Part 5: The Disaster ArrivesA note: The real name of the Blaster (or Brasta, if you like) is the stuff that keeps translators like me up at night in cold sweats. If no one minds, I'm going to stick with Blaster for this game, because Brasta sounds absolutely awful, and explain the entire situation when the machine's true nature is revealed.
A bit of money for Mazinger and Aphrodite. They might be our buddies for a while. (Whether you max or not, a pip or two in Targetting is generally helpful, and a few of them are an especially good idea for a super robot like Mazinger Z.)
At the Photonic Laboratories, Sayaka Yumi and her father are talking about how impressive Mazinger Z is, considering it was built in ten years by one man, even the late and great Juuzou Kabuto. Even in Japan, the world leader in robotry, only licensed corporations and labs are allowed to have machines like that. The world is on edge thanks to Celestial Being, and also to a mysterious robot called Dancouga which butts into conflicts and backs up the losing side.
Anyway, the Photonic Laboratory, which is authorized to operate giant robots (a sentence very few games will let you type), has Mazinger for now while Kouji gets investigated by the police.
Speaking of the police, Crowe's been locked up too. Ankokuji suspects him of being a terrorist! He's not buying the line about being an Axion test pilot, because he contacted Axion and they have no idea who he is. Damn it, Traia! He won't go to the moron CEO directly either, because seriously, how's he going to get to the richest man in the world (!)? Finally Crowe explains that he works for Scott Labs, and Ankokuji agrees to call them - after lunch.
Shiro and Kouji are locked up along with Crowe, and Kouji's not having any more luck than Crowe is. He's pretty bummed out now that his head's cooler. Crowe awkwardly tries to perk him up, and succeeds by reminding him that he still needs to take care of his little bro. Kouji really values his family - he fired up and fought for his grandpa's honor, and now he's all little Shiro has left.
They chat a bit and Crowe reveals his inherited debt to the boys. It's a huge contrast to what Juuzou left Kouji, a giant robot and the power to become a god or a devil. In return, Kouji explains that no one knows much about Dr. Hell other than he wants to Take Over The World, and Crowe has a hard time believing that someone would seriously say that.
Now that Kouji's out of his funk, he's all ready to go avenge his grandpa, but as it turns out, he has no plan and no clue. Crowe gives him the great power, great responsibility speech and tells him to think hard about how he's going to use his new robot.
Then Ankokuji comes back, and the matter of Crowe might just have flown out of his hands - someone's come to visit him from the government.
Next we find ourselves somewhere completely different - the headquarters of 21st Century Security, Inc.
Some of the younger employees are talking about the happenings in Amami, which have apparently made the news all over Japan. Shunsuke Akagi is super excited about the super powerful, super awesome super robot, and might just want one himself. Ibuki Momoiand Keiichiro Aoyama aren't so sure.
(Sidenote: the dark patch on Akagi's forehead isn't a scar or anything, but the shadow of his spiked-up bangs.)
As it turns out, 21st Century's 2nd PR Division is holding a bit of an expo for their new security products and services. Part of the expo is showing off the anti-Heterodyne robot Dai-Guard to children. Miss Ooyama explains, helpfully, to a child that a Heterodyne is a monster that comes along with a World Shock*, which is kind of like the Dimension Shocks that the Damons come out of. Twelve years ago, they attacked and destroyed entire cities, and Dai-Guard was built to counter them.
* Bear with me on these. There are several kinds of weird-dimensional-shit-quakes in this game and I'm trying my best to keep them all straight. Also if there's an accepted translation for the type used in Dai-Guard let me know, I haven't seen it.
The little snots get to asking why Dai-Guard didn't go out to fight the monsters at Amami, and, um, uh, er. The real answer is that Dai-Guard is only allowed to mobilize against Heterodynes, and the army covers things like Damons and terrorists, but you can't make your company look bad in front of kids, yeah?
Anyway, the demon child accuses Dai-Guard of being just a paper model. He's not all wrong - Dai-Guard's armor is a bitch to transport, so it's got cheap mocked up armor on instead. (Pay attention to this. It'll be important.) Akagi still thinks the thing should have moved to show off, and old Ohsugi the manager will let him - for a month's paycheck. Operating giant robots doesn't come cheap you know. (Coulda fooled Juuzou and Kouji, though.)
Anyway, off to work! Aoyama's staffing the ladies' products section, while Akagi is stuck wearing a silly costume for the children. Oh well. He's a big manchild anyway.
Meanwhile, the 21st Century head honcho Oukouchi has just gotten word that an huge World Shock off Tokyo Bay after twelve years of none at all. As they're arguing about it, another one fires off, and this one is tremendous, the biggest in recorded history, and still expanding!
Chapter 4: The Disaster Arrives
The ladies of the 2nd PR Division see what seems to be a seagull, but it's too big to be a seagull...
That's no bird. It's a Heterodyne! After twelve years of silence! Orders from HQ demand that the show be cancelled and the employees evacuated.
Akagi has his own ideas. He wants to actually take Dai-Guard out to battle the Heterodyne! Everyone else in the division tries to talk him down. He's not authorized to pilot, and Akagi has no training to pilot it, at that. But Akagi thinks he can at least hold the monster back and won't take no for an answer.
While all this is going on, this man with the unenviable name of Shiro Shirota drives in. He's a member of the Defense Corps, and he doesn't think much of the useless lump called Dai-Guard, but anyway, he has orders to see everybody evacuated safely.
The Heterodyne starts going wild (in this game, explosions usually mean someone is attacking someone, but you have to tell who's attacking who from context). Akagi can't wait any longer, and Aoyama and Ibuki give up and pile in to support him (Dai-Guard is a three-seater, by the way). Akagi is to be the pilot, Ibuki the navigator, and Aoyama the engineer. Ohsugi and Shirota want him to cut that out, but once Akagi's got something in his head, there's no talking him out of it.
And so, the three begin booting up Dai-Guard, the paper robot.
With difficulty, Akagi drags the machine over to the city. He starts moving the rubble with Dai-Guard so the citizens can escape. The little brat who gave Dai-Guard crap is in there, but Akagi is too heroic to think of anything but saving the innocent.
The higher-ups watching from 21st Century are concerned about Dai-Guard operating without permission, but there's not much they can do now.
Finally finished with its rescue job, Dai-Guard is about to pull out...
But the Heterodyne charges in to engage it. If Dai-Guard leaves now, the Heterodyne will have its way with the escaping citizens! Nothing left to do but fight.
The stage begins. It's a simple duel between Akagi and the Heterodyne, much like Setsuna vs. Patrick. Let's start the party.
Dai-Guard (Shunsuke Akagi, Ibuki Momoi, Keiichiro Aoyama)
Ace Bonus: The Spirit command Valor becomes Soul.
Akagi has a couple of skills we haven't seen yet. Technically, every pilot on Dai-Guard is listed with the "Salaryman" skill, which gives them an additional 3 Pilot Points every level, 10 kills, or map in which they're deployed. However, since Ibuki and Aoyama are subpilots and don't have Pilot Points, this is strictly for decoration except for Akagi.
Akagi's Morale skill kicks up his Will by 3 points each turn he's out past the first. Whether this is better or worse than Will (the skill... thanks, Atlus), which gives a flat 10 points as soon as the pilot comes in to the stage, depends on the stage and the unit. Specifically, Will is usually good on units that really like racing to Will benchmarks (130, 150, and occasionally even 170). Morale can be better on long stages and units that don't mind gentler ramp-ups, but since this is a hard mode LP, it's going to be a fairly fast pace turn-count-wise, which lessens its advantage some.
Ibuki and Aoyama each have a single spirit, the HP-restoring Vigor, and can each cast it once. Akagi has the upgraded version, Guts, which restores Dai-Guard's HP to max (while Vigor just gives back 30% of the max). Gain doubles the experience points he gains from a single exchange of blows. Like its sister, Luck, it's not generally useful except when a high-level boss unit shows up, when it shines.
Akagi's Ace bonus is an upgrade to a Spirit he won't actually learn for a while. For now, other than the generic Will and money bonuses, it's completely useless.
Finally, Dai-Guard is functionally unarmed. Its two attacks are a slam and a punch, always the last resorts of robots stripped of their armaments.
The punch is slightly more expensive, point-blank range, and hits slightly harder.
The buildings here offer a defensive boost if Dai-Guard occupies their space - +10% defense, and a +15% evasion boost that Dai-Guard is probably too slow to take advantage of. I'd love to body slam the Heterodyne from this tile, if only for the mild defense bump, but...
Dai-Guard's movement rate is garbage!
Screw it. Probably not going to make a big difference. Let's just punch him.
Don't be stupid, Akagi!
Even if it is stupid, fighting Heterodynes is Dai-Guard's job!
That doesn't mean you can just charge in blind!
We don't have any real weapons! This is all I've got!
And here's your video for the chapter. It's not very impressive, because this chapter doesn't have any flashy moves or sweet comboes and its only new robot is currently a piece of junk, but I want to give some impression of just how clunky Dai-Guard really is. It's not at all like the superheroic Mazinger Z, or most of the other robots that we're going to meet in this game.
The Heterodyne almost takes Dai-Guard down.
Why is it so fragile?
What do you expect? Dai-Guard's expo armor is practically made of paper!
Don't forget it! If that hits us again, we're screwed!
Got it! If it rips off our flesh, we'll fight to the bone!
You don't get it at all!
They're right! This fucking thing has 200 armor! Even the crappiest production junkheaps from Gundam start with 800 or 900.
Meanwhile, 21st Century director Mr. Nishijima is outraged, but he changes his tune when reminded that if Dai-Guard disengages with the Heterodyne, it could attack 21st HQ. He demands the forms to authorize Dai-Guard's deployment, a little late.
Dai-Guard's in awful shape though.
Luckily, Akagi can fix that, just once.
The Heterodyne only has the one attack, a ranged tentacle whip. So it doesn't matter too much where Dai-Guard hits it from.
So why not just plant Dai-Guard on those buildings? The body slam isn't much weaker than the punch, and Akagi's clean out of cheating points, at least as far as HP is concerned.
See? Less damage, and the Heterodyne is about ready to turn it in.
Not before getting one last shot in on Dai-Guard, though.
Dead Heterodynes turn into dust, or something.
Mostly, the Heterodyne dropped a bucket of money.
Just as Mr. Nishijima finishes filling out the Dai-Guard paperwork.
But it's not over quite yet, as some familiar faces crash onto the scene - the Talos, as well as Doublas!
Ashura came when s/he heard there was a robot on the loose, and even if it isn't Mazinger, it's still a potential threat.
Luckily, we have an ally in this fight - Dancouga, the mysterious robot who drops in to help the losers of random battles. Apparently, that means Dai-Guard is the underdog here, but I'm not complaining, personally. Dancouga's the silent type, though, and won't respond to any hails. There are still escaping people, too, and Akagi doesn't trust the machine to defend them properly, so it looks like Dai-Guard is still in the fight.
The new win condition is simply to take out Doublas M2. The SR Point comes if I do it within three turns of Doublas' arrival, including, unfortunately, what's left of this one. I guess I could have waited to take out the Heterodyne, but whatever.
Since it's still the enemy turn, the Talos soldiers move uneventfully. Doublas holds position.
At the beginning of the next round, Crowe, Kouji, and Sayaka join the fray. They're still in custody of the police, but this is a parole of sorts: they'll get some credit with the government if they drive off Ashura's forces. Ankokuji is watching them like a hawk in the meantime.
Kouji tells Crowe that while he's still working on his question, he knows one thing - he still wants to get Ashura back for his grandpa.
Akagi's resolve has repaired Dai-Guard for me yet again.
Not only that, his SP has been refreshed.
Dancouga is an AI. I can't control him, but he'll move on his own at the end of the turn.
We've got some moving to do to take out Doublas in the next couple of turns. Crowe and Kouji are probably going to be mostly responsible for dealing with him. Let's get started on that. Educated guesses about Doublas (I probably should remember this from last playthrough): he'll start moving next round, and he'll go after Mazinger.
I may be out to do the government's dirty work, but fresh air is still nice. And I hear this is a nice place for a date.
You guys and your evil are trashing up a nice spot. Let's clean this place up!
Bayonet Spiker is a combo attack - nets, stunning rods, and finally an energy spike. A lucky crit with it knocks out the Talos.
Not that this stops the game from reminding me that the dead Talos' mobility has dropped.
Just you wait, Baron Ashura! Once these guys are gone, you're next!
I'm going to use Mazinger Z to destroy you and avenge my grandpa!
Rocket Punch is less lucky.
Good thing Mazinger is such a tank.
It's usually best to spread damage around for maximum efficiency.
For some reason, Sayaka manages to dodge a lot in this LP.
Dai-Guard's movement and range are still garbage. I hope the Talos will attack him close up.
After I end my turn, Dancouga gets to move before the enemies do.
Doublas approaches Team Mazinger, but doesn't attack. Damn.
Get out of here, Akagi! These guys aren't our job!
Ibuki's right! We've done enough here!
Yeah, but they're the ones attacking us! We don't have a choice!
And even if Dai-Guard's damaged, we can still help those citizens who are still escaping! Let's do it!
Okay this is kind of bad.
By giving up Dai-Guard's attack, I put him into defensive mode so he only takes half damage. He should be able to survive that.
Just barely. But if necessary, Akagi can still heal Dai-Guard, and even if he couldn't, Ibuki and Aoyama could burn through their SP pools to give him back at least a lot of his HP.
Crowe doesn't really need to be fed anymore, but a kill is a kill.
Okay, screw Dai-Guard. He's not helping, he's too far away and in this state he's way too weak anyway. We've got this turn to take out Doublas and it's up to Team Photon.
I guess I can take a shot at him with Aphrodite. It'll reveal his stats, and every bit of damage helps. Probably.
Wait. First, let's Cheer Crowe and Kouji. Whichever one of them takes out Doublas will gain extra experience (I'm kind of hoping Kouji manages it, being his villain and all. I'm old-fashioned that way).
With commands like Cheer, there's a useful little interface trick. I can just pick one now, or I can tag them using Square...
marking them to have the Spirit cast on them all at once, saving a lot of menu time.
You can do the same thing in list mode if you want. This particular aspect is good for healing Spirits.
Aphrodite's only (P) attack is range 2. She won't be benefiting from Crowe's Offensive Support. If Crowe had Chain Actions, he could take out the last Talos, reposition using Hit & Away, and then reset his turn so he could participate in both Kouji's and Sayaka's attacks.
Anyway, where was I?
Not a good sign.
Kouji can benefit from Crowe's aid, using ACP Faiz to boot. The kanji lit up on his display is Gain, since Sayaka's Cheer gave him Gain's effect.
Honestly, at this point I'm using animation screenshots just because now that I know I can cap it with both damage and remaining HP on one screen, it's actually fewer screenshots than map mode.
I haven't the slightest why Mazinger Z is so tanky so quickly. I haven't trained Kouji in either stats or skills, and Mazinger's armor isn't that high.
A Support Attack is preceded by this little transition.
Faiz doesn't quite take it out. This is one animation where the damage comes and goes before it gets to the unit's final state.
By the way, mechanical trivia: if this attack chain had taken out Doublas, Kouji would have reaped the experience and pilot points, but Crowe would have gotten the kill notch. If you happen to be raising kills for Ace Bonuses, Offensive Support is an awesome way to do it if you have PP to spare.
Anyway, Kouji's team attack got Doublas down far enough that Crowe can finish the machine off.
Do I really have anywhere I need to move? The stage is over.
Crowe gains two levels (thanks to Sayaka's use of Cheer) and the Propellant Tank I missed last chapter.
And of course, an SR Point.
Kouji is, as always, ready to have it out with Ashura, but while Ankokuji reminds him that he's on the government's short leash, Ashura takes his/her remaining units and flees.
Crowe and Akagi remind him that he did something good by saving the city, which makes him feel a bit better.
Dancouga ditches. Crowe is getting really tired of all these douchebags coming and going without so much as a by-your-leave.
Speaking of whom...
Celestial Being discusses among themselves and decide to let both Kouji and Crowe go for now - Mazinger is an anti-Dr. Hell machine and the Blaster is on Axion's payroll - though Tieria, eternally the wet blanket, predicts that one day Celestial Being will have to take on Axion too. The boys decide to break off and follow Dancouga.
Ankokuji would like Crowe and Kouji to return, but Crowe's had just about enough of the Japanese government, and considers escaping Ankokuji's clutches and returning to chasing Celestial Being. Of course, we have the option to make him stay with Kouji.
Of course, which way he goes (first, anyway) is up to the thread, but it has a long time to decide - because first we're going to step back in time a couple of chapters and follow the Gundams.
Either way, the scene turns to a place called the Dragon's Hive.
A man named Commander Tanaka (it says Commander right there on his nametag, honest) is speaking with a mysterious figure. He reports that the samples Dancouga brought back are still not enough, and the shadowy man decides that they have to hurry and choose new pilots. "Time may be running out for life on this world. We must hurry. We must complete Dancouga Nova."
On that cheerful note, we return to 21st Century HQ in good old Tokyo.
Akagi is staring down an absolutely ridiculous amount of paperwork. The rest of the office has decided it's really his fault for going nuts with Dai-Guard, so he's not getting out of it. Oh well. Meanwhile, the section chief Ohsugi has been called out to the board to explain the situation, and that probably means punishment.
The CEO, Oukouchi, has just gotten off the phone with the UN, though, and he's managed to get them to back a new project. PR Division 2 will be at the center, and Ohsugi will be the one responsible.
Oh, and his secretary, Miss Kamimura, happens to be the cousin of the pilot (Akagi) of the project's Unit #1 (Dai-Guard). She's been hovering around the scenes with Oukouchi and Nishijima all chapter, not doing much of anything but playing straight man/exposition dummy.
The last leg of this chapter depends on which branch was taken earlier, but explaining them both now is more convenient for me:
If Crowe sticks with Kouji, he gets thrown back into the Amami slammer, with Ankokuji as a babysitter. Kouji and Shiro have a visitor, Professor Yumi.
Crowe has a visitor too - a moustachioed gentleman named Ohtsuka, who is in charge of a special squadron operating under the International Peace Board, and he wants Crowe to pilot on it...
If Crowe escapes and chases Celestial Being, he gets back in his transport and hightails it out of Japan, where he submits his report to Traia.
Part of his routine at times like this is going to be selling off the combat data he collected on enemy mecha for a bonus, and he's trying to push the data on the Talos and Mechabeasts. But Traia is writing it off today because he wouldn't send any reports while he was in Japan (because he was in jail!). What's left is the original 50k promised, plus a measly 5k in extra pay.
But then, Crowe's transport gets sniped into uselessness! Traia takes the whole 55k as a penalty.
To no one's surprise, Celestial Being is responsible, and they want Crowe's Blaster. Tieria says "Veda" wants to inspect it. Crowe knows he's not going to win in a four on one.
Celestial Being brings him to a little island and keeps his back to them and his hands up, careful not to show their faces. Even though we've all fought together once, haven't we? But Tieria is stone-cold as well as a stick in the mud. He (yes, if you're still in shock, Tieria is a he) asks why Crowe came after them, and Crowe's answer is...
He wants to join Celestial Being?!
The Meisters are taken aback, but at least they haven't shot Crowe yet.
In any case, this chapter is over. Whenever the next update is, we'll hop back to the alternate chapter 3: The Meteor That Started A Battle