Part 1: The One Million G ManSuper Robot Wars Z 2: Chapter of Destruction is the first half of the latest game in the Super Robot Wars metaseries. It is a semi-direct sequel to Super Robot Wars Z for the PS2, in that it takes place in a new world with mostly new characters but builds on the same overarching plot with recurring central characters and themes. Rather than dumping all that information now, I will explain elements of Z as they arise.
The first thing we see when we start the game is our hero, Crowe Brust. In a nutshell, he kind of reminds me of Kyosuke Nanbu from OG, a guy with a cool persona, weird luck, and nothing to lose.
I can set his name, birthday, and blood type. The last two determine what "Spirit" powers he'll learn over the course of the game. I've picked some I think will be useful.
This enormous wall of text fills us in on the background. Basically, there was a Great Dimensional Quake (the transdimensional bomb from Super Dimension Century Orguss) which scrambled all the universes and slammed them together randomly into Multiworlds. The particular Multiworld that Z2 takes place on is about 20 years old, and it has two moons and two Japans. It also has an orbital elevator and an orbital ring, and a series of space colonies placed at Lagrange points.
The planet is divided into three major powers. In North America, there's the Britannia Union, a combination of the Holy Britannian Empire and the Federation Union. In Europe, there's the AEU, an amalgamation of European powers. Finally, Asia is controlled by the Human Reformation Federation, which is basically the Chinese Federation plus the rest of Asia and Russia. These three, plus the Space Colonies, are the main political forces native to this setting.
The three earth powers are locked in a cold war, peppered with small wars, rebellions, and terrorism. Compounding the problem, two years ago, another universe rammed into this one and dumped soldiers from the Astragius Galaxy in. These soldiers scattered across Earth and are being used as mercenaries by whoever gets their hands on them.
Oh, and on top of everything else, monsters called the Image have been attacking humanity since the Great Dimensional Quake, and strange creatures called Damons (a very Engrishy contraction of Dimensional Armed MONster) have been appearing randomly from another dimension altogether. This Multiworld is a real nice place.
(For those of you keeping track at home, this backstory already includes Gundam Wing, Gundam 00, Code Geass, Armored Trooper VOTOMS, and Eureka Seven: Pocket Full of Rainbows.)
But for now, let's focus on our protagonist, Crowe. He has nothing in the world, except for a single G (yeah, that's the currency) and a million Gs in debt that he's been running from for a while.
Crowe was in the military for unspecified reasons, and he's considering going back in. He decides to flip a coin for it: heads he goes back, tails he doesn't.
Oh snap, this guy Zennitori is one of Crowe's many creditors, and he catches the G right out of the air!
This douchebag explains for our benefit that Crowe inherited his enormous debt from his late father, and that he knows Crowe's military service was in a special ops squadron called Firebug. He offers Crowe a job, and when Crowe tells him he refuses to do anything illegal, he reminds Crowe that he's a deadbeat. What he wants is Crowe's piloting technique.
Suddenly, explosions and gunfire! Which brings us to chapter 1:
CHAPTER 1: THE ONE MILLION G MAN
The enemies are terrorists from the "WLF," which I believe stands for "World Liberation Front," attacking a nearby Axion laboratory. They say it's because Axion is an evil weapons manufacturer, but Crowe correctly points out that the terrorists are piloting Axion robots themselves! He ditches baldy and heads to the laboratory to volunteer.
The lady in charge, Traia, lends him an experimental, untested robot to play with. It's called the Number 0, nicknamed Blaster.
The goal of this stage is simply to wipe out the baddies. The SR Point (Battle Mastery if you're following the OG LP) is to clear the map in three turns.
Let's check out our robot!
When you look at a unit, this screen is the first thing you see. It's an overview of the stats of both the robot and the pilot.
The machine's stats are in the upper left: its movement (and what terrains it can be on, out of air, land, and water); armor, which reduces incoming damage; mobility, which helps the unit dodge; and targetting, which helps land hits.
To their right are pilot stats. 気力 stands for Will, a per-combat stat that starts at 100 and rises over the course of combat, acting as a modifier to the pilot's performance and a prerequisite to various powers we'll see over the course of the game. SP serves as a sort of fuel tank for a very important piece of resource management I'll explain in a little while. That A emblem shows that Crowe has more than 70 kills (expected, since he's been carrying them over two playthroughs). Underneath are the six basic pilot stats:
Melee Skill Evasion
Ranged Defense Accuracy
All but Skill are self-explanatory. Skill has several special roles that will become clear when pilot skills become a factor.
The chart in the bottom left shows the unit's Terrain Adaptability ranks for Air, Ground, Water, and Space. These go from C (really bad) to S (extra good), with A being average. Pilots and machines can have them individually, and they average rounding down. Once the game takes to space, it'll become a good idea to pay attention to who's stuck with a B (maybe even C) score.
Pressing Select on any unit status screen calls up a screen-specific purple help box like this. Since this is the help screen for the unit overview, it presents a nice central place to look at all the (left to right) Skills, Spirits, robot Traits, and equipped Parts. It's also where you can see descriptions for all of them. Crowe's Blaster doesn't have any Traits of note. The Shield emblem means that the Blaster has a shield to reduce incoming damage, but unfortunately, Crowe doesn't have the pilot skill to use it.
This is one screen, but you can switch the box on the left between Spirits and Skills. To see what they actually do, you have to open the help screen, but this is a good quick reference.
The numbers here are the same as on the overview, except that it also shows Experience Points and Pilot Points and total number of kills. The big thing right here is the Ace Bonus. Having it (again, unlocked at 70 kills) gives all pilots a flat +5 Will at deploy, which is why Crowe has 105 instead of 100, and an extra 20% money from all kills they make. Each pilot has their own unique Ace bonus on top of this. Crowe's is another 25% money, and at 130 Will or more, an extra 10% to all damage he deals.
The basic robot info screen is the robot's numbers again: HP and Energy, armor, mobility, targetting, terrain modifiers, and movement. Many robots have a series of Traits on the right side, but the Blaster's is just its poor useless shield.
The main new thing here is the Blaster's size, in this case M for Medium. Size goes from Small to 3-Large in Z2; smaller units hit larger units more often but for less damage, and vice versa.
Switching this screen with Square turns the statistics into a series of pip rows. These show how much the robot has been upgraded using earned money in each of the five machine stats. The 0% above it will go up by 2 for each pip filled in, and 100% will unlock extra bonuses. Thanks to my New Game + inheritance, I probably have enough money to max about 20 robots right now, but we'll see if I actually do.
Meanwhile, the right-side box has flipped to show equipped Parts. These come in equipment (extra armor, speed, etc.) and consumable (refill HP or EN) varieties. I don't have any right now.
The help screen for the unit and the robot screens are just subsets of the overview help screen.
Finally, weapons! The Blaster only has two right now: the Bunker Break, which uses its shield (the Bunker) has a cutting blade, and the Eagle Shot, using its gun (called the Eagle). The chart shows:
Whether the weapon is melee or ranged (by a fist or a crosshair).
The weapon's name.
A box to show whether or not the weapon has the MAP property.
Three more boxes to fit S, P, and B. S and B we will meet on later robots, but P means the weapon can be used after the unit moves. Weapons without the (P) property can't be used while moving without a special pilot skill.
The weapon's attack rating.
The weapon's range in squares. The first number can be greater than 1; the second goes up as far as 15, and in one case even infinite.
Finally, the weapon's specific accuracy and critical rate modifiers.
Flipping this page with the square button just gives us a lot of the above information in long form. It also shows another row of pips - a unit's weapon damage can be upgraded as well as its HP, armor, etc. Finally, it shows the Eagle Shot's full name; a few weapons have longer names that get shown here, but most just repeat the attack's listed name.
Weapon help screen. None of Crowe's weapons are associated with a skill or have an extra effect. If they did, this help screen would describe them, but for now it's super boring.
From now on, new robots will be introduced like this:
Blaster (Crowe Brust)
Offensive Support 2
Ace Bonus: +25% earned money, 1.1x damage dealt.
Crowe's a fairly good pilot. He's got decent stats, including a high Skill rating which will come in handy later. He comes with the combo of Offensive Support 2, which lets him step in and add his own attack to an ally's action if he's adjacent and hasn't moved, and Combo Attack, which makes all of his Support Attacks sure to critical. His single Spirit command is Fortune, a staple power which increases his hit and dodge chances by 30% for a single round.
Crowe has the Fortune skill, which earns him 20% extra money from kills, and a huge final cash bonus from being an Ace, letting him earn almost double money from every kill he makes without any extra investment.
Whew. I promise never to make that kind of enormous wall again. There are lots of other mechanics and several I know I said I'd "get to later," but at least they will show up bit by bit over the next several chapters.
Here's our starting board. Everyone's along the right edge of the map. Crowe is at the top, and the terrorists are scattered to the south.
Let's just charge one for now.
Here we see a preview of Crowe's move and the terrorist's, and what chance each has of hitting. I don't like the looks of that 42%. Luckily, with the touch of a button, I can quickly duck out...
and find a quick menu for Crowe's Spirit commands, an iconic SRW mechanic. Every pilot has a set of these that they learn as they level, and they consume SP to do all sorts of things: modifying combats, healing units, and generating extra rewards. I cast Crowe's only current Spirit, Focus, to raise his hit and dodge by 30% for the entire round at the low low cost of 15 SP. He has more than enough points in his SP pool to cast it every turn for four rounds, and we want this stage to be over in three for the SR Point.
Much better. Now Crowe can't miss and will almost surely dodge.
As Crowe takes his first attack, he comments that he tries not to bother anybody as a rule and curses out the terrorists for being dicks.
I don't have a turn left, so I let the terrorists move.
This guy stomps up to take a shot.
Check out that hitrate! It's still not great, but a lot better than the first guy. Part of it is that the terrorist is using a much more accurate weapon this time. But also, the Super Robot Wars Z series has something called "hit correction." Put simply, a unit's dodge rate falls off as it dodges attacks repeatedly each turn. The penalty resets every round, so it's there to stop dodgy robots from wading into piles of mooks and destroying them all. This won't be an issue until later stages with gobs and gobs of enemies.
A special feature introduced in the first Super Robot Wars Z: Battle animations change depending on whether someone is attacking air to ground, ground to air, or on the same level. The Blaster shoots down, and the Axio shoots up.
The Bunker is a razor-edged shield attached to a wire. It's more than enough to take out the terrorist's crappy Axio.
The last terrorist can't reach Crowe, and just ends his turn.
On Crowe's turn, he dies.
Crowe's all ready to pack up and leave, but before he can...
a Dimension Shock occurs, and Damons start piling out of the rift.
Traia is pleased as punch, and overrides the Blaster's controls to throw Crowe into the fray. She reveals the Blaster's full codename: the DM Buster Number 0, the world's first machine developed specially to fight against the Damons.
These Damons don't have a (P) attack, which means they can't move and attack in the same turn, so Crowe has to get within range of them (in this case, between 2 and 5 squares) to get any counterattacks. Otherwise, they'll just move towards him, but not attack.
One of them is already in range. Another couple are going to spend the turn charging, but the last is a lost cause. Unfortunately, we've only got one player phase and two enemy phases left, because Crowe's actions are over for the turn. This is the end of turn 2.
The good news is that the Blaster has a new attack, Assault Combat Pattern Faiz.
Predictably, one Damon just moves and ends, and the second decides it wants a piece of ACP Faiz. Let's give it to him.
Crowe levels up from destroying the Damon, but only gains stats.
Anyway, once the first Damon bumps off to where it came from (the ugly dimension?)...
It's Wufei Chang from Gundam Wing! He's come to help us out, grumbling the whole time about how weak and pathetic Crowe is. But this is good, because Crowe won't be able to take out both Damons in time to score the SR point.
It's still the enemy's turn. The Damon that was probably going to chase down Crowe decides to charge at Wufei instead. The last one is already in range of Wufei and decides to try its luck.
Wufei dodges and counterattacks...
But doesn't quite finish the Damon off.
It's now the top of turn 3 and there are three Damons left. We only have this turn left to finish them off, but this turn includes the enemy's phase, which includes Crowe's and Wufei's counterattacks.
Crowe cuts down his last enemy with Faiz. Now it's up to Wufei to kill his last two Damons in one turn. Let's see if Wufei's Shenlong Gundam is up to the job.
Shenlong Gundam (Wufei Chang)
Ace Bonus: At 130+ Will, casts Fury at the beginning of each turn.
Well, it can certainly attack and counter at range 5 with its Flamethrower, perfect for taking on the Damons. Wufei's skills are Prevail, which powers him up as he takes damage; Block, which lets him use shields and cut down projectiles (both of which Shenlong is compatible with); and Predict, which increases his accuracy and evasion at 130 Will. Speaking of Will, his Ace Bonus lets one attack of his per round break through any barriers and defenses at 130 of it. He's not going to get up to that this stage, but it's handy to know.
Oh, and did I say I'd explain the S and B tags when they came up?
The S stands for Special, or maybe Status. It means that when the weapon deals damage, it also inflicts some kind of effect on the enemy. In the case of Shenlong, the weapon is the Vulcan, and it slows the enemy slightly for a turn when it hits, reducing their Mobility and consequently their ability to dodge. Reducing Mobility is not the only status out there. In fact, it's probably one of the tamest.
The B stands for Beam. A weapon with the Beam property interacts differently with certain traits and equipment. There are certain shields, for example, that only block Beam weapons, and other shields that are only penetrated by Beam weapons. Usually, Beam weapons are also garbage when used underwater.
His first Spirit is Vigor, which restores his HP by 30%. His second (he has a second! bastard!) is Sense, which duplicates both Strike (100% accuracy for a turn) and Alert (100% dodge for one attack).
Remember that one of Wufei's Damons is badly hurt and the other one is totally healthy. To counter both to death on their turn, we want to weaken the healthy one.
Wufei uses Sense, just to be safe. The Alert component is nice, but the Strike part is important, since it means Wufei will never miss for the rest of the turn.
After the attack, they're set up to break themselves against Shenlong.
The symbol on the bar at the bottom shows that Strike is still active. It also doesn't show that Alert is, because it was spent.
Monster one goes...
Since its tail blade is a projectile, Wufei can use Block to negate it. This is one of many, many skills with a success rate that's based on the pilot's Skill stat.
Then it gets roasted.
Its brother meets a similar end.
Just in time to score the SR Point.
Wufei leaves in a huff.
Crowe returns to the laboratory to negotiate his pay for testing the Blaster. He wants a mil, but Traia's price is a single G.
Zennitori interrupts, and wouldn't you know, he's not going to write off Crowe's debt just because we saved his life or anything. He still wants his money and he wants it right now.
Traia offers to pay Crowe's debt for him! But only as a loan, in exchange for continuing to be the Blaster's test pilot. Crowe can't argue with that,
You get to choose whether you want the Blaster to be range focused or melee focused. I'd leave it up to the board, but I played my last couple games with melee and I kind of want to try ranged.
Crowe's million G debt, minus the single G he got back from Zennitori (since Traia did pay off his entire debt, after all), is now 999,999 G. No, you can't pay it off from your in-game funds.
NEXT: BETTER, STRONGER, FASTER
or, the basics of upgrading robots and training pilots
A question before I continue, though: go over every learnable pilot skill in the game (there are a lot), or just the fun ones and then show off the rest as they show up on new friendly and enemy pilots?