Well, since The After has long breaks between playing, it's time to discuss my latest commuter distraction, Infinite Frontier Super Robot Wars OG Saga
, aka the Robot and Boobies Game. I just got this one yesterday, so more on the morrow after I have a chance to play it more.
So, what kind of game is this? It sure ain't a normal SRT game. If anything, I'm getting a sort of Wild ARMs / Xenogears / Phantasy Star III vibe from this one.
On the subject of boobs. Yes, there's a lot of cleavage to be seen, esp. with Ashen and Kaguya, the only allies the hero has right now. All conversation in the game is shown with character portraits on the top screen, and each character has several poses for different emotional effects. Both girls so far have multiple "cheesecake"-ish poses. On top of this, Kaguya's outfit seems to defy the laws of gravity (much like the Amazon in the Discworld PC game, by the "pressure of everybody staring at it"). Select parts of Ashen's outfit actually vaporize
when she overclocks for major attacks or computer-hacking in the field.
The battle system is built around showy super-techniques. There is no simple Attack option -- the player sets the order of techniques to use, and activates them with the A button. Each attack has to be activated separately, and any technique can be canceled halfway through in order to start the next one. This can be useful if you're trying to up the hit-count, which resets every time the enemy touches the ground. I have yet to unlock the super-technique option, but from the videos I've seen, those are crazy as well.
Story report! The story seems to focus heavily on the aftermath of the Ten Year War between the Mazoku (demon/witch/magic clan) of Formidheim and the fairy-tale realm of Elfitel, but most of the action so far hasn't been in either of those areas. There's an inter-realm cartel of some sort called Phantom (also the name of its boss) which is somehow connected to weird crystals that are growing up everywhere lately.
Each realm so far has been very, very distinct, right down to having different consumable items tailored to that realm's theme.
For that matter, each of the major characters so far has their own specific speech patterns, which can make reading dialogue harder or easier, depending. Harken looks, acts, and talks like a cowboy, and his dialogue is littered with gratuitous English.
The only reason I know how to pronounce several of the place names in the oriental realm is because he makes a hash of the pronunciation, and it's rendered into katakana in the dialogue. Ashen, on the other hand, speaks formal, modern Japanese most of the time. When she's overclocked, she slips into a rude, rowdy Kansai dialect. Kaguya and Suzuka both speak late Edo Period Japanese, but in completely different registers.
OK, I've changed the title of this post from "Infinite Frontier" to "Endless Frontier", because that's how they actually refer to it in the game. I always liked that translation better, anyway.
I'm still in the third world, Elfatiel, which is.. pretty warped, honestly. I'll... have to let you guys find out for yourselves on this one. Let's just say that the literary references in this world are pretty obvious, and just a bit odd.
BIG BATTLE EXPLANATIONS HERE.
When a character's turn comes up, they can do a few different things:
1) they can use a healing/support skill (as much as they want, within the limits of their SP or the effects of the skill), after which they can attack.
2) they can use an item, which depending on the power of the item, can reduce their COM% for that turn (i.e. they get fewer attacks when they choose to do so).
3) they can choose to use a hit-all technique (ends their turn)
4) they can attack (even after using support skills or items) as long as they have enough COM% to do so. Max % is 100, minimum necessary for an attack is 10%. Five attacks maximum, and you can set the order they activate in advance.
The A button starts an attack. Pressing the A button again will start the next attack in the sequence (which the player can preset out of battle, or at the start of a turn). Canceling an attack by starting the next one gains you bonus points on the F-Gauge (more on that later). Good timing with the A button can lead to long, strung-out hit combos, but the number resets if the enemy touches the ground. Also, if you kill an enemy, your F-Gauge will increase by 1/10 the total number of hits in the combo (rounded down). So, killing something with a 35-hit combo will add 3% to the gauge.
The left direction button activates a Support Attack. These only become available once you have enough people to have someone in the back row. Each character can call for support twice in a turn, and the available support comes in sequence. So, if Harken calls in Shao Mu for support on his turn, Reiji is the next up for support attacks, no matter who calls the next one in. A support attack consumes 5 SP from the person who calls it in, but adds 5% to the F-Gauge. Also, if a support attack finishes a battle, everyone gets an extra 10% experience.
Finally, there's the F-Gauge. Once it's at 100% (by regular attacking/defending, support attacks, or special items) Super Combos become available by pressing the X button. They can be used at any time in an attack sequence, preferably towards the end. They are big, flashy, HIGHLY destructive, and count as a continuous hit combo, even if the enemy hits the ground. Finishing a battle with one of these will add an extra 30% to the experience gained.
That enough info for you, Mac?
MORE QUESTIONS ANSWERED
Outside of battle, this game plays a lot like a mid- to late-generation 16-bit title. The graphics and pallet are a little nicer, but the character sprites are strictly old-school. You cannot explore towns. Instead, you can choose which stores or special spots to visit, and then conversations carry on in the usual manner (with character portraits). The chara. portraits have a wide range of expressions, at least. Still, most of the graphical manpower in this game went towards the battle system and special skills, definitely.
So far, all the characters are pretty equal in usefulness for attacks. Some are definitely easier to learn the timing for, but it's easy to mix and match for your favorite combinations of characters on the front line. My only permanent choice for the front would be Kaguya, since (if starting with full SP) she can heal the entire party at least three times in a battle. For some of the boss fights, that's darn near essential.
Oh yeah, and KOS-MOS rocks, except for her hit-all attack, which just inflicts status ailments. That's useful in boss battles, not so much in regular battles.
Regular battles tend to fly by, more often than not. Heavyweight or higher level enemies have a good chance of blocking attacks at first, or getting a Forced Evasion, after which all attacks in that sequence are useless.
Bosses, on the other hand, can really hurt. The majority of the boss battles in this game (i.e. every one after the first two, so far) are against unique characters backed up by local baddies. Every unique character in the game has their own special attack set, as well as a finishing move and hit-all attacks. Ever been strafed by a teenybopper witch on a magic broom? I have, and it hurt a lot.
Ashen the Anatomically Accurate Android
Princess Kaguya the well-endowed
Princess Suzuka the not-so-well-endowed (and sick of hearing about it)
Reiji, Agent of Shinra
Shao-mu, fellow Agent of Shinra
KOS-MOS, the cutest android ever named after a flower.
Top Damage Dealt: 47,754
Max Hit Combo: 115 hits