So it turns out the forum where I advertised this LP is apparently the headquarters of the Leona Garstein world fanclub. Guess I'll save the Pokemon jokes for my own personal amusement.
Also, before I begin I'd like to give shoutouts to Matt Neidengard, whose FAQ/semi-translation work is invaluable for English speakers looking to get the gist of SRW plots, like myself, and the fine folks at Akurasu Wiki for compiling some great articles on secrets, pilot abilities, tips, and tricks. Both sources will be invaluable in writing this LP.
Also, TomPhoenixSC of YouTube who uploaded the entire soundtrack to this game, but I think the extra video hits from when I want to link BGMs are probably thanks in and of themselves.
Okay. Let's try this one more time.
Tashiro: Now I know how those Evangelion assholes feel.
And on to the parts we haven't seen before.
The traditional science fiction epic text scrawl.
It...it just keeps going.
Let's just press Start, I did this gag already...
tl;dr the Earth of the future has a lot of spiffy cool robots, most of Earth is ruled by a benevolent(-ish) bureaucracy called the Earth Federation, and people live all over the solar system, especially in Earth orbit. This would all be pretty neat if it weren't for the monsters, aliens, robot monster aliens, and genocidal fascist space separatists.
About seven years ago, a war between the Federation and Zeon, the most fabulous of the space separatists, was interrupted by the crash-landing of an enormous alien spacecraft called the SDF-1. This led to a truce in the war (and an ensuing seven year stalemate) and the creation of the Federation's Space Defense Force (SDF) and the research and development organization called the Divine Crusaders (DC) - Federation-sanctioned, in this universe.
Bian Zoldark: Sadly, I don't actually appear in this game to say "I told you so".
In addition to the Federation gearing up to fight aliens and the bloodied but not defeated Zeon, strange monsters resembling dinosaurs, legends of ancient civilizations, and/or the childish ramblings of insane archaeologists appeared from the hidden places of Earth and started attacking the planet, by which I mean specifically Japan. A bunch of Japanese teenagers with overpowered robots have held them at bay so far, but as of the New Western Calendar year 187, it's a bit of a mess.
Meanwhile, thousands of miles away...
But enough education, school's out for the day.
Kouji Kabuto: Man, but this whole teenage superhero thing is a pain. How am I supposed to keep my grades from being crap when I'm busy fighting mad scientists and dinosaurs?
Leona Garstein: Your grades were always crap.
Kouji: Hey, you're some kind of a genius. As the hero who regularly saves you and the rest of the town from robot monsters, could I possibly borrow your notes?
Sayaka Yumi: Kouji, stop flirting with the foreign exchange student and go to dad's lab. We're getting a delivery from the DC today.
Kouji: Go on ahead, I have to get home and get the hovercraft.
Sayaka: Okay, that's...wait, you keep that at your house? I'm really glad we don't really do secret identities in robot shows.
Kouji: Yeah there's no way that will come back to bite all of my friends in the ass.
Suddenly, air raid sirens of some kind!
Tasuku Shinguji: Kouji, stop flirting with the foreign exchange student and let me do it. I mean, those giant mechabeast things are attacking!
Kouji: Here? See, I told you it was a good idea to keep the Pilder at my oh she already left. Well, time to go save the day! With just the Pilder. And not Mazinger Z...Time to go distract the day!
Leona: We should get somewhere safe. Kouji does this for a living (or something), and we're in no position to fight back.
Tasuku: I wish there was something we could do...
Leona: Tasuku, you regularly collapse at the end of a light jog. I don't think fighting giant robots is your thing. I'll carry you if I have to, let's just get out of here before one of us gets--
Tasuku: Hey, is that a plane?
Leona: Those monsters dropped a plane on a school! What was a cargo plane even doing flying so--
Leona: Wait, is that a robot?
Leona: What should I do? Kouji's going to get killed if someone doesn't help him, but Tasuku might be...
Leona: The robot will still be here in a minute. TASUKU!
That was our first dialog choice in the game, by the way - getting into the mysterious robot, or going to look for our friend. These choices often have an effect of some kind, whether immediately on the situation of the following level, or having some long-term flag-setting properties. This one, as you might expect, does both.
Mission 1: Steel Cockpit
Baron Ashura: It's like Dr. Hell always says. If you can't beat them, blow up their school with them inside it. Go, mechabeasts!
BGM: Theme of Z
Kouji: Bitch/bastard, you did not.
Ashura: Nice hovercraft. Not so tough without Mazinger, are you? I'll swat you down like a fly!
So, as you can see, the situation isn't great. Baron Ashura - Frankensteinian half-man, half-woman lackey of Saturday Morning Cartoon Villain Dr. Hell - is trashing the neighborhood in his/her flying wing with a couple of robotic Mechabeasts. This week's plan for destroying KABUTO KOUJI apparently revolved around learning where he lived and attacking it, so Kouji would be stuck with either a) nothing or b) the dinky Hover Pilder and not Mazinger Z, aka the thing that regularly kicks Baron Ashura's ass into next week. Smart plan. Too bad Kouji is too dumb to be stopped by a smart plan.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, if we'd chosen "get in the fucking robot" instead of the humane choice, Leona would be the one popping out to fight first.
Anyway, since Kouji's on the other side of the map and we have a bit before he can engage the bad guys, let's have a look at another option on the general menu (hit O on an empty space).
This is the second-most important item on this menu: Save. It gives you a mid-mission save that you can load by selecting Continue on the main menu. Useful for taking a break mid-level or
The Hover Pilder bravely putters toward the enemy despite having no real offense or defense to speak of, and next turn:
Leona: ...I can't find him anywhere. How did something like this--wait, is that the Hover Pilder? What the hell is Kabuto doing? Is he charging?
Kouji: This is bad. I can't take on all these things without Mazing--wait, Leona's getting in a robot? Aw hell no, I'm not going to give up while a
At the end of the second turn, Kouji's finally close enough for Baron Ashura to shoot at him.
The choices for defense are significantly more complicated than offense. This menu reads (approximately):
ATTACK WITHOUT DEFENDING
Confirm confirms your current choices, Attack lets you choose which weapon you want to counterattack with (it generally defaults to your highest damage attack unless you're low on ammo or EN, or if a weaker attack will kill the enemy), defend means you don't counterattack but you take half damage, and dodge halves the enemy's net chance to hit you. Let me get back to you on "Attack without defending" because it's not in any other SRW and I forget the exact mechanics.
Kouji: MAZIIIIIIN NOPE!
Yes, he does in fact have to yell whatever he's shooting with, even if he isn't in Mazinger Z.
Did you notice the flaw in Ashura's brilliant plan? It's that he/she only has a 2% hit chance on the Pilder.
Ashura: Damn size categories. Some day I'll be a tiny-ass target and see how you like it!
Kouji: Hell with waiting for the army, you trashed my school! Kouji Kabuto doesn't stand for that crap.
Kouji: Although thanks in advance if this postponed finals.
Leona: This robot...is it...telling me to pilot it? I'm getting a headache, and this weird lightning flash special effect...
Ashura: Bah! I just have to attack 49 more times and statistics says I'll eventually--wait, what the hell?! There was a robot in that plane I shot down?!
Leona: You got that right! It even came with a pilot suit apparently! But no manual for some reason...
Leona: Ow! And more headaches! It really is telling me how to pilot it? Maybe I should sit here and get full instructions...
Leona: Wait a second, Kabuto does this every day and he's an idiot. I'll be fine.
Kouji: Hey! I'll have you know I'm going to study to be an astronaut!
That particular dialog choice, in addition to skipping a short tutorial, was also the first opportunity for an Expert Point in the game.
Anyone familiar with Super Robot Wars probably knows about Expert Points or Skill Points or Battle Masteries, whatever you'd like to call them: optional objectives that are tallied up by the game to measure your level of "skill". SRW Alpha is one of, if not the, first games in the series to use this concept, though, so it's implemented a little...bizarrely. The conditions for Expert Points are completely arbitrary and can result from actions in combat rounds or from dialog choices, and they're hardly ever clear. You can gain or lose them depending on your actions, sometimes in chunks of up to five at a time. Generally speaking, making things harder on yourself or being clever is what gets you Expert Points, which is why the first (easy) one is skipping a tutorial. The conditions are extremely variable, though, and if you care, make sure you bring a strategy guide (WARNING: all the spoilers).
BGM: Steel Cockpit
Leona: Okay, enough game mechanics exposition, let's see what this thing can do. Grungust Type-2, launching!
Kouji: Needs a catchier phrase.
Select the bottom-most option on a unit menu to go to that unit's status screen. It consists of three pages, which can be reached by pressing right and left on the controller.
This is the Unit page. It contains a lot of details on the robot itself - enough that I'm going to summarize rather than call out everything in particular just yet. The important things to get out of this is that the Grungust is a big brick that can take a hit but isn't much for dodging, moves along the ground at 5 spaces/round, and apparently has a "Psychic Field" and the ability to transform.
This is the Pilot page. It tells us what Leona can do: Morale, Level, XP, XP for next level, raw stats, Spirits (Strike and Guard, the latter of which cuts damage to her unit by a quarter for a full turn), and passive skills (SP Regen, Psychic Energy, and Sword Cut). The lower left corner is her kills (apparently she shot something down at school one day) and the number of Expert Points she/we have accumulated.
The last page is the unit's weapons: in Type 2's case, the Eye-Slit Laser (it says "Eye Solid" but that makes no sense), a melee combo attack, Boost Knuckle, and Maxiblaster. We'll see these later.
Leona charges toward the enemy mechabeasts, which I forgot to get a good picture of on the map.
Leona: A rocket punch? When in Rome, do as Kabuto does I guess. BOOST KNUCKLE!
And the attack on its turn
Leona: I'm supposed to be dodging this, right? This thing moves really fast for something so huge...
And Leona's counter-Boost Knuckle finishes off her first opponent.
On the next turn, Leona gets into point-blank with the other mechabeast.
Leona: This is an impressive-looking button...
Mechabeast: My God, it's full of stars!
With her second kill, Leona levels from 1 to 2. (The lower numbers are the money gained from the enemy, and the experience, respectively).
Leona: Okay, that was pretty cool but it used up almost half my energy. Plus, I still have to help Kabuto with that ugly flying thing...
Kouji: I'm actually doing alright over here, thank you! Freakin' Germans coming to this country and taking our giant robot pilot jobs...
Leona: I need to get closer...
Leona: Hey, a lever with "transform" written on it.
This is another item on the unit menu for robots with the "Transform" ability that can be used before moving/attacking. It does pretty much what you'd expect.
The Grungust Type-2 can transform into the G-Hawk, which is faster, more agile, and can fly, but has slightly less armor and a different attack list.
Let's see what it is, after Leona flies up to Ashura's hovercraft:
This Spiral Attack is slightly less powerful than the Maxiblater, but uses half the energy. It also requires a Morale of 110 (which Leona has because it starts at 100, and in old-school SRW, a pilot always gains 5 Morale per kill she makes, 1 Morale whenever she's hit and 1 Morale whenever someone else kills an enemy).
Morale is important for two reasons: first, many strong attacks require a certain level of morale to use, and secondly (both more importantly and more subtly), it acts as a multiplier on all damage given and damaged received: the same robot using the same attack will deal 50% more damage with the same attack at 150 morale vs. 100, and take 50% less from the same attack from the same enemy, assuming the enemy is themselves at 100 morale in both cases. Morale management is EXTREMELY important in all SRW games!
But for now, let's just ram the hell out of Ashura.
I already used my Gurren-Lagann joke for the week on the first update, sorry.
Ashura: Dammit, woman, can't you see I'm trying to kill Kabuto here? Go away!
Leona: Grunguuuuuuuuust Nope.
Leona: Wait, how did I even do that? Well, no damage, so...
That's the Psychic Field/Nendou Field/TK Field/whatever, this game's first example of a barrier. Barriers are additional damage reduction against certain types of attacks (or any attack), reducing damage by a certain amount in exchange for EN. Unlike plain old armor and Spirits, they can reduce damage to 0, as happened here.
Type-2 is kind of OP.
On Ashura's turn, he/she makes one more attempt at shooting down Kouji and gets some more missiles in the face.
Leona: If at first you don't succeed, hit them over and over and over again.
Ashura: How could I have been defeated? I was fighting a fucking high school!
Ashura: Well, this didn't work out, but on the plus side, I distracted Kabuto while all those other mechabeasts attack the Photon Power Labs. Even if you're not useless without Mazinger, Mazinger is useless without you! HAHAHAHA--
Ashura: Oh right I was in the middle of exploding. Looks like Team Hell's blasting off agaaaaaaaaaaaaaaain!
Leona: I thought he said he wasn't going to do Pokemon jokes with me?
In addition to leveling to 3 and getting significantly more money, we also pick up a Booster, which is an equippable item.
Leona: We'd better go to the Photon Power Labs and stop whatever else Baron Ashura had planned.
Kouji: Whoa, whoa, wait, what's going on? How did you know how to pilot that thing? Where's Tasuku?
Leona: I don't know what's going on, but if I can help, I'm helping.
Leona: As for Tasuku...
Leona: Let's go save who we can.
Tune in next time for the intermission and Mission 2: Mazinger Z's Desperate Situation! Which may or may not feature Mazinger Z at all!
Kouji: Never trust an episode title, ki--*dies in magma*
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