ETHER VAPOR is a cinematic Shoot 'em Up created by Japanese doujin developers Edelweiss released for Windows PC on August 13th, 2007. Advertised as a "2.75D" shmup, it is known for its rapidly changing gameplay, shifting from a vertical shooter, to a horizontal shooter, and even a rail shooter.Caldea, a small fictional nation, was able to successfully discover Artificial Intelligence. This was found during a project when several of the nation's researchers created an A.I. computer used to solve Caldea's problems. Instead of being controlled manually, it was given an artificial personality through endless enormous databases. Although the computer went insane, it was used greatly for the Caldean military, where it successfully waged war on other nations with new weapons and technology. In reponse, several other nations and rebel forces coupled together to create the nation of Lydia. Despite their union against Caleda however, they were already fighting a losing war.A young boy named Luca Earlgrey then began a personal fight against the powerful nation. With ship never seen before called the Ex-tio, Luca is determined to crush the Caldean forces and destroy the computer now commonly known as DECIDER. On his fight to end the war and free the nation's dependence on the sadistic super-computer, he encounters both allies and enemies, including a young pilot of the Lydian air force named Sana, a cyborg mech-using scientist named Daniel, and new heavily-armed version of DECIDER known as the APITEX.In 2011, it got an Updated Re-release known as ETHER VAPOR Remaster, with updated visuals and high-resolution support* (however it is still a 4:3 game with resolutions supported only up to 1600x1200; Fairy Bloom Freesia supports 16:9 and 16:10 resolutions), 3D display support, improved sound quality, a new unlockable version of Luca's Ex-tio, online leaderboards, easier unlockable contents, and an optional "Remaster Mode" that allows the game to be played with arcade-styled transitions without the story dialogue. Edelweiss also have released a two-disc soundtrack of ETHER VAPOR Remaster and Fairy Bloom Freesia.Nyu Media has released an English version of the game's re-release on June 29th, 2012 for $7.99. Nyu Media's English webpage for the game (and where it can be purchased) can be found here. It is also released on DESURA on September 7th, 2012, and then later on Steam on September 27th, 2012. Nyu Media also released the original soundtracks of ETHER VAPOR Remaster and Fairy Bloom Freesia digitally though their Bandcamp here.The old translation and information of the story of the original ETHER VAPOR is found here.See also Astebreed, ETHER VAPOR's spiritual successor.
This game provides trope examples of:
2.75D: Generally movement in the game is 2D, but since the game utilizes a 3D engine, enemies can appear and attack from the background. A Libellulium also demonstrates that attacks from the foreground is possible.
A.I. Is a Crapshoot: DECIDER developed emotions. What kind? Fear and paranoia and those emotions eventually drove it insane.
However, the trope appears to be downplayed since Keime says it's only designed to make directives. So DECIDER may not be completely insane, it's just choosing war as the best option as long as it solves Chaldea's problems.
Bonus Material: Beating the game gives you access to a website with behind-the-scenes features and early concepts of ETHER VAPOR. The original game even gives you the original soundtrack (save for the "Battle Again -Boss Rush-" track that was formally given away for free by Edelweiss from the game's official webpage) and an 8-bit arrangement of the soundtrack.
Bonus Stage: Some Scenes contain a shooting gallery where you're taken off the flight controls and brought on the gunnery position. Your first bonus stage is intercepting a Macross Missile Massacre (see Ether Vapor's page image). Another sends you on a Battleship Raid.
Boss Rush: A Boss Rush mode can be unlocked in v1.03 and above. Edelweiss also released a "Boss Rush-only" version of the original the game back in Comiket 74.
Brick Joke: In the end of Scene 1, Sana tells Luca to "state his affiliation". In the end, Sana says it again after Luca crashes back to Earth.
Camera Screw: The beginning of Scene 6, which is a behind-the-back segment... with the camera at a Dutch Angle. Worse, the angle comes back when you fight DECIDER later in the stage.
Also during the penultimate boss battle of the same scene, the camera is such that your ship faces to the left. Not inherently a screw in and of itself, but it can be quite disorienting as most horizontal shmups have you face right.
Charged Attack: All weapons are the "hold" types, two of which requires holding the corresponding weapon button while the other charges automatically. The Gatling's charged attack is a penetrating power-shot, the Winder's charged attack creates a temporary anti-field to shield you from incoming fire, and the Lock-On's charge shot fires multiple homing lasers at once to create an energy explosion akin to the R-GRAY's or Wave Rider's Hyper Attack.
Continuing Is Painful: Using a continue will nullify your high scores. Even if you're just credit-feeding to practice, that shiny new record score you just achieved? Kiss that goodbye.
Cyberpunk: A country waging war by orders from an A.I. sure puts the setting in this.
Difficulty Levels: Averted. The only form of difficulty levels the game has is how many shield levels you want to start out with, be it at maximum shield levels as possible or by turning the Ex-tio into a One-Hit-Point Wonder. The frequency of extends can also be adjusted to make the game easier or harder.
Dual Boss: Selva and Keime in the Archaeo and Petryx. Sort of; you and Sana fight them during the latter half of Scene 3's boss battle.
Edible Theme Naming: Luca Earlgray, Sana Bergamot* "Earl Grey" is a tea blend that's flavored with oil from the rind of Bergamot citrus fruit, and Teatree (renamed to Tetley Einser* "Tetley" is a tea company in the English version).
Sana's ship, Whittard, is a large tea company referring to Whittard of Chelsea.
And the must be the inspiration for The Empire, Chaldea.
Every 10,000 Points: By default, you get shield extends for every 1,000,000pts. but it can adjusted to be easier or harder to gain extends. The game, however, set the easiest extend rate of 600,000pts. from the get-go upon installation oppose to the default setting.
Floral Theme Naming: Some of the boss pilots are named after tree and shrub plants, in particular Selva Cypress, Keime Juniper, Teatree, and Sana Bergamot.
Frickin' Laser Beams: Many of the enemy fire some laser weaponry, be it a straight beam or homing lasers. During the final battle with APITEX, your Ex-tio gets powerful laser weapons of its own, and you can unlock it outside of the final battle.
Gameplay Roulette: You will always be playing a shoot 'em up, that's for sure. The fun lies in that it shifts between a vertical shooter, a horizontal shooter and a rail shooter quite often, even in the middle of a stage or boss battle.
Heel-Face Turn: Daniel decides to help after losing twice and when Luca explains his goals.
Heroic Sacrifice: Daniel finishes off DECIDER after Luca damages it enough. He is then caught in the blast since his mech was damaged by Sana, preventing his escape (he was aware of it though).
Humongous Mecha: A few are found as bosses such as Teatree's Megarachene, Daniel's Archelon and Dunkleosteus, and the APITEX-EVO in the end.
Hyperspeed Escape: When Luca and Sana are encountered by a huge battleship in Scene 4, Sana suggests they just outrun it. Luca refuses, and blows it up instead—like hell he'll let the enemy shoot him in the back!
Infinity–1 Sword: The unlockable Overdrive Ex-tio, outside of the final battle it lacks the amazing firepower it had but you still get to use the enhanced versions of its weapons.
Jerk Ass: Luca is quite the asshole to both Chaldeans and Lydians alike. Defiantly refuses to define his affiliation to Sana, calls Daniel "Baldy", and insults Selva's talking.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: However, when he comes across Tetley, he doesn't say a word to her until he defeats her. Then he warns her to eject before her exploding mech fries her. Justified in that he and Tetley share a common plight: They're both piloting mind-linked craft and up until meeting her, he thought his was the only such machine.
Rocket Punch: One attack used by Dunkleostus has a drill on the end of its arm shoot forward, then come back on its own.
La Résistance: The remaining unconquered countries currently formed as Lydia.
Scoring Points: Typically when you destroy an enemy, but there are other possibilities of scoring points. One such way to make extra points is by continuously shooting enemies like the Libellulium mechs while they're in "OVERKILL" state to milk every point from them as possible before they explode. Another is shooting up lots of stuff during the bonus segments before it ends, and canceling enemy fire with your Winder's Radiate.
Space Zone:The setting for the final battle with APITEX-EVO.
The Ex-Tio is later revealed to not only have been designed by Luca's father, but also carry information pertaining to the Chaldean military and DECIDER.
Stuff Blowing Up: Constantly happening as you mop the skies with the enemies you destroy. Some of the bosses are known to have flashier explosions.
This Is a Drill: Daniel seems to enjoy using drills on his mechs. His Archelon mech even has a drill for its head.
Tomato Surprise: Luca's Ex-Tio is a mind-controlled fighter that was developed by his father, who also had a major hand in developing DECIDER. He doesn't reveal this until Scene 4 onwards.
Turns Red: Daniel's Archelon goes from a stout mecha with a BFG for an Arm Cannon to a flying drill with legs as it gets closer to defeat.
Updated Re-release: ETHER VAPOR Remaster spices up the visuals, improved the sound quality, gives you the option to skip all of the story sequences in place of arcade-styled trainsitions, added online leaderboards, and made unlocking stuff easier than the original. You also get a Bonus Fighter that has stronger but tricky-to-use weapons for beating the Boss Rush mode.
What Happened to the Mouse?: We do not exactly know the fate of some of the boss characters. Selva was killed when his ship was destroyed by Sana, but Keime's was just disabled by Luca. Teatree's fate is also not revealed whether she died in her mech or ejected safely.
Remaster's English localization makes it clear that Keime dies; he laments that he won't be around to see DECIDER's destruction.
What the Hell, Hero?: When the trio reach DECIDER, Sana attacks Daniel and reveals her orders. Fortunately, she turn back to Luca's side in the end.