The Let's Play Archive

Zone of the Enders: The Fist of Mars

by Scintilla

Part 3: Episode 03 - A Hopeless Hope

Chapter Three: A Hopeless Hope

Music: Intermission

After the previous mission we find ourselves once again looking at the Intermission menu. This time the Garage option has been added to the list, so let’s check it out.

Selecting it brings up this menu. ‘FortLEV’ brings you to a new screen where you can spend money to upgrade an LEV’s HP or Armour. ‘FortWeap’ is the same but with your mech’s weaponry, which can be upgraded to do more damage. ‘FortPart’ lets you equip things like spare ammo packs and repair kits, such as the one we received at the end of the previous mission.

This is the FortLEV screen. You will immediately notice that Cage’s LEV isn’t here. There’s a reason for this which will be explained later on. Still, we have the option of enhancing the Dreizehn, Caliburnus or Blade before the next mission. Actually, no, that’s not right. Due to certain reasons, there is absolutely no point in upgrading the Blade. Don’t bother doing so – you’ll just be wasting valuable money.

The FortWeap screen is similar but you’ll need to select a mech in order to properly begin.

Once you do you’ll get to choose which attack you want upgraded. It’s usually a good idea to start with the standard attacks you’ll be using most often, like the Dreizehn’s Long Rifle and the Caliburnus’s W Beam Cannon.

FortPart is the same – you need to select a mech first.

Now we can choose what parts to equip. Right now we only have a repair kit, but that will change in the future.

With the funds I currently have I can only afford two upgrades – each initial upgrade costs $1,000. Since it’s still early in the game there’s little danger of my units dying from one attack, so I upgrade weaponry instead, enhancing both the Dreizehn’s Long Rifle and the Caliburnus’s W Beam Cannon.

Without further ado, let’s proceed to the next stage.

Music: Day In, Day Out

:…Did you sleep well?

: Oh! Good morning! I just realized I hadn’t introduced myself yet. I’m…

: Cage, right? The girl is Myona and the one who saved you both was Ares.

: Huh? Oh, that’s right, you heard us talking.

: I’ve told everyone here about you, so there’s nothing to fear. This is the headquarters of the Anti-Terrestrial League, BIS. As long as you’re here, the UNSF can’t get to you.

Hm…I don’t much like being labelled like that, but I suppose from an Earthling’s perspective, that’s the way it looks.

: Oh my God…what do I do? They don’t seem like bad people…But Ares always says not to judge a book by its cover…

: Um…Cage, right? That’s not the sort of thing you should verbalize!

…Our protagonist, ladies and gentlemen.

: Yep. Loud and clear.

: Oh. Heh, heh, er…

A door hisses open in the background.

: Good morning. Everyone’s up so early.

: Well hello there, princess. Sleep well?


: You’re late. You sleep too much.

: Why are you always so grouchy in the morning? Want me to knock you back to sleep?

: Unfortunately, my grandma taught me never to hit a girl.

Semyl calls upon the power of her anime character archetype and punches Razma.

: Ow! Wha?! What was that for?!

: Hmmm…what’s with the raised fist? Your beliefs are pretty shaky, huh?

Razma doesn’t take kindly to this.

: I amended my policy just now, and decided that those who are female only by anatomy do not qualify as female.

There’s a joke in here somewhere about MRA’s and crappy tumblr blogs.

: OOOOO! I’m gonna show you-

: Good morning, Cage.

: - some nice things, but shall we call it a day, Mr. Razma?


: Mr. Deckson. I took the liberty of giving myself a tour of the facility. It’s very impressive indeed.

: (Dang…boy just ignored me completely! WhatEVER, never expected nothing anyway…)

Prettyboy Ares has no time for your pitiful advances.

: Well, thank you. I’m flattered.

: Where is the blonde gentleman from yesterday?

Before Deckson can proceed, however, the door opens yet again…

: Speak of the devil. Back so soon? How was Yukito?

: Well, he was doing very well, and…that’s not what I was trying to tell you! There’s been an emergency! The UNSF is raiding the hospital!

Music: Tension

: D-did they find out that he’s staying there?

: That don’t sound too good…Nah, that’s real bad.

: That’s not a real concern, as they completely overlooked two men; Mr. Yukito and myself.

Phil - Lucius before Lucius existed.

: Their interest in the hospital seems to have something to do with a new pharmaceutical they are using in patients in critical condition.

:…Hmm…They might be planning on stealing it and selling it at a higher price.

: There’s only one person I can think of who would do something like that.

: Me? Umm…O-OK.

Ned Noachim? The news anchor last update mentioned that the Bonaparte’s crash site was investigated by a ‘Lieutenant Noachim’. Hmm…

This screen should read “Scene 03: A Hopeless Hope”.

Player Phase Music: Sortie
Enemy Phase Music: Sudden Assault

The scenario opens with four hostile LEV’s spawning around the hospital, as well as…

…this guy. Oh boy.

: There is no such person here. Besides, even if there were such a person, I would never hand over a patient. Please leave.

: Ooh, what have we got here? They’ve got some good looking babes for nurses at this joint. You guys should take advantage. Go on, have some fun.

: What do you think you’re doing?!

:…nice the chicks are to my boys…Heh heh…

: You dirtbag! I said…stop that! This is my hospital, and I won’t tolerate…

Ned starts beating the doctor.


: Watch your tone. We just got back from space and we’re really tired. You know?

: Heh heh…

: Uuuuuh…

So yeah, that’s Ned. As you can probably tell, he occupies the “Irredeemable Shitheel” villain niche. He’s your typical early game villain – a petty thug with no charisma, no real vision, and no motivations beyond being a colossal pissbag. He’s a less classy Skeletor.

After the scene with Ned, the screen fades out and refocuses on a new area to the south east of the hospital.

: Pfffft. What do you want from me? The darn thing doesn’t work. Hmm…I wonder why? Let me think a little more…Hmm…Oh, I know! It’s broken. Oh well.

Music: Onward to Victory

:…this as soon as possible.

: Who…who the hell are you? Where did you come from?

: I’ve never seen anything this BAD! Don’t worry, though, I can fix you! This might – no, this is going to hurt…

: Whoops, sorry. I just got over a little something myself, and my self control isn’t what it should be…

: You…this is the UNSF you’re dealing with! You’ll regret this!

: Aw, I thought giving it a kick would set it right, but that thing’s busted beyond repair.

: Well…that takes care of that. Need anything else?

The BIS units spawn in seconds later.

: Never one for subtlety, eh Yukito?

: *Laughs* This is no time to be resting peacefully.

: There’s a good possibility that they are waiting for you at the hospital. If you can trust us…we’d like to deliver it for you. Could you trust us?

: Thank you. Don’t worry, we’ll see to it that it’s delivered safely to the hospital. As for you, find a safe place to hide.

: What are you…

: We are not terrorists. I wanted you to see that for yourself. Look. They raid the hospital, prevent the distribution of medicine, and endanger the wellbeing of the patients who need it. This is what Earth does, and we are trying to stop them. That is why I want your help. You have the power to make things better.


: Cage…let’s help them. They saved us…

: So it’s our turn to save someone. I have to say, I disagree with what the Earthlings are doing…

:…but I’d like to try.

: That’s great news. Thank you. Now…

: Boss! The idiot is nowhere to be found!

: I’ve asked Razma to take care of other business. Our priority now is to reach the hospital and restore it to safety. Come, we must deliver the medicine. Destroy the enemy LEV’s!

:…that area, so I can afford to have my fun in here.)

And with that, the player is given control.

Mission Map :

Cage’s LEV, the Caliburnus and the Blade all return, and two new units join the fray as well. First up is Yukito’s LEV, the Justeen.

Not too shabby. Its armour is a little thin, but aside from that it’s fairly average in terms of survivability.

The Justeen is primarily a melee unit. It’s main method of attack is to run up to an enemy unit and kick it in the head repeatedly until the pilot stops thinking conscious thoughts. It’s not that great at range – the Handgun will never, ever be able to oneshot a unit like it did in the cutscene and the ZZ Grenade, whilst very powerful, only has one shot before running out of ammo.

Yukito himself has high stats, primarily because he’s 3 – 4 levels higher than everyone else currently. Naturally his melee skills are high. Overall he’s a great addition to the team and will be using his Justice Foot to stave in a lot of armour over the course of the game.

That’s not all, though; Deckson also joins us to kick ass and take names.

Deckson doesn’t really care for these newfangled LEV’s, instead rolling up in a good old fashioned doomtank. Like the Blade, the Edge is a utility vehicle that can resupply adjacent units with ammunition and energy. Unlike the Blade, the Edge is a reasonably capable combat unit on its own and might be worth an upgrade or two if you have cash to spare.

Back to the mission. Our goal is either to reach the flashing area around the hospital or destroy all the enemy LEV’s. Both mean travelling through a fairly large city.

This is roughly the middle of the place. Our units are offscreen to the south east, and the hospital is to the north west. It is possible to move through the buildings but you’ll incur a movement penalty. On the other hand they provide a 10% Defence bonus and a 5% Evasion bonus, so it’s useful to take cover there once the shooting begins.

Looking at our units, we can see that the Justeen is on the other side of the river and thus has a head start on everyone else. This is one of those stages that will be irritating due to the Caliburnus’s small movement range.

I end my turn after moving everyone to the best of my ability.

The AI responds by moving forwards to engage me, but they still have a fair way to go. For the record, here’s what they all look like:

Reg. LEV Model A’s are somewhat more threatening than the Security LEV’s we faced last episode, but not by much. The game is still going easy on us right now.

I make my moves and end my turn. As you can see, our two forces are still out of range.

Turn three, and the enemy has moved up again. The Justeen is in range of the lead enemy, but none of them are in range to shoot at me, so I’m just going to move all my forces together and unload on them with everything next turn. Stringing the enemy out is an important tactic in Fist of Mars, especially when you go into the later stages and have a dozen or so enemy units coming after you.

…As an aside, just look how far away the Caliburnus is. Short movement range + building movement penalties = late to the party.

Next turn and this is everyone’s positions. It’s time to hammer some foes.

Deckson opens up the hostilities by firing at the closest LEV.


Since Deckson is twice his opponent’s level he doesn’t get a lot of experience.

Phil comes in with another attack to get some exp. He levels up to level 4.

And Cage finishes him off.

Cage also gains a level, along with 300 cash. These Reg. LEV’s give triple the money of the Security LEV’s, which is nice.

Just to finish off I give the left-hand LEV a good old dose of the Justice Foot.

This is what happens when you pit a level 8 unit against a level 3 unit. It’s not pretty.

With all of my units moved I end my turn.

The LEV Yukito savaged decides to attack the Caliburnus.

He winds up missing.

The second undamaged LEV also decides to attack Semyl.

This time he manages to land a hit.

It’s my turn again, and all of the enemies are in range of my guns.

Phil finishes off the weakened LEV, gaining a level for his troubles.

Semyl takes a chunk out of the other LEV with her laser blade…

Deckson brings it to critical with his doomtank…

And Cage finishes up with a Rusty Lancer.

There’s only one enemy unit left now.

Yukito promptly savages him and I end my turn.

The AI has absolutely no sense of self-preservation. Come on, man, you’re never going to hit me in a million years.

Naturally he ends up hitting me.

Honestly, though, there’s not much left except the clean-up.

Cage gets the honours this time.

Boom. Okay, the last enemy is down, so now…huh? What’s that over by the hospital?

: Could you be that impudent terrorist group I’ve been hearing about? I’ll dispose of you myself!

: (There’s more of them! He seems like the leader…)

: Shut your mouth. I don’t care how many Martians die! Let me give you a little tip – all kinds of evidence can be fabricated. Don’t forget, it’s the Martians, not us, who are in the wrong. They were even saying that on the news yesterday…

: What…? (Does he know something about the Bonaparte?)

Just to reiterate – Ned definitely knows something about the Bonaparte. He’s the one who investigated the wreckage. If there was a coverup as Myona theorizes, it’s likely that Ned is in on it.

: Hmm? Have I seen you somewhere before? Never mind. If you still want to get in my way, fine. It’ll be the cold-hearted evil terrorists breaking and entering a hospital to steal medicine, and innocent patients getting an instant upgrade from sick to dead! Ha ha hah!

A series of flashes from a group of buildings catches Cage’s eye…

: Okay, ready? I’m pulling the trigger…

: (Aha!)

: *Snicker* So Earth monkeys have no guts and like to pick on defenceless people, huh?

: What?! You shouldn’t have said that…That’ll be the end of you!!

Suddenly, Razma appears and shoots Ned!

: Wh-what?! A sniper?!

: So you really did work on a ship, huh?

: You were testing me?

: Don’t take it personally. I do it to everyone.

: Rrrrrrgh…how dare you…

The game gives us back control at this point. Let’s have a look at Ned for a minute.

Okay, Ned is not screwing around. His LEV has good movement, is more heavily armoured than the Caliburnus and has more HP than any of our units. He also has a number of powerful attacks and a Burst Attack of his own, Death Rave. Ned is also a pretty good pilot and unlike Frazer from the last mission he has a superior LEV that complements his abilities.

Case in point. Razma normally has 80 – 100% accuracy in his attacks.

Although if you do hit he gives out a ridiculous amount of experience since he’s level 10.

On Ned’s turn he decides to target Yukito. Seriously, just look at that damage. Even though Yukito is only two levels behind Ned his attacks are ridiculously accurate and hurt like hell.

He also has rapid-fire crosshairs and manages to legitimately catch me out.

Holy crap, one more hit like that and Yukito is history.

I quickly get him out of there and use this opportunity to show off the Blade’s repair function.

There we go. The Justeen isn’t totally fixed, but it’s not in danger of going down after one more hit anymore.

I move my units into a rough diagonal line. Ned can’t hit anyone so he’ll have to advance, at which point I can hopefully dogpile him.

Ned moves down towards Razma, so I pull everyone back until he can only hit Razma himself with his laser blade. After that all my other units can smash him to pieces.

Ned takes the bait as expected. The AI suffers from the same flaw as many other SRPG’s – if it can attack something, it will, regardless of whether or not doing so means moving into a disadvantageous position.

Oh Jesus Christ look at all those massive crosshairs

So yeah, Ned can take you apart if you’re not ready for him.

Too bad he’s now in range of every single one of my units.

Now, time to farm some experience off this guy.

And now for the finishing blow…


:…buried 6 feet deep!

: Completely Unoriginal And Tired Threat Registered.

: Heh heh…

: (Oh? I thought he looked familiar! Plan 261…I gotta let the old man know!)

Ned withdraws and the mission ends. Oh, and since we didn’t get to see it in the mission proper, here’s Ned’s Death Rave attack for your viewing pleasure:

Music: Every Day

: I don’t mean to be rude, but please don’t ever come here again…

: Hey! We’re the ones…!

: We understand. Thank you for your co-operation.

: Bro!

: It’s possible that innocent civilians get hurt because of us. What Ned said isn’t completely off-base. Sad but true.

: I do appreciate what you’ve done…but I have patients I must tend to…

: Yes. We apologize for what happened. We’ll be going now.

I like this part. Resistance movements in video games are too often portrayed as whiter than white with the full support of the oppressed populations they claim to represent. I think this is a more realistic view of things – Deckson and BIS are fighting against a corrupt and oppressive power, but in the end most people are apathetic and just want to get on with their lives as best they can. BIS bring the heat down on them despite their noble intentions and innocent people wind up being harmed as a result.

: There’s no applause when we win, and if we lose we’re just called terrorists. But we gotta do what we gotta do.

: Resi…stance…I get it! You’re from the resistance!

: *Phew* You finally understand?

Even Deckson realises Cage is a bit slow.


: Pleased to meet you too.

: My first name is ‘Tadamichi’, but even so, call me ‘Yukito’. Even though it’s my last name…heh heh heh…

: Uh…okay…(He’s kind of strange…)

Nah, he’s just Japanese.

: Thank you.

: The atrocities that take place on mars at the hands of Earthlings are often covered up. Facts are distorted, and the Earth-serving media only aggravates matters. Furthermore, the crimes committed by the UNSF and the disregard given to our human rights will not come to an end anytime soon. We didn’t pick up our guns because we were angry with political ideology; we merely protect the lives and basic rights of people. That is what we are here to do.

That’s a lot of words, but they really do sum up Deckson’s beliefs and will continue to be relevant for most of the story.

: For ‘merely protecting’, it’s my impression that your facilities are quite impressive.

:…much of what we have. And while we are mainly a defensive force at the moment, there will surely come a day when we will have to attack. But the most important thing is to make people see that we have the capacity to do so. Just because one person is weaker doesn’t mean that it’s right for another to stomp all over him simply because he can. As fellow space-born humans…

: Ah…BIS – Born In Space. It’s very simple, but clear.

: Yeah. I like it. We will not tolerate any more suffering. Even the Bonaparte that you came in on fell victim to this unrest. There were innocent families on that ship…



Music: Mystery

:…I…there was something…Father…Mother…Fire! Lot’s of fire, just burning…

: Go on, you can do it!

: Together, we were together…but…all of a sudden…nobody…forgive me…it wasn’t my fault…but I…nothing…anything! I couldn’t do anything!

Myona collapses!

: M-myona? Myona!

:…I don’t know myself at all…I can’t take this…Who am I? I had to save…someone. I had to save someone, but I don’t know who!

: Easy there, Myona. We’ll check it out for you. It’s all good, nothin’ to stress about. We all got things in our pasts that we wanna forget about, you know?

: Things you want…to forget?

: That’s right. Can’t forget even if you wanna…memory can be real troublesome to deal with. It ain’t all bad if you look at it that way. Myona, if you can’t remember, just forget about it…

: I’ll help you find the answers. So just take it easy and go with the flow. Alright?

: OK…thank you…

And that’s it for this update. We’ve got some new units to play with, have met our first recurring villain and are getting to know exactly what makes BIS tick. Next time we’ll be getting our hands on our first Orbital Frame and hopefully kicking Ned’s shit in once more.