Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Front Mission, Finale



And wow, this series ended quickly. Not a very long game, as it turns out.

This next battle takes us into the desert, where I discover that the mechs I equipped with treads can move a lot farther than the ones with legs. Interesting.

We also get equipped with flamethrowers at this point, just in case Xenomorphs or The Thing suddenly attack. Seems like these wouldn't be effective weapons against mechs, but somehow they are. 

I'm getting the hang of this mech-upgrading thing. I generally put two short-range rifles in either hand (in case one arm gets disabled) and two rocket-launchers on either shoulder. With all of my characters set up like this, I can bombard the enemies with rockets before they even get into fight range. Though as the game progresses, a shield in place of one of the rocket launchers becomes more beneficial.

Took a while, but I've finally started learning skills. Some of these outright break the game; Duel lets you choose which body part to target. Though you lose some accuracy, it's still an OP ability since you can go right for the kill with it.

 Driscoll becomes more of an active antagonist around the 40% mark of the game. He's both heartless and super-powerful, a dangerous combination.

 It's dangerous to go alone! Take Natalie.

Whenever I have a battle where I need to protect an NPC, it seems like all of the enemies dogpile that NPC. Luckily, most of the time I don't lose anything if the NPC bites the dust, since they join regardless.

 Big Boss here is the latest non-boss the game throws at me. Most of the bosses in this game are barely any stronger than garden variety foes, weirdly enough.

At almost exactly the halfway point of the game, I run into a notorious glitch-out that freezes the game.

 Tried patching it and whatnot, but it still freezes up on this spot. Have I been Daggerfall'd?

Not quite. I downloaded a save that was on the next battle. Lost my prized name (...sigh) but at least I can continue. And since this game is so linear, it isn't like I lost any kind of specially-built character like in Daggerfall. Your party is going to pretty much turn out the same in this game no matter what, since there's an optimal equipment set in any given town that you'll want to put on all of your characters. It creates a real army of clones.

In other news, it's weird that when your characters are behind the unnecessarily big structures on these maps, you can see them through said structures. I guess that was one solution to not being able to rotate the camera yet...

AHHH! This guy again! The hell is with his face?

 This game is most exciting when it pits you up against giant boss mechs. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen often enough.

The next phase of the game pits our heroes against a bunch of terrorists, led by Gentz. However, it later turns out that the terrorists are the good guys and our side is bad. More or less.

Going with a different save file from my original has another positive boon: This guy, who I failed to rescue earlier in the game due to his tendency to charge right into the enemy herd, is now a party member. And apparently he talks like Mr. Slave!

 The war between the countries eventually ends, leaving the heroes to go after the real culprits. It isn't as deep as Final Fantasy Tactics or anything, but it's a story.

"Look at how good-looking they are!" says the barkeep. Actually, that isn't fair. Unlike Gun Hazard, the characters in this game aren't divided on strict alignment lines relating to how they look. I still don't know WTF was up with Gun Hazard. Read all about it here.

Regardless, one could argue that the most attractive and well-kept male character in this game is actually the main villain, while the bad guys who turn out to be good all tend to be frumpy poor folk. Much closer to reality, if we're supposed to be a bunch of poors fighting against The Power Structure.

Speaking of the main villain, Driscoll actually joins you for one battle. His mech absolutely WRECKS things, and it's fun to watch him rampage on your behalf. He's even more OP than Lloyd "Roid" Cockburn.

Sakata is probably the character who gets the most screentime besides Natalie and Lloyd. He's also the most interesting, as he hails from a nefarious corporate family that he doesn't believe could be nefarious. But nefarious they are, as we learn late in the game that they HARVEST INFANT BRAINS to use as CPUs in mech technology. When did this suddenly become the plot of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance?

Late in the game, Natalie experiences a midlife crisis as she realizes Lloyd will never stop obsessing over Karen long enough to notice her. So she leaves. What about saving the world? Keep it in your pants, lady!

It would be interesting if the genders were switched up, with a male character leaving because the female lead won't stop obsessing over a lost guy and notice what's in front of her.

 And speaking of Lloyd's lost lover... it turns out that Karen did live for a while, until they put her brain into Driscoll's mech as a CPU. This just strikes me as unnecessary and overly evil just to put heel heat on Driscoll before the final battles, since up to this point he hadn't really done too many despicable things compared to the Sakata Corporation.

After defeating Driscoll (or at least his mech), Lloyd takes the CPU from his mech somehow and installs it...her...in his own mech. This is so fucking creepy Now they'll be together forever!

Can't we just shut her off somehow? Put her out of her misery? Either way, this game turns into mild nightmare fuel during the endgame.

Yep, we're up to the endgame already. Shortest post series for an RPG ever. If it seems like I've been summing up, I have. There isn't a whole lot to say about most of this game. It's just battle after battle, and the battles generally consist of the same "shoot ranged missiles until the enemies get close, then mash your armies together and melee it out" playstyle. There's very little strategy or variety to speak of in this game.

Natalie shows up five minutes later...on the enemy side! What is she, Brick Tamlin?

For a brief moment I mis-read that as "Wankers"

Who ARE you, anyway?

She very quickly turns back to the side of good (which makes sense given she has been with us all of this time). Turns out she was a spy sent to infiltrate my group, but she decided she wanted to stay with the good guys. When it came time for her to leave, she made up an excuse to go...but couldn't follow through with it once she started.

At this point I got what might have been the final set of shop upgrades in the game. Not 100% sure on that front, but regardless they easily got the job done in the final battle. Went with Zenith equipment across the board, for the most part. I also found myself favoring machine guns over stronger single-shot guns, as missing shots was far less of an issue when you've got six shots in the air as opposed to one. Also, ProTip: Using Duel to concentrate all of a machine gun's shots on one enemy body part (as opposed to being diffused) is beyond overpowered.

Sakata's brother has their father killed and takes over as president of the corporation. Rufus says hello. ...except Rufus didn't really "have" President Shinra killed, he just kinda lucked into it.

Second-to-last battle takes place in an airfield. Makes me wish this game had flying units to break up the monotony a bit. Look at this beautiful rainbow of identical drones.

Actually, there's a late-game fight where you can't proceed unless your units can jump down ledges, and the first time I did that fight I had treads on almost everyone (meaning most of my force was stuck on the ledges and the fight was unwinnable). Made me realize just how earth-bound (and sluggish) the units in this game are.

 As far as final boss speeches go, this one is about 0.01 Kefka.

The final boss is guarded by President Sakata in a mech of his own, but he's easily dispatched.

Driscoll himself has now merged with his mech for THE ULTIMATE FUSION OF MAN AND MACHINE.

Is this a common Japanese trope? I've seen it a bunch of times now in various media from the Land of the Rising Sun. It's a creepy idea.

Driscoll's super-mech doesn't mess around, and if it lands two attacks on Lloyd it's game over. However, if you don't charge in with Lloyd, the fight isn't too bad. I had everyone pile onto him at once, two turns in a row, and that was enough to doom him before he even got a second attack off.

But wait! He has a second form...and this is weird, it's much smaller and weaker than his first. Goes against most RPG conventions. Did they get this backwards?

Victory gets us a sweet chopper-escape. Future choppers are weird-looking, but at least we can still get to them.

The ending shows us all these news reports that totally lie about what happened during the story. I appreciate what they're going for here.

At the end, everyone goes their separate ways, having stopped Driscoll and the evil infant brain corporation. It's a bittersweet end.

The Sassy Male Reporter manages to stay alive and tell the truth about the events that transpired, at least, as he writes a book about it.

That ending was perfect, but after the credits we get some weirdness with Lloyd getting in trouble and THE ENTIRE CAST all randomly happening to show up one after another to lend him a hand. It makes the Scrubbing Bubbles and The Eagles at the end of Return of the King look like completely legit problem-resolutions.

So, final thoughts on this game? It's pretty good. Story is interesting and the art style is classic. As far as the gameplay goes, it isn't anywhere near as strong of an SRPG as Final Fantasy Tactics or Tactics Ogre. Still probably the best of the Front Mission saga. It does turn into a tedious slog a lot of the time, especially in late-game battles.

Game is much shorter than I expected, and fairly easy as well. I blew through the last quarter of the game in one morning without much trouble. The lack of challenge and the repetitive nature of the game gets tiring, as does the lack of difference between the mechs. After a while they're basically an army of clones.

One last note: Natalie (the lady cowering behind Lloyd on the cover) is a really strong character. Her mech is almost as formidable as Lloyd's, and when he isn't interested in her she moves on quickly. Having her cowering behind him on the cover is pretty dumb, and I'm guessing Amano wasn't abreast of the story when he drew it.


  1. This is really large Amano art for a SNES game.

    Is that glitch something that can be avoided if you know it's coming?

    "Is this a common Japanese trope? I've seen it a bunch of times now in various media from the Land of the Rising Sun. It's a creepy idea." - I wonder if other cultures think the same thing about us and The Thing and other body snatchers.

  2. "Activate your Wanzers!"

    Read this a while ago, coming back through to drop comments. The way Karen's brain gets put into Cockburn's mech is creepy as hell. I definitely agree Japanese are thinking about human/robot fusion in a way Americans aren't yet, maybe because of the conflict between Shintoism (believing there's a spirit in everything) and industrialization (creating "living" machines that should thus also have spirits).

    The art style for this was really good, I forgot it was an SNES game sometimes because it could've fit in on the PS1 too. The long-faced character looks are distinctive. The gameplay is pretty good too, different from the usual Square fare.