Abusive Parents: The protagonist's. His family blames him for all their troubles ever since he and his sister were kidnapped by a Monster of the Week 8 years ago. They expected a small child to do something against a killer. Bonus points for the fact that they didn't bother to ask him anything about what happened to him, even though the son was hospitalized before the kidnapping.
Adult Fear: Almost every chapter deals with some situation adults fear of or go through.
All of the Other Reindeer: In true Rudolph fashion, nearly everyone else are dicks until the Unlosing Ranger helps them. Even the main character's own family had been blaming him for their own problems, including wanting a divorce; this is partly due to his sister's repression of the fact that he was the one who saved her from the Cannibal by occupying it via beating the crap out of him long enough for the police to arrive.
Ambidextrous Sprite: From certain angles, your "Left Hand" Item is held in the character's right hand and vice-versa. Sprite mirroring is to blame.
Awesome McCoolname: Absolute Victory Unlosing Ranger and Reckless Cop Dangerama, naturally. Though with the former, it takes some effort before you really begin to live up to that name.
Awesome, yet Impractical: Dual Wielding. Though it allows you to attack twice and some combinations can give some really cool special attacks, it burns through your EN at an alarming rate even if you have the skills to counteract that.
Special attacks. Incredibly flashy and powerful as expected from a Nippon Ichi game, but the attacks eat up EN, especially the flashier attacks, and you need to maintain as much EN as possible when going through dungeons. They still hit pretty hard, though, when you need to burst down a boss or AoE his mooks.
Barrier Warrior: Super Baby. She's powerful enough to hold off Darkdeath's attacks by herself, but being a baby, she hasn't learned any attacks yet and can't actually beat him.
Batman Can Breathe in Space: Lampshaded, naturally. Heroes can breathe in space, and are apparently capable of leaving the atmosphere at will even if they can't fly.
Batman Gambit: Part of the conflict in Level 4:Medea Lass made a deal with Prince Geo that if the Unlosing Ranger loses, she'd marry him.
Bee Hive Barrier: Super Baby. The Gator enemies generate these (and a piece of equipment) if someone attacks from the front. You also have a "Block" command that produces this, nullifying any enemy special that gets cast in front of you that turn (though it does nothing for regular attacks).
Better than a Bare Bulb: Pretty much everything is lampshaded. The characters tend to plan their next move based on what trope they want to invoke next.
Darkdeath Evilman: What are you so surprised about? I am the last boss who threatens the world. I should have at least three forms!
Dangerama: Don't worry, Unlosing Ranger! Everyone knows that monsters who regenerate are always weaker than the original! We'll use our "Dangerous Unlosing Hurricane" again to bust a hole in his stomach, and break his spine!
Breakable Weapons: All equipment deteriorates as you use it. If an item's durability drops to 0, it's effectively the same as being naked; you lose any of that item's stat boosts and abilities, and if it's something like a spear or a gun, you also lose the ranged attack. However, unlike most games with this feature, broken equipment is not lost, it just loses any special properties and remains in a severely weakened state. It can even be repaired in-dungeon with the proper facility loadout (though there's a limit on how often you can do so).
Asagi is in it. In fact, she's all the other cameo characters. The entire cameo system was a plot by her to try to replace the other cameo characters with her — cosplaying as them, anyway..
Interestingly; Pirihiko's and Etranger's dialogue all indicate that every series is true, with Earth-like series being set in the same world as theirs, and non-Earth being an Alternate Universe. Plus Asagi wouldn't want to take over a Mutually Fictional Main Character position, after all.
Like Soul Nomad, Baal is noticeably missing. It's mentioned in the game that he's been replaced by Valvolga.
Came Back Strong: A regular basis for gameplay. Death is only a temporary setback at best.
Chekhov's Gun: Remember when you obtain the Power of Love with the (Probably) attached to it? That was no dumb joke by the writers or a Red Herring. You eventually find out that your Power of Love is incomplete and go through another dungeon to fix it.
Combination Attack: When Dangerama finally accepts the Unlosing Ranger as a hero, he specifically holds back Darkdeath Evilman so the protagonist can go learn a Combination Attack. It's even called by name in the command list (though the actual name is "Dangerous Unlosing Hurricane").
Combined Energy Attack: The Unlosing Ranger's final technique. The entire Earth cheers him on, which makes him stronger than rest of the cast combined, allowing him to make a Heroic Sacrifice.
Cosplay: Not only can you equip random bits and pieces from every enemy in the game including the last boss, beating the Anime cameo dungeons allows you to change your base sprite into the boss of said anime or game cameo dungeon, which actually has stat effects in game.
Cowboy Bebop at His Computer: This episode of "Today on the Spot" claims that this game has you get into peoples' heads to solve their problems, despite the fact that it's actually said in-story that you help the Bizarro Earth counterparts and help people that way. He also forgot to mention that you can level up your employees when you get a special facility.
Decoy Protagonist: The Unlosing Ranger? Yeah, not the main character, really. Well, it gets complicated, but the Unlosing Ranger dies in the first minute of the game, giving the main character (default name: "Main Character") the suit.
Despair Event Horizon: Multiple times, mostly as a direct result of the Unlosing Ranger being defeated in combat. Counteracting these is the goal of 99% of the training missions.
Also one of the bad endings, in which you defeat your Bizzaro Earth counterpart during a boss battle instead of your family. Anko, Mitsuo, and Choco merge again, and reject having a fourth family member.
It's more than that. This turns out to be the nameless hero's defining trait, discovered in flashbacks when he stands up to an insane serial killer/rapist/cannibal who had kidnapped him and his sister. He's beaten to a bloody pulp (literally so: he's hospitalized afterwards and his sister is traumatized into amnesia afterwards just from seeing it), but continues to keep standing up, long enough to keep the serial killer distracted until help arrived. It transfers to his superhero persona very well.
Dude, Where's My Respect?: The Unlosing Ranger goes from being called a useless fake who's just there to be a nuisance to gaining enough power to punch a nuke into the sun and eventually earning the respect of people all around the world for his unwavering spirit. This rock-solid trust and belief in him causes him to power up into the Unlosing Ranger Omega, culminating in him saving the world.
Eagleland: Played straight, complete with a quote worthy of Team America World Police... although this is later explained by Oldllama's mental issues due to her Bizzaro Earth counterpart.
Earn Your Happy Ending: While you can defeat Darkdeath Evilman early on a second playthrough, the endings you receive for doing so end with you dying in possibly the most pathetic way imaginable, with everyone calling you a fraud. The game pretty much requires that Darkdeath Evilman hands you your ass several times before you can see a real happy ending.
Easy Levels, Hard Bosses: The normal dungeons aren't TOO bad. Then you get to a Level 600 boss... for the FIRST bonus Dungeon.
Extreme Omnivore: Certain abilities allow one to eat Organic Equipment, Inorganic Equipment, or Money.
There are pieces of equipment anyone can eat; like Mermaid equipment (except for the Head), Harpy Legs, Hovering Cloud, and Appetite Engine.
The Death Corgi is an example of this. It will wander around eating every item in sight, leaving behind "Leftover Scraps" on each square. The Leftover Scraps are edible (for a paltry 5 EN each), but strangely enough, they're still left behind even if the item in question wasn't edible to begin with.
Pirohiko. Aside from having brown hair and eyes instead of respectively blue and red, he is undeniably a flat-out expy of Kamina. With his fiery and optimistic persona, not to mention his mentoring of a younger seemingly fail-filled guy as his successor, he can be considered Kamina reincarnated as a Super Hero Otaku!. And furthermore, being motivated by feelings of failure and weakness.
Jean Noire - A brilliant surgeon that can operate anywhere, any time, and can even bring himself back from near death with scars across half of his face. Yeah, it can only be Black Jack.
Fake Ultimate Hero: The "Super" Baby is hailed as the world's savior due to being prophesied to save the Earth, but in reality she doesn't actually do much of anything herself and in fact enlarges Darkdeath Evilman out of jealousy, making the situation much worse.
Pirohiko: Those tits are fake! You got the equipment made for men dangling between your legs! Tripod Ranger!
Genre Savvy: The final boss attacking Earth has fired blasts of energy all across the globe, destroying entire cities... that have already been evacuated, because they know that those cities are always attacked in movies. Not a single person is killed.
Both Etranger and Pirohiko are Genre Savvy, just of different subgenres — Pirohiko is an idealist, Etranger is extremely cynical. Etranger usually plays as a foil to Pirohiko, who, while stupid, is usually morally right.
Except when he's using his "hero lessons" to justify things like complaining about his parents finding his Porn Stash.
Guide Dang It: There's no indication that you could pick up the rotating mirrors and the statues in chapter 4, other than the color of their dots on the minimap.
There is also no indication that you had to throw the rocks into the boss' nostrils in chapter 8 to make it vulnerable.
There's also no mention of the existence of Unlosing Weapons. Anywhere. Not even a hint. There's apparently one for every weapon type (Unlosing Sword, Unlosing Gun, Unlosing Wand...etc). The only reliable info is that they become findable "somewhere post-lvel 30" of the Mastery Dungeon.
Etranger: Is really a psychic manifestation of Super Baby, and is both cynical and naive because of her age and the things her mother has told her about humanity and herself.
Pirohiko: Serious case of Survivor Guilt since the previous Unlosing Ranger died to protect him. Half of the time deeply in denial about his human failings, and half of the time aware of knowing what a hero should be... and ashamed that he couldn't be it.
The Main Character: Not a case of You Suck; he has always been a badass that nobody recognized, nobody gave a chance.
Hopeless Boss Fight: The eponymous fight against the "last boss", Darkdeath Evilman, which is repeated at the end of every chapter. It gets progressively less hopeless each time, until it reaches the point where you can't lose.
In New Game+, they're not Hopeless, as if you continue to attack, the last turn will be a random Critical Hit for 999 damage, instantly defeating the boss — if you want to continue the game as normal, you must hit "flee" the last turn before you lose. Unfortuantely, winning these hopeless battles causes one of the various Bad Multiple Endings, due to the various psychological problems with the other characters not being solved. To say nothing about poor Darkdeath.
Hyperactive Metabolism: You have 100 EN. It's not enough — it goes down constantly, attacking causes it to go down (dual wielding causes it to downright plummet), and it's also used as mana for your special attacks. Several items restore it, some items play with it, etc etc.
Important Haircut: The nameless hero gains one from pure Heroic Spirit when he learns the special attack "120% Determination", even going so far as to change his portrait in-game. This marks the point where he goes from being insulted by just about everyone — "The Unlosing Ranger (Temp)", "The Fake Unlosing Ranger", etc. — to actually gaining some respect.
Informed Equipment: Averted. One of the game's selling points is that everything you equip will visibly change your appearance, to the point where there's a very good chance you'll look ridiculous, especially at the beginning of the game where you have little choice but to wear whatever the Random Number God decides to hand you. Enemies' equipped items are also visible, too.
In one dialogue scene, Etranger suggests that you equip some tank treads so you can avoid the effects of spike traps. Pirohiko tells you not to do it because you won't look properly heroic.
Karma Houdini: Again, the protagonist's entire family. How do you say "sorry" for eight years of emotional abuse, triggered by something that wasn't even his fault? Level-9's "happy ending" rings hollow in the face of the hell the protagonist's family put him through.
Though to be fair, Choco did undergo Trauma-Induced Amnesia during the whole kiddnapping thing, so she doesn't remember that it was her big bro that saved her. All that she does know is that her parents are sniping at each other because of something he did, so she begins to think that it's his fault. YMMV, but she may not be as much to blame. The parents, on the other hand...
At least the dad gets his lunch forcefully donated to the main character in case he gets hungry in the ending.
Kill Sat: You can get this as a facility after triggering a Kill Sat trap in a dungeon.
Level Drain: As is traditional for Console Roguelikes, every time you enter a dungeon, your level is reset to one. The game does keep track of your total level, and your Shadowgram affects both your base stats and level-up rate, meaning that by the end of the game, you're a much stronger level 1 than before...
Level Grinding: Wouldn't be a N1 game without it. This one has the bonus effect of having Level Drain as a gameplay mechanic, however. The trailer even brags about it. "The most soul crushing grindfest EVER!" However, in the late game, Item Synthesis and Shadowgram optimization are more important than levels.
Long Title: Even with the "Zettai Hero Project" bit reduced to an initialism, it's still a mouthful.
Love Makes You Crazy: The fourth boss, Bizarro Geo, becomes increasingly desperate when Bizarro Medeia flatly turns down his cries for affection, resorting to spawning multiple enemies called "Overflowing Love" to drive his point home.
Mad Libs Catch Phrase: Pirohiko sometimes ends a statement with "[Noun/Adjective] Ranger!" or, if the opportunity presents itself, something that sounds like an attack name. Bondage Ranger!
Metal Slime: Metal Cacti. They completely fill up the "Makai Wars" stage; only unlocked when you beat all the Dengeki stages.
Mood Whiplash: Very often. The ending is especially guilty of this. The heroes chase after the self-destructing Darkdeath Evilman to save him, at which point, he finally agrees to believe in heroes and begs to be saved. This is followed up with Pirohiko, Dangerama, and Etranger taking turns trying to push Darkdeath Evilman's robotic exoskeleton into the sun, with all of them snapping at each other for failing until Darkdeath Evilman tells them that the smart thing to do is for them to push it together. Then, the main character gains the strength to push it by himself and sacrifice his life in process.
Motivation on a Stick: The Appetite Engine accessory is a carrot on a stick worn on the player's head. It reduces EN consumption by 50% while equipped, and can be eaten to restore EN in a pinch.
Mundane Utility: Etranger capts radio waves from Earth and trasmits them to your retinas, allowing you to see what's going on Earth. Pirohiko suggests they could watch satellite TV for free!
My Death Is Just the Beginning: A rare heroic version. Disgaea's reincarnate system makes a return. In addition, you can't not trigger it. The plus side is this means that even as you lose, you get stronger. The minus side is this means they've basically shot the difficulty up to 11.
Noodle Incident: Nao's past. She was apparently in love with the Unlosing Ranger who Pirohiko replaced, but this is never fully explained.
No Fourth Wall: Etranger gets really upset when she discovers a fourth wall (which she actually calls by name) breaking joke earlier actually had a purpose: Since the main character's home life is so horrible, he can't fully understand love, which hinders his power as a superhero.
Nuclear Weapons Taboo: Completely and utterly avoided, when Oldllama gives up on the Unlosing Ranger, deciding to nuke Japan rather than face Darkdeath Evilman. Then she backs out of it after you fix her mind, making her realize that sacrificing an entire country is a cowardly thing to do. Then, while practicing her apology, she bows, headbutting the freakin' launch button. All combined with a heavy-handed political message about Japan's subservience to America, America's Eagleland persona, etc etc etc. What. The. Hell.
It does lead to a CMOA (the first for the new Unlosing Ranger) when he punches the goddamned nuke away literally as it hits him. He punches it STRAIGHT TO THE SUN.
One Stat to Rule Them All: Much like in every other NIS game, you will end up as a Glass Cannon eventually — you just can't get enough defense to stand up to later enemy attacks. Amusingly, due to weapons degrading, the only real option for most of the middle game is melee Glass Cannon — as you won't have enough blacksmiths to keep a ranged weapon repaired throughout the dungeon crawls.
One of the examples on the website has the hero with cat ears, angel wings, a huge 3' long "dagger", a Cthulhu arm, and his legs replaced with a kotatsu with a catgirl poking her head out of it.
The cameo dungeons are filled with random bits and pieces from their respective games and shows, as well. In addition, they count as Rank 6 items — which means they're expensive to repair, but can be leveled up to absurd power.
Puzzle Boss: (Nearly) every boss has some sort of gimmick that you need to figure out to defeat. And like classic Dragon Quest games, this being lost on the player base inflates its Nintendo Hard reputation.
Rainbow Pimp Gear: Half the fun of the game is seeing how bizzare you can make your PC look with equipped items.
Rank Inflation: Every monster (and thus, every item) in the game has a rank — 1 to 6 stars. Higher rank items can be synthed higher, have different colors, and generally are "more" than their previous versions (both bonuses and negatives are inflated).
Reconstruction: While it is a parody, it also is a pretty much by-the-books superhero/Toku/Sentai series — it could be animated and shown on TV with no issues whatsoever.
Roguelike: One of the softer ones. Not only is a Game Over a functional impossibility, the main character still gains some strength even if he dies, since the levels he gained during his run get added to his running total.
Sadistic Choice: In Dangerama's backstory, he had to choose between his wife or a lot of people. He chose to save the most people; his sanity hasn't been the same since.
Save Scumming: One way to get what you want from the Caravan if you don't wan't to do multiple runs through a Mastery Dungeon looking for one particular item. Despite the mechanic mentioned below...
Save the Villain: It wouldn't be a pastiche of superhero shows if they skipped this one. This is actually the objective of the Hero Training in the final chapter.
Every trap has an item (or rather, thanks to the synth system, a item property) that can disable it. Bats can disable log traps, ghost legs disable pitfalls, shields disable arrows, etc. It is impossible to be outright immune to every trap, however, and if the gear is broken, your skills (and thus, your immunity) is lost.
Supporting Protagonist: The main character is the hero and does all the work, but the story is told between Pirohiko and Etranger's interactions with each other (Pirohiko being Genre Savvy but a goofball, Etranger being Wrong Genre Savvy and a spoiled child) — as well as the reactions to the rest of the cast to Pirohiko and Etranger.
Sweat Drop: He doesn't speak much, but the main character symbolically represents his opinion of Etranger and Pirohiko quite a few times.
Take Up My Sword: How the Player Character gets in the fix in the first place. And how Pirohiko became the Unlosing Ranger when the last one died saving the Main Character and his little sister eight years ago.
The Power of Love: Earned by the Unlosing Ranger as one of the qualifications of being a hero. He was able to demonstrate the selflessness and purity of love to Bizzaro Geo. His understanding of love is still incomplete, however, because of his abusive home life. Familial love is what powers him up into the True Unlosing Ranger.
The Power Of Trust: By the end of the game, The Unlosing Ranger has gained the trust and respect of all his naysayers along with the rest of the world. Their trust in him powers him into The Unlosing Ranger Omega, and grants him his final technique.
All the more awesome because in the final battle, it manifests as a Spirit Bomb RIDER KICK.
Too Awesome to Use: Not only does using items' abilities usually cost high EN, but they wear down quickly, meaning you have to really work hard to mod your favorite items to make it so they don't wear out before you complete/escape a dungeon.
The "Space Police" facility also helps out a lot with this. It allows you to beam full sets of equipment directly into the dungeon for Emergency Morphing, which means you can assign your best gear to a morph, then slog through the dungeon with disposable crap, only calling in your good stuff when you really need it.
Grinding Levels In Badass: The entire game is this for the Unlosing Ranger. In a single day, he goes from a useless, spineless bystander, to saving the world and beating saving the last boss against all odds.
Tragic Villain: Most of the Bizzaro Earth bosses. Darkdeath Evilman gets a special mention here — he was a super genius kid who was kidnapped by an evil organization, and prayed for a hero to save him. No one did.
Variable Mix: The music in the Mastery Caves change by section based on your equipment. The variations include: Default (No Gear and Unlosing Cape), Hero (???), Sexy Witch (Oddly enough, Fluffy Tail counts as this..., else something a Magical Girl would use), 8-Bit ("classic" items like Daggers and Longswords), Junk (Random parts), Super Robot (Super Robot Mainstays such as Tank Treads and Rocket Punch), Euro/American View ("Steriotypical" equipment), Dark Hero ("Villinous" stuff like the Dark Mask), Animal ("Beastrial" gear), and Last Boss (Darkdevil Evilman's Gear)... yeash!
Verbal Tic: The goons at WHS end their sentences with "kikii".
Wake-Up Call Boss: Bizzaro Geo. Prior to this, boss battles consisted of pushing through a small army of mooks and then pounding down the Boss. Starting from Geo, a Puzzle Boss element is added. You now have to solve this puzzle BEFORE you can attack the boss (or expose and Attack Its Weak PointFor Massive Damage), all while still dealing with hordes of infinitely-spawning mooks, a level that is going to take much longer to solve than previous boss battles (meaning starvation becomes an issue), and a puzzle mechanic that injures you if you mess up.
Wham Episode: Arguably, Chapter 9 — that family you've been seeing in the montage sequences? Turns out that the main character is the son that they keep complaining about. You also learn that you and your sister were kidnapped as small children, and were saved by the Unlosing Ranger — who wasn't Pirohiko back then. At the time, Pirohiko was simply a policeman — he became the Unlosing Ranger shortly after the incident, as the previous one was mortally wounded while saving you — by the same serial killer that the then quite normal 8-year-old main character was successfully You Shall Not Passing away from his little sister.
If not that, DEFINITELY Chapter X. Darkdeath Evilman? Not the giant wolf-thing. Darkdeath is the little suicidal 7-year-old kid inside it, who is attempting Suicide By Hero.
What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Super Baby is foretold to be the world's savior, but her superpowers seem limited to self-levitation, self-protection, and turning the enemy into a giant. Attempts to get her to do anything useful end up running into lame excuses. Eventually subverted, as Etranger becomes capable of teleporting herself and others as well as telekinesis — not to mention giving her physical form a permanent age-up into a teenager.
In fact, she is the one who helps you guys save the world at the end of the game...
Etranger: And the wife's name is Japan? Come on, people, can't you try to be a little more subtle?Ugh.
Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Getting killed by a monster will give you a phobia of that kind of monster. As long as you have the phobia, you'll take extra damage from them. However, only one phobia can be set at a time, and if you manage to defeat enough of the offending enemy, you'll beat your phobia and gain an EXP bonus from that monster species instead. This effect stacks, so phobias can actually work in your favor in the long run.
Wizard Needs Food Badly: All Special Attacks take up EN, you lose EN (for the most part) over time, and if you run out, you'd better chow down some meat or else you'll starve... some dungeons seem to be more generous then others, though ("Dengeki: Kino's Journey" is an example of why you should use Specials with care: unless your Facilties are upgraded, food items are very scarce!)
You can of course say no... but he gives it to you anyway.
Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Think you can beat Darkdeath Evilman just yet? Not before Etranger transforms him into Giant Darkdeath Evilman. How about now, when you have Dangerama working alongside you with a badass team attack?Not so fast, bucko! He becomes Giga Giant Darkdeath Evilman after that. All in all, you fight him a total of 13 times.
You Suck: ViciouslyDeconstructed. As you play through the game, it becomes quite clear that the "helpless Otaku" protagonist is reallydoingnothing to deserve his reputation as a wimp. Eventually, it's revealed that his Abusive Parents used him as a scapegoat for all their problems, stifling his development in the process. He probably would have been a good candidate for the Unlosing Ranger under normal circumstances were it not for nobody trusting him to not screw things up.