Part 53: Aquarion intermissionSo let's meet Aquarion! This sentence will make sense in a little bit: I personally prefer pilot Set D, but in the spirit of LPing, I'll go with any preferences expressed.
Also, while I was going back over I got you a new bonus video.
Aquarion Basics: Transforming
Aquarion is exactly like Getter Robo. Three forms, three sets of weapons, only the main pilot's skills work but Spirits work on everyone. The three forms are Solar Aquarion, the main form you're always going to use; Aquarion Mars, the quick, close-range (mostly) one; and Aquarion Luna, the tough, shooty (mostly) one.
This is the simplest thing about Aquarion.
Basically, Aquarion has five sets of subpilots it can carry. Four of them correspond to permutations of Sirius d'Alicia (set A+C) or Pierre Viera (B+D) in the Mars seat and Silvia d'Alicia (A+B) or Reika Kou (C+D) in Luna. The fifth one is a fixed loadout of Jun Lee and Tsugumi Rosenmeyer, the kids of the team. We'll be meeting all of these pilots, obviously. As a rule of thumb, the combination of Sirius and Silvia is set A for a reason - it gets some unique goodies the others don't, and on the occasion that Aquarion is required to deploy, it is going to be with them.
Aquarion in Z was terribly cool because you could leave Aquarion with the canon Set A, buy the artificial Aquarion from the show, and crew it with the secondary characters, including Rena Rune, or Tsugumi and Jun. But sorry, you have to choose now.
The Element System
Element usefulness is skewed a little by Aquarion's special trait. It activates at 130 Will (this depends on the current head pilot alone) and simply synchronizes the head's stats to the highest of that stat among the three pilots onboard Aquarion. This is mainly for Apollo's benefit, because while he isn't a bad pilot, the others have their own PP banks, and a little investment can turn Solar Aquarion into a monster.
The Elements in Z2 are, in fact, built around Apollo using the Element System. Each of their Ace bonuses is worth a significant (250 PP worth) kick to a single stat, and it's usually the stat that pilot already specialized in. Sirius and Pierre provide Melee and Defense, respectively, Silvia and Reika are a choice between Ranged and Skill, and the Wonder Twins set gives a kick to both Accuracy and Evasion. Investing PP can push this boost up even further, and all that training gets funneled into Apollo for some really unfair results.
Solar Aquarion (Apollo)
Beam Gun (8 ammo)
Solar Fist (5 EN)
Infinity Punch (40 EN, 115 Will)
Fire Fist (50 EN, 125 Will) (Pierre)
Infinity Cross (60 EN, 130 Will) (Sirius)
Super 3D Infinity Punch (70 EN, 135 Will, size) (Sirius and Silvia)
Instant Comeback Punch (85 EN, 140 Will, barrier, size)
Ace Bonus: Deploys at +20 Will.
Apollo is always in the head of Solar Aquarion. I'm not going to lie, the whole unit pretty much revolves around him and Solar. His Ace Bonus sends him out at 125 Will right out the gate, putting him a stone's throw (or a shot of adrenaline) away from triggering the Element System, as well as instantly letting him use the Infinity Punch.
Solar Aquarion is also the only Aquarion (with one exception) whose weapons change depending on its subpilots, rather than its main pilot. The value of using Sirius and Silvia together is a bit diminished, since Aquarion's strongest attack isn't the Solar Sword, which needs them, but the Instant Comeback (a.k.a. Flower Crush) Punch, which anyone can do (I think, in the show, it was done with Silvia and Reika). However, having the two still enables the 3D Infinity Punch, for what that's worth. Pierre's Fire Fist is just a lighter version of Sirius' Infinity Cross, with a little less range and slightly leaner requirements.
Basically, Sirius and Silvia were the only way to go in Z. In Z2-1, this is much less the case. Dependence on them is a bit mitigated, and the other pilots have things to say for themselves.
Beam Gun (8 ammo)
Star Blade (5 EN)
Long Range Saber (30 EN, 115 Will) (Sirius)
Psychic Snapshot (56 EN, 125 Will) (Jun)
Burning Fire Goal (70 EN, 125 Will, size) (Pierre)
Jealousy Sword (40 EN, 125 Will) (Sirius and Silvia)
Sirius' Mars gets the strongest and most efficient of Mars' attacks, but only if he's with his sister, due to Aquarion shenanigans. Other than its cost, though, the Fire Goal competes with the Jealousy Sword for damage (and is way cooler). Jun's Mars is an exception in that Psychic Snapshot is a 1-7 ranged move, while Pierre's and Sirius' are midrange (P) attacks.
I can't get shots of the alternate Aquarions' attack tables, because the game won't let me switch out Set A for a reasonable reason right now. Sorry.
Ace Bonus: +25 Melee.
Offensive Support L2
Ace Bonus: +25 Defense.
Ace Bonus: +25 Accuracy.
Statistically, Sirius and Pierre are better at their respective stats even before the Ace Bonus kicks in; building either up can make Aquarion equally invincible, and Apollo's PP picks up the slack. Sirius' other stats (Skill, Accuracy, Evasion) are higher and he's better overall, plus he's less of an EN hog on the occasions you use Mars for something substantial. Personally, I prefer Pierre just because I like him better, I like Fire Fist and Fire Goal better, and he comes free with Offensive Support and a civilized Prevail level. I've used both though. Jun, meanwhile, is a reasonable support pilot, I guess (he is eventually destined to get Rouse if you use him).
Whoever it is, I like giving them Dash so I can use Mars as a Getter-2 knockoff. The Star Blade is better for dashing about than Luna's bow.
Beam Gun (8 ammo)
Lunatic Archery (10 ammo)
Rising Thunder (30 EN, 115 Will) (Reika)
Moonsault Attack (3 ammo, 125 Will) (Silvia)
Reverse Psychograph Explosion (60 EN, 130 Will, barrier, size) (Tsugumi)
Luna is the runt of the bunch. It's ammo-based (moreso with Silvia) and largely ranged (though as the pilot-dependent specials go, only the Moonsault Attack is ranged; Reika's and Tsugumi's are both post-movement). Use its seat for Spirits, Elements, and supporting.
Offensive Support L2
Defensive Support L1
Ace Bonus: +25 Ranged.
Defensive Support L2
Ace Bonus: +25 Skill.
Defensive Support L3
Ace Bonus: +25 Evasion.
This time, Reika's stats are better, almost enough to make up for choosing Pierre over Sirius. Silvia's advantages are what she gives to Solar and Mars (if using Sirius), that she comes with Offensive Support, and all the healing (Trust and Faith) and Love in her Spirit pool. Her Ranged is good, excellent when Aced, but only Luna has a ranged attack other than the little beam shooter, so as an Element she doesn't quite pull her weight. Personally, I like abusing Reika's Skill bump to hand Apollo Attack Again and double Infinity Punch things to death. Her Spirit Pool is also sort of supporty, with Accel, Rouse, and (ironically) Bless. Her Accel is good if you're using Pierre, since he doesn't have it. Silvia and Reika also both have Attune, so I'm pretty sure they knew Vector Luna was going to be a big old SP bank.
Like Jun, Tsugumi doesn't have much to compete with either Silvia or Reika, but can come into her own as a subpilot late in the game if fed: her Spirit pool includes Renew, Love, and a reasonably-priced version of Exhaust.
The prevalence of Defensive Support suggests Luna is supposed to be a tank, but only Apollo and Pierre come with Prevail.
Next week: Forget all that, it's time for more Code Geass!