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Video Game: MS Saga: A New Dawn
aka: MS Saga

MS Saga: A New Dawn, also known by its Japanese title Gundam: True Odyssey, is a PS2 RPG loosely based on the long-running Gundam franchise. An odd duck by any standard, MS Saga places the iconic Humongous Mecha of the Gundam franchise in an entirely new setting and plot, effectively creating an(other) Alternate Universe to add to the Gundam menagerie. The result is predictably Troperiffic, cheerfully combining standard JRPG tropes with standard Gundam tropes into something of a Cliché Storm that may none the less be a Guilty Pleasure for fans of either (or especially both).

As a departure from most Gundam video games (which tend to be either arcade-style Action Games a la the Gundam Vs Series or Turn-Based Strategy in the vein of SD Gundam G Generation), MS Saga is a turn based Role-Playing Game in the style of the Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest. The player controls a party of characters each piloting a mobile suit; as they fight, the characters gain levels (which increases their stats and expands the pool of more powerful "boost attacks" and useful "techniques" that they can perform), while the mecha can be equipped with various combination of weaponry via a Grid Inventory system. In a hanger with proper facilities, mecha can be upgraded and otherwise modified — parts from many different mecha can be combined to form one new machine in a robotic form of Mix-and-Match Critters (incidentally mirroring the Real Life practice of combining multiple model kits into a single, new unit, a process known as "kitbashing"). Of course, you can always just switch wholesale to a shiny new mecha once you get your mitts on one. This multi-tiered system, with the linearly-developing Character Levels of most JRPGs applying to the pilots and the less restricted Character Customization more typical of Western RPGs applying to the mecha, can lead to the construction of absurdly-customized parties.

Note that this effort will not be wasted; MS Saga can reach Nintendo Hard levels even during normal gameplay. Additional extras, including Bonus Dungeons, Bonus Bosses, Boss in Mook Clothing battles, Tournament Arc Sidequests, and more are added at nearly all points in the game. Thankfully, these are generally optional, and in fact sometimes become Lost Forever without their existence ever really being hinted at. Getting true 100% Completion is an impressive feat.

MS Saga incorporates mecha primarily from the Universal Century Gundam timeline, specifically from Mobile Suit Gundam to Char's Counterattack, but includes weapons and equipment from everything through to Victory Gundam (aside from Gundam Unicorn, which was released after the game came out). Mecha and equipment from Gundam Wing and G Gundam also appear, though primarily as rewards for beating the aforementioned optional content. The game did poorly both critically and financially, having the dubious honor of being the worst selling Gundam PS2 game ever, though it's something of a Cult Classic among the few who took a shine to it.

The game provides examples of:

  • Absolute Cleavage: Li Fang.
  • Accidental Pervert: When Vargas first encounters Li Fang, she accuses him of trying to look up her skirt. Given that Vargas is the resident Lovable Sex Maniac, one would generally assume it was intentional on his part, but given that Li Fang dresses in a Showgirl Skirt and was walking up a set of stairs in front of him, it's more ambiguous.
  • After the End: The Great Fall, which killed 90% of humanity in a week, took place sixty years before the game begins. Thanks to the G Systems (which are basically Matter Replicators), the world recovered in fairly short order, if quite a bit emptier than before.
  • Alpha Strike: Various boost attacks; Gatling Body (fires all non-handheld weapons), Gatling Fire (fires all ranged weapons), and Ultimate Weapon (attacks with every weapon you have, including your melee weapon, which can be quite hilarious when you unleash the fury of bazookas, beam rifles, machine guns, Shoulder Cannons, and Wave Motion Guns on a target, then run up and punch it... and then it explodes).
  • Anti-Grinding: You don't get massive amounts of experience from random battles, and leveling only increases about a third of your offense-oriented stats (and none of your defense ones).
    • Money Grinding: You probably will have to grind out money for equipment and weapons though.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: A certain melee skill line and critical hits both go through defence, making them invaluable against heavily armored enemies that can take no damage otherwise.
  • Arms Dealer: Vargas is a Sky Pirate who also owns and controls the international Black Market, but he's actually a pretty nice guy. Mr. K is a legitimate weapons supplier for Eisengrad, but actually sell weapons to their enemy Dark Alliance as well.
  • Astonishingly Appropriate Appearance: Pretty much every character with a name and a suit has an outfit that makes them resemble the mech they have.
  • Attack Drone: UC Gundams bits and funnels make an appearance as techs that can be powered up by the right equipment.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Shield cannons; as shields with built-in weaponry, they theoretically provide the benefits of both a shield and an arm-mounted weapon. Unfortunately, they tend to be large, relatively weak as both weapons and shields, and have significant speed penalties.
    • Some Boost Attacks have no real use. Explosion uses one of your ranged weapons to deal damage to all enemies in a huge Wave Motion Gun style attack, but since it just divides the normal weapon damage up between multiple targets, it ends up being fairly weak. The Speed Lance line of attacks allow you to make a melee attack before anyone else can act, regardless of Action Initiative, but in late-game this does more harm than good since it doesn't allow your allies to set up support moves to cover you from Counter Attacks.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Tremmie.
  • Behind the Black: Abuses this.
  • BFG: Its Gundam, several of the big weapons make appearances. Large handheld weapons actually can't be used to snipe though.
  • BFS: The aptly named Large Beam Sword, the ZZ's Hyper Beam Saber and the Sazabi's Beam Tomahawk Sword are equippable.
  • Big Damn Hero: Hal in the Gelgoog than the Gundam, Fritz and his Full Armor Gundam, and again Hal during the final dungeon.
  • Bigger Stick: New weapons and Mobile Suits are necessary at regular intervals if you want to survive.
  • Bishonen Line: Done with the Big Bad's mecha. He starts off in the Master Gundam from G Gundam than upgrades to the nonhumanoid Alpha Azieru mobile armor, and when that's defeated he uses the G-System to reconfigure it into an evil version of Wing Zero Custom, which has a more familiar humanoid appearance.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: You can get one of these in the form of the blade-arm of the imfamously ugly Zakrello. It's one of the best melee-focused parts in the early part of the game, but since it's literally just a metal blade, you can't equip and hand-held or arm-mounted equipment while you're using it.
  • Blade on a Stick: Spears are useful for their high damage and defence boosts. Their main drawback is their size makes them difficult to equip on anything not specializing in melee.
  • Blocking Stops All Damage: The Double Shield boost well stops all damage, even moves that cannot otherwise be blocked by other boosts.
  • Bonus Boss: Numerous examples, spread throughout the game. Sometimes they're simply waiting at specific places on the Overworld, other times they're found in a Bonus Dungeon.
  • Bonus Dungeon: A few dungeons don't have to be completed but can to aquire powerful equipment. Usually have a Bonus Boss guarding the really good stuff.
  • Boobs of Steel: The melee-oriented ladies (Tremmie, Rezner and Li Fang) are more stacked than the ranged-focused girls (Aeon and Lapis).
  • Boring, but Practical: The defensive and shutdown boosts don't do any damage but are essential to beating most bosses after a certain point.
    • Some of the most useful Boost attacks are Gatling Fire and Lightning Lancer. Gatling Fire fires all ranged weapons in one turn and is available to nearly every character, while Lightning Lancer is a melee attack that automatically goes first regardlesss of Action Initiative and (unlike normal melee attacks) is not vulnerable to Counter Attack.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: Every other area has atleast one enemy that would be a Mid-Boss battle as a random encounter.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: The Master Gundam and Mini-G system are your rewards for fully exploring the Bonus Dungeon and fighting every suit in the game, including the Bonus Bosses. There is nothing much you can do with either one.
  • Can't Catch Up: Starting with the second mobile suit you get, it becomes clear that some mecha just flat-out overpower others. Given that you can only build a limited number of MS during the course of the game, and many of the ones you built are unique, you'll frequently have to settle for a subpar ride for some of your characters.
  • Charged Attack: Boost attacks, which require you to use between 4 and 10 units of energy, generated at 2 units per turn (unless you use items, equipment or abilities to increase it).
  • Char Clone: It wouldn't be Gundam without one! Hal has all the classic attributes of a Char.
  • Commissar Cap: Rezner wears one, as do a few other Eisengrad officers. You can give her a beam pistol for extra Commissar points!
  • Counter Attack: Both enemies and allies automatically counter a melee attack on them with a melee attack of their own. Learning to deal with these is absolutely vital for the proper use of melee-oriented characters.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Don't let the cutesy look fool you, its still Gundam. The backstory alone kills 90% of the population.
  • Critical Hit: Works differently here, they do somewhat more damage and ignore defence. Little help for the attacks that already ignore armor.
  • Crutch Character: Gavenger, who has good ranged and melee stats, all three basic defensive boosts, and a great healing ability. No other character has this combination of abilities. And he is the only character who the heroes lose.
  • Cowardly Lion: Fritz. He gets better.
  • Darkest Hour: The aftermath of the Dark Alliance base fight. Hal is revealed to be Vladi, and he has allies with suits vastly more powerful than the Dark Alliances. Gavenger and Major Rezner both sacrifice themselves to give the others a chance and all they can do is run.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Bazuli and Lapis join the heroes alittle after they were boss fights.
  • Difficulty Spike: A very noticeable one toward the end of the game.
  • Disc One Final Dungeon: Both the battle for the Dark Alliance base and retake Eisengrad paint themselves as the final battle. Neither are anywhere close.
  • Disc One Nuke: Its possible, but hard, to acquire equipment that is a couple upgrades better than what you should have. Some equipment is also a lot better than its place in the story.
  • Easy Levels, Hard Bosses: While the mooks aren't exactly a cakewalk, the bosses are absolutely brutal. Starting at around mid-game, they can One-Hit Kill an unprepared party. Expect to engage in some Trial-and-Error Gameplay as you figure out a good loadout for a particular boss.
  • Eleventh Hour Superpower: The Nu Gundam — which has the largest possible equipment grid and among the best stats in the game — is only available after the penultimate boss fight. The Sazabi, similarly powerful, only joins in for the second half of the Final Boss. You'll need them both for the Post-End Game Content.
  • Expy: In addition to Hal, the obligatory Char Clone, Major Rezner has a strong resemblance to Ms. Matilda from Mobile Suit Gundam.
  • Fight Woosh: The screen breaks into squares that fade out. The pattern and color changes depending on the type of encounter — Random Encounters, Pre Existing Encounters, and Boss Battles.
  • Five-Bad Band:
  • Five-Man Band: The cast falls into one, though the exact makeup fluctuates.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: Averted, Gavenger is never forgotten after his sacrifice. If anything he's more important to the team after his death.
  • Form-Fitting Wardrobe: Almost everyone looks like they are wearing an outfit at least one size too small. Tremmie infact might be wearing pants far too small for her.
  • Foreshadowing: Hal occasionally spends some time as a Guest Star Party Member, and you can get a good look at his stats and layout, a nice, balanced mix of ranged power and melee power all at high speed, with equally balanced offense and speed-based boost attacks. Long time Gundam fans will go "Char Clone!" and let's be honest, they'd be right. It's not hard to see given the man wears a mask and tools around in a red Gelgoog. Beyond his inevitable Face-Heel Turn, true to Aznable form, he's also got a younger sibling. One with similar if slightly less powerful stats, but also shares a balance of ranged, melee, and speed boosts. Who else fits that description, but also introduced themselves with a red Mobile Suit? Tremmie. Even their victory stances are identical, which, much like Vargas and Gavenger, might initially seem like simply recycling animations. Best of all, this is actually a nod to the manga, where Sayla Mass is shown to pilot a customized GM, similar to what Tremmie starts in.
  • Gatling Good: Oh baby. In addition to both versions of Heavyarms' iconic weapon, we also get the G-Cannon's cannons and the right arm of the obscure MS-12 Gigan, a heavy weapons MS that was slated to appear in the original 52 episode version of Mobile Suit Gundam.
  • Glass Cannon: Both Tremmie and Li Fang deal damage fast and hard, but lack defensive boosts. A number of MS with good melee or ranged stats but poor HP and armor stats also qualify.
  • Godzilla Threshold: The villains go to the moon in the last part, so Tristan and friends need to make a spaeship to pursue. The leader of the Unicorns at first objects because a spaceship could potentially make another Great Fall, but because of the threat presented relents.
  • Grand Theft Prototype: Wouldn't be Gundam without one! But Aeon of all people did this in the final stage to Neo Zarth's newly built Wing Zero Custom out of convenience. Turns out they can make a stronger copy.
  • Grid Inventory: Used to equip weapons. Each mobile suit's inventory is a rectangle of a certain height and width (the smallest is 3x4, the largest is 8x8), and each weapon is represented by a certain arrangement of squares. Melee weapons tend to be tall and skinny, while ranged weapons are short and wide; for example, a basic beam saber is one square wide and three tall, while a basic beam rifle is only one square tall but three squares wide. The dimensions of the grids reflect this as well; a melee-oriented suit will be have a tall, thin grid, while a ranged-oriented suit will have a short, wide grid, and a balanced suit will have a nearly square grid.
  • Infinity–1 Sword: You have to make do with a few suits that don't quite measure up to the fully top tier ones. The Bonus Dungeon Mount Trial has three that can be used for the pilots that don't get them.
  • Infinity+1 Sword: The Nu Gundam is pretty much this. It has the highest speed and ranged stats and has some of the higher strength and armor as well as having a full 8x8 inventory grid. Burning Gundam can be considered one as well solely for its melee stat, which is way off the roof.
  • Jack of All Stats: Quite a lot of suits, notably the GM series of mecha. Generally averted for the characters; all of them focus on something.
  • Jail Bait Wait: Referenced by Vargas when you talk to him at Rock Diggins regarding Lyra.
  • Lazy Backup: Used simultaneously in two different ways; your team consists of six characters, split into three "active" characters and three "reserve" characters. You only get six even if there are more characters available at that point in the plot, and if your active three are defeated, it's Game Over even if your reserve three are in perfect health.
  • Lethal Joke Character: Li Fang first appears in a Guncannon (a ranged-oriented suit) using barefisted melee attacks. She's still rather impressive in it.
  • Let's Play: has an impressive one Here at the lparchive. Has humor, Fritz bashing, but is played by a person who self-admittedly makes tactical errors and refuses to finish the Bonus Dungeon.
  • Magic by Any Other Name: MS Saga calls them "techniques" instead of "spells", but they're still magic, complete with a pool of "Technique Points" instead of MP and a stat ("Mind") that controls how powerful a character's techniques are.
  • Magic from Technology: Presumably the case with techniques — though the details of how that works probably don't bear thinking on.
  • The Medic: In a change from usual fare, the best medics are Fritz and Tristan.
  • Megaton Punch: The hand to hand boosts are either this or Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs.
  • Metal Slime: Metal Zaku and Gold GMs both have low HP and give, respectively, large amounts of Experience Points and money with a chance to drop rare e-caps. To offset this, they have tons of speed and defence — to the point they always go first and cannot be damaged by anything other than a critical hit or armor piercing attack. With their ability to run away from a fight and disable your MS, you're never guaranteed a win. The most powerful of these are a full up Bonus Boss.
  • Mighty Glacier: Tristan, Gavenger and Bazuli all have considerable offensive abilities but are also slow. Several MS with good HP and armor but low speed also qualify.
  • Moveset Clone: Gavenger and Bazuli, Aeon and Lapis and both Tremmie and Tristan to Hal. Notably they put their own variations that make them not quite fit the others' role but can do other roles.
  • My Rules Are Not Your Rules: Enemy suits have loadouts, abilities and powers that you cannot duplicate, without even counting the MS that you don't have access to.
  • Mystical Waif: Aeon, and how.
  • Mythology Gag: There's a subtle one where Hal offers you a new mobile suit and you have to pick between a Gelgoog or Gyan (you can buy the other one later, though). This references the backstory of the original Mobile Suit Gundam where the two mobile suits were designs from rival defense contractors competing to be mass-produced.
  • Neutral No Longer: Vargas was willing to wait out the war as an arms dealer. When the Dark Alliance uses his G-System to make mobile suits for there own designs, he decides to take the fight to them. He doesn't hesitate to help in the next war when he hears that Tristan and friends are in danger.
  • Nintendo Hard: The final stages of the game and the bonus bosses. The latter can easily kill you in one hit.
  • Noodle Incident: The specifics of how Gavenger died and how Bazuli got his mech scratch free aren't disclosed. Especially notable given that Gavenger was staring down the Psyco Gundam when we last see him.
  • Now, Where Was I Going Again?: Pretty bad at this. You can ask your teammates to get a vague idea of where to make the next storyline stop and don't expect much help keeping tabs on the sidequests.
  • Older than They Look: Marie, dubbed "Fossil" by Fritz, which she doesn't appreciate. It's implied that she's well over 70, being one of the founding members of The Unicorns.
  • Opposites Attract: Vargas shows the most interest in Li Fang who, in both gameplay and personality, is his complete opposite.
  • Overly Long Name: Marie Orijin Neikeshuneku Tokita. We only get to see the full version once.
  • Padded Sumo Gameplay: Once you have a high enough level to stop virtually any attack, the bosses get enough HP, armor and immunities to make fights last quite a while. It takes hours to beat the Bonus Boss with a fully prepared party.
  • Palette Swap: There are relatively few actual enemy models in the game. Some of the more obvious ones include bosses like Big Zam or the Gundam Wing Gundams that show up again later, with different colors and more power.
  • Peninsula of Power Leveling: Moon bases. A single encounter with a team of Mecha-Mooks can give up to 12000 Experience Points, equal to some of the mid-game bosses and scripted encounters. As would be expected, they're difficult fights, but definitely worth the effort.
  • Post-End Game Content: An odd example; after you beat the Final Boss, you can save. When you load that save, it drops you at the save point immediately before the final boss, as if you hadn't beaten him yet — except that the Eleventh Hour Superpower that you acquire during the final boss battle is still there, and now the Bonus Dungeon is open
  • Power Up Letdown: You can often invest a lot of time, money and resources to acquire equipment and mechs that aren't much stronger or even weaker than what you already have.
  • Shout-Out: To other series.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Gavenger, staying behind to execute a You Shall Not Pass after the party has been chased into a small tunnel. He dies, which is considered stupid by some players since he could have just collapsed the mouth of the tunnel, and some of the enemies' suits are too big to follow the party in the first place.
  • So Long, and Thanks for All the Gear: Averted, party members that leave cannot have their equipment customized. You can still throw away money by upgrading them, though.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Justified, in the beginning the resident authorities on technology refuse to research weapons tech, which leads to both sides using only the most basic of equipment. Later on, villains have access to the more advanced tech.
  • Special Attack: Boost attacks, which can be anything from a slightly more powerful melee blow to making the party temporarily invulnerable to specific kinds of attacks to simultaneously firing every weapon you have equipped and following up with a melee strike for good measure.
  • Standard Powerup Pose: Many animations do this, most notably the physical weapon lines.
  • Standard Status Effects: Same old effects, shiny new names to make more sense as applied to giant robots. Acid is poison, Short is paralyze, etc.
  • Super-Deformed: The mecha of all things, are semi-SD. They're about halfway between their normal "realistic" proportions and their chibified SD proportions. This means that they're about 30 feet tall (instead of the usual 60-or-so) and more stylized than the typical depiction of mecha, but not to the point of being cutesy looking or their heads making up 80% of their bodies. The humans, though, are still normal.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Downplayed; more than once, after a character leaves the party, a similar-seeming character will soon show up. But each time, the new characters won't quite be able to replace the old one seamlessly, due to differences in their stats and boost attacks. The effect is more like Ryu and Ken than a straight-up clone.
  • This Is a Drill: You can buy the obscure MSV series digging mobile suit Agg's arms, which are some of the better melee-focused arms for a good chunk of the game.
  • Too Awesome to Use: Engine energy equipment and high-stat boosts can turn the tide in many battles. Too bad you can't buy them.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: The first Gouf will teach you the importance of defending against boost attacks. The Xamel shows the necessity of defensive boosts.
  • With This Herring: Averted; top-tier (for the time) mobile suits are given to you at multiple points in the game. Don't expect much help upgrading them, though.
  • World-Wrecking Wave: The opening movie gives a nice one with its depiction of the Great Fall.

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alternative title(s): MS Saga; MS Saga A New Dawn
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