In a post-apocalyptic world, on a pocket of land run by the evil Emperor Kugar, prisoners fight for their lives everyday for the entertainment of the masses. Only nine survive to this day. They are known only by their color designation:
One day, however, an opportunity presents itself: rebels fighting against Kugar attack and give the prisoners an opportunity to escape, at which point you join one of three factions:
Rebellion: Putting an end to Kugar's regime.
Imperials: Squashing the rebel scum between your fingertips.
Independents: Not joining any sides, and simply trying to find freedom.
As it soon becomes apparent, however, fighting for one's faction is just the tip of the iceberg...Okay, getting past the movie-trailer-speak, Alter A.I.L.A is a popular and very highly-regarded RPG made in RPG Maker 2003 by Neok. As mentioned above, the game has three different routes, making for very high replay value. But what makes it even better is that completing all three routes unlocks a fourth route, which outclasses the first three in almost every way. The plotline is rife with twists, turns, and interesting developments, the characters are fleshed-out and engaging, and the music is top notch. Definitely worth checking out.Can be downloaded here.A remake called "Alter A.I.L.A. Genesis" was released on October 10th, 2010. Can be downloaded here. It removes the multiple-route mechanism in favour of a more linear plot, allowing for far better plot development and Foreshadowing. Notably, the entire cast from the original game is playable, which, combined with a longer plotline, allows for far greater Character Development. The combat system has also become much more unique, enjoyable, and balanced. In addition, all playable characters have been given set names rather than being Hello, Insert Name Here characters: Leon, Erin, Indy, Scott, Violet, Dread, Jake, Hawk, and Celia.A sequel, Alter A.I.L.A. Variant, was in the works. However, it was cancelled, revived, then cancelled a second time when Neok retired from the indie game scene. More information here.
Battle in the Center of the Mind: Happens in multiple instances, though only played unambiguously straight when getting the EX Guns and fighting the character's shadow self. Other cases might include the Shadow characters and, for certain values of "mind," Heaven.
Battle Theme Music: Each faction has their own unique theme music, the theme for whichever faction you play only playing for that route's Final Boss.
Bittersweet Ending: The Independent ending. Violet is dead and President Gold is doomed to be assassinated, but the surviving heroes are free to explore the world without the Rebels and Imperialists dogging their trail.
Subverted. Except for Red, all the playable characters and Kugar are heroes by nature, but some are being secretly manipulated by Aila. Oh, and Black was both right and wrong about White; White was one of Aila's pawns, but by nature he's good and makes a Heroic Sacrifice in the Innovator path.
Bloodless Carnage: Averted somewhat. When at critical health, playable characters will start showing signs of bleeding.
A darker version is revealed in Orange's case. His duel with Shadow Red is about him sorting out his conflicting feelings about Red.
Joke Item: Throughout the game, one can find such items as "Revealing Suit", "Masochist Suit", and "Pants".
Handguns also border on this — they're by far the least useful of the different guns and are easily outclassed by anything, except for possibly shotguns, which have terrible accuracy. And even then, Yellow's EX Shotgun is no lightweight weapon.
Kill 'em All: In all three of the routes, 5 out of the 8 main characters (Indigo doesn't show up again after the prologue) will die, invariably at the hands of Blue and his team. Considering each path has a strong Hero of Another Story vibe to it, this makes Blue a Hero Killer from their perspective. The casualties are:
Loyalists: Green, Black, Yellow, Orange and White.
Rebellion: Green, Red, Violet, Yellow and Black.
Independents: Green, White, Orange, Red and Violet.
Kudzu Plot: Several plot questions, such as why Black betrays the Rebellion and why White becomes just like Kugar in the Rebel ending, are only answered in the Innovator path.
The Men in Black: Kugar's black-suited, white shirted flunkies. In the innovator route, the one named Agent Smith kills Yellow.
Mind Control: Violet gets put through this halfway through the game.
The Man Behind the Man, Aila, is capable of doing a specific form of this; they can imprint a "suggestion" on a target, causing them to think they thought of the idea themselves. Later in the game, this functions as straight-up Mind Control.
New Game+: At the end of each route, you're allowed to sell most of the items you've acquired and retain the money gained for the next route. Subverted in that very few things are carried over — only the special bombs that you get at the end, the "badge" gotten for completing a route, and EX Gun items like the Zodiac tiles are.
Person of Mass Destruction: The playable characters are treated like this after their escape by both Empire and Rebellion, and victory in the war hinges on who gets the most (and the most powerful) arena survivors. Black, the Jackals and Aila are, of course, the real deal.
Technical Pacifist: Orange is soft-spoken and prefers to take the path of least resistance when possible. He joins Kugar's regime because it's "the path of least resistance" when he has no other allies, but he performs a Heel-Face Turn and joins the rebel side halfway through the game anyway.
Theme Naming: Everyone is named after a color. Justified for the most part, as at the beginning of the game everyone is participating in a Deadly Game and assigned a code color. "Gray" isn't that uncommon as a name, either.
In addition, Word Of God says that "Gold" and "Silver" are not the characters' actual names, but titles given to Rebel generals.
Title Drop: "A.I.L.A." stands for "Artificial Intelligence Lifeform Apex". It was a creature created for the purpose of harvesting psychic energy for power generation. However, the creatures eventually rebelled by creating massive outputs of energy, overheating the planet and causing the ice caps to melt. This caused most of the world to become flooded and destroyed, and marked the beginning of a new era, "Altered AILA".
Blue's Analyze: Useful for figuring out the weaknesses of enemies that aren't immedietly obvious. Green's First Aid: Heals the entire party for a moderate amount; good for low-severity battles. Indigo's Siphon Shot: Deals a low amount of damage for a low amount of healing; useless. Yellow's Sharpshot: Takes too long for too little damage bonus. Not much good once you switch to rifle anyway. Violet's Trick Shot: Confuses enemies, but a confused enemy's actions will probably hurt you anyway, so not that good. Red's Exploder: DOA. Does hundreds of points less damage than any regular attack, while still damaging Red. However, it does auto-kill Mooks, so it has its uses. Orange's Hijack: Okay for mechanical bosses. Not good for much else. White's Disablize: Okay for organic bosses. Black's Psychokinesis: Cast Mindblast, win game. Sure, you have to level up a bunch first, but how hard can that be when giant mutants and robots are running around?
Absurdly High Level Cap: As in most JRPGs, you'll end the main game around level 50, despite the level cap being 99. You'll need to do a bit of grinding to have any hope of completing the postgame, though.
Action Girl: Every single female character, pretty much.
After the End: As in the original, there are only two small, devastated islands surrounded by endless ocean.
Ascended Extra: Jeebes and Reeves, Tinder's assistants, have their roles in the story expanded.
Aura Vision: Celia is capable of this. Actually a plot device, since it allows her to see whether or not someone is being Mind Controlled, and who is doing the controlling.
Awesome but Impractical: Nova, Aila's Exceed attack as a bonus character. It requires the use of the game's only activation ability that does not refund the points spent to use it, and only deals about twice as much damage as their second-strongest attack. In the time it takes to set it up (and charge to get your EX back again), you could deal more damage with less impressive abilities.
Battle Aura: As in the original, whenever a character goes into a "limit" form, they gain this. Some of the designs are quite interesting; for example, Silvra's looks like the wings of a butterfly, and Hawk's looks like crystal.
In phase 5, Erin gets a blood red aura as she tells Scott that very bad things will happen to him if anything happens to Indy.
Bloodless Carnage: The main characters and villains that get horribly beat up in battle show no signs of injury afterwards. Blood is only ever shown in a few endgame cutscenes.
Bonus Boss: The Fallen Horde in phase 3, which is also a quadruple boss. There are also "darkside" characters that can be fought after getting a certain item from a secret area. In the postgame, we have the bosses of the two Bonus Dungeons, Below Stynx and the Orbital Prison, culminating in the Controller and Nightmare, respectively. There is also the True Final Boss, Alter Aila.
The Metal Hydra is a miscellaneous example; it guards a special sync during the postgame.
The Enforcers found in the Core Shaft are Bonus Mini Bosses. They drop Rare parts which can be sold for 10,000 creds a piece.
They appear later on in one of the areas as regular encounters.
There's also Tinderbot Mk. III, which is fought at the end of a postgame sidequest.
The Behemoth in Orbital Prison Level 2, you can either fight it at it's fullest strength or weaken it and defeat it then.
Shadow Ultima in Orbital Prison Level 4, you best bring a lot of reviving items/Revive fields. Destroying one bit kills the one who dealt the killing blow, if he or she destroyed all 3 at once, it's a Total Party Kill, you also have to destroy the bits to prevent Shadow Ultima from using its' strongest attack.
Bottomless Magazines: Sort-of-maybe averted with Gray's Buster Cannon, which he needs to load before he can fire it. note If you get his ultimate weapon, however, it plays this straight, since it bypasses the need to use Load Cartridge. Played completely straight everywhere else.
This could be considered averted with Reeves' Ray Gun, which is powered by psychic energy. He actually does need to charge first before he can fire it.
Erin: ...You're not going to yell that out every time you use it, right?
Celia: Huh, why not?
Erin: Just... don't.
Cap: Through use of battle events, Neok has managed to bump the normal damage cap for RPG Maker 2003 up by one numeric place (see the above link under Up to Eleven to see how people know this). Also, EX is capped at 5 and never changes, and AP is the same but with a cap of 10.
Crutch Character: Scott. His high HP and multi-targeting capabilities are useful in the beginning, where those traits are unique to him. Once you gain access to other characters, however, he begins to fall behind — his abilities deal pitiful damage compared to everyone else, and there are others with better stats and similar HP totals.
Cry for the Devil: Kugar. The poor guy used to be a kind person, but was then mind-controlled by Aila for years, forcing him to commit atrocities and become the oppressive dictator he is by the beginning of the game. By the time you encounter him in Avalon, he's been driven completely insane by Aila's control, and has been under her influence for so long that freeing him is impossible.
Defeating the Undefeatable: Subverted. In Stynx, Black is capable of shrugging off all of the prisoners' attacks. Leon, Scott, and Violet try to fight him, but actually don't win — they actually just stall him long enough for the rebels to attack Stynx.
Defeat Means Friendship: While Scott and Violet were well on their way to doing a Heel-Face Turn when they're exposed as special ops, it still takes an obligatory boss fight to seal the deal.
Developer's Room: Half of your reward for beating the True Final Boss is getting to read Neok's final thoughts on the game. It also shows a few scrapped sprites and ideas that never made it into the game.
Development Hell: Having to juggle ten different characters, each with their own sideplots and Character Development, was, understandably, too much for Neok. This forced him to cut a few character subplots short so he could avoid the massive writer's block. Fortunately, he says that he's learned from his mistake, and aims to be more careful with characters next time.
Also, through a strange but fitting method, at a certain point in a Bonus Dungeon, you can find the cell of the "little girl" talked about in the Orbital Prison's Apocalyptic Log. And unlike most Easter Eggs, this one has major connections to and implications for the plot. No, we won't dare spoil it for you.
Eleventh Hour Ranger: Hawk only joins your party permanently when you're literally on the Final Boss' doorstep. Subverted in that they do join your party for short periods of time prior to when they join permanently.
Possibly the Orbital Prison itself, judging from the map graphic.
Energy Being: Variants, including Aila, of course. They are made up of pure psychokinetic energy, which is what allows them to be so powerful. This is a big deal; humans are only able to use very small amounts of psychokinesis due to it being poisonous to them.
Establishing Character Moment: Erin gets two, due to the natureof her personality — the first is her scaring off Dread, one of the most dangerous figures in Stynx, with nothing but a warning shot and a Death Glare, then congratulating Leon for standing up to Dread and saying that she's not a cold, heartless monster like everyone says. Her second establishing moment happens in her next appearance, where she curb stomps three exceptionally powerful fighters, then proceeds to slaughter them without batting an eye while they beg for mercy...after which she hugs Leon and profusely apologizes for lying to him before walking off.
Fake Balance: The different skill types — attacks, techs, and spells. Attacks are influenced 100% by your ATK stat, techs are 75% ATK and 25% MND. (Spells are 50/50) While this looks balanced on paper, in reality, it means that attacks are much stronger than techs and spells overall, since ATK is easier to increase than MND via syncs and the like. Techs and spells also require you to raise two different stats to gain the same effect, which can be crippling during the endgame, where everything is dependent upon buffs and debuffs. With attacks, only ATK Boost is necessary, but with everything else, both ATK and MND Boost are necessary to achieve the same effect.
Forced Level Grinding: Due to the lack of Leaked Experience. Mercifully, level doesn't impact much other than HP, but you will still need to do a fair bit of grinding if you want to do the postgame content. Especially annoying because each and every character has a DuelBonus Boss that you'll have to raise their level for.
Fun with Acronyms: S.P.E.A.R., G.U.A.R.D.I.A.N., and C.R.I.S.I.S. We never actually learn what they stand for.
Word Of God says that "C.R.I.S.I.S." stands for "Covert Reactant Intelligence Systematic Integral Special Force". He doesn't have any secret definitions of for the other two, though.
Game Breaker: Zero system. More damaged dealt depending on reduced HP. Certain Modes can give you Exceed at a decent rate for a small percentage of HP per turn. Combine the 2 and you have a nigh unstoppable force.
You can actually buy Zero Systems from Tinder if you can find him.
Game-Breaking Bug: Due to the fact that the game is made in the (incredibly buggy) default battle system, the Guard stat does absolutely nothing.
Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Some bosses are just really random and only seem to be there because every dungeon has to have a boss. The greatest example of this is definitely Ultima Weapon, though. It's That One Boss, comes after two other legitimate Climax Bosses, and is never explained or mentioned again.
Global Currency: Justified, since the entire game (and known world) only spans two tiny islands that are right next to each other, and all of that space is theoretically under the control of a One World Order.
Good Wings, Evil Wings: Played with. Kugar has regular white angel wings (they can also sprout six larger wings that look more like they're made of energy).
Gender-Equal Ensemble: Almost manages this, but is slightly slanted in favor of guys. The playable character balance is 6 male/4 female, and the list of major NPCs would be perfectly balanced if not for Tinder's crew (3 guys).
Gory Discretion Shot: Scott's death. Enforcers advance on him, then the screen goes black and the sounds of gunshots are heard, then the sound of a body slumping to the ground.
Also Kugar's "death" at the end of phase 4. Though the screen doesn't turn completely black, the characters are reduced to silhouettes.
Guide Dang It: Getting through the Underwater Facility. Especially the teleporter mazes.
Also, finding some of the shards. The ones in Oberon Tower requires you to press the four switches in the order south, north, east, west, south (SNEWS). You are given no hint as to how to do this.
Also, Scott and Violet almost immediately after being outed as The Moles.
The Hero: It's hard to label any one character as this, as it's an ensemble piece, but Erin quite possibly qualifies. She tends to be the character the plot revolves around the most, and the one who relates to many of the plot elements the most. She certainly has the personality, as well.
The Tear of All Ocean is a more general example. Incredible stat boosts across the board, and has the properties of every element, meaning that if an enemy has an elemental weakness, it will hit it, no matter what.
Informed Equipment: Justified; equipment for the "wear" slot is usually more akin to a small accessory, so not seeing any difference on the character's model makes sense. And if it's not an accessory, it's probably a jacket, but given how many characters wear Badass Longcoats the difference wouldn't be very noticeable.
Law of Inverse Recoil: Magnums have incredible recoil; firing them one-handed is a good way to end up with broken wrists. However, Hawk manages to fire one one-handed with no problem at all during a cutscene.
Word of Neok says that he realized his error in including so many playable characters, and intends to make a smaller cast for the sequel.
Lost In Transmission: In a secret area of the Dam Facility, where there is a computer that contains a log of the Underwater Facility, but is missing pieces and terminates itself halfway through. Also overlaps with Foreshadowing, naturally.
Money Spider: Justified or averted for the most part. In the cases where it doesn't make sense that an enemy should be carrying money, they'll probably drop Vendor Trash instead. Why zombies or "???"-type enemies would be carrying money is anyone's guess, though.
My Name Is ???: Sort of. There's a certain enemy type classified as "???". Yes, really. What makes this egregious is that there is also an "Enigma" enemy type, which is for enemies with abnormal elemental affinities (usually bosses).
The trope itself does apply to unknown characters, however. Characters that have not introduced themselves have a "???" under their Character Portrait.
No Cure for Evil: Averted with some human Mooks, who can use Stim Fields. Erin's darkside can also use First Aid, naturally. A few Flunky Bosses can use Revive Fields to restore their flunkies, too. Played straight with everyone else.
Nominal Importance: Played so very, very straight. Characters without names aren't even drawn with faces, and the lack of sympathy for their deaths comes close to What Measure Is a Mook? at times, especailly given how often your characters fight each other. Odds are very good that if someone's got a name and picture, then they will join your party during the game, or in the post-game.
One Size Fits All: Mostly played straight, although some equipment can only be worn by one gender.
One Stat to Rule Them All: As with all ATB-based battle systems, Speed. Doubling it essentially doubles all of your other stats at the same time, since you can act twice as often. Fortunately, Neok is Genre Savvy in this regard — Speed can only be increased through equipment, and only in small amounts. SPD Boosters also cost more than other boost items.
Psycho Serum: Jackal Serum in high doses, which is also justified. It's designed to heighten both mental and physical capabilities, but overdose causes neurological deterioration and reversion to primal instincts. However, the heightened strength and endurance are retained, meaning you now have someone who's effectively a superpowerful zombie on your hands.
Rainbow Speak: Important phrases are highlighted in azure blue. Also, whenever characters' names are mentioned, they're in the colour they were in the original Alter A.I.L.A. Lavitz, Jeebes, Reeves, and Tinder get name colours as well.
Rare Candy: Enhancers. Interestingly, they are infinite in amount; they can be obtained from red core chests and even bought from stores. To counteract this, however, they only raise stats by pitiful amounts. And there are none that raiseSpeed.
Redemption Demotion / Overrated And Underleveled: The bonus characters. Many of them can be fought as bosses during the main game, but as playable characters, not only are most of their abilities horrendously gimmicky, they also fit the "underleveled" part quite literally — they start at level one!
The Heart of Mysia and Al Di La syncs turn whoever equips them into an extreme version of this. They increase Guard and Speed by incredible amounts, but reduce the characters' damage to 1. (And before you try giving them to Erin, be aware that they affect her healing skills as well) They are useful for Item Caddies, though, as damage from items is not affected.
You Shall Not Pass: Jake, Dread, Scott, and Violet hold off the rebel army at the end of phase 5 so Erin, Leon, Celia, and Indy can escape. Miraculously, they survive, and manage to return for a Big Damn Heroes moment in phase 7.
Zombie Apocalypse: This happened in Pallas six years before the game started. It was caused by a lab accident that flooded the city with a dangerous experimental Psycho Serum.