Part 3: Mission 1 (Setsuko) - The Right StuffSetsuko Route Chapter 1
Of course, while Brunom will be going through Rand's route, Z has two protagonists! Meet our Real Robot Protagonist. In terms of genre, "Real Robot" can be loosely defined as more "hard" sci-fi, the giant robots are treated more as mundane tools rather then unique awesome machines. Of course, this is all relative, and any genre distinction tends to be blurry. Notable Real Robot anime are Mobile Suit Gundam, Armored Trooper VOTOMS, and Superdimension Fortress Macross.
In terms of gameplay, Real Robots distinguish themselves in SRW by having low HP, high evasion, and focusing on ranged attacks.
Here we can change our protagonist's name, nickname, Birthday, and blood type. This actually has a gameplay effect! Depending on the birthday and blood type you choose, the protagonist will learn different spirit commands as she levels up. I choose November 11th with B blood type because it's a special set. Namely the birthday and blood type of series producer Takenobu Terada. It gives a unique, and really good set. As I'm doing a fresh run while aiming for all the battle masteries and secrets, I need all the help I can get.
The game opens on a description of the Universal Century. The governments of the world have combined under the umbrella of the Earth Federation, causing people to emigrate to colonies en masse. The Republic of Zeon declares independence from the Federation and the One Year War takes place, leaving battle scars across all layers of civilization.
Nor did the violence stop with the close of the war. Humanity fought off Dr. Hell, who aimed to use the might of the ancient Mycene, as well as the Dinosaur Empire and alien attackers such as the Vegan Federation. A squadron of super robots such as Mazinger Z and Getter Robo defeated Dr. Hell and are pressing back the other onslaughts.
But even this could not unite humanity. Seven years ago, the One Year War divided mankind into Earthnoids and Spacenoids, and the Federation's elite Titans force is gathering power. Fearing the possibility that the Titans will attempt to claim the universe, the Spacenoids have formed the AEUG in resistance.
"As one war ends, another begins. Little by little, a storm is building that will throw the fate of the world into chaos."
Jerid stops a girl in the hall, interested in her uniform, which marks her as a member of a squadron called the Glory Star. She introduces herself as Setsuko Ohara, stationed there as a Glory Star just ten days.
Kacricon Cacooler laughs and wonders what a little girl's doing on their team. "You gonna put on a cute outfit and cheer?"
Setsuko bites her lip and stays silent; to Jerid's smug satisfaction, she knows she's dealing with the Titans. As politely as she can manage, she asks what she can help them with, but they just laugh that she doesn't have a clue. It's a good thing she's stuck "playing with dolls" - referring to the Glory Star's post as test pilots for new suit technology. As far as the Titans are concerned, a soldier's worth is measured in kills; doing tests on prototypes doesn't compare to being on the front lines braving live battle.
FYI, the Titans are dicks.
Information corner - Topic: Titans -
The Titans are a counter-insurgency orginization founded by the Earth Federation after the disaster of Operation Stardust, in which the Federation lost a large ammount of it's fleet to a necular attack by Zeon remnants. Their stated task is to root out any threat to the Federation and hunt down the remaining Zeon loyalists. Founded by Jamitov Hyman, he argued that the safety of the Federation supplanted any civil liberties the threats claimed to posses. It is not part of the normal chain of command for the Federation Millitary and largely independant... and above the law. Their responce to protests tend to be on the level of "Gassing entire space colonies." Their steadily gaining more and more power in the Federation, and soon may in fact be more powerful then the government they were created to protect.
Setsuko still can't talk back, though, so Jerid keeps going. The Glory Star is a pretty high-falutin' name, and he just wants to make sure they don't get too full of themselves. Who's gonna win the war? The Titans.
Emma, who at least ranks the same as Jerid, steps to Setsuko's defense. So does Toby, who can't watch his new partner take guff from this Earthborn ace. And by the way, the Glory Star is not just dicking around, whatever First Lieutenant Jerid Mesa says. Oh, didn't that guy lose our new Gundam to the AEUG?
Toby's impressed - it takes some serious balls to not only turn down a new prototype, but hand it over to the enemy!
Jerid growls, but Glory Star team leader and awesome name haver Denzel Hammer stops Toby and assumes responsibility as commanding officer. Jerid spits, but backs down. Setsuko is still cringing, and Toby tells her to stand tall as a member of a team called the Glory Star.
But then an alarm sounds to summon the Titans. Jerid, Kacricon, and Emma move out. Setsuko tries to tell Jerid something, but he blows her off bragging that she'll see what the Titans are made of. She was only going to wish them luck...
: Yeah, good luck, Titans.
: Toby, don't make fun of our allies when they're being deployed.
: Even if they're overconfident, reckless, foolish, loudmouthed greenhorns.
: Heh. You are mad at 'em, aren't you, Chief?
: Well, yeah. If they treat my soldier like a worthless rookie, I hope Ares ****es all over 'em.
: Chief, I think you just traumatized Setsuko.
: Uh oh, sorry. Was that sexual harassment, First Lieutenant?
: N-no! I just didn't know what that meant...
: Ha ha ha! Good answer, First Lieutenant!
: ...I'm sorry.
: Look, Lieutenant, we're the Glory Star. We're handpicked to do a very important job.
: These are things only we can do. Always be proud of that.
: Yes, sir!
: Well, the Titans are off doing their duty hunting the AEUG. Let's get on ours.
: Yeah... We've got some real babes waiting for us in the hangar.
The Glory Star boots up and runs diagnostics on their real babes, and they're good to go. R&D has finished initial on their new versatile weapon system, the Gunnery Carver. The Glory Star's mission is to test both the unit and the recommended combat patterns to utilize it using their Virgola robots. If it works out, the mass-produced Carver will be a very useful tool in the Federation's arsenal - though it's a long way until then.
For today's test, Denzel's Virgola 1 will run as a long-range bombardment; Toby will do midrange mobile striking and Setsuko will test out full CQC. Each Carver has been specialized to those specific roles as a first step, but once their testing run is complete, the data will be synthesized by the 01 unit and used to perfect the true all-range Carver.
Setsuko is still vaguely worried about something, but says it's nothing. Toby calls bullshit, and Denzel insists that she take care of her mind as well as her body, but she stays silent.
Eventually, they wring it out of her that the Titans kind of got to her. Humanity is facing down all these threats (though the AEUG is primarily a threat to just the Titans), so what's the point in their job? Denzel forces her to recite the mission of the Glory Star: "To evaluate the next generation of mass-produced weaponry and research tactics pertaining to the same." It's a very important part of the military and she should be proud of it.
Setsuko is still concerned that she has no actual experience - Denzel is a veteran of the One Year War and even Toby did his part against the Mycene invasion. Denzel reaffirms that the Glory Star is a critical part of the Federation's war effort whether they actually deploy or not... and they might be deployed soon anyway. Besides, testing the Virgola units isn't exactly a cushy job. In fact, says Toby, it took the life of Setsuko's predecessor.
There's a reason Denzel didn't tell Setsuko that! On the other hand, she actually seems more e comfortable now that she feels she's really contributing. She's committed to the Virgola project, anyway, and she says she has nowhere else to go.
: ...what happened to Michael was a regrettable accident. But we owe it to him to see the Virgola through so his sacrifice wasn't in vain.
: Yes, sir.
: I can't hear you, First Lieutenant! From the *****... whoops, from the gut!
: Yes, sir!
: That's more like it. Oh, and one more order from the second in command.
: No rank here. Just call me Toby.
: I... I couldn't...
: Ignore the Second Lieutenant. He does that to me, and I'm his superior.
:: That's just how I show my respect and fellowship, commander!
: The only time you've ever shown my rank any respect is over bar tabs.
:: That hurts, commander! You forgot about when I ask for leave, and when I get my bonus!
:: Speaking of which, I think you're going to get some more respect tonight, Captain Denzel Hammer!
: I can already feel your claws on my wallet.
Toby oughta be the main character, but I can't wish Setsuko's fate on him. She won't be joining them tonight either, because, in true anime fashion, she's below drinking age (a teenager, I think). Denzel reminds her to be proud of her work, and to do another review before the Carver's test run...
...which isn't happening, because the attack alarm sounds off. All the base's forces are backing up the Titans, so it's almost certain that the Glory Star themselves will be deployed in its defense. We're gonna get to see the Virgolas in live combat!
Chapter 1: The Right Stuff
Denzel and Toby prepare for the operation, but why would anyone want to attack the Lutecium Base? There's practically nothing of value here. Denzel corrects him: there's a thing of value here, and that's the Virgolas and their blueprints. Setsuko probably can't handle live combat, so defending the base will be up to these two.
It's the AEUG. That means the Titans have probably been led off on a diversion, and they swallowed it hook, line, and sinker.
Information corner - Topic: AEUG-
The Anti-Earth Union Group, commonly refered to as the AEUG, originated as a faction within the Earth Federation. They do not, strictly speaking, oppose Earth itself. Merely anti-space elitists that do harm to residencts of space (spacenoids) such as the Titans. At first they merely attempted political action. However the Titans increasing brutality forced their hand and they took up arms. The AEUG is composed of a mixture of dissatisfied colonists, former Federation soldiers, and Zeon remnants, all fighting for a common cause.
Apolly and Roberto are here, and exposit that the diversionary team has the juiciest prey, Captain Quattro Bajeena and the Gundam Mk.2. Their job is, indeed, to jack the Virgola units, and at minimum, it'll be pretty easy for them to grab some operational data on them... and if they're lucky, they can make off with the robots as well.
Toby starts to wish they were on the AEUG's side, but Denzel interrupts and threatens to shoot if he says another word. For now, we're soldiers of the Earth Federation, and we're going to fight like it!
Setsuko wishes she was out there...
OK! Time to actually play the game! First, a quick look at the two units we have under our control right now.
Toby Watson - Virgola 2
Voiced by Takashi Kondo
* Predict - At 130 Will, hit and evasion rate increase
* Counter (Level 2) - On the enemy phase, will sometimes attack before the enemy. Activation rate is determined by the skill stat.
* Support Defend (Level 1) - If adjacent to an ally on the enemy phase, if an attack will hit the ally, the character will perform a Support Defense and the attack will hit the character at reduced damage instead. The number of times this can be performed depends on the skill's level.
* Sense (20) - Casts both "Strike" and "Alert" on the caster.
Squad Leader Bonus
*+20% Critical Hit Rate
Toby is pretty good! Decent melee and range stats renders him a good all rounder, and Toby has a decent enough beginning skillset. Counter and Predict is a nice combo rendering him difficult to hit once his will gets up. Support Defend is a bit iffy on a Real Robot pilot, but right now it'll do. The Virgola 2 is nice too, decent enough agility and the weapons have a fair bit of power.
Denzel Hammer - Virgola 1
Voiced by Hiroaki Ishikawa
* Commander(Level 1) - Allies in an area (denoted by yellow squares when highlighting the character) have an increased hit and evasion rate. The size of the area and bonus increases by level.
* Focused Attack - The damage penalty for performing ALL attacks on multiple units is reduced.
* Prevail(Level 2) - As the character takes damage, hit rate, evasion, defense, and critical rate will increase.
* Strike (15) - The caster will have 100% Hit rate for that turn.
* Trust(10) - Restore 2500 HP to an ally.
* Invincible(10) - The next attack that hits the caster will do 10 damage.
Squad Leader Bonus
Denzel Hammer does not only have a great name, he's a great pilot. Look at that range stat. He can blast things hard, and his spirit set is great too. Trust is really handy right now, he's our only source of healing for the moment. Invincible on a Real Robot is fantastic too, it mainly reduces those times the RNG doesn't roll in your favor with a 30% dodge chance. And, of course, his skill set is great too. Commander can't be bought, and is always handy, and since his best attack is an ALL Attack, Focused Attack is incredibly handy to have.
Let's move down Toby and Denzel to meet the AEUG Nemos.
They move up and try shooting at us. Yeah, these basic grunts aren't going to be able to do much.
:You want some, I've got some! You'll regret messing with the Glory Star!
Good job there Toby.
Setsuko decides to be helpful and deploys her Virgola. She may not have ever been in live combat, but she's done all the drills and learned all the moves. Denzel orders her to go back inside, but she points out that the enemy has us outnumbered, pinned against the wall, and their commanders in the black machines monstrously skilled. If nothing else, she can provide covering fire.
Denzel and Toby are impressed at Setsuko's analysis. The commander relents, but orders Setsuko to stay away from the enemies. Her mission is to support the other Virgola and compile their field data for after the battle - we're making this a test after all. And just as Setsuko saw, the black machines are the enemy commanders; if we can focus them down, the battle is over. Just remember, the Glory Star's primary mission is the Virgola - the pilots are not to lose either the machines or their own lives!
Right, back to the Nemos shooting at Toby.
Oh hey one of them aimed for Denzel too.
: (The AEUG was founded to combat the Titans' increasing control of the Federation...)
: (They're right about one thing. If they're let continue, the Titans will have the army under their control soon.)
: But our current mission is to defend this base and the Virgola. That's all I need to think about!
Apolly and Roberto move up too, but don't get in range yet.
Setsuko Ohara - Virgola 3
Voiced by Yukiko Takaguchi
* Support Attack(Level 1) - When Adjacent to an allied character before having attacked that turn, can perform a Support Attack after the ally attacks. The support attack will be slightly weaker then a regular attack.
* Attune(10) - Grants one Ally the effect of the "Strike" Spirit command.
* Focus(10) - Increases hit and evasion rates by 30%
* Alert (10) - The caster gains 100% evasion rate for the next attack that targets the caster.
Squad Leader Bonus
* Ranged weapons receive a 10% bonus to Attack Power
Being the main character, Setsuko is of course very good stat wise. Her melee's not too hot, but her range stat is very good. Her stats are overall lower then Toby and Denzel, but she's level 1 to their 5. Skill wise it isn't that impressive. She only knows two skills, while that gives her plenty of room to grow later it's a bit lacking now, one is not even available right now for us. But the other, Support Attack, is going to be very handy. Support Attack is a great force multiplier. Her spirit commands are great, as I said they would be with Terada's Birthday. Attune that cheap is fantastic, and cheap Focus is great for a Real Robot Pilot. Alert's a little redundant, but it'll still be useful. Also her Squad Leader bonus is fantastic. One minor problem is that Setsuko's best attack right now is melee based, but that'll change as she gets some upgrades.
All right Setsuko! Show us what you've got!
:I will fight... a soldier must fight!
Good job there.
Denzel's Command ability is useful so I'm trying to make sure everyone stays in it, especially since Apolly and Roberto are coming up next turn, and they're much more threatening then the grunts.
Denzel and Toby finish off the remaining two Nemos, bringing us to the enemy phase.
Sheesh! Look at that, Apolly is a bit more of a threat then the mook.
Ow! Yup, anything in the 40s is risky for a Real Robot, as you can see here.
Denzel, of course, is ready to smack back and hit slightly harder.
Toby does a bit better against Roberto.
Right, let's take down Roberto, since he has lower HP. Get to that Toby.
Roberto and Apolly, being plot characters, run instead of blowing up.
Denzel softens up Apolly,
Setsuko has pretty bad hit odds on him, a mere 63%. Not wanting to play those odds...
I have her cast Attune on herself, raising her hit rate to 100%
There we go!
This was enough for Setsuko to level up! Shocking, leveling in an RPG. I'll only show interesting level ups from now on though.
The AEUG assault team is down, but the Gundam Mk.2 and Quattro's red suit seem to have evaded the Titans and come to finish the job. Toby, to Denzel's dismay, is glad to see the Gundam repainted from Titan colors to its natural red, white, and blue. But that's nothing for us to be happy about - with a Gundam and a red custom to deal with, we might as well be facing down Amuro Ray and Char Aznable together. But we still have no choice but to defend the base.
Quattro tells Kamille that the AEUG's basic mission, to gather intel on our forces, is complete, so there's no pressing need to push hard. If they're damaged, they should pull out. Kamille gives the roger, but they both know that the Virgola's technology is going to be a huge advantage to the Titans if they let it be completed.
And then Quattro casts Focus. We're not hitting him any time soon.
And here's our first Battle Mastery! The stage will end when Quattro or Kamille's HP gets reduced below 4000, but we'll get the Battle Mastery if we manage to actually reduce their HP to zero. Since I don't want to try and hit Quattro, I'm going to go for Kamille.
We don't want to really hit these guys until we're ready, so Denzel's going to just dodge for now.
: I can't believe I'm fighting for the Federation against a Gundam...
: He's good... this must be how a veteran soldier fights!
I'm a gamblin man it seems.
: Well, isn't this nice? We got a chance to recover that machine and shove it in Jerid's face!
: He's fast... he's better in live combat than the Titans!
And looks like the odds are in my favor.
This is what trying to hit Quattro looks like.
I don't try to hit Quattro.
Just in case somebody targets Setsuko, I cast Alert.
Next turn after dodging both attacks...
Toby uses his one Sense cast to be able to both hit Kamille and dodge his counter.
While Setsuko Attunes herself again to be able to support attack him
:The Titans will respect us if we recover that mech...
: I won't let you defeat me, no matter what your reasons are!
: And what reasons could your group have for causing chaos in the aftermath of the Vega war!
: So you're just a mindless soldier following your orders! Can't you of all people see how dangerous the Titans are?
: I... I am a soldier! This battle is my duty!
Good job Glory Star! We get an extra 25 PP for you all, which is the main gameplay incentive for doing the Battle Masteries.
Camille retreats, but Setsuko wants to take the Gundam back for the Federation and gives chase...
With Setsuko fighting a losing battle, Denzel and Toby rush in to back her up.
Camille strikes back against the Virgola 1, dealing heavy damage to Denzel.
Setsuko screams, and suddenly, space begins to twist and thrash around the Virgola 3. Camille and Quattro try to pull out while Denzel and Toby try to save Setsuko, but all five of them are caught in a blast of raw dimensional energy...
Setsuko vs. Quattro
: That one moves differently from the other two...
: I can do this! I can do something!
: It's completely out of formation with the others. Is the pilot a rookie?
Toby vs. Quattro
: It moves well for a machine under development. It must be further along than we thought.
: You're in no position to talk our tech up! You can finish your speech in Hell!
Denzel vs. Quattro
: Looks like the rumors of the second coming of the Red Comet weren't a load of bull after all...
: Impressive reactions. That machine... no, that pilot is excellent.
: I have unfinished business with the Comet from the One Year War. Whether you're the real McCoy or not, you're dead!