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Vanguard Bandits (PS1)

Vanguard Bandits, Epica Stella PSX
Genre: Role-Playing (RPG), Strategy / Tactics
Perspective: Top-down
Pacing: Real-Time
Visual: Isometric
Art: Anime / Manga
Vehicular: Mecha / Giant Robot
Published by: Working Designs
Developed by: Human Entertainment
Released: 2000
Platform: PlayStation (PSX, PS1)

Vanguard Bandits is RPG / Strategy, that is, a worthy (or not) continuer of the Shining Force, FF Tactics and Vandal Hearts. The plot is there, the combat system is in principle similar to the classic stage turn-based turn-based, but it is given 2/3 of the time. And the story is made on the rich, as it should be in the RPG. If you like these games, then in Vanguard Bandits you can play and even need to.

It all starts with a beautiful anime clip with the song. Remember Lunar: The Silver Star Story Complete from Working Designs. Here, obviously, the same guys worked. If you liked the style of the image and the translation (in English from Japanese, and not Russian localization) in Lunar, then for sure Vanguard Bandits will also like it.

Plot. No tearful stories about evil sorcerers or, say, unhappy love. Information is given out a little bit to warm your curiosity. There is a family (father, his inordinately militant son and two of his sidekicks), who runs around the world from the soldiers of the Empire. Why - it is unknown, he hides it even from his own son. The empire is fighting with some kind of kingdom and the soldiers of this very kingdom are, in theory, your allies. Still there is a princess of the Empire, who suddenly found out that her soldiers, the defenders of the innocent and the poor, are in fact very fond of robbing. Particularly innocent, because they are protected badly. But the troops of the kingdom are also not a model of chivalry. So the plot is ambiguous, confusing, unconventional and very interesting. . The battle. Here it is the most important thing. The local people are fighting not manually, but with the help of large robots, which are called ATAS. Of course, what kind of anime will cost without "furs". Someone ATAS resemble Robotech, something taken from the original American Battletech, but in fact the ideas were drawn from the old WD games for Sega CD, TurboGraphx CD. Experience you will not spend on drink. Robots are armed with absolutely no plasma megablasters. There are ordinary spears, swords and other cold steel. There are many types of robots, heroes can be transplanted from one ATAS to another.

The battle system is normal. Heroes can move around the field and attack the enemy. The difference from Vandal Hearts and monsters such as FF Tactics and Kartia is that the combat system is much easier and more convenient. It is not necessary to understand with incomprehensible management, to choose a heap of items in the menu, to think of whom and where to move. On the one hand, this is bad, because there are fewer opportunities for applying your strategic genius. But for some reason the game is much nicer than these FFT and Kartia. In addition, the battlefield is not crammed with houses, towers and fences. Of course, the relief is far from flat, you have to think about your head, but do not think how to turn the map to see your hero!

And actually Vanguard Bandits is not as simple as it seems at first. To really learn how to win, you need to understand the concepts of AP and FP. I do not know how they are translated, but I need to tell you about their meaning. Each ATAS has two rulers - AP and FP. AR is spent when walking and striking and is filled at the beginning of each turn. If you moved a great distance, then there is little energy and a blow to the enemy will be weak. And vice versa: if you strike right away without moving, the blow will be much stronger. FP on the contrary is added during the attack, defense and especially counterattack. When it crawls to 100, ATAS skips one turn. And, of course, you need to make sure that members of your small army develop evenly. And it can happen so that you will have one or two cool heroes and a dozen weaklings, dying from the first blow.

And not everything in the game is as simple as it seems. You must think with your head! There are a lot of opportunities for applying the strategy. For example, if you did not spend AP during your turn, then when the opponent hits you - you can try to dodge, you can try to block (less damage), attack yourself or counterattack. Each action spends AP, adds FP and has the likelihood that you will succeed. That's not all! I was shocked that when you choose who to attack, you are immediately shown the damage that you and your opponent (!) Receive. It also indicates the probability that you will even hit. Those. You can check all available combinations and choose the best one. It is foolish, for example, to attack, knowing that the enemy will have one unit of energy. Or that he can counterattack and kill you with a probability of 80%. Similarly, you can choose between strong, but inaccurate strokes and weak, but reliable.

As for development: as expected, you get experience to promote the hero to the next level. But the characteristics do not improve automatically - you choose what to upgrade. New abilities (hits it.p) appear if the relevant characteristics have risen to the desired level. Tips for this topic are given to heroes between fights (menu item Interview).

The graphics in Vanguard Bandits are good. Of course, there is nothing stunning in it, but it's better than the competition. Instead of the terrible polygon houses and bridges, there is a neat battlefield with beautiful textures. Heroes are sprite and painted medium. But the robots are stylish. Polygon people usually do not look very, but robots just have to be a few square.

The plot is made on a solid five. Moreover - there is no clear division into the plot and the battle. During the battle, you may receive reinforcements and a lot of interesting conversations to you (or to the enemy). You may have allies (unmanageable). And if you see ATAS'a, which is too strong - wait. Perhaps he will leave himself. On many missions, you do not have to kill everyone - it's enough to do what is asked of you. In addition, the plot is not linear. Even the same battle can lead to different minor consequences. And then the plot will globally branch out depending on the player's decisions.