and proves that it’s not the usage but the execution of such tropes that determines whether or not a story turns out well. There’s terrorist groups, intricate plots behind the scenes, characters who have multiple motivations beyond what we are initially told, etc. The plot isn’t a masterpiece, but it’s pretty good for what it is.

The gameplay is in a similar vein to the Super Robot Wars series, but with a few special twists I’ll explain when the time comes. There is also a plot branch around the halfway point where the game splits into two distinct routes depending on certain actions taken by the player; I plan to do both routes by completing one and then reverting to a prior save in order to do the other, but if someone else in the thread wants to do the one I didn’t pick then please feel free.


Spoiler Rule
Mark all spoilers, relating to the plot of this game, please. Discussion of the other two games in the series should be fine since there's little that connects this game to them aside from being in the same universe.


Unified Story Path:

Episode 01 - On The Battle God's Palm
Episode 02 - Perpetual Motion
Episode 03 - A Hopeless Hope
Episode 04 - Double Edged Sword
Episode 05 - A Voice From Far, Far Away
Episode 06 - One Wing's Promise
Episode 07 - Opposing Tracks
Episode 08 - Darkness Dyed By Darkness
Episode 09 - Sincerity
Episode 10 - A Pure Heart...And The Price It Pays
Episode 11 - Double Deal
Episode 12 - Between Good And Evil
Episode 13 - The Gift
Episode 14 - The Card Turned Down

Story Path A:

Episode 15 - The Darkness That Came From Light
Episode 16 - Uncertain Future
Episode 17 - Rebirth
Episode 18 - Dark Half
Episode 19 - Clawing The Red Earth
Episode 20 - Missing Line
Episode 21 - A Faint Light From The Depths
Episode 22 - Heaven-Bound Wings
Episode 23 - Fulfilment Of A Promise Part Two
Episode 24 - Pharsti
Episode 25 - Reunion
Episode 26 - Epilogue

Story Path B

Alternate Path Setup
Episode 15 - Cracks
Episode 16 - Paradise Lost
Episode 17 - A Bow Drawn
Episode 18 - Hearts In Harmony, Hearts In Strife
Episode 19 - Waves
Episode 20 - Island Of Destiny
Episode 21 - Nosferatu
Episode 22 - Violated Wishes
Episode 23 - God Save Us!
Episode 24 - Promised Reunion
Episode 25 - Epilogue

Credits and Secret Scene

Credits

Extras:

Unit Designs
Character Files

Scintilla fucked around with this message at 10:36 on Jul 16, 2014

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Scintilla
Aug 24, 2010

I BEAT HIGHFORT
and all I got was this
jackass monkey


Chapter One – On the Battle God’s Palm







We get the usual publisher and developer credits before the title screen pops up

Music: Z.O.E 2173



The title theme is quite excellent, by the way.



Pressing Start brings us to the standard main menu screen used in pretty much every video game ever. New Game and Load are self-explanatory, and Continue lets you load a Quicksave. The Options menu is more interesting, however.

Music: Intermission



We are given the option to turn the battle animations and IAS mechanic off. I’ll describe what the latter is once the gameplay section begins. Sound Mode is where we can sample the game’s musical pieces. The Mech and Character Reference sections will eventually contain information on the mechs and characters we encounter, gradually unlocking new information as the game progresses. The Terminology section contains explanations of the various bits of technobabble the game will throw at us, and unlike the previous two sections it’s completely unlocked and filled out right from the start.

Enough of this, let’s start a New Game.



I am British and therefore stolidly refuse to learn other European languages such as French and German.

Music: Tragedy



The game opens with a massive text crawl and I will transcribe the rest here rather than waste screenshots.

In 2045 mankind began to look beyond Earth for solutions and built the first Earth-space track orbital elevator. The “Space Age” had officially begun, and countries all over the world dove into countless research projects and space development programs. It was then that the human race created and discovered several new tools that would change life forever; the LEV, a pilot-controlled interspace robot; the resource Metatron, excavated from the Jupiter moon, Callisto; and the Urenbeck Catapult, a device which, by manipulating space, enabled hyper-speed travel. The discovery and invention of these so-called “Tools” expedited the progress of the space development project, resulting in an exodus into space – in the span of a single century, more than 20 million people took up residence in colonies on the Moon, Mars and as far as Jupiter territory. The transition from Earth to space seemed to be going smoothly.

However, new conflicts were just beginning to materialize. Human beings left on Earth began to refer to these colonists as “Enders”, a derogatory term for those “living at the end of civilization”, expressing their prejudiced attitudes towards non-Earth inhabitants. In response, these immigrants, who were subject to discrimination on top of living in harsh environments, bonded together in their bitterness against Earth…and tensions between the two groups would only be magnified as time passed. In 2158, anger on the immigrant side culminated in the founding of BAHRAM, an anti-Earth military unit based in Vacilia County, Mars – and its subsequent clandestine invention of the Metatron “Orbital Frame”, an entirely new type of LEV-like machine.

From there, it was one tragedy after another. The Deimos Incident. Anterior Intervention. The threat of orbital elevator destruction. Since the advent of BAHRAM and the Orbital Frame, the already precarious equilibrium keeping the peace between Earth and space was rapidly falling apart. And in 2173, amidst the political turmoil, another ship filled with immigrants left Earth for the Zone of the Enders…


Music: Strategy Explanation











: Ow!! What the…?!??!

: Heh heh…busted. You’re not getting away now.



: Ouch! Please let me go!

: Can’t do that. See, someone took my money…

: Oh, no, a burglary? That’s terrible! No, wait. You know what? They’ll be able to find it because at the Departure Gate they have…



: Huh?

: There’s no reason to tell anyone or look for the culprit. You know why, don’t you?

: Well…um…

: That’s because…

: Because…?





: Fine by me. If you do that, you’re the one that’ll suffer for it. I’ve got proof to back up my story right here.



Our protagonist, ladies and gentlemen.

:…Yeah, I went through a lot to get it.

: Wow, that’s great. Be careful so you don’t get that stolen. Well, I should really get going…see ya!



:…information from the National Space Force. I’ve downloaded all the security tapes onto it.



: That’s right. You left, and my wallet was gone.

: Hmph. So?

: You’re still going to play dumb, eh?!? You took my wallet!

: No…I didn’t steal anything.

: Why you little…!!!



: How…? Oh, I get it. You’re in on this too, aren’t you?

: I think that’s enough, sir. I would stop right there if I were you.

: What?! Who do you think…?!?!



:…way to do it.

: You want some of this?!



: Don’t, Ares. I’m fine. I can handle this…





: Really? Gee, thanks!

: Yeah, so let’s keep this a secret. OK?



: Are you okay, Cage?

: Yeah. You know that guy?

:…Nah. More importantly, why is it that you’re always in some sort of trouble?





: *Sigh* Well, we should get ready for landing. We’ll be landing at Deimos soon.

: I almost forgot. Come on, Ares, let’s go!



Music: Tension





: Yes, sir. It was working fine just a minute ago.

: Dammit. It has to happen on the flight that the higher-ups told me to be extra careful with.

: Oh, is it that “Mystery Cargo”? It’s gigantic this time. I wonder what’s in it.



: Sir, there’s nothing coming through on the radar.

: You can’t depend on computers…in my day, we manoeuvred manually through debris-filled magnetic fields…







A colossal explosion punctuates the captain’s words before the screen fades out.



:…there? Nobody’s supposed to be in here.)

Cage runs to where he thought he saw someone – there’s the sound of footsteps and an automatic door opening.



: Excuse me, Miss, this is a restricted area! Please return to your room; we will be landing shortly.



: Um…you’re in there, right? Come on out.



:…I guess I missed her.



: Oh! He-hello! What are you do…

A tremendous impact shakes the Bonaparte, and an enormous explosion sounds in the background.

Music: Enemy Mine



Alarms begin to wail – something has clearly gone very wrong with the ship.









: What should we do…? I’ll call Ares. He should be on Deck 3.

There is the sound of Cage typing on a keypad.





: (I can’t get through…what’s going on?!)

The screen shakes as another explosion rips through the Bonaparte.



: No! Why won’t they open?!

Cage pounds on the doors, to no avail.



: Heh. Uh, it looks like we’re locked in.

:…

: Don’t worry, though. I’m sure Ares will help us. Um…

:…



:…

: Uhh…DO – YOU – UN – DER – STAND? Comprende? Capisce?

:…pffttt…

: ???



: Well, it’s nice to meet you, Myona. Let’s get some help.

:…

:…



:…Time…

: Huh?

:…there’s no…time…

Yet more explosions tear the stricken ship apart.



: (!??!...What!?)

Music: Danger



: This is…this is…Oh my God, it’s an LEV. What’s it doing here? Who…? Someone tried to save us…

:…

Myona starts walking towards the LEV.



Cage follows after her, and there is the sound of the LEV’s cockpit opening.



:…board…

: Wait, I’m going to get on that too?

: Now…still…enough time…

:…Are you okay? You’re really pale.



: Wait…what am I supposed to do?!

:…take this…person…



The cockpit hatch shuts as Cage and Myona get inside.

: Oops. Sorry, I guess this is a one-man vehicle…

Suddenly the LEV’s thrusters start up!



:…Launch.

: Whooooooaaaaaa!!!



Now, there’s supposed to be words here saying “Scene 01 – On the Battle God’s Palm”. But for some reason Visual Boy Advance doesn’t like it and it gets scrambled like this. To counteract this every update’s title will be the same as the scene it focuses on.

Music: Sortie



:…

:…Good, she’s breathing. So…next step, separate from the main vestibule.





Cage, the ship was exploding for quite some time before you managed to get off it.



: It can’t be…hah hah…It’s a joke, right? I mean, it’s the Bonaparte…

: All Sequences Complete. Register Pilot, Please.

:…But everyone…Ares…It can’t be! It just can’t be!!

: Automatic Organic Breakdown Acquired. DNA Analysis Initiated. DNA Analysis Complete. All Regular. Registration Complete.



: They Are Not All Dead. 42 Living Recorded.

: What?! Who are you?!

: I Am The Vessel Navigation System.



:…go and save them!



Without warning, something strange appears in the distance and begins moving towards Cage!



:…Engagement.

: W-wait, we have to fight?!

: Affirmative. Object Believed To Be The Same That Attacked The Bonaparte.



Ah, the dreaded Narrative Parrot Syndrome. This incurable illness claims the lives of dozens of Japanese video game protagonist every year.



: What is that? An LEV? No…those wings…It’s almost like a…a…

: Will You Commence Attack?

:…Yes. What do I do?

: Acknowledged. Tactical AI Engaged.



Mission Map:



At this point the battle begins and the game transfers control over to us. We have the cursor hovering over Cage and his LEV, his mysterious opponent to the left and Deimos Station to the right.



Pressing ‘A’ on an empty square will bring up the Battle menu. From here we can end our turn, see a list of currently fielded units, check the mission objective, open the Options menu, save the game or, if the worst comes to the worst, start the whole map over again from the beginning.



If we press ‘A’ on Cage’s LEV, another menu appears allowing us to move to another position, attack anything in the unit’s range or check the status of the unit itself. Let’s quickly check the status of Cage’s LEV.



We’re given a brief overview of its status. It should be all fairly self-explanatory apart from maybe “Shell”, which is the mech’s Defence stat.



Pressing ‘A’ again brings us to another screen, this time listing the mech’s attacks. Power, range and accuracy modifiers are all catalogued, as well as the spirit, ammunition and energy requirements of each one. The bottom attack, Soulshooter, is highlighted in red since it requires 20 spirit points to be used. I’ll be going into the spirit mechanic in later updates.



Pressing ‘A’ a third time brings up the pilot screen. Here we can see Cage’s stats, level, experience, etc.



If we press ‘A’ on the enemy we can see their details too.







In comparison we see that whilst the enemy mech’s base stats are identical to our own, its attacks are far more powerful. The pilot’s stats are similar to Cage’s, with 10 more melee skill and five more avoid in exchange for ten less hit and shoot. The enemy is clearly a melee fighter, so our best option would be to attack from range.



And what luck! He’s just in range of our Tear Bullet attack.





A screen pops up showing us various stats and figures. The Time figure in the upper middle of the screen is the number of seconds we’ll have to land a hit on the enemy. Atk is naturally the damage we’ll do if we score a hit, and the Hit percentage dictates both the size of our crosshairs if we’re using the IAS system and our flat chances of hitting should we choose not to. We will be using it, so let’s get started.



This is where most of the action will take place during battles. With the IAS System enabled the player will be transferred to this screen after confirming an attack.



After a brief moment the enemy will begin to move around the screen. The player must chase after them with the targeting reticule and press ‘A’ when the enemy is in their sights in order to score a hit. The enemy doesn’t have to be in the very centre of the reticule – the game is in face quite generous and will allow a hit as long as some part of the foe’s sprite is inside the target box. Note also the timer, which runs down and forces you to act quickly to land a hit on the enemy. If the time runs out and your reticule is on the enemy it is treated as a hit. If not, you’ll miss. If you look closely you’ll also see a small red and blue dot in the middle of the enemy frame – this is a weak spot and hitting it will score a critical hit, dealing 150% normal damage.

Anyway, I manage to score a hit.









The game shows us an animation of our mech attacking and then the enemy takes damage, followed by us receiving some experience points. You receive Exp for every successful attack.



Units that have already acted become greyed out on the map screen. Since Cage’s LEV is currently our only unit this means our turn is effectively over and our next move is to end the Phase and let the enemy take a shot at us.



The screen fades out, and now it’s the enemy’s turn.

Music: Sudden Assault





As expected, the enemy closes to melee range and engages us.



We get a similar screen to when we attacked, but from the other side this time.



We get the same IAS screen, but this time we’re the ones who have to evade the enemy’s crosshairs.



Unlike you, the enemy can shoot as many crosshairs out as they want. If any one of theirs manages to catch your blue circle for more than a half second then you’re eating a hit.

Luckily I manage to evade the enemy’s attack, although the animation of them attacking still plays.





That attack can kill me in two hits, so I’m glad I didn’t get hit by it. Since there are no other enemies the turn immediately ends and now it’s my turn once more.



Since the enemy is right next to us, let’s have a look at Cage’s melee attack, Rusty Lancer.



It does more damage and is more accurate than Tear Bullet. Sounds good to me!



The same thing happens as before, and once again I score a hit.







We deal some more damage, and once again Cage gains experience. This time he gains enough to level up. It’s not only his stats that get better, either – his LEV’s stats also increase by a small amount, as does the damage his attacks deal.

All in all, things are looking good – the enemy has lost half his health and I’ve escaped his counterattack.



On his turn the opponent once again tries for a melee strike.



This time I get careless and screw up, allowing him to hit me.







:…special?



: Analysis Complete. Unidentified Object Classified As “Hostile”.

This small conversation only plays if you get hit. As my turn begins again things are looking more even – both mechs have around the same HP. Looks can be deceiving, however – this is a scripted fight. As soon as the enemy drops below 1,000 HP a scene plays out.



: What? You’re breaking up.

: Comm Disabled. Possibly Due To Resonant Interference. Origin Unknown.

: I see…means that…I didn’t want…destroy…my own hands.



: Evasive action?! How?!







: Identical Enemy Detected. Reroute Impossible.

: I could never save myself. If Ares were here…



:…Imp…Impossible…Help…Ve…i…

: Are you crying?

: Recording Complete. Evasion Impossible.





: Farewell, Pharsti…

: Noooooo!!!







: Unidentified Object Losing Power…

: We did it!

: Heh. It looks like we’re out of time…

The enemy unit retreats, vanishing from the field. Meanwhile an alarm starts up in the cockpit of Cage’s LEV.



: We Have Entered The Gravitational Field Of Mars. Approaching Atmosphere.

: Can’t…can’t anything be done?

: No.

: Are you always so direct?

: Would You Prefer A Vague Answer To Your Inquiry? It Would Not Change The Facts, But…







Music: Every Day







And that’s it for the first update.

Scintilla fucked around with this message at 20:08 on Jul 3, 2013

sesame_samuel_
Dec 24, 2012



Pork Pro

Mysterious quiet girl? Unknown powerful adversary? Young semi-naive boy thrust into sudden dangerous situation and forced to adapt quickly to a strange and useful new weapon, a mech no less? You weren't lying about the tropes in your OP there.

That being said, the tropes are not obnoxious to me and I'm itching for answers. I may have to pick this game up soon, based on the title theme alone. Great start to this game and LP, Scintilla.

TheLastRoboKy
May 2, 2009

Finishing the game with everyone else's continues


This game was pretty much my gateway drug into Super Robot Wars games due to their similarities and my enjoying the absolute hell out of this game and needing more. Looking forwards to the trip down memory lane on this one.

TheBystander
Apr 28, 2011


Yeah, I love this game. It's not really good, especially now that I've played multiple Super Robot Wars, but there's something about it I find charming.

Admittedly, it's also really easy... I've never seen a game where I could hit on a 0% chance, or dodge a 100% chance before. I've always wondered how the game would change if I played it without the IAS. Likely much, much harder.

Calax
Oct 5, 2011



Just a side note on the franchise as a whole.

Both of the "main" games got remastered editions for the current gen consoles. And you should totally buy them... even if it's only really for the second game (which is phenominal).

Also there's a cheapish anime out.

XavierGenisi
Nov 7, 2009





I actually enjoyed this game way back when. The IAS mechanic makes it easy to not really care about too much strategy, from what I remember. The plot was pretty good, and because I dig giant robots, I liked seeing the various robots that would show up in this game.

Also, there's actually a plot branch in this game? First time I've heard of it. I'm looking forward to seeing what this one is about.

Dariusknight
Jul 8, 2012


Calax posted:

Just a side note on the franchise as a whole.

Both of the "main" games got remastered editions for the current gen consoles. And you should totally buy them... even if it's only really for the second game (which is phenominal).

Also there's a cheapish anime out.

The anime is nothing to write home about, although it does touch on some of the issues the games brought up about alienation, racism and isolationism. The remastered games are great, especially for the original which while far inferior to Second Runner, I enjoyed more because you really felt for Leo in that game and grew as he did. This game on the the other hand IMO was the best in the series even if it's a side story that had very little relation to the series. The story was well written and the fact that you find out that Pharsti is Myona's personality inserted into a Orbital Frame AI blew my mind.

Omnicrom
Aug 3, 2007
Snorlax Afficionado




Yeah, this is basically a stripped-down more action oriented Super Robot Wars in all the ways that count. I had fun with it. Zone of Enders as a franchise has been kind of dead for a while now, frankly I think making an appearance in Super Robot Wars would be good for it. It's Earth vs. Space dichotomy, cool giant robots, and overall weirdness would make a good fit for that series.

As for the anime there was actually a prequel One-Shot OVA about the first orbital frame along with a 26 episode anime. From what I've heard neither were anything to write home about.

Scintilla
Aug 24, 2010

I BEAT HIGHFORT
and all I got was this
jackass monkey


XavierGenisi posted:

I actually enjoyed this game way back when. The IAS mechanic makes it easy to not really care about too much strategy, from what I remember. The plot was pretty good, and because I dig giant robots, I liked seeing the various robots that would show up in this game.

Also, there's actually a plot branch in this game? First time I've heard of it. I'm looking forward to seeing what this one is about.

The IAS system can be cheesed to an incredible degree, but turning it off and leaving everything up to the AI has some big disadvantages. The designers seem to have expected people to use it so the alternative has some issues.

And yes, there is a plot branch that triggers depending on what you do in Episode 12. Spoilers for exact details - it depends on whether you kill more enemies than the Mars Angels. If you don't manage it then Bolozof winds up as the main villain.

mkwong98
Feb 8, 2013


Winkysoft developed the game, so it is no wonder they copied the system from SRW.

Omnicrom
Aug 3, 2007
Snorlax Afficionado




mkwong98 posted:

Winkysoft developed the game, so it is no wonder they copied the system from SRW.

Oh those dudes. Well that would explain why the system is like SRW but barer and with fewer good bells and whistles if it was made by the people behind the creation of the old Masoukishin game.

Scintilla
Aug 24, 2010

I BEAT HIGHFORT
and all I got was this
jackass monkey


Terminology File #1

As mentioned in the first update, the Terminology file in the Options menu contains some relatively detailed information on the various bits of technobabble and science-fictiony stuff that appears in the ZOE universe. I'll be transcribing the entries as we encounter them; the only time I'll hold any back will be if the text contains future plot spoilers, which a few do.

--

Urenbeck Catapult
Derived from Metatron technology, the Urenbeck Catapult utilizes the distortion and potential energy of space to enable travel through space at great speeds. Because tremendous amounts of electricity and power are necessary to activate this device, it is not used for regular commercial purposes. Currently, a Catapult can be found at L2 on Earth and Deimos near Mars. There is also a Catapult on the L2 on Europa near Jupiter, which is used as the gateway to the Anterior.


LEV
Laborious Extra-Orbital Vehicle. Developed to facilitate the building of space stations and colonies. Manned vehicle used for transportation in space.


Ender
Refers to an inhabitant of space in the area between Mars and Jupiter, the "end of the world" - the term connotes a country bumpkin. For Earthlings, the word is used to describe inhabitants of Mars; for Martians, it points to those living in Jupiter territory.


Orbital Frame
Known as an OF. Battle unit invented and used by BAHRAM. Because it runs on the precious resource metatron, it is much faster and stronger than an LEV.


Deimos Incident
Terrorist attack by anti-Earth officials of BAHRAM. The Orbital Frame, which was being tested by BAHRAM, was seized, the UNSF was assaulted, and Deimos Station was engulfed in a terrible tragedy. Since then, the Orbital Frame has become public property, and tensions between Earth and Mars have been on the rise.


Metatron
Considered one of the two greatest discovers in space development, along with the LEV, this mineral ore was found on Callisto, a moon of Jupiter, in the early 21st century. Widely researched and applied in a number of different fields.


Handy PC
Mobile device given to Cage by Lewy. Although small, it has the largest memory allocation in its class and can even play memories.


Debris
Floating space garbage comprised of satellites and other flotsam. Very dangerous, as it can move at speeds of up to several kilometers per second.


Burst Attack
Highly effective type of attack in which the output of the fighter unit is increased temporarily.

--

These files help add context to some of the game's terms, and are especially useful if you haven't played either of the other games in the series.

Ashsaber
Oct 24, 2010

Deploying Swordbreakers!

College Slice

I'll be watching this with interest, as I've puttered through the first 7-8 chapters of this before. I do think the characters and story might be interesting to watch, and that the battle system was kinda neat (other than Pharsti bitching at you for not getting crits). However, it lacks the interesting bits that come in SRW, like senshins. The animations also lack weight, and never show attacks actually hitting. Special/heavy attack? Guess we'll just do a basic attack with 3 flashes. The homing laser alike? Looks incredibly rough.

I had some fun with this game, but some things, like afformentioned animations, or the near total lack of post movement weapons that have a range of more than 1 are just kinda offputting. Guess I'm just used to later GBA SRWs.

Oh god, this post looks like some sort of stream of conciousness nightmare.

RBA Starblade
Apr 27, 2008

Going Home.



Games Idiot Court Jester


Scintilla posted:

And yes, there is a plot branch that triggers depending on what you do in Episode 12. Spoilers for exact details - it depends on whether you kill more enemies than the Mars Angels. If you don't manage it then Bolozof winds up as the main villain.

When I played this game as a kid I thought there was something more to that level, but never really figured out what, since I always got the same result. There are some other small things you can do earlier as well iirc. I don't remember anything about it though to know why that makes a difference though. I always enjoyed this game, but IAS makes it trivial once you figure out that as long as you keep the cursor moving clockwise around the frame of the screen, you will never get hit.

RBA Starblade fucked around with this message at 04:21 on Mar 15, 2013

Tae
Oct 24, 2010

Hello? Can you hear me? ...Perhaps if I shout? AAAAAAAAAH!


I remember this game from my childhood, and recently played it a month ago, I don't know how the gently caress I played it multiple times. The gameplay is the barest bare-bones SRPG you will ever find within the last 20 years without the IAS.

azren
Feb 13, 2011





I have to admit, I saw this and thought "Jesus Christ, sending Anubis after a single LEV!? That's just unnecessary!" In my defense, they look somewhat similar...

Looking forward to this, by the way. I never played this because I kinda suck at SRPGs (I'm going to force my way through Jeanne d'Arc, damnit!), but I love the main games.

Farseli
Sep 28, 2009

This is what I live for. This is the purpose of living, for those who have no life.

You really don't need any skill at SRPGs to get through this game. I'm terrible at them but good at the IAS which allowed me to go though entire battles without ever getting hit. Enemy hit chance is 95%? Might as well be 0%!

Scintilla
Aug 24, 2010

I BEAT HIGHFORT
and all I got was this
jackass monkey


Tae posted:

I remember this game from my childhood, and recently played it a month ago, I don't know how the gently caress I played it multiple times. The gameplay is the barest bare-bones SRPG you will ever find within the last 20 years without the IAS.

The battle system is admittedly very primitive compared to other SRPG's on the same system such as Super Robot Wars. I also played it through multiple times, although that might be because it was one of the few games I had back then.

...You know, it's a funny story about how I discovered this game. Back in the day when internet was slow and wasn't the best source for gaming news I used to buy Nintendo gaming magazines to keep up with what was current. We don't have Nintendo Power here in England, so I usually bought either Nintendo Official Magazine or NGC, but occasionally I'd buy other mags when neither were available. One time that happened I managed to get a magazine containing full guides for both Breath of Fire II and Zone of the Enders: Fist of Mars. It had screenshots, detailed strategy explanations and everything. Being an impressionable teenager I thought "Wow, those games look cool!" And so I looked out for them whenever I was able to visit GAME.

I forget what the mag was called - I certainly don't have it anymore. But eventually I got both games and enjoyed the hell out of them. And that's the strange story of the day.

Scintilla
Aug 24, 2010

I BEAT HIGHFORT
and all I got was this
jackass monkey


Chapter Two – Perpetual Motion

Welcome back. Last time our protagonist rescued a mysterious girl and escaped a stricken transport ship in an LEV. After doing battle with the one who shot the ship down, he was pulled down into Mars’s gravity well.

Music: Intermission



Before we continue, we’re hit with the intermission screen. This always appears between chapters. There are a number of things we can do here – Save, Load, Status and Options are all things we’ve come across before. Next Stage will naturally advance the game to the next level. The only really interesting option here right now is “Balance”.



Selecting it brings up a list of mechs. Since we only have Cage here he’s the only one we can choose.



Selecting Cage’s LEV lets us fiddle around with the two balancers at the bottom. The balancers adjust priority – in the case of attack, you can boost the power of your strikes in exchange for lowering their accuracy and vice versa. The same goes for the escape balancer – you can choose to increase your chance of successfully evading an attack in exchange for taking more damage if you get hit and vice versa. This has varying effects depending on whether you’re using the IAS system or not. If you are, the speed and size of your cursor is affected. If not, it’s just a flat percentage change.

I don’t have a strong preference, so I leave the balancers where they are. All that’s left to do is to proceed to the next stage.

Music: Every Day



: Uh…Uhhhh…

: Are you okay?

: Wh…where am I?



: I’ve been better.

: Hm? Where’s the lev?

: The lev? Oh, the LEV?

: Quick! We have to get moving!



: What’s going on?! You’re the one who told me to get on this thing – wait…you don’t remember, do you?

: No…I don’t even know my name, or even what I’m doing here.

: So…what’s that? I guess it’s…





Yep, it’s that old chestnut again. Not having a ~mysterious amnesiac girl~ would be against regulations.

: What am I going to do?

: Well, I do know one thing. Your name is Myona Alderan.

: Myona…that’s my name?

: Uh-huh. That’s all I know too, ‘cause we just met.



: Did you always talk like that? I had a completely different impression of you before.

:…I’d be able to tell you if I remembered “before”…

: Sorry To Interrupt…

: Is that an interface program?



: H-hello.

: Nice to meet you, Pharsti.

: Likewise.

: This system is more advanced than usual.



: I know, technology these days…wait. Does that mean you remember something?

: Ah, you’re right. This is an LEV, Pharsti is a program, the knife goes on the right and the fork goes on the left…

: OK, this is good, I haven’t forgotten the basics. Let’s see, maybe I can remember some stuff about myself too…Ummm…Uh…

: Hey, there’s no need to rush. Just take your time, and I’m sure the problem will take care of itself. I’ll help out in whatever way I can as well.



: Brain Activity Levels Recorded At Normal. Would You Like A Full Analysis? Analysis On Cellular Level Also Available, Genetic Testing…

: No thanks, I’m fine for now.

: We need to figure out where we are now.

: Where we are?



:…atmosphere?!



: *Gasp* What was that?!



Three LEV’s appear around Cage.

: That LEV…



: Oh good. Help is on the way. Now all we have to do…

: This is a warning to the pilot in the unregistered LEV. You have destroyed public property and have endangered the safety and well-being of the community!

Music: Enemy Mine

: Therefore, you will be arrested in accordance with our statute on vandalism and destruction of property!



: (I wonder if I was a bad person…)



The screen fades out, but don’t worry. It’s time for a ~cryptic scene~.

Music: Black Ops



:…entertaining people anyway…

: At any rate, I am hardly the type to be accommodating toward the practices found in other countries. If you are not willing to help out, there will be problems.

: *Snicker* Then I guess there’s no choice. I’m not so desperate that I would steal from others.

: Fear not. That special someone of yours is safe – one must be careful with such precious collateral. Those in the immediate surroundings are not so lucky, of course…



: I see. So it’s been done.

: Plan 261 has been executed.

: Maintain confidentiality, eh? Nonsense.

: A bigger web catches more prey. It’s their own fault for being so stupid as to get caught.



:…mistakes, covering it up with yet another fiasco…

: That’s just the way things work. More importantly, you haven’t had so much as a bite of the Natural Beef. You didn’t like it? It’s better while it’s still warm…

:…I guess it would make sense that, as a Martian, I don’t care for Earthling food. We’ve been conditioned to become this way for so many years, to not be human…

:…Well, that sounds a little bitter. But isn’t the one most precious to you an Earthling also? Didn’t you ever learn that hypocrisy is something to be ashamed of?



: OK, that’s enough. We’re not getting any more done by being here. Go home and get some rest.

: Yes sir!

: Well, you just watch your step there. You can never be too careful. See you later…



:…should enjoy it while it lasts. Once the system is completed…heh heh, they’ll be sorry they ever disrespected me.



And so the scene ends. It’s one of those things that may or may not make sense much further down the line. But what about our lovable hero, Cage? Let’s find out what’s happening to him.

Music: Tension



: So I’ve been telling you, if you’ll just listen to my side of the story…

: Ah yes, about how you were attacked by the devil and made an emergency landing on Mars?

: Not the devil, an LEV that LOOKED LIKE the devil. I was working on the Bonaparte III as a…

: Silence, you terrorist!!

: Terrorist?!



: I know! I can prove it – just look at the security satellite record, and you’ll see that we landed in that LEV – we came in through the atmosphere, and…

: If you’re going to lie anyway, make it more believable! Besides, there’s no such record – which means you were on the surface to begin with. There’s no doubt that you attacked the UNSF facilities a few hours ago. I don’t know yet where you hid the new LEV, but finding it is just a matter of time. Because of you, countless civilians have suffered…

The security officer slams his fists down on the table, rattling the screen.



:…you do!

: Why?! I didn’t do anything wrong!!

: I escaped only to find myself in the middle of a battle, and I’ve only been trying to save myself…



Gotta say, Cage has a point. This security guy seems to have no real evidence to back up his claims. He can’t possibly claim with certainty that Cage is lying to him…can he?



: OK, now you’re trying to earn my sympathy. You’ll be feeling real sorry for yourself once I catch you out. Bonaparte III went down, and so did everyone on it. You really thought you could fool me like that, son?

: Wh…what do you mean?

: THIS is what I mean.



:…Lieutenant Noachim, who surveyed the crash site, the tragedy looks to be associated with engine trouble or some sort of misjudgement by the pilot; there are no survivors. Among those listed as passengers are Earth inhabitants Adam Twize, Alman Ov…

: Understand? Everyone is dead. The investigation is closed.

Oh dear. This can’t be good.



: No…

:…Wha??

: You’ll have time to repent in your cell. Interrogation begins tomorrow…Arrest them!

:…

The screen fades out while Cage is taken to the cell block.



: Calm down.

: Calm down? How am I supposed to calm down? I didn’t do anything!

: I don’t know what’s going on either, but I know you’re no criminal. Besides, the Cage Midwell who was on the news as a deceased passenger wasn’t you.

: What?



: Tell me everything that happened up until now.

: OK…

Cage explains how he came to be in the situation he is in now. Myona then tries to come up with an explanation for the apparent discrepancies in his story.



:…up directly to the upper strata where the Bonaparte is…then he approaches and attacks.

: Wait a minute! How did he get up to the upper strata? And how in the world is it my fault now?

: Well…I’d say there are two different ways of looking at it. First, perhaps it was someone high-profile, who wanted to avoid a scandal – like a politician, or a relative of a politician. Or it’s also possible that there was nobody on board – an unmanned fighter.

: But…it was talking.



:…possible. Even the LEV that we were on could talk.

For someone who’s lost her memory, Myona seems to have rather intimate knowledge about how this scheme could have been pulled off.

: That’s true…you remember that?

: Strange…I wonder why? Hmm…no, I can’t remember anything else. Anyway, that black LEV that you fought against is a new model, and they’re probably trying to cover up its activity.



:…secret…

: They’re going to say that there were no witnesses, and that the LEV that attacked Bonaparte was the LEV we were on. What do you think?

: Wh…what are we going to do? If we don’t do something, they’ll…

A beeping noise interrupts Cage’s babbling.

Music: Promise of Reunion



: Oh…yeah…

: It’s very pretty…and very…familiar…

: That’s Ares playing.

: Ares?

: What’s wrong?



: Actually this song marks the beginning of our friendship. It was a very important moment in my life.

:…

: I have to live through this. For Ares, and for everyone else.

: You’re right, you can’t give up now.



If it wasn’t already clear, Cage has something of a dependency complex where Ares is concerned. But before he can elaborate further…

Music: Conversation with Friends

Aw, that’s cruel. Are you saying you don’t want me around anymore?

?!



: Cage. Come over here and let me see your face. I’m opening up the peephole now.

: A…res? It’s got to…be a dream…but…

: OK. Just another step forward…

: OWWW!!



: Ares!! It’s you!! Ares! It really is you!!

: Alright, let’s save the touching reunion for later, and figure out how to undo this lock and get you out of here.

: Here’s the combination.

: Huh?!

: Don’t be scared – I’m on your side. I’ve been listening to what you’ve been saying, so I understand the situation. Now punch in the combination I’m about to give you. First number is…

A series of beeps follows, then the sound of a door opening.



: OK. Let’s go!

: OK!

: Wait! Aren’t you going to let me out?



This screen should say “Scene 02: Perpetual Motion”.

Player Phase Music: Sortie
Enemy Phase Music: Sudden Assault



:…how did you know where to find us?

: I actually escaped in a pod. I was watching the local news, and it said that all the people who escaped had died in the accident. And then I found out that you were under arrest as the culprit…so I came to your rescue.

This would seem to prove Myona’s coverup theory. Remember how Pharsti detected forty two life-signs after the Bonaparte was destroyed? Ares must have been one of those. On the other hand, this jars with the news reports that there were no survivors. Something very strange is going on here.



:…case.

: Well, I’m…I guess I’m glad too.

: Oops, almost forgot. This here is Myona. We escaped together.

: Pleased to meet you, Mr. Ares. My name is Myona.

: Huh?



:…ship?

: She can’t remember? Hmm. No, I don’t think we know each other.

:…Here we are…

: That’s the LEV we came in on…

: And you are…?





Before Deckson can continue, two hostile LEV’s appear to the south west.

: On second thought, it’s too early for that. Never mind. You arrived in that LEV, did you say? If you could just hold on for a little while…my friend has no concept of time.

: Certainly.



: It Has Been Exactly 8 Hours And 37 Minutes. Passenger Check…All Systems Go.

: Thank God everything’s up and running.

: I’m Sorry, Last Command Not Recognised. Please Repeat.

: Oh, don’t worry about it…we need to buy time.



: Yeah, I suppose you could look at it like that. Oh, and don’t aim at the cockpit…and even if I do, don’t let me, OK?

: Disable But Do Not Destroy…Acknowledged.

Just a side note – this has no practical gameplay effects whatsoever. You can still nail critical hits and whatnot.



Mission Map:



The game now gives you control of the battlefield. The first thing we need to do is check out the enemy LEV’s to the west.





Security LEV Model A isn’t nearly as tough as the Black Frame. Lower defence and HP means we can actually kill it fairly easily.



It has a close range attack with a small blade and a ranged handgun attack. Neither are particularly threatening.



The pilot is a generic. Again, nothing too special. How about the other one?





At first glance, Security LEV Model B appears to be the same. However…



Instead of a handgun it’s toting the heavier and more powerful but more range-restricted machinegun. It’s still not too much to worry about, but it’s two on one and it doesn’t pay to be careless.



Since I don’t have any attacks that can hit the enemy from my starting position I decide to move towards them. Notice how there’s a movement penalty for travelling over mountains and buildings? That doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t go there.



This is because they give you bonuses to defence and/or evasion. Different terrain provides different bonuses, and you can check them by moving the cursor over an empty square and pressing “B”.



I move Cage’s LEV to just outside the enemy LEV’s ranged attack range. He’ll be forced to attack with his Laser Blade, which I can easily avoid. I end the turn and await his attack



As expected, Security LEV A moves to attack at close range. His targeting cursors will be tiny and only bother me for three seconds. He gamely tries to hit me, but to no avail.



He misses, the other Security LEV moves up and the enemy’s turn ends.



Since the enemy has been kind enough to get in my face I give him a good slashing with Rusty Lancer.



He won’t survive another hit like that.





Once again he tries to cut me once his turn rolls around, and this time he succeeds in nicking me. This isn’t really too much of an issue…



Until the other enemy LEV decides to attack me with his Machinegun.



Luckily he also misses and my turn rolls around again.





I immediately obliterate the damaged LEV.



I gain 100 Cash for doing so. Destroying enemy units is the only way of getting money in this game, which can then be used at the Garage to upgrade your LEV’s.



Also note that Cage’s Spirit level has gone up by 6. Spirit goes up whenever you shoot down an enemy. Once you have enough spirit you can access powerful Burst Attacks like the Soulshooter Cage used in the scripted event last update.



My next attack against the remaining LEV scores a critical and almost kills it in one attack.



The next strike finishes the job.



:…



Four more LEV’s suddenly activate in the detention centre.



: Well, Tim…oops, I guess I’m supposed to call you Frazer now…I haven’t done anything, as a matter of fact. Earth has been antagonizing Mars for a while now, and as they say, what goes around comes around. I’m just helping out a little with the natural progression of things.

: You haven’t changed a bit, Deckson. Unfortunately for you, this is the last chance you’ll have to spout off your self-serving speeches. You will all be charged the heaviest penalty available for escaping incarceration. Capital punishment for you all!



As if that wasn’t bad enough, five more enemy LEV’s emerge from ambush around Cage’s LEV, surrounding him.

: Now cut it out and take responsibility for your own actions!

: Well…no thanks.



Without warning, one of the LEV’s explodes violently!

Music: Onward to Victory



It seems the ambushers have themselves been ambushed by a new LEV!

: WHAT?!



: That’s not possible…you’re saying they hit it at that distance?!

Uh, it’s actually not that hard. Cage’s Tear Bullet has a similar range, y’know.



Yet another LEV appears below the other one.

: Boy, who you callin’ Planet Airhead Girl?! You wanna take this outside?

: Stoppp, you’re s-scaring me!

(He’s gonna get it later on…)



: Phil…we’ve grown roots waiting for you. Come on all, climb aboard. Don’t worry, they’re all trustworthy.

: Um…But…

: Uhh…

: Come on, we don’t have a choice. If we don’t go with them, we’ll be executed for sure.



: Hmm? Okay…

: OK…Cage, do you copy?

: Yes, I hear you.

: We’re going to have to separate. Visibility on this end is bad, and it’s dangerous. You’ll have to navigate.

: Where should I go?



: Guide us to that point. Good luck. Semyl! Razma! He’s my guest, and he’s coming with me.

: Got it, boss. We’ll take good care of him. Let’s go!

: What’s with the new lingo?



: OK, let’s get going! Nice to meet you, new guy!

: Uh-huh…uh…



The game gives us back control at this point. We now have three new units to play around with, so let’s check them out starting with the first one that appeared.







Razma is the team’s sniper, and his LEV, the Dreizehn, is well-suited for the task. His standard Long Rifle attack has a range of seven squares, which is huge at this point. For shorter ranges he has the standard Laser Blade as well as a stock of six Grenades to throw. On the other hand, every one of the Dreizehn’s attacks costs either Energy or Ammo to use, and Razma’s melee skills are sorely lacking. You want to keep him off the frontlines so that he can snipe enemies from far away whilst your other LEV’s take the brunt of the fighting.

Speaking of which, let’s check out the second LEV nearby.







Semyl’s Caliburnus is the heavy hitter of the team. It’s a bucket full of HP, armour and weapons that can and will ruin any enemy that comes too close. It’s powerful over medium range and packs a mean punch with both missile and energy weapons, but it suffers from low movement range. Unfortunately this can often result in Semyl getting left behind in some of the later missions, but once she gets back in range things will start exploding.

Finally, there’s the transport that picked up Deckson and the others.







In terms of combat, the Blade is worthless. It has terrible armour and whilst its Beam Cannon might look strong it will quickly end up being outclassed by every other unit in the game. It doesn’t help that Phil is a pretty poor pilot with fairly low stats all around. The real use of the Blade is as a utility unit – note the Repair System it’s equipped with, which lets it restore HP to any unit that needs it.



Now, I realise that Deckson said we should get the hell out of dodge ASAP, but we’re not going to do that. Running away means leaving the enemy LEV’s behind, and that means less exp and cash for us. It’s always a good idea to destroy as many enemies as possible during any given mission.



So let’s start by testing out the Caliburnus’s missles.



Bullseye.





With less than 400 HP left, the hapless LEV can now be finished off with Razma’s Long Rifle. Just look at that delicious hit rating.





Needless to say, the enemy does not survive.



My final act on this turn is to move the Blade away from Frazer and his goons. The plan is to consolidate our forces here by crushing the remaining LEV’s and then returning to take the fight to Frazer.



Nothing interesting happens on the enemy phase – the three LEV’s on the left side of the map attack Cage and Semyl with their Laser Blades, but none manage to score a hit. Frazer’s group also starts moving west to intercept us.



Cage retaliates by stabbing his attacker with Rusty Lancer…







…and Phil finishes him off, netting two consecutive level-ups.



Up north the situation is more complicated. Semyl’s Caliburnus is mostly boxed in by the two enemy LEV’s, and whilst she could move away she wouldn’t be able to use her weapons until next turn. The only choice is to attack with her Laser Blade. The designated victim this time is the LEV directly below her.



A lucky critical hit brings the opponent down to low HP. Once again Razma is now free to go for the kill…but wait a minute…



Razma’s kill last turn was enough to give him the necessary Spirit to use his Burst Attack, Calamity Kiss. We could use this to take down the damaged LEV…



…or we could use it to one-shot the other LEV from full health.







The enemy takes its turn, but again, nothing interesting happens.



The remaining LEV over here is a non-threat, so I use my next turn to group all of my forces together to meet Frazer’s push.





The enemy tries to attack Semyl with a machinegun, but misses.



I decide to Grenade him for his impudence.





The rest of the turn is spent getting everyone into position just outside Frazer’s movement range.



Now we can go to town. Frazer is piloting the LEV at the very back of the column. He’s the only real threat on this map – everyone else is more or less a scrub.



The Caliburnus fires the opening shot, targeting the nearest LEV.





Razma then finishes him with his Long Rifle.





Cage targets the next in line with a Tear Bullet, bringing it down to half HP.



Phil then finishes it with the Blade. This map is now essentially won – only one of the remaining LEV’s can get close enough to hit us, and Frazer won’t be able to hit us at all.



The enemy chooses to attack Phil. I don’t even bother dodging, with damage that low.



Our turn rolls around again. Phil and Razma put an end to the final generic LEV, leaving Frazer to face us alone.



Frazer is a pretty good pilot, but he’s crippled by being in the same weak Security LEV his subordinates were using.



Cage manages to nail him with Tear Bullet. Not sure what happened with the screenshot, it should be showing the damage he did.







Then Semyl cripples him completely, gaining a titanic amount of experience in the process. Bosses give out a lot of exp, so it’s always useful to try and hit one if you can, even if it’s just a cherry-tap.



:…you! You remember that!!

Frazer ejects as his LEV goes up in flames.

: Goody! Now we can escape!

: Hmm. Good job, Cage.

: Wow! You didn’t strike me as being that reliable…I’m so impressed!

: Er…yeah, thanks.

:…



Everyone retreats and the screen fades to black.

Music: Black Ops



: Who the hell are you? Where is your identification?

: UNSF Special Task Force Acemos. Nadia Candido. Satisfied?

: *Gulp* Acemos…? The army’s elite force…?

: Who the hell are YOU, and where the hell is YOUR identification?

: I’m very sorry. As his superior, I am ready to take responsibility for his wrongdoing.



:…security supervisor.

: I aim only to fulfil my post as I am instructed.

: Anyway, I will let the heads know about this. You take it from there.

: Yes, ma’am.

Nadia walks away.

: Is she an acquaintance of yours?



:…ago.

: I see…

The screen and music fade out.



We receive a report about all the spoils we received from the last battle.

Music: Intermission



And that’s this chapter over with. Next time I’ll go into the upgrade system and explain how the Garage works. Until then…

Scintilla fucked around with this message at 20:07 on Jul 3, 2013

cokerpilot
Apr 23, 2010

Battle Brothers! Stop coming to meetings drunk and trying to adopt Tevery Best!

Lord General! Stop standing on the table and making up stupid operation names!

Emperor, why do I put up with these people?


Clever ploy there.

Tuxedo Ted
Apr 23, 2007



It's kinda neat to see a Zone game focused on the LEVs. All the background fluff goes on and on about how wonderful and influential they are, but the main Zone games just treat them as punching bags for the Orbital Frame pilots to show off how tough they are in comparison.

Seraphic Neoman
Jul 19, 2011




...There are upgrades in this game?
It really says something about IAS that I managed to get through the whole game without knowing that.
I was like 10 at the time

Tae
Oct 24, 2010

Hello? Can you hear me? ...Perhaps if I shout? AAAAAAAAAH!


Tuxedo Ted posted:

It's kinda neat to see a Zone game focused on the LEVs. All the background fluff goes on and on about how wonderful and influential they are, but the main Zone games just treat them as punching bags for the Orbital Frame pilots to show off how tough they are in comparison.

Oh. Well then, the game ends here!

TheLastRoboKy
May 2, 2009

Finishing the game with everyone else's continues


I forgot how hilarious Phil looks. More specifically Phil's cranky face there near the end.

senrath
Nov 3, 2009

Look Professor, a destruct switch!




Oh man, I need to see if I can find my copy of this game to play again. This was the first introduction I had to the Zone of the Enders series, although I never did beat it. I don't remember why.

Koorisch
Mar 29, 2009


I remember playing this about when it came out, never really got anywhere due to me not getting how I was supposed to be playing because back then I hadn't yet heard of the SRW series before I played this so my experience with this game was less that stellar due to me failing to get anywhere and then forgetting about it completely for about ten years.

Spiritus Nox
Sep 2, 2011



Hm. This looks interesting enough, for a poor man's SRW. I keep meaning to try zone of the enders, Mecha lover that I am,but circumstances never seem to permit it.

I'm kind of surprised ZOE hasn't made an SRW appearance yet, honestly. It seems like the sort of thing Kojima would love to do, and it's not like any part of it would be at all hard to work into your average Gundam plot or something.

bewilderment
Nov 22, 2007
man what





Oh boy, I remember playing this game all those years ago and finding it weirdly addictive.

I hope you like text, folks, because that's what you'll be reading most of the time, rather than playing. If it went any further in that direction it'd be a visual novel with occasional SRPG elements.

And yeah, in later missions I found that Semyl was really lagging behind everyone else because of having such terrible movement. Meanwhile, Razma in the Dreizehn was more than capable of hanging out with the heavy hitters and because of his long range letting him soak up XP.

I also heard that turning off IAS makes the game incredibly hard since you can no longer dodge everything. I never bothered to test this.

Scintilla
Aug 24, 2010

I BEAT HIGHFORT
and all I got was this
jackass monkey


Tuxedo Ted posted:

It's kinda neat to see a Zone game focused on the LEVs. All the background fluff goes on and on about how wonderful and influential they are, but the main Zone games just treat them as punching bags for the Orbital Frame pilots to show off how tough they are in comparison.

We'll be encountering and using Orbital Frames in future missions, but the normal LEV's will never lose their usefulness. Orbital Frames have their own strengths and weaknesses and won't just stomp all over everything, although we'll begin seeing them more and more as the game progresses.

theshim
May 1, 2012

You think you can defeat ME, Ephraimcopter?!?

You couldn't even beat Assassincopter!!!


I have zero experience with ZotE, so I'm interested to see where this goes...although the of it is already grating at me.

Dariusknight
Jul 8, 2012


Scintilla posted:

We'll be encountering and using Orbital Frames in future missions, but the normal LEV's will never lose their usefulness. Orbital Frames have their own strengths and weaknesses and won't just stomp all over everything, although we'll begin seeing them more and more as the game progresses.

Truthfully, the LEVs are far more useful than the OFs, other than a couple that we won't see until much later in the game and if you don't bother upgrading them (save for Cage's which can be very badass if you're really good at getting the money and the knowledge of what upgrade does what. Not the mention that with IAS and the ability to change the balance of your cursor, within like 3-4 missions you can literally one-shot even the strongest enemies with crits) you won't hamper yourself much. Truthfully, it's more important to level up your pilots than upgrade your LEV/OFs because your pilot stats determine your overall effectiveness.

Prism
Dec 22, 2007

yospos


Dariusknight posted:

Truthfully, it's more important to level up your pilots than upgrade your LEV/OFs because your pilot stats determine your overall effectiveness.

It's the runner, not the frame, etc.

...Leo isn't in this game, is he? I mean, I assume he's not.

Dazzling Addar
Mar 27, 2010

He may have a funny face, but he's THE BEST KONG

This is actually the only ZoE game I've played, and I don't think I made it all the way to the end. I think I got to a stage near the end where this really wonky lookin' dome thing started kicking my rear end and I got frustrated and quit. That said, I thought it was a very neat little game and I think I liked the IAS more than I was annoyed by it. Probably.

Dariusknight
Jul 8, 2012


Prism posted:

It's the runner, not the frame, etc.

...Leo isn't in this game, is he? I mean, I assume he's not.

Nope, none of the characters from the main games show up in this one Although there is a cameo of Nohman in the middle of the game to sort of tie it in to the main games (It's clear from the conversation that Fist is taking place in between ZOE and ZOE: 2R)

cokerpilot
Apr 23, 2010

Battle Brothers! Stop coming to meetings drunk and trying to adopt Tevery Best!

Lord General! Stop standing on the table and making up stupid operation names!

Emperor, why do I put up with these people?


drat that means no Vic Viper.

Scintilla
Aug 24, 2010

I BEAT HIGHFORT
and all I got was this
jackass monkey


Prism posted:

It's the runner, not the frame, etc.

...Leo isn't in this game, is he? I mean, I assume he's not.

No.

There are a few oblique references to the first game like the HarutMarut being a redesigned Tempest and the Nerokerubina being an upgraded Tyrant.

Scintilla
Aug 24, 2010

I BEAT HIGHFORT
and all I got was this
jackass monkey


Chapter Three: A Hopeless Hope

Music: Intermission



After the previous mission we find ourselves once again looking at the Intermission menu. This time the Garage option has been added to the list, so let’s check it out.



Selecting it brings up this menu. ‘FortLEV’ brings you to a new screen where you can spend money to upgrade an LEV’s HP or Armour. ‘FortWeap’ is the same but with your mech’s weaponry, which can be upgraded to do more damage. ‘FortPart’ lets you equip things like spare ammo packs and repair kits, such as the one we received at the end of the previous mission.



This is the FortLEV screen. You will immediately notice that Cage’s LEV isn’t here. There’s a reason for this which will be explained later on. Still, we have the option of enhancing the Dreizehn, Caliburnus or Blade before the next mission. Actually, no, that’s not right. Due to certain reasons, there is absolutely no point in upgrading the Blade. Don’t bother doing so – you’ll just be wasting valuable money.



The FortWeap screen is similar but you’ll need to select a mech in order to properly begin.



Once you do you’ll get to choose which attack you want upgraded. It’s usually a good idea to start with the standard attacks you’ll be using most often, like the Dreizehn’s Long Rifle and the Caliburnus’s W Beam Cannon.



FortPart is the same – you need to select a mech first.



Now we can choose what parts to equip. Right now we only have a repair kit, but that will change in the future.

With the funds I currently have I can only afford two upgrades – each initial upgrade costs $1,000. Since it’s still early in the game there’s little danger of my units dying from one attack, so I upgrade weaponry instead, enhancing both the Dreizehn’s Long Rifle and the Caliburnus’s W Beam Cannon.

Without further ado, let’s proceed to the next stage.

Music: Day In, Day Out



:…Did you sleep well?

: Oh! Good morning! I just realized I hadn’t introduced myself yet. I’m…

: Cage, right? The girl is Myona and the one who saved you both was Ares.

: Huh? Oh, that’s right, you heard us talking.

: I’ve told everyone here about you, so there’s nothing to fear. This is the headquarters of the Anti-Terrestrial League, BIS. As long as you’re here, the UNSF can’t get to you.



Hm…I don’t much like being labelled like that, but I suppose from an Earthling’s perspective, that’s the way it looks.

: Oh my God…what do I do? They don’t seem like bad people…But Ares always says not to judge a book by its cover…

: Um…Cage, right? That’s not the sort of thing you should verbalize!



…Our protagonist, ladies and gentlemen.

: Yep. Loud and clear.

: Oh. Heh, heh, er…

A door hisses open in the background.

: Good morning. Everyone’s up so early.

: Well hello there, princess. Sleep well?



: WASSSUUUP!!!

: You’re late. You sleep too much.

: Why are you always so grouchy in the morning? Want me to knock you back to sleep?

: Unfortunately, my grandma taught me never to hit a girl.



Semyl calls upon the power of her anime character archetype and punches Razma.

: Ow! Wha?! What was that for?!

: Hmmm…what’s with the raised fist? Your beliefs are pretty shaky, huh?



Razma doesn’t take kindly to this.



: I amended my policy just now, and decided that those who are female only by anatomy do not qualify as female.

There’s a joke in here somewhere about MRA’s and crappy tumblr blogs.

: OOOOO! I’m gonna show you-

: Good morning, Cage.

: - some nice things, but shall we call it a day, Mr. Razma?

:…





: Mr. Deckson. I took the liberty of giving myself a tour of the facility. It’s very impressive indeed.

: (Dang…boy just ignored me completely! WhatEVER, never expected nothing anyway…)

Prettyboy Ares has no time for your pitiful advances.

: Well, thank you. I’m flattered.

: Where is the blonde gentleman from yesterday?







Before Deckson can proceed, however, the door opens yet again…



: Speak of the devil. Back so soon? How was Yukito?

: Well, he was doing very well, and…that’s not what I was trying to tell you! There’s been an emergency! The UNSF is raiding the hospital!

Music: Tension

: D-did they find out that he’s staying there?

: That don’t sound too good…Nah, that’s real bad.

: That’s not a real concern, as they completely overlooked two men; Mr. Yukito and myself.



Phil - Lucius before Lucius existed.

: Their interest in the hospital seems to have something to do with a new pharmaceutical they are using in patients in critical condition.

:…Hmm…They might be planning on stealing it and selling it at a higher price.

: There’s only one person I can think of who would do something like that.







: Me? Umm…O-OK.

Ned Noachim? The news anchor last update mentioned that the Bonaparte’s crash site was investigated by a ‘Lieutenant Noachim’. Hmm…







This screen should read “Scene 03: A Hopeless Hope”.



Player Phase Music: Sortie
Enemy Phase Music: Sudden Assault

The scenario opens with four hostile LEV’s spawning around the hospital, as well as…



…this guy. Oh boy.

: There is no such person here. Besides, even if there were such a person, I would never hand over a patient. Please leave.

: Ooh, what have we got here? They’ve got some good looking babes for nurses at this joint. You guys should take advantage. Go on, have some fun.

: What do you think you’re doing?!



:…nice the chicks are to my boys…Heh heh…

: You dirtbag! I said…stop that! This is my hospital, and I won’t tolerate…

Ned starts beating the doctor.

:…uughhhhhhh!

: Watch your tone. We just got back from space and we’re really tired. You know?



: Heh heh…

: Uuuuuh…

So yeah, that’s Ned. As you can probably tell, he occupies the “Irredeemable Shitheel” villain niche. He’s your typical early game villain – a petty thug with no charisma, no real vision, and no motivations beyond being a colossal pissbag. He’s a less classy Skeletor.

After the scene with Ned, the screen fades out and refocuses on a new area to the south east of the hospital.



: Pfffft. What do you want from me? The darn thing doesn’t work. Hmm…I wonder why? Let me think a little more…Hmm…Oh, I know! It’s broken. Oh well.

Music: Onward to Victory



:…this as soon as possible.

: Who…who the hell are you? Where did you come from?

: I’ve never seen anything this BAD! Don’t worry, though, I can fix you! This might – no, this is going to hurt…







: Whoops, sorry. I just got over a little something myself, and my self control isn’t what it should be…

: You…this is the UNSF you’re dealing with! You’ll regret this!

: Aw, I thought giving it a kick would set it right, but that thing’s busted beyond repair.







: Well…that takes care of that. Need anything else?



The BIS units spawn in seconds later.

: Never one for subtlety, eh Yukito?

: *Laughs* This is no time to be resting peacefully.





: There’s a good possibility that they are waiting for you at the hospital. If you can trust us…we’d like to deliver it for you. Could you trust us?



: Thank you. Don’t worry, we’ll see to it that it’s delivered safely to the hospital. As for you, find a safe place to hide.



: What are you…

: We are not terrorists. I wanted you to see that for yourself. Look. They raid the hospital, prevent the distribution of medicine, and endanger the wellbeing of the patients who need it. This is what Earth does, and we are trying to stop them. That is why I want your help. You have the power to make things better.

:…

: Cage…let’s help them. They saved us…

: So it’s our turn to save someone. I have to say, I disagree with what the Earthlings are doing…



:…but I’d like to try.

: That’s great news. Thank you. Now…

: Boss! The idiot is nowhere to be found!

: I’ve asked Razma to take care of other business. Our priority now is to reach the hospital and restore it to safety. Come, we must deliver the medicine. Destroy the enemy LEV’s!



:…that area, so I can afford to have my fun in here.)

And with that, the player is given control.



Mission Map :



Cage’s LEV, the Caliburnus and the Blade all return, and two new units join the fray as well. First up is Yukito’s LEV, the Justeen.



Not too shabby. Its armour is a little thin, but aside from that it’s fairly average in terms of survivability.



The Justeen is primarily a melee unit. It’s main method of attack is to run up to an enemy unit and kick it in the head repeatedly until the pilot stops thinking conscious thoughts. It’s not that great at range – the Handgun will never, ever be able to oneshot a unit like it did in the cutscene and the ZZ Grenade, whilst very powerful, only has one shot before running out of ammo.



Yukito himself has high stats, primarily because he’s 3 – 4 levels higher than everyone else currently. Naturally his melee skills are high. Overall he’s a great addition to the team and will be using his Justice Foot to stave in a lot of armour over the course of the game.

That’s not all, though; Deckson also joins us to kick rear end and take names.







Deckson doesn’t really care for these newfangled LEV’s, instead rolling up in a good old fashioned doomtank. Like the Blade, the Edge is a utility vehicle that can resupply adjacent units with ammunition and energy. Unlike the Blade, the Edge is a reasonably capable combat unit on its own and might be worth an upgrade or two if you have cash to spare.



Back to the mission. Our goal is either to reach the flashing area around the hospital or destroy all the enemy LEV’s. Both mean travelling through a fairly large city.



This is roughly the middle of the place. Our units are offscreen to the south east, and the hospital is to the north west. It is possible to move through the buildings but you’ll incur a movement penalty. On the other hand they provide a 10% Defence bonus and a 5% Evasion bonus, so it’s useful to take cover there once the shooting begins.



Looking at our units, we can see that the Justeen is on the other side of the river and thus has a head start on everyone else. This is one of those stages that will be irritating due to the Caliburnus’s small movement range.



I end my turn after moving everyone to the best of my ability.



The AI responds by moving forwards to engage me, but they still have a fair way to go. For the record, here’s what they all look like:







Reg. LEV Model A’s are somewhat more threatening than the Security LEV’s we faced last episode, but not by much. The game is still going easy on us right now.



I make my moves and end my turn. As you can see, our two forces are still out of range.



Turn three, and the enemy has moved up again. The Justeen is in range of the lead enemy, but none of them are in range to shoot at me, so I’m just going to move all my forces together and unload on them with everything next turn. Stringing the enemy out is an important tactic in Fist of Mars, especially when you go into the later stages and have a dozen or so enemy units coming after you.

…As an aside, just look how far away the Caliburnus is. Short movement range + building movement penalties = late to the party.



Next turn and this is everyone’s positions. It’s time to hammer some foes.



Deckson opens up the hostilities by firing at the closest LEV.



Bullseye.







Since Deckson is twice his opponent’s level he doesn’t get a lot of experience.



Phil comes in with another attack to get some exp. He levels up to level 4.



And Cage finishes him off.





Cage also gains a level, along with 300 cash. These Reg. LEV’s give triple the money of the Security LEV’s, which is nice.



Just to finish off I give the left-hand LEV a good old dose of the Justice Foot.





This is what happens when you pit a level 8 unit against a level 3 unit. It’s not pretty.

With all of my units moved I end my turn.



The LEV Yukito savaged decides to attack the Caliburnus.



He winds up missing.



The second undamaged LEV also decides to attack Semyl.



This time he manages to land a hit.



It’s my turn again, and all of the enemies are in range of my guns.







Phil finishes off the weakened LEV, gaining a level for his troubles.





Semyl takes a chunk out of the other LEV with her laser blade…





Deckson brings it to critical with his doomtank…



And Cage finishes up with a Rusty Lancer.



There’s only one enemy unit left now.





Yukito promptly savages him and I end my turn.



The AI has absolutely no sense of self-preservation. Come on, man, you’re never going to hit me in a million years.





Naturally he ends up hitting me.



Honestly, though, there’s not much left except the clean-up.



Cage gets the honours this time.



Boom. Okay, the last enemy is down, so now…huh? What’s that over by the hospital?



: Could you be that impudent terrorist group I’ve been hearing about? I’ll dispose of you myself!

: (There’s more of them! He seems like the leader…)



: Shut your mouth. I don’t care how many Martians die! Let me give you a little tip – all kinds of evidence can be fabricated. Don’t forget, it’s the Martians, not us, who are in the wrong. They were even saying that on the news yesterday…

: What…? (Does he know something about the Bonaparte?)

Just to reiterate – Ned definitely knows something about the Bonaparte. He’s the one who investigated the wreckage. If there was a coverup as Myona theorizes, it’s likely that Ned is in on it.

: Hmm? Have I seen you somewhere before? Never mind. If you still want to get in my way, fine. It’ll be the cold-hearted evil terrorists breaking and entering a hospital to steal medicine, and innocent patients getting an instant upgrade from sick to dead! Ha ha hah!





A series of flashes from a group of buildings catches Cage’s eye…



: Okay, ready? I’m pulling the trigger…

: (Aha!)

: *Snicker* So Earth monkeys have no guts and like to pick on defenceless people, huh?

: What?! You shouldn’t have said that…That’ll be the end of you!!







Suddenly, Razma appears and shoots Ned!

: Wh-what?! A sniper?!

: So you really did work on a ship, huh?

: You were testing me?

: Don’t take it personally. I do it to everyone.

: Rrrrrrgh…how dare you…



The game gives us back control at this point. Let’s have a look at Ned for a minute.







Okay, Ned is not screwing around. His LEV has good movement, is more heavily armoured than the Caliburnus and has more HP than any of our units. He also has a number of powerful attacks and a Burst Attack of his own, Death Rave. Ned is also a pretty good pilot and unlike Frazer from the last mission he has a superior LEV that complements his abilities.



Case in point. Razma normally has 80 – 100% accuracy in his attacks.





Although if you do hit he gives out a ridiculous amount of experience since he’s level 10.



On Ned’s turn he decides to target Yukito. Seriously, just look at that damage. Even though Yukito is only two levels behind Ned his attacks are ridiculously accurate and hurt like hell.



He also has rapid-fire crosshairs and manages to legitimately catch me out.





Holy crap, one more hit like that and Yukito is history.



I quickly get him out of there and use this opportunity to show off the Blade’s repair function.



There we go. The Justeen isn’t totally fixed, but it’s not in danger of going down after one more hit anymore.



I move my units into a rough diagonal line. Ned can’t hit anyone so he’ll have to advance, at which point I can hopefully dogpile him.



Ned moves down towards Razma, so I pull everyone back until he can only hit Razma himself with his laser blade. After that all my other units can smash him to pieces.



Ned takes the bait as expected. The AI suffers from the same flaw as many other SRPG’s – if it can attack something, it will, regardless of whether or not doing so means moving into a disadvantageous position.



Oh Jesus Christ look at all those massive crosshairs



So yeah, Ned can take you apart if you’re not ready for him.



Too bad he’s now in range of every single one of my units.

Now, time to farm some experience off this guy.













And now for the finishing blow…







Superb.



:…buried 6 feet deep!

: Completely Unoriginal And Tired Threat Registered.



: Heh heh…

: (Oh? I thought he looked familiar! Plan 261…I gotta let the old man know!)



Ned withdraws and the mission ends. Oh, and since we didn’t get to see it in the mission proper, here’s Ned’s Death Rave attack for your viewing pleasure:



Music: Every Day



: I don’t mean to be rude, but please don’t ever come here again…

: Hey! We’re the ones…!

: We understand. Thank you for your co-operation.

: Bro!

: It’s possible that innocent civilians get hurt because of us. What Ned said isn’t completely off-base. Sad but true.



: I do appreciate what you’ve done…but I have patients I must tend to…

: Yes. We apologize for what happened. We’ll be going now.

I like this part. Resistance movements in video games are too often portrayed as whiter than white with the full support of the oppressed populations they claim to represent. I think this is a more realistic view of things – Deckson and BIS are fighting against a corrupt and oppressive power, but in the end most people are apathetic and just want to get on with their lives as best they can. BIS bring the heat down on them despite their noble intentions and innocent people wind up being harmed as a result.



: There’s no applause when we win, and if we lose we’re just called terrorists. But we gotta do what we gotta do.

: Resi…stance…I get it! You’re from the resistance!



: *Phew* You finally understand?

Even Deckson realises Cage is a bit slow.

:…



: Pleased to meet you too.

: My first name is ‘Tadamichi’, but even so, call me ‘Yukito’. Even though it’s my last name…heh heh heh…

: Uh…okay…(He’s kind of strange…)

Nah, he’s just Japanese.



: Thank you.

: The atrocities that take place on mars at the hands of Earthlings are often covered up. Facts are distorted, and the Earth-serving media only aggravates matters. Furthermore, the crimes committed by the UNSF and the disregard given to our human rights will not come to an end anytime soon. We didn’t pick up our guns because we were angry with political ideology; we merely protect the lives and basic rights of people. That is what we are here to do.

That’s a lot of words, but they really do sum up Deckson’s beliefs and will continue to be relevant for most of the story.

: For ‘merely protecting’, it’s my impression that your facilities are quite impressive.



:…much of what we have. And while we are mainly a defensive force at the moment, there will surely come a day when we will have to attack. But the most important thing is to make people see that we have the capacity to do so. Just because one person is weaker doesn’t mean that it’s right for another to stomp all over him simply because he can. As fellow space-born humans…

: Ah…BIS – Born In Space. It’s very simple, but clear.

: Yeah. I like it. We will not tolerate any more suffering. Even the Bonaparte that you came in on fell victim to this unrest. There were innocent families on that ship…

:…

:…Families…

Music: Mystery



:…I…there was something…Father…Mother…Fire! Lot’s of fire, just burning…

: Go on, you can do it!

: Together, we were together…but…all of a sudden…nobody…forgive me…it wasn’t my fault…but I…nothing…anything! I couldn’t do anything!



Myona collapses!

: M-myona? Myona!



:…I don’t know myself at all…I can’t take this…Who am I? I had to save…someone. I had to save someone, but I don’t know who!

: Easy there, Myona. We’ll check it out for you. It’s all good, nothin’ to stress about. We all got things in our pasts that we wanna forget about, you know?

: Things you want…to forget?

: That’s right. Can’t forget even if you wanna…memory can be real troublesome to deal with. It ain’t all bad if you look at it that way. Myona, if you can’t remember, just forget about it…



: I’ll help you find the answers. So just take it easy and go with the flow. Alright?

: OK…thank you…





And that’s it for this update. We’ve got some new units to play with, have met our first recurring villain and are getting to know exactly what makes BIS tick. Next time we’ll be getting our hands on our first Orbital Frame and hopefully kicking Ned’s poo poo in once more.

Scintilla fucked around with this message at 20:07 on Jul 3, 2013

TheBystander
Apr 28, 2011


From what I remember, Semyl's got another problem on top of her pitiful movement: because her unit has such poor evasion, the enemy really likes to gang up on her. The Caliburnus may have decent HP and armor, but it can't really stand up to concentrated firepower. And of course, her getting killed off means she misses out on even more XP, causing her to fall even further behind in a sort of vicious cycle. It's too bad, but honestly, the Caliburnus isn't really that good, so I never really felt like I was missing too much.

The Justeen, on the other hand, is amazing, and remains so for the entire game.


Scintilla posted:

Due to certain reasons, there is absolutely no point in upgrading the Blade. Don’t bother doing so – you’ll just be wasting valuable money.

And this is how you can tell the game was made by the same team that made the old SRWs. Thank god this is not longer a problem.

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Mitama
Feb 28, 2011



Oh hey, it's the first GBA game I ever played. I asked my grandparents for Advance Wars years, though they misunderstood and got this instead. Still a lot of fun, even if IAS makes a lot of the gameplay trivial.

Scintilla posted:



:…buried 6 feet deep!

: Completely Unoriginal And Tired Threat Registered.


I recalled that Pharsti was pretty amazing, glad I remembered right.

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