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Video Game / Black/Matrix

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Flight-Plan's first Strategy RPG series. The games, particularly the first one, have a strong Abrahamic motif to them. Unlike Flight-Plan's other SRPG series, the Black/Matrix games do not share the same universe with each other. They do, however, share many common characteristics. In all of them, there are three races of people: the white-winged angels, the black-winged devils, and the wingless humans. The angels and devils hate each other for one reason or another. The humans are relatively weak compared to the winged people and tend to believe the angels are good and that the devils are evil. The truth is usually a bit murkier than that.

When the first game came out, it was described as X1999 or Angel Sanctuary meets Final Fantasy Tactics. Nowadays, the series can also be described as a Darker and Edgier Disgaea.note  It shares many similarities with the B/M games that predate it. For starters, both series are SRPGs that feature humans, angels, and devils/demons (both akuma in Japanese) with their own generically-named worlds, the same across both. The demons of Disgaea have a Bad Is Good and Good Is Bad mentality much like the first B/M. The general plot of Disgaea mirrors B/M 2. Both protagonists are family members of their somewhat-dead Maou, are recently awakened/resurrected, working to stabilize Makai in the absence of the Maou, have to contend with humans being manipulated by angels, spend most of the game in Makai with the end part in Tenkai, revolve mostly around a Power Trio dynamic in terms of plot, have a token angel party member, come with multiple endings, and have a new game plus feature. The main differences are general tone and mechanics. Flight-Plan's offering is Darker and Edgier with Anti-Grinding whereas Nippon Ichi's offering is Lighter and Softer with Level Grinding.

List of Black/Matrix games (indents indicate re-releases or remakes):

  • Black/Matrix (Sega Saturn; 27th August 1998)
    • Black/Matrix AD (Sega Dreamcast; 30th September 1999)
    • Black/Matrix Cross (Sony Playstation; 14th December 2000 note )
  • Black/Matrix II (Sony Playstation 2; 28th March 2002)
  • Black/Matrix Zero (Nintendo Game Boy Advance; 30th August 2002)
    • Black/Matrix 00 (Sony Playstation; 13th May 2004) note Also 

Tropes common to the Black/Matrix series

  • Creator Cameo: In Black/Matrix 00, there is a brother and sister duo named "Flight" and "Plan", respectively. The circus where they work is called the Necinter Channelnote  Group.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: The range of the "side attack" in the Zero games allows a user to attack a target diagonally at even height or one height unit above. Compare with every other Flight-Plan game which has it as even height or one height unit below.
  • Difficulty Levels: The first two games let you select between "Beginner" and "Normal".
  • Mr. Fanservice: Master Zero was put in the first game for Ho Yay and to appeal to Yaoi Fangirls. Once word of this got around, the subsequent re-releases were strangely popular with said group.
  • Expy: Syria and Beir from the Zero games to Sapphael and Elrazak from the second game. Both are a younger sister and older brother pair of blond angels, with the younger sister leaning towards All-Loving Hero and older brother leaning towards The Dragon.
  • Fantastic Racism: The angels and devils tend to hate each other as the result of some prior great war. Humans are the pawns of the angels through the Path of Inspiration and hate the devils as a result.
  • Gay Option: The infamous Master Zero in the first game and the Gilvise ending in the second game.
  • Good Wings, Evil Wings: The angels and devils. It's not always clear-cut both in morality and in wing association. Johann from the Zero games has gray bird wings and Moses from the first game has white bat wings. There is also the "White Devil", a devil with white wings normally attributed to angels.
  • Gratuitous English: Most story battles have a fancy line of English along with the Japanese name. How readable and how understandable (never mind how relevant) they are varies.
  • Great Escape: The party breaks out of prison in the second chapter of the first game.
  • Hanging Separately: The members of the Fear Quartet are described as powerful individuals each, though they generally don't work together.
  • Insert Payment to Use: In Black/Matrix 1, characters must give up their wings to wear Archdemon armors, and once they're on, they don't come off.
  • Just Like Robin Hood: Gaius ended up in prison for stealing from the rich to give to the poor.
  • Light Is Not Good
  • Mass Super-Empowering Event: Inverted in Black/Matrix II. The death of Jenarose, the source of the devils' power, depowers the devils. This makes dealing with the invading human forces much more troublesome.
  • Meaningful Name: A list can be found here. Special mention goes to Reiji of Black/Matrix 2 and Beir of Black/Matrix Zero, whose names can be interpreted multiple meaningful ways.
  • Multiple Demographic Appeal: The shoujo-esque art style and the Gay Option in the first two games. The dark tone of games in general. It's all over the place and makes one think what the main demographic, if there is one, even is.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The Fear Quartet. Also, Uni's sobriquet, Feathercide.
  • Navel-Deep Neckline:
    • Domina, kind and sweet Mistress Domina, has a plunging neckline.
    • Parge in Black/Matrix 2 also, though she has the mature personality that tends to accompany the look.
  • Necromancer: Johannes' (of Black/Matrix 1) priestly powers include raising the dead. His zombies are very effective in combat.
  • Nintendo Hard: As expected of Flight-Plan. Black/Matrix II averts this both intentionally with Difficulty Levels and Dynamic Difficulty and unintentionally with it being easy regardless.
  • Number of the Beast: For a series that so heavily raids Abrahamic mythos, it's surprisingly averted. The war between the angels and devils in Zero lasted for 555 days.
  • 100% Completion: Multiple endings means you'll be playing the game more than once. Thankfully, New Game Plus makes subsequent playthroughs much faster. Black/Matrix II clear save files will include a percentage tracker as well as the number of times you've cleared the game. Said game also gives a nice bonus item at the end for use in subsequent playthroughs each time the game is cleared. 32 clears are required to get all of them (16 if you decide to run the Superboss each time). Of course, by then, you don't really need them.
  • Only Mostly Dead: In every game but Black/Matrix 00, most units that would take lethal damage first drop to a critical state. They can't act other than as obstacles but can be brought back up with healing. Units taking damage while in critical condition will be killed, removing them from the map. Units with "Death Attack" skip this part, allowing them to go straight for a One-Hit Kill.
  • Our Angels Are Different: In addition to the standard popular media depiction, Black/Matrix 00 has insectoid angels.
  • Our Demons Are Different: Most resemble humans with black bat wings, but then there's the "White Devil".
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: Lance's self-proclaimed boast of being "Humankind's Strongest". Given the setting's Power Gives You Wings thing and that the Puny Humans lack them, it's justified.
  • Point Buy System: The stats may change in each game, but you'll always have the ability to decide what to improve when you level up.
  • Power Gives You Wings: The wingless humans are relatively weak compared to the angels and devils. Since there are only three races in the games, this naturally leads to Puny Humans. An early plot point in Zero is Cain getting a pair of wings.
  • The Power of Blood: It's used to upgrade weapons and also a stand-in for Mana in spellcasting, which unlike other games does not replenish at the end of a battle. Naturally, you earn blood by killing stuff.
  • Religion is Magic: Only the priestly class of black-wings are able to use magic freely; they are different from other black-wings in that they have horns on their heads. Some characters outside this group have spell sets, but can only cast spells when equipped with horn accessories.
  • Remake Displacement: Black/Matrix 00, referred to as the TV version while Black/Matrix Zero was the movie version. The former has eclipsed the latter in popularity and has become the definitive version of the game.
  • Sliding Scale of Turn Realism: The games work on a hybrid system of action count and either "Action by Action" or "Turn by Turn". The former is important when grading your progress in story battles.
  • Snub by Omission: In a possible bit of Ho Yay, Uni mentions that Reiji and Gilvise have beautiful wings. Vidia is not happy at being notably excluded.
  • Spell My Name With An S: Flight-Plan does this themselves in the remakes. Their names in katakana remain the same, but their names in the Latin alphabet change from game to game.
  • Static Role, Exchangeable Character: The master role in the original Black/Matrix functions in this way. The player chooses Abel's master from several available characters, mostly women representing various character archetypes (but with a secret male character available that made the game a bit of a sensation.) The player's choice of master does not have much impact on how the game proceeds, especially in the Saturn version where this trope overlaps with Schrödinger's Player Character. Among the additions in the the remakes are roles for the non-selected masters in scenarios throughout the game.
  • Superboss: Fighting Faust is optional, but difficult. Be prepared to have characters dropped in one hit.
  • Universally Beloved Leader: Jenarose, back when she was alive, had this among the devils. It's said that even the most foolish of devils in the middle of fighting each other would stop if they heard her request so. Her resurrection is seen as a way to end the in-fighting. Even Psycho Knife Nut Uni, who generally does not use honorifics, uses -sama when referring to her.
  • Video Game 3D Leap: Black/Matrix 2. Black/Matrix 00 reverted back to 2D sprites either due to PS1 hardware or stylistic choice. Possibly both as 3D polygons were not seen again in a Flight-Plan game until Eternal Poison, almost six years later.
  • Virtue/Vice Codification: As a result of the inverted morality, the in-game "Sins" are Equality, Freedom, Justice, Friendship, Weakness, Civil Liberty, and Love. The last is considered the biggest one.
  • Winged Humanoid: Angels and devils. Melediez and Syria have four wings while Beir has six wings.
  • Wings Do Nothing: Wings are a sign of power. They grant flight in cut-scenes and other plot related events. Just don't count on it in actual gameplay.
  • You All Meet in a Cell: In the first game, Abel meets the majority of the plot-centric player characters after he's imprisoned and sentenced to death.