Previously on Let's Play Super Robot Wars Alpha: FUCK DINOSAURS
Some trivia about pilot select! It's possible to swap around the pilots of different robots within the same continuity. This mostly applies to Gundam, but you can also do it with Mazinger pilots, if you wanted Boss or Sayaka in Mazinger Z for some reason.
Let's not do that today.
This is our roster of pilots right now. Notice that Hayato's far and away outleveling the other guys, at 10, since Getter Robo took out the boss last mission. Also notice that Ryouma and Musashi didn't come with us, so we actually are stuck with just Hayato in the #2 Get Machine.
Hayato: I can also kill you with my harmonica.
I'm also going to spend about half my cash putting two levels of upgrades into Boost Knuckle. Not the greatest long-term choice, but if you know you're going to be using a weapon a lot (because it's a good unit's only real ranged attack and uses no ammo or energy, in this case), it pays to get some extra bang out of it for use on damage sponge mooks.
Upgrading weapons in this game is hideously expensive, though, and you have to do them one at a time, so it's not worth investing more than a couple levels except on big finishing moves.
On with the show!
The Earth Federation's Far East Base
General Oka: So someone's been piloting the Grungust...she just picked it right up? Teenagers these days.
The heroes arrive!
Kouji: Hey, General, before you do or say anything, I want you to know the whole hijacking top-secret military hardware thing was my fault and idea.
Leona: Relax, Kabuto. I appreciate it, but I know how to deal with military men.
Leona: Sir! I've delivered your prototype for you. I apologize if it's a little banged up, but I had to pilot it to get it here.
General Oka: Leona Garstein, right? Nice to meet you. How's your uncle?
Leona: Nonexistent in this continuity, sir.
General Oka: Just as well, we have enough CHARs running around as it is. Well, anyway, we're not going to be punishing you or anything. In case you hadn't noticed, the Earth Federation Forces have been running around putting out fires all over Japan. There's a lot of loonies out there causing trouble right now, and we were ready to write the Grungust Type-2 off as an unfortunate casualty.
General Oka: As Mr. Kabuto said, however, it is a top secret project, and we're very curious how you were able to pilot it with no training and only basic motion data installed, let alone take down dangerous weapons like mechabeasts and mechasauruses.
Hayato: Oh that's easy, it's got some kind of psychic mind-reading system installed and it transfers the pilot's brainwaves directly into--
General Oka: Dude, spoilers.
General Oka: Anyway, Leona, what I'm trying to say is that we need a test pilot for the Type-2 to gather combat data, and since you're already known to be able to pilot it without any problems (and your school was conveniently obliterated), I'd like to offer you the position.
This decision, for some reason, is one of the three prereqs for a secret that has nothing to do with the main character
Leona: Understood. I've got nothing to go back to right now, and if I can help prevent another tragedy by helping out the military, I'm all for it. Besides, it's a family tradition.
Leona: Although...are you sure you want to just offer a super robot to a teenage girl? Shouldn't there be some kind of labor law about that, since you're the actual military?
General Oka: Are you kidding? You'd be amazed what high school age girls do as a hobby these days. My own daughter--
Hayato: If I may interrupt your foreshadowing in return, I have project data from Dr. Saotome here...
SUDDENLY, AND AS ALWAYS, ALARMS
General Oka: What the hell? It's not Dr. Hell or any of those weird monsters this time.
Soldier: Uh, sir, it's Zeon Mobile Suits.
Kouji: Wait a second, Zeon? Aren't we at peace with them?
General Oka: Heh, more like a cold war.
General Oka: The Zabi loyalists that retreated to Axis recently declared themselves Neo-Zeon and started another military buildup. This is probably their advanced forces.
Hayato: That's supposedly why the Federation gave the Titans free reign in space; to stop them pulling something like this.
Kouji: You mean the federal government has access to my porn searches and they still can't predict even a major military action?
Topical Humor Count: 1
Soldier: We're getting orbital drops of mobile suit carriers happening in four different places: here, Europe, Australia, and the South Pacific.
General Oka: What are the Titans even doing?! We've had terrorists attacking and kids jacking our prototypes for a joy ride, what's excuse could they possibly have?
Meanwhile, thousands of miles away
Kamille Bidan: *ACHOO!* Oh god, it's all over the inside of my helmet...
Kouji: Those Space Nazis can't have sent very many people to each place. Let's get out there and show them what Japan's super robots are made of!
Kouji: (I mean, besides Super Alloy Z)
General Oka: Alright. Leona, your first mission as a test pilot is to attach yourself to the Photon Power Labs team and go scout out the Zeon forces that just landed near the coast. Don't get into any fights: just reconnaissance, got it?
Hayato: I wonder if I can attach knives to the Get Machine...?
General Oka: *sigh* Well, try not to get into any fights.
Leona: Roger. I'm on my way.
Mission 4: The Second Coming of Zeon
Kouji: Hey, wait a second, should I be bringing up Nazis when our team consists of a bunch of Japanese superweapons and one German--
BGM: For the Sake of This Planet's Tomorrow
(Be prepared to hear this song A LOT if you ever play this game. Also to see this map.)
Col. M'quve: Well, thanks to the AEUG, we made it down with minimal interference, and thanks to Dr. Hell, we should be mostly ignored by the Army...oh hell, are those super robots? This country sometimes...
Sayaka: Those are definitely mobile suits! What is Zeon doing here?
Hayato: Hey, I think I recognize the paint job on those Rick-Doms...
Gaia: Ortega, Mash! Does everybody know what time it is?
Ortega and Mash: JET STREAM ATTACK TIME!
Leona: They're definitely the Black Tri-Stars. This is going to suck.
Kouji: Wait, didn't the opening crawl say that the One Year War didn't get interrupted until the Battle of Solomon? Didn't Amuro kill these guys already?
BGM: The Red Comet
Possibly SRW's earliest attempt at a combo attack is the cutscene the Black Tri-Stars just unleashed on me, each member attacking Leona with their component of the infamously-parodied combo. This cutscene, incidentally, only happens if you have all three possible skill points so far, and also makes the skill point for this level much easier: the skill point is to shoot down at least one of the Black Tri-Stars, and this cutscene puts them in easy rocket punch distance.
Fortunately, they don't Jet Stream Attack in actual gameplay. Also fortunately it doesn't do very much damage.
Leona: That almost tickled.
Gaia: Tch, that works better on mobile suits. What do the Japanese make this stuff out of?
Kouji: And to answer your earlier question, CHOUGOKIN! ZEEEEEEEEETo!
As stated before, the skill point here is to kill at least one of the Black Tri-Stars. Ortega's sitting off by himself, so I decide to pick on him.
Leona: Hey, these fancy late-model Rick-Doms have a blind spot two spaces away where they can't counterattack.
Also note that these Rick-Dom IIs and certain other units come with a built-in Hover feature, which means they never have to deal with the movement penalties from going underwater or into a forest...although they never get the defensive benefits of terrain either.
See what I mean about using Boost Knuckle a lot? Also, note that the Black Tri-Stars are like level 12. This means that even just hitting them generates a fair amount of XP for our low-level heroine.
Leona: Did...did he just parry a rocket punch?
This hard-to-cap animation happens whenever the enemy uses a pilot skill usually translated as Sword Cut. Basically, if a pilot with the Sword Cut skill attacked with a hand weapon or a projectile - knife, missile, rocket punch, funnels, anything that could reasonably be swatted out of the sky - and is in a mech with the right equipment, they have a chance to negate the attack based on their Skill stat relative to the Skill of the attacker.
This gets superbly annoying when dealing with Gundam bosses. Thankfully, these guys are just mid-bosses.
Also the Type-2's extremely short range when not a plane is annoying when dealing with bazooka-wielding enemies.
"Defend" is always a good option when you can't counter.
Needless to say, the Zakus are significantly less effective, even against a third of a super robot.
Leona: Deflect this!
Wow, I got him by 3 hit points. Normally a margin that narrow only happens the other way.
Ortega: What the? Shit, I'm bugging out. This chick's crazy.
Leona: And level 8.
Gaia: Er...try the plane? Us shooting a plane down always ends well, right?
Kouji: I am feeling very patriotic today!
At the start of the second enemy phase...
BGM: Detestable Visitors
Also get used to hearing THIS music a lot.
Kouji: That's Baron Ashura's submarine! The...Buud? Budo? Bird? Whatever, it's Ashura.
Sayaka: What's it doing docking with the Zeon ship?
Ashura: Special delivery for M'Quve.
M'Quve: Excellent. My mobile suit pilots will hold off the hostiles for a minute while we perform the transfer. I assume you know these people, Ashura?
Ashura: Just take your stupid crate and I'll deal with Kouji Kabuto and his friends after you leave.
Gaia: Alright, we only need to hold out another minute. Let's see if I can put a dent in this one before we go.
Gaia: Aw, fiddlesticks.
Pro tip: Whenever you want to level someone up, just have them kill everyone on screen who has a name.
Mash: Well, it didn't work for Gaia or Ortega, but--
Things go similarly for the Zakus
Meanwhile, Baron Ashura's aquatic mechabeasts and flying mechasauruses head south to attack my flanks.
Boss: I got dis.
Hayato: Somehow, I remember this being more difficult at some point.
And then on my turn...
BGM: Getter Robo
Hayato: Nice of you to join us, guys.
Ryouma: Get in, loser, we're going fishing.
After shooting a couple other birds down with Hayato and Ryouma, I move Musashi in between them so he can do the combination thing.
This game is weird. Getter-3 is more useful than Getter-1 on multiple stages.
Leona: Hat trick!
As you can see, taking out midbosses is the way to go to increase levels in this game. The more levels they have over the character doing the finishing blow, the better.
Kouji: Grumble grumble guess I'll just fight the Zakus then. Missile punch is the only thing that can reach them while I'm stuck in the water...
Zeon Pilot: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
Zeon Pilot: AAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaa?
Kouji: Note to self: never use Missile Punch.
Ashura: There. One priceless Ming vase for your cooperation.
Col. M'quve: Dammit, Ashura, we're villains! We're supposed to leave whatever our deal is vague for at least five or six more levels.
Ashura: Well, I didn't actually give you a vase. That was a joke.
Col. M'quve: YOU ASSHOLE(s)!
Number of people reading this who understand this conversation: 3
Their exchange of goods complete, M'quve, his downed Tri-Stars, and his remaining Zaku bug out with no fanfare whatsoever. For the record, that was two and a half turns in which to down one of the midbosses for the skill point, and I managed all three. With one pilot.
Leona: I could get used to smacking people with a giant metal hand at a great distance...
For the record, I think it's in the code that you can also get the skill point by defeating M'Quve's Zanzibar within this same time limit, but I went back and tried and he just has too much HP for it to be possible, considering the Type-2 and Hayato's Get Machine are the only robots with a chance of making it into attack range.
Ashura: Enough self-congratulation, time for my revenge!
Musashi: You couldn't beat Kabuto and Leona when only one of them had a robot. What makes you think you'll be able to beat Getter Robo and Mazinger Z and Grungust?
Ashura: Giant mooks with scissors for heads!
Man, the 70's were fucked up.
The trio of scissor-headed mechabeasts don't pack much of a punch against Getter-3's tankitude, but unfortunately they dodge pretty well and I didn't have a chance to cast Strike after combining it.
On my next turn, however, I get to take advantage of both Leona
knowing the technique. (All three Getter Robo pilots gained spirits from leveling up at the end of last mission).
It's also worth noting that Musashi also picked up the Gain technique when he leveled up to 10 in the previous level, but it's a better use of his SP to boost his Morale instead.
Musashi: TRY DODGING THIS!
In no time at all, I...haven't taken any out, but I've got everyone in position to be useful except Boss and Sayaka.
Sayaka: Man I hate water levels.
Time for the enemy phase!
Leona: I prefer the term "counterattack phase".
Leona: You're the one(s) who killed my wimp of a not-boyfriend!
Ashura: This freaking robot again...
Leona: I don't care if they won't explain how it works, this shield is awesome.
Meanwhile, the mooks attack.
It goes about as well for them as you'd expect.
If you're curious, Critical Hits in this game occur based on relative Skill stats of the attacker and target, much like the Sword Cut ability. They multiply final damage by either 1.2 or 1.5 - it varies from game to game and I honestly don't remember. More damage is (almost) always good, though.
Kouji: Ashura! What are you doing dealing with Zeon? They hate everyone living on Earth, and they don't make exceptions for Frankensteins.
Ashura: None of your busy-ness!
Leona: French accent detected, engaging invasion protocols
I'm probably wrong, but I believe this was the first SRW where they actually animated the sprites performing attacks. You can tell they enjoyed detailing Mazinger's signature moves if you watch it in action.
As you probably figured out, the bad guys stand no chance at all at this point. In-universe, it's more like they're fighting a delaying action to let their allies abscond. Out-of-universe, there's just no such thing as surrender in SRW.
Boss: Dammit, I haven't gotten to do crap all level! I'm gonna replenish Leona's energy, if you know what I--
Leona and Sayaka: *pimpslap*
Units with the "Replenish" command, like Boss Borot, can fully refill the Energy and all ammunition counters of an adjacent unit. Unlike Repair, this can't be done post-movement, and it also lowers the recipient's Morale by 10. It gets Boss good XP, though.
Kouji: Hey Ashura, guess what?
Kouji: I checked, and Breast Fire works just as well as Rocket Punch underwater somehow.
Ashura: I'LL GET YOU NEXT TIME, GADGET! NEXT TIME!
Kouji: *sigh* Next time, let me beat the competent bad guys.
Ryouma: Dr. Hell and Neo-Zeon working together is more disturbing than...well, okay, I pilot a Lovecraftian monstrosity, it's not that disturbing. It's pretty bad though.
Kouji: And what the hell is going on with those Titans guys?
Sayaka: It's actually pronounced Tee-TAHNS, Kouji.
Kouji: Only because Tomino doesn't speak a word of English.
Hayato: As much as I hate to be the sane one in a conversation, shouldn't we go back? We might have just restarted a war.
Leona: Tune in next week for more fanservice!
Leona: By which I mean audience inserts for the weirdo plastic model collectors in the audience. What else would I have meant?
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