Zone of the Enders: The Fist of Mars / 2173 Testament

This game came out from Konami in 2001 in Japan.  It came to the US and Europe in 2002.  It’s based off of the Zone of the Enders series, and is a strategy RPG.  From the little amount I played, it seems a fairly typical strategy RPG with a timing based battle system.

Cage on the right is thanking Ares (on the left) for helping him out.

The character portraits have a pretty nice style to them, and there’s a fair amount of facial expressions.  The plot seems to have some common elements of a giant robot story.  The main character, Cage, is hurrying to pack up, but gets accosted by someone who’s trying to shake him down for money.  However, his best friend, Ares, saves him, and says some mysterious stuff.  Cage thinks Ares is the greatest guy in the world.  Meanwhile, the Captain discusses something breaking down, and the mysterious large cargo.  Magically, Cage ends up in the cargo bay, and rescues an incoherent mysterious girl (yes, she has amnesia) by climbing aboard the LEV – a giant robot.  The ship’s attacked, Cage fights off the attacker.

Blatant foreshadowing pops up in the game.

Much like the “orphaned boy heads off for adventure going north” stories, this plot line rests more on execution then novelty.  Cage isn’t particularly annoying, and the plot moves from place to place with a decent amount of speed (comparing to – say, some of the slower paced sections in SD Gundam games.)  I suspect if someone didn’t find “guy finds a giant robot and fights to protect people” plots interesting – this game isn’t going to change their minds.

The starting weapon list in the game is shown here. Nicely enough, you can just use the Rusty Lancer and finish the fight.

The battle system seems fairly typical.  There’s barely any tutorial.  The hero is thrown into a battle against the frame that may have attacked his ship.  His frame says that the other frame is hostile. Then you get to find out how to move (bring up a menu, move along the movement range) and how to attack (select attacks from a list.)  After attacking, you end the turn.  The enemy moves, and so on.

This shows the actual fighting interface. You can see a cross hair on the right.

To attack, you move a cross hair around the screen.  If your cross hair is over the enemy, you do a proportion of damage compared to your accuracy.  To evade, you move a cross hair around the screen, trying to avoid the enemy cross hair.  Amusingly, I managed to avoid the earlier attacks, so I was almost done with the fate when I got hit.   The AI then informed me that the enemy was indeed hostile.

You start with a generous movement range. The blue figure is the hero, and the red one is the villain.

There does seem to be options to turn off various battle stuff, but I didn’t experiment with them.  I could see the dodging / attacking stuff getting old.  All in all, the game feels like it’d be nice if you’re fond of the genre, but not necessarily something that would convert you to the charms of the genre.  Since I’m fond of strategy RPGs, giant robot dramas, and things of that sort, the game seems fairly charming.  I’m not really sure other people would agree.

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