The Let's Play Archive

Zone of the Enders: The Fist of Mars

by Scintilla

Part 1: Episode 01 - On the Battle God’s Palm

Chapter One – On the Battle God’s Palm

We get the usual publisher and developer credits before the title screen pops up

Music: Z.O.E 2173

The title theme is quite excellent, by the way.

Pressing Start brings us to the standard main menu screen used in pretty much every video game ever. New Game and Load are self-explanatory, and Continue lets you load a Quicksave. The Options menu is more interesting, however.

Music: Intermission

We are given the option to turn the battle animations and IAS mechanic off. I’ll describe what the latter is once the gameplay section begins. Sound Mode is where we can sample the game’s musical pieces. The Mech and Character Reference sections will eventually contain information on the mechs and characters we encounter, gradually unlocking new information as the game progresses. The Terminology section contains explanations of the various bits of technobabble the game will throw at us, and unlike the previous two sections it’s completely unlocked and filled out right from the start.

Enough of this, let’s start a New Game.

I am British and therefore stolidly refuse to learn other European languages such as French and German.

Music: Tragedy

The game opens with a massive text crawl and I will transcribe the rest here rather than waste screenshots.

In 2045 mankind began to look beyond Earth for solutions and built the first Earth-space track orbital elevator. The “Space Age” had officially begun, and countries all over the world dove into countless research projects and space development programs. It was then that the human race created and discovered several new tools that would change life forever; the LEV, a pilot-controlled interspace robot; the resource Metatron, excavated from the Jupiter moon, Callisto; and the Urenbeck Catapult, a device which, by manipulating space, enabled hyper-speed travel. The discovery and invention of these so-called “Tools” expedited the progress of the space development project, resulting in an exodus into space – in the span of a single century, more than 20 million people took up residence in colonies on the Moon, Mars and as far as Jupiter territory. The transition from Earth to space seemed to be going smoothly.

However, new conflicts were just beginning to materialize. Human beings left on Earth began to refer to these colonists as “Enders”, a derogatory term for those “living at the end of civilization”, expressing their prejudiced attitudes towards non-Earth inhabitants. In response, these immigrants, who were subject to discrimination on top of living in harsh environments, bonded together in their bitterness against Earth…and tensions between the two groups would only be magnified as time passed. In 2158, anger on the immigrant side culminated in the founding of BAHRAM, an anti-Earth military unit based in Vacilia County, Mars – and its subsequent clandestine invention of the Metatron “Orbital Frame”, an entirely new type of LEV-like machine.

From there, it was one tragedy after another. The Deimos Incident. Anterior Intervention. The threat of orbital elevator destruction. Since the advent of BAHRAM and the Orbital Frame, the already precarious equilibrium keeping the peace between Earth and space was rapidly falling apart. And in 2173, amidst the political turmoil, another ship filled with immigrants left Earth for the Zone of the Enders…

Music: Strategy Explanation

: Ow!! What the…?!??!

: Heh heh…busted. You’re not getting away now.

: Ouch! Please let me go!

: Can’t do that. See, someone took my money…

: Oh, no, a burglary? That’s terrible! No, wait. You know what? They’ll be able to find it because at the Departure Gate they have…

: Huh?

: There’s no reason to tell anyone or look for the culprit. You know why, don’t you?

: Well…um…

: That’s because…

: Because…?

: Fine by me. If you do that, you’re the one that’ll suffer for it. I’ve got proof to back up my story right here.

Our protagonist, ladies and gentlemen.

:…Yeah, I went through a lot to get it.

: Wow, that’s great. Be careful so you don’t get that stolen. Well, I should really get going…see ya!

:…information from the National Space Force. I’ve downloaded all the security tapes onto it.

: That’s right. You left, and my wallet was gone.

: Hmph. So?

: You’re still going to play dumb, eh?!? You took my wallet!

: No…I didn’t steal anything.

: Why you little…!!!

: How…? Oh, I get it. You’re in on this too, aren’t you?

: I think that’s enough, sir. I would stop right there if I were you.

: What?! Who do you think…?!?!

:…way to do it.

: You want some of this?!

: Don’t, Ares. I’m fine. I can handle this…

: Really? Gee, thanks!

: Yeah, so let’s keep this a secret. OK?

: Are you okay, Cage?

: Yeah. You know that guy?

:…Nah. More importantly, why is it that you’re always in some sort of trouble?

: *Sigh* Well, we should get ready for landing. We’ll be landing at Deimos soon.

: I almost forgot. Come on, Ares, let’s go!

Music: Tension

: Yes, sir. It was working fine just a minute ago.

: Dammit. It has to happen on the flight that the higher-ups told me to be extra careful with.

: Oh, is it that “Mystery Cargo”? It’s gigantic this time. I wonder what’s in it.

: Sir, there’s nothing coming through on the radar.

: You can’t depend on computers…in my day, we manoeuvred manually through debris-filled magnetic fields…

A colossal explosion punctuates the captain’s words before the screen fades out.

:…there? Nobody’s supposed to be in here.)

Cage runs to where he thought he saw someone – there’s the sound of footsteps and an automatic door opening.

: Excuse me, Miss, this is a restricted area! Please return to your room; we will be landing shortly.

: Um…you’re in there, right? Come on out.

:…I guess I missed her.

: Oh! He-hello! What are you do…

A tremendous impact shakes the Bonaparte, and an enormous explosion sounds in the background.

Music: Enemy Mine

Alarms begin to wail – something has clearly gone very wrong with the ship.

: What should we do…? I’ll call Ares. He should be on Deck 3.

There is the sound of Cage typing on a keypad.

: (I can’t get through…what’s going on?!)

The screen shakes as another explosion rips through the Bonaparte.

: No! Why won’t they open?!

Cage pounds on the doors, to no avail.

: Heh. Uh, it looks like we’re locked in.


: Don’t worry, though. I’m sure Ares will help us. Um…



: Uhh…DO – YOU – UN – DER – STAND? Comprende? Capisce?


: ???

: Well, it’s nice to meet you, Myona. Let’s get some help.




: Huh?

:…there’s no…time…

Yet more explosions tear the stricken ship apart.

: (!??!...What!?)

Music: Danger

: This is…this is…Oh my God, it’s an LEV. What’s it doing here? Who…? Someone tried to save us…


Myona starts walking towards the LEV.

Cage follows after her, and there is the sound of the LEV’s cockpit opening.


: Wait, I’m going to get on that too?

: Now…still…enough time…

:…Are you okay? You’re really pale.

: Wait…what am I supposed to do?!

:…take this…person…

The cockpit hatch shuts as Cage and Myona get inside.

: Oops. Sorry, I guess this is a one-man vehicle…

Suddenly the LEV’s thrusters start up!


: Whooooooaaaaaa!!!

Now, there’s supposed to be words here saying “Scene 01 – On the Battle God’s Palm”. But for some reason Visual Boy Advance doesn’t like it and it gets scrambled like this. To counteract this every update’s title will be the same as the scene it focuses on.

Music: Sortie


:…Good, she’s breathing. So…next step, separate from the main vestibule.

Cage, the ship was exploding for quite some time before you managed to get off it.

: It can’t be…hah hah…It’s a joke, right? I mean, it’s the Bonaparte…

: All Sequences Complete. Register Pilot, Please.

:…But everyone…Ares…It can’t be! It just can’t be!!

: Automatic Organic Breakdown Acquired. DNA Analysis Initiated. DNA Analysis Complete. All Regular. Registration Complete.

: They Are Not All Dead. 42 Living Recorded.

: What?! Who are you?!

: I Am The Vessel Navigation System.

:…go and save them!

Without warning, something strange appears in the distance and begins moving towards Cage!


: W-wait, we have to fight?!

: Affirmative. Object Believed To Be The Same That Attacked The Bonaparte.

Ah, the dreaded Narrative Parrot Syndrome. This incurable illness claims the lives of dozens of Japanese video game protagonist every year.

: What is that? An LEV? No…those wings…It’s almost like a…a…

: Will You Commence Attack?

:…Yes. What do I do?

: Acknowledged. Tactical AI Engaged.

Mission Map:

At this point the battle begins and the game transfers control over to us. We have the cursor hovering over Cage and his LEV, his mysterious opponent to the left and Deimos Station to the right.

Pressing ‘A’ on an empty square will bring up the Battle menu. From here we can end our turn, see a list of currently fielded units, check the mission objective, open the Options menu, save the game or, if the worst comes to the worst, start the whole map over again from the beginning.

If we press ‘A’ on Cage’s LEV, another menu appears allowing us to move to another position, attack anything in the unit’s range or check the status of the unit itself. Let’s quickly check the status of Cage’s LEV.

We’re given a brief overview of its status. It should be all fairly self-explanatory apart from maybe “Shell”, which is the mech’s Defence stat.

Pressing ‘A’ again brings us to another screen, this time listing the mech’s attacks. Power, range and accuracy modifiers are all catalogued, as well as the spirit, ammunition and energy requirements of each one. The bottom attack, Soulshooter, is highlighted in red since it requires 20 spirit points to be used. I’ll be going into the spirit mechanic in later updates.

Pressing ‘A’ a third time brings up the pilot screen. Here we can see Cage’s stats, level, experience, etc.

If we press ‘A’ on the enemy we can see their details too.

In comparison we see that whilst the enemy mech’s base stats are identical to our own, its attacks are far more powerful. The pilot’s stats are similar to Cage’s, with 10 more melee skill and five more avoid in exchange for ten less hit and shoot. The enemy is clearly a melee fighter, so our best option would be to attack from range.

And what luck! He’s just in range of our Tear Bullet attack.

A screen pops up showing us various stats and figures. The Time figure in the upper middle of the screen is the number of seconds we’ll have to land a hit on the enemy. Atk is naturally the damage we’ll do if we score a hit, and the Hit percentage dictates both the size of our crosshairs if we’re using the IAS system and our flat chances of hitting should we choose not to. We will be using it, so let’s get started.

This is where most of the action will take place during battles. With the IAS System enabled the player will be transferred to this screen after confirming an attack.

After a brief moment the enemy will begin to move around the screen. The player must chase after them with the targeting reticule and press ‘A’ when the enemy is in their sights in order to score a hit. The enemy doesn’t have to be in the very centre of the reticule – the game is in face quite generous and will allow a hit as long as some part of the foe’s sprite is inside the target box. Note also the timer, which runs down and forces you to act quickly to land a hit on the enemy. If the time runs out and your reticule is on the enemy it is treated as a hit. If not, you’ll miss. If you look closely you’ll also see a small red and blue dot in the middle of the enemy frame – this is a weak spot and hitting it will score a critical hit, dealing 150% normal damage.

Anyway, I manage to score a hit.

The game shows us an animation of our mech attacking and then the enemy takes damage, followed by us receiving some experience points. You receive Exp for every successful attack.

Units that have already acted become greyed out on the map screen. Since Cage’s LEV is currently our only unit this means our turn is effectively over and our next move is to end the Phase and let the enemy take a shot at us.

The screen fades out, and now it’s the enemy’s turn.

Music: Sudden Assault

As expected, the enemy closes to melee range and engages us.

We get a similar screen to when we attacked, but from the other side this time.

We get the same IAS screen, but this time we’re the ones who have to evade the enemy’s crosshairs.

Unlike you, the enemy can shoot as many crosshairs out as they want. If any one of theirs manages to catch your blue circle for more than a half second then you’re eating a hit.

Luckily I manage to evade the enemy’s attack, although the animation of them attacking still plays.

That attack can kill me in two hits, so I’m glad I didn’t get hit by it. Since there are no other enemies the turn immediately ends and now it’s my turn once more.

Since the enemy is right next to us, let’s have a look at Cage’s melee attack, Rusty Lancer.

It does more damage and is more accurate than Tear Bullet. Sounds good to me!

The same thing happens as before, and once again I score a hit.

We deal some more damage, and once again Cage gains experience. This time he gains enough to level up. It’s not only his stats that get better, either – his LEV’s stats also increase by a small amount, as does the damage his attacks deal.

All in all, things are looking good – the enemy has lost half his health and I’ve escaped his counterattack.

On his turn the opponent once again tries for a melee strike.

This time I get careless and screw up, allowing him to hit me.


: Analysis Complete. Unidentified Object Classified As “Hostile”.

This small conversation only plays if you get hit. As my turn begins again things are looking more even – both mechs have around the same HP. Looks can be deceiving, however – this is a scripted fight. As soon as the enemy drops below 1,000 HP a scene plays out.

: What? You’re breaking up.

: Comm Disabled. Possibly Due To Resonant Interference. Origin Unknown.

: I see…means that…I didn’t want…destroy…my own hands.

: Evasive action?! How?!

: Identical Enemy Detected. Reroute Impossible.

: I could never save myself. If Ares were here…


: Are you crying?

: Recording Complete. Evasion Impossible.

: Farewell, Pharsti…

: Noooooo!!!

: Unidentified Object Losing Power…

: We did it!

: Heh. It looks like we’re out of time…

The enemy unit retreats, vanishing from the field. Meanwhile an alarm starts up in the cockpit of Cage’s LEV.

: We Have Entered The Gravitational Field Of Mars. Approaching Atmosphere.

: Can’t…can’t anything be done?

: No.

: Are you always so direct?

: Would You Prefer A Vague Answer To Your Inquiry? It Would Not Change The Facts, But…

Music: Every Day

And that’s it for the first update.