Part 9: A Power Awakens
Bringing Trider up to speed and the Shuttle up to less-dying-ness.
As the chapter begins proper, a young man named Takeru Myojin is having a nightmare. An evil voice is calling him Mars, the son of Zuul, Emperor of Planet Gishin, and telling him to destroy the Earth, for it is too dangerous to exist. "Gaia" is the key...
Takeru reacts to the strange vision with horror, exactly as you'd expect, so Emperor Zuul floods his mind with pain and warns him that no one disobeys the will of Zuul and lives.
Back in good old Japan, Takeru and Taigauchi are affirming their companies' new partnership as fellow Crusher contractors.
Taigauchi feels close to Watta, and not just as colleagues - he was old friends and partners with Ohtsuka and the senior Takeo. The employees of 21st and Takeo (and Crowe, for some reason) chat about Watta inheriting the company and the robot from his father. He even learned to pilot from his old man and got a special age-excepted pilot license. Once again, Crowe is a little bitter at what his own dad left him as inheritance.
The members of PR Division 2 join the meeting, and Akagi meets Watta face to face for the first time. The PRD2 ladies all agree, Watta may be a little kid but he's definitely the more mature one. The employees of Takeo General and PR Division 2 formally introduce themselves to each other.
On Takeo's side, people we already know - Director Umemaro Kakekouji, operations director Tetsuo Osui, sales clerk Touhachiro Kinoshita, and general administrative manager and chief snacks executive Ikue Sunabara.
PR Division 2 is led by section chief Haruo Ohsugi and his assistant Shinya Yokozawa.
And staffed by business manager Tomoyoshi Ishizuka, PR planning manager, Tomoro Taguchi, and international PR manager Hirotaka Ijuin. Crowe: "Are they over 300 kilograms all together? How'd they manage that?"
Being a Japanese enterprise, 21st also employs several "office ladies," and that is approximately as sexist as it sounds. PR Division 2's are Noriko Ooyama, Chiaki Nakahara, Shizuka Irie, and Fuuka Tanigawa.
Needless to say, this is a game about giant robots punching each other out, so none of these people will ever affect the plot, but I thought it was funny that 21st has sections that can fit entire Takeo General Companies inside them. (I'm pretty sure Takeo's entire business model is "We have a super robot! Ask us anything!")
Watta does not understand Tanigawa's look. I daresay most people don't.
Ibuki and Aoyama are okay with piloting Dai-Guard, they guess. The Dai-Guard project is a contract between 21st and the UN, and it helps no one if the machine doesn't work for lack of pilots. But they're still not into it like Akagi is, and he's alone in being excited to stick his neck out for peace and justice and all that heroic jazz.
They're due back at the Izu camp, but Kouji, if you'll remember, isn't there with them - he's staying at the Kurogane bathhouse in Atami. This means that Ankokuji and Shiro can enjoy the hot baths whenever. Ankokuji is staying with Kouji to act as a bodyguard, because this Kouji is not quite badass yet, and he's pretty vulnerable outside of Mazinger.
That said, his job is very easy, because the Kurogane bathhouse is also guarded by a team of five genuine badasses. For instance, Cross has taken on forty fighters by himself at once. The Master's past is one big mystery, but he's a well-known master at cooking - and even better at the blade arts. And to amp up the mystery, all these guys? They're supposed to be long dead.
Yet there they are, and Yasu "the Weasel" denies all rumors of his demise. He doesn't want to talk about why he's a bathhouse assistant, but he's quite willing to gossip about his partners in crime. For instance, Django, the gunslinger that, of all the weird characters here who don't look like they belong in a bath house, is probably the weirdest. Django is the bathhouse's receptionist, of all things, but his real job is to "take care of" people who cross the bathhouse.
Meanwhile, Kouji is training with what might just be the most dangerous of the five...
No, not Tsubasa. He's just questioning her about what she knows about his grandpa, Mazinger, and Ashura, and she still refuses to answer - no, not until he learns to pilot Mazinger properly, and just playing with some Mechabeasts isn't good enough. She offers her terms: she'll tell him, and even respect him, if he can win a challenge. The challenge: touch the shoulder of old Okiku, the last and scariest of the gang of five.
This is Kouji's training, and he can't even get close to the lady after trying for a straight hour. This is the scene Crowe walks in on, making fun of Kouji for being so soundly trounced by an old lady. Kouji invites him to try, then, but Crowe doesn't play with girls - no matter how old they are, they're all the same. Crowe has some issues, I think.
Anyway, the reason Crowe stopped by is to bring Kouji his "piloting coaches"...
Shunsuke Akagi and Watta Takeo?! They both have more experience than Kouji, it's true - Watta's been piloting for ages and Akagi served time in the Defense Corps. Crowe, Akagi, and Watta all agree with Tsubasa: Kouji is piloting wild, relying on Mazinger's specs to pull him through, and that has to change if he's going to take on stronger enemies. Crowe, the only Crusher to have received formal piloting training, is in charge of this program - officially, because he's actually contracted it with Ohtsuka for pocket money.
Ohtsuka arrives to introduce the original Crushers, the crew of the assault jet somewhat unfortunately named the Cosmo Crusher. There's the captain Kenji, the gunner Naoto, the comm and radar operator Mika, and the pilot Akira.
Finally, a familiar face - Takeru, the craft's second gunner. That's all the Crushers for now, and they'll be in our company for a while. The Crushers were doing some regular investigation on the asteroids, since they've been oddities ever since the Great Dimensional Quake.
Crowe makes a little joke - "Find any secret alien bases?" - that gets Takeru all in a panic.
Ohtsuka is about to go into more detail, but the Crushers receive a notice that an unidentified flying object is dropping over Japan! Ohtsuka confesses that the Crushers' real mission wasn't routine data gathering, but investigation of strange UFOs that have been appearing around the asteroids of late. Captain Kenji volunteers to scout ahead and see what the noise is about while the rest of the Crushers prepare for deployment.
Chapter 6: A Power Awakens
The Cosmo Crusher approaches ground zero. The Crushers aren't reading any bogeys, but Takeru is still zoned out, thinking about that dream. The other Crushers chew him out for being a scaredy-cat.
The mysterious craft arrive on the scene, and they're definitely alien in origin.
They fire on the Cosmo Crusher. All hands to battle stations!
To score the SR point is a simple matter of clearing the entire map in five turns - but within my phase of the fifth.
It was nice of the aliens to send all these planes to build Will on.
Cosmo Crusher (Kenji Asuka, Naoto Ijuin, Akira Kisou, Mika Hyuga, Takeru Myojin)
Offensive Support L2
Ace Bonus: Accuracy +15%. Evasion +15%.
The Crusher is actually a second-tier combat unit. It has a series of Spirit pools which make it a fair mobile gun platform, as well as Offensive Support and a jammer to help units around it hit and dodge. It has no real finisher to speak of, but its Triple Laser attack is all right; it ignores barriers and fatness, but because it requires the Crushers to work together, it has a Will requirement.
By the way, notice how other than Kenji, the main pilot, all the Crushers have a reduced Spirit list of four - except Takeru.
Since we want to push pretty hard in the first bit of the chapter before the other Crushers show up, Kenji should go right into the middle of the enemy and try to score all the counters he can.
His base dodge is pretty good, especially considering his enemies are planes, known in SRW for being fast and annoying (his Ace bonus is certainly helping). And this is before Focus, which he has a couple of rounds of.
Now we lie in wait.
After a couple of fights, Kenji's Will is high enough to trust Akira and Naoto to perform the Triple Laser.
The background music they're using is "Battle Choir," the Super Robot Wars Z generic combat theme for combats without a theme.
After one more kill...
Takeru offers to take the Crusher 3 and break up the enemy formation.
Instead, he gets shot down.
But at that moment, a mysterious robot appears from Myojin Reef...
and absorbs Takeru into itself just as the jet explodes!
A voice from inside the robot says that "Gaia is controlled by Mars' brainwaves." Takeru realizes that Gaia must be the name of the robot, but Mars is what the voice from the dream called him...
The new Crushers arrive. They didn't know the Crushers had their own robot, but... well, it's a long story and it's still the enemy phase.
There's a new lose condition - Takeru getting shot down. As of now, everyone else is expendable for the chapter.
Gaia gets into trouble for the first time.
It dodges pretty well.
Takes hits all right too.
Gaia's counterattack is some kind of... psychic... laser... thing.
Damn it, Dai-Guard.
You ready, Ibuki, Aoyama?
No! We might be talking about aliens here!
We should get out and let the Japanese army or the UN deal with this!
But they're attacking the Earth! We have to fight back!
There's a city behind us! We have to defend it at least!
Fine. If you won't listen to reason, we're just going to get ourselves killed arguing.
All right, all right. I guess I'm stuck with you guys.
Just don't do anything stupid! We're not trained for combat!
Fine! We'll do as much as we can!
Which is defend and get hit.
But my turn comes soon enough.
Gaia (Takeru Myojin)
Ace Bonus: The Psychic Skill is replaced by A-Class Psychic.
Takeru's "real" robot. Sort of. I know some of you know what's coming.
Takeru normally has the Psychic L5 skill, growing to L9 over the course of the game, which increases his accuracy and evasion stats based on the skill's level. However, his Ace bonus can spike the process on a normal playthrough and completely blow it up on NG+ playthroughs, because it locks the effect of the skill to where it would be at level 9. Not only that, but it automatically restores 10 SP to Takeru each turn, which is, um, awesome (and will only get awesomer as he actually learns his Spirits).
Unfortunately, Gaia has a serious drawback to balance out the advantages of A-Class Psychic. Its one machine trait is not a perk at all. You see, if Gaia is ever destroyed in battle, no matter what stage it is, the antiproton bomb within it will explode and destroy the planet, completing Emperor Zuul's plans, and more importantly, delivering an instant Game Over.
Other than that, Gaia is extremely lackluster. It's not very big or strong and it has a mobile range of 2. Oh well.
(And if it wasn't obvious, Takeru is no longer a subpilot on the Cosmo Crusher.)
Also, Trider's missile supplies have been ratcheted up to a much healthier level.
So the basic idea is this: Takeru's Gaia is out in the corner by its lonesome. This is bad. We have four player phases to take out both the planes and the ugly-ass robots, several of which are on the opposite side of the map from the main Crusher force. This is also bad.
One thing we can do is use Offensive Support. Crowe is an excellent supporter, with high range and Combo Attack. This is also a good chance to see just how tough the enemy mecha are. (I know, Mika has Scan, but this way is more fun.)
Spiked frisbees of death never get old. Sorry.
(Godmars was not known for its animation. That is like the laziest attack known to man.)
They're fairly tough, but not that tough.
Another thing we can do is speed units to Gaia's and Cosmo Crusher's aid.
For instance, fighters that can use Accel are extremely good at reaching distant corners of the map and assaulting hard-to-reach enemies in a relatively short time.
God I love Mazinger.
Some units, like the Blaster, are simply fast even without Accel. Its base move is 8 compared to Mazinger's Accelerated 9.
Hit & Away lets you use any weapon you want without sacrificing your move. But it also expands your choice of accessible enemies. For units with high-range, non-(P) moves, it's a considerable upgrade in flexibility.
Dai-Guard is really awful at anti-air, and every enemy is flying. Time to use him as a supply island. (I forgot to train pilots. Whoops.)
Last to go are the Crushers. The Cosmo Crusher has lost the Triple Laser attack, because Takeru went and blew up the Crusher 3. Way to go, Takeru.
So pew-pewing away is all it can do.
I guess you can just dodge radiation now.
To be safe, Takeru restores his HP using Vigor. But I can't be too safe, there's a fight to be finished in just a few turns, so let's go attack.
This animation might have more actual motion in it than your average fight scene in Godmars.
The weakened jets start dropping like flies.
Even Dai-Guard, whose damage output is unforgivably low considering the enemies are tiny and crunchy, takes one out.
The slaughter continues. In fact, all the enemy jets are down, leaving only the mecha.
They start going down too, but more slowly.
Oh well, there's plenty of time left.
Takeru takes a hit and goes dangerously low. Even without the Antiproton Bomb, Gaia's destruction is a lose condition this chapter. Eep.
On my turn, healing.
There are just four mecha on the field. This'll be pretty easy.
While Team Fast takes out the third enemy and heads west to join the Crushers, Watta completely wastes 80 EN on the fourth.
And now there are only the western two.
The Crushers can probably finish this job on their own without Crowe and Kouji, actually-
Trust is a Spirit that restores 2500 HP to one selected robot. It's going to pull Takeru out of the fire.
Meanwhile, Kenji is clean out of Focus. But there's a little cheat to keep him safe for a round.
You see, the enemy mech's maximum range is 5. That's exactly the range of the Cosmo Laser... or is it?
Naoto, the team gunner, has that convenient Snipe spirit. Other than MAP weapons and point blank weapons, it expands the range of any weapon by two squares.
Suddenly, the Cosmo Laser's range is 7!
Now the Cosmo Crusher can shoot from comfortably outside counterattack range.
These are still the only two enemies left.
I'd be in trouble if Takeru hadn't dodged.
Takeru makes it out gaining his second Spirit, Sense, the one that combines Strike and Alert, which equates to perfectly dodging one attack and perfectly hitting for one full turn. For Takeru, Sense costs 20 SP, about the same as Strike alone costs for many pilots, and with A-Class Psychic, he can spam it and only really drain 10 SP per turn, which is quite nice.
Ahh, Counter. (From a screenshotting perspective, I really really wish the alerts that tell you when counters and support attacks are triggering would stick around until the robot was actually on the screen!)
And so the last enemy goes down. A whole turn early. You'd almost think there was more coming.
But nope. That was the whole map. The SR Point is mine.
The Crushers are a little rattled that they just fought real honest aliens from outer space. The only space things this world has known so far have been the Colonies and Celestial Being, and to have first contact be a fight is not the best way to go about it.
The voice in Gaia tells Takeru that the robot will explode the antiproton bomb inside it if he wishes, and that he is expected to use it to destroy the planet Earth.
Takeru cries for it to stop, and Gaia responds by ejecting him and flying away. According to Mika, it's headed to Myojin Reef, a deserted island created seventeen years ago. That seems to bother Takeru, but what's new? Everything that just happened is bothering Takeru, and understandably so.
10 PP and a snack.
We're back at Izu. According to Ohtsuka, Gaia has returned to Myojin Reef, and there surrounded itself with an impenetrable wall of the island's rocks and deactivated.
Kenji wants Takeru to debrief, but kindly old Ohtsuka, seeing how confused and scared he is, suggests he go home for a bit and cool his head. The Crushers aren't supposed to get home leave, like, ever, but it sounds like Takeru's dad has something incredibly important to tell him, so he gets an exception just this once.
After Takeru leaves, Kenji reveals to Ohtsuka that Takeru had a strange dream up in space and has been acting odd ever since. Between that and the robot Gaia that appeared out of nowhere to save him, it's clear that something is afoot and Takeru is at the center of it.
Gaia and the Cosmo Crusher have been added to upgradables. See you next chapter, when I'll also make sure to train up all the pilots. I already know Kouji, Watta, and Takeru are getting Energy Save, and Akagi and Kakekouji are getting Resupply, which lets them supply after moving.