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Video Game / Drone Tactics

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Drone Tactics is a 2008 Turn-Based Strategy game where you play as a bunch of Japanese teenagers straight out of a typical shonen anime. Originally released in Japan by Success as Konchuu Wars (Literally "Insect Wars"), the game was renamed Drone Tactics in Atlus's English version. The game at first appears to be pretty simple and downright easy, but further playing actually reveals quite a bit of depth in the game's designs, particularly the different drones' functions when thinking of a strategy.

The story is pretty typical: Two young school children named Yamato and Tsubasa find two small insects, a butterfly named Y-Ite and a rhino beetle named K-Buto. The insects came from a planet called Cimexus and were looking for human allies to save their home world from an impeding threat called the Black Swarm. The two children agree to help and head to Cimexus to fight the Black Swarm.

Along with superior graphics in terms of handheld games, this game also features high customizability of the Drones (the giant mechanized insects) you get to use, as well as decent music, passable gameplay and good difficulty (well, in the Badlands anyway).

But the main lure for this game is the sole fact that it lets you control teams of GIANT MECHA INSECTS!!

Tropes used include:

  • Animal Motifs: Downplayed but present. The human characters don't tend to physically resemble bugs, but they do tend to have personalities that in some way match the drones they pilot.
    • Japanese Beetle Brothers: Yamato The Hero and Shoya The Lancer. Yamato pilots a Rhinocerous Beetle drone and Shoya pilots a Stag Beetle drone. In the story, they have an archetypical Japanese hero-lancer dynamic to boot.
    • Firefly for Yui. In Japanese fiction, fireflies are usually portrayed as small, fragile, but beautiful beings associated with love (whether romantic or familial love), much like Yui.
    • Blade uses a pillbug drone, and is quite aptly a Boisterous Bruiser.
    • In Japanese culture, dragonflies are associated with supernatural stuffs and meditation, while Akane, who pilots a dragonfly drone, is a Miko in training.
    • In fiction, moths often mean bad omens, and Elisha IS someone that should be foretold by bad omens.
    • Hydel, the SUPERHERO ninja... who works for the Big Bad at first. There is absolutely no reason for a ninja to be included in the game, though it is quite fitting for a ninja to the partner of Jet-I the cockroach drone, since ninjas are just like cockroaches - fast, annoying, and attacking from afar.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: All the combat in this game revolves around giant mechanized insects. The smallest ones, Ants, are already bigger than trees. Also, they fight with turret guns, and various artillery and melee weapons.
  • Base on Wheels: Snail drones. They have relatively high HP, high armor to protect against physical damage (but zero Barrier against beam weapons), and a cannon equipped to it to provide some support fire. They travel using treads. It's also where all the drones are held and deployed at the start of a battle.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The MECHANIZED version of this is the central idea of the game.
    • Ant Assault: Ant drones are basically grunt units. You would most likely laugh at them by mid-game, at which point they'd be dealing Scratch Damage on your tougher drones like the rhino beetle. Until they start appearing equipped with beam fangs.
    • Bee-Bee Gun: Bee drones are flying melee units. They are fast and can hit reasonably hard. You should bee afraid of them when they are hovering above you while having stings as thick as streetlamp posts.
    • Cicadian Rhythm: Apparently used as a justification for why Cicada drones are extra effective up against other flying drones: their noises are especially disruptive if you're airbourne.
    • Creepy Centipedes: With treads instead of legs! These drones are grounded gun units with anti-air guns. They also have good barrier stats that allow them to tank a surprisingly amount of beam attacks. Flying units don't engage centipede drones unless they're suicidal.
    • Creepy Cockroach: Try to stomp on them when they are the size of a big house.
    • Dreadful Dragonfly: ... that look like attack helicopters! Mechanically, dragonfly drones are flying gun units with anti-ground guns.
    • Giant Spider: Spider drones are all-rounded units... whose stats are all above-average. It's surely lucky that the game has the drones being mechanized and uses an Anime-ish (rather than realistic) art style, huh? The Water Spider drones might also count.
    • Moth Menace: You know it's bad when the moths look like they are about to drop some cluster bombs. These drones are flying Mighty Glacier. They can also tear grounded units to bits with their anti-ground guns.
    • Pretty Butterflies: If you focus on firepower, butterfly drones are one of the less impressive drones... until you realize that they serve as Combat Medic that enhances the power of healing cards.
    • Scary Scorpions: The Final Boss's drone.
    • Slaying Mantis: Mantis drones are anti-air melee units that will tear any flying drone to shreds. However, they can still inflict serious punishments on grounded drones.
    • Thunder Beetle: The firefly drone is based on... well, fireflies. Like real-life fireflies, they have pretty, glowing tails. Unlike real-life fireflies, they can shoot freaking laser beam from the said tails. The other beetle drones also count when they are equipped with beam weapons.
    • Tough Beetles: The rhino beetle drone and the stag beetle drone are both melee powerhouses. The former has some of the best defense stats in the game, while also being able to dish out serious melee damage. The latter sacrifices a small amount of defense for greater movement.
  • BFG: Cannons. Ladybugs don't look so harmless anymore when you equip them with giant bazookas several times bigger then they are. And giant missiles too. And of course, there're the giant vulcans.
  • BFS: Sure, you can equip a giant horn onto your rhinoceros beetle, or a large stinger onto your Bee's stinger... but why choose those when you also have the option of attaching claymores, halberds, and giant axes in their places instead? Or perhaps a beam lance for those pesky armored enemies.
  • Brainwashed: Misaki of the Four Generals. Eventually, Shoya becomes brainwashed by the Black Swarm as well. The brainwashing is eventually lifted from both of them.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Elisha, the Token Mini-Moe of the Four Generals is made entirely of this trope.
  • Combat Medic: Butterflies. Their unique feature is the fact that they can double the effectiveness of healing cards. They have decent evasion and are good with guns, especially when you equip them with beam weapons. Though they most likely won't survive an one-on-one standoff against, say, a rhinoceros beetle, they're great for support.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: In this game you can carry a deck of cards into battle. The cards can have various effects, but are only single-use, so they're to be used wisely. To be fair, the computer have decks of their own to fight against you; To be unfair, later in the game whereas you only have one deck shared among your entire team, each and every single enemy drone HAS A FULL DECK ALL FOR THEMSELVES.
    • Also, it's nearly impossible to beat the computers in the minigames without breaking the DS in higher difficulties.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: EVERY character in the game that was once your enemy will eventually join you... except for the Big Bad.
  • Fragile Speedster: Downplayed for the Stag Beetle and the Spider. Their best stat is movement. Their other stats aren't really bad, but certainly not outstanding. Also played with by the Locust, who, while not having exceptional movement stat, has the unique ability to move again after attacking. This makes them in a lot of ways far more agile than either the Stag Beetle or the Spider.
  • Geo Effects: Different terrains can affect your movement, defense, and some even deals damage to you each turn.
  • Giant Mooks: As mentioned before, even the smallest drone in the game is a giant insect already. And then there are giant giant bugs, such as spiders, centipedes, and scorpions.
  • Glass Cannon: Drones specializing in cannons, such as Fire Flies and Lady Bugs, they're the two smallest drones in the game, but they can equip cannons more than 4-5 times their size. And for non-cannon drones, there're Mantis drones. They are described as anti-air melee units... but that doesn't stop them from also tearing ground units to shreds (just not as thoroughly). At the same time, they have ridiculously low armor, non-existent barrier, and average-low hp (which is bad for a melee unit).
  • Gratuitous Ninja: Hydel, the SUPERHERO ninja.
  • Hit-and-Run Tactics: The Locust drones use this. Their stats are so-so, but they have the special ability to move again after attacking, enabling them to survive many situations that most other drones would simply die to.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: The fight with the Four Generals in Chapter 11 is supposed to be this, and it is intended that you get to the retreat point rather than fight all four of them. It is possible for you to defeat them (and it doesn't require any excessive grinding, just a little bit of planning). But the game will still act like you've retreated anyways, and Yui will still be captured by the enemy.
  • Hunter of His Own Kind: The Cicada. It is a flying drone that is extra effective against flying drones (yes, even if facing another cicada). The other drones, when they're extra effective against either ground or air units, they're so against the units of the opposite class, the flying Moth being deadlier against ground units, the grounded Mantis being deadlier against air units, etc.
  • Insectoid Aliens: The drones are technically this.
  • Joke Weapon: Playing the Badlands will occasionally reward you with incredible equipment, including the plastic foot, the fake red lips, the umbrella, the Moai statue, and the concrete pipe with cat sleeping on top of it. Many of them are game breakers despite their silliness.
  • Lightning Bruiser: The Centipedes and the Scorpions.
  • Mighty Glacier: Played straight with Rhinoceros Beetles. Centipedes and Scorpions would have counted too, if not for the fact that they're freaking fast as well.
    • And then there are the Moths, who are FLYING Mighty Glaciers. They can kill bosses in a single hit if you use attack cards to support it, and they're the only flying drones that can take an Anti-Air attack point blank without dying.
  • Mook Maker: Subverted with factories. It looks like they are mook makers at first, sending out a near infinite streams of drones at you. But it turns out there are only a limited amount of drones inside the factories, and if you destroy one, you also kill all the drones inside.
  • Punny Name: All the drones' names are supposed to be a pun on certain words. It helps if you knew some Japanese. While many of the names are obvious puns (K-Buto = Rhinoceros Beetle, Dor-O = Snail, A-Geeto = Stag beetle, Y-Ite = White butterfly, Hopp-R = Locust, and Honey-B = KILLER bee), some are a little more obscure (Jet-I = Roach, R-Nej = Centipede, Kris-T = Moth, Nyght-R = Spider, Clove-R = Dragonfly).
  • Quirky Mini Boss Squad: The Four Generals to the Big Bad. The Subordinate Units are the Quirky Mini Boss Squad of the Four Generals.
  • Rule of Cool: One could argue that the game is practically run on this.
  • Shown Their Work: Well... Misaki did anyway, mainly towards spiders.
  • Stone Wall: Pillbugs. They have the highest HP and defense stats in the entire game, while being the slowest drones. But surprisingly enough, when you first meet these guys, they come off more as Mighty Glaciers. But their defense stat just rises much faster than their attack stat, and by mid-game, their attack stat will be quite a bit lower than those of the two beetles and the mantises.
    • The pillbugs are, however, quite vulnerable to beam attacks.
  • The Swarm: The Mooks use this tactic a lot, in particular the ants and the mosquitoes. Surprisingly averted for the Bee and the Locust, who generally don't do this.
  • Talking Animal: Talking normal sized insects... that transform into giant robotic talking insects.
  • They Called Me Mad!: The reason why Dr. Gidoh was the Big Bad in the first place.
  • Token Mini-Moe: On the good side, there's Yui, who also has one of the tiniest flying drones to boot, the Fire Fly. On the evil side, there's the above mentioned Elisha, who, ironically, has the one largest and most powerful flying drone in the game - a great moth.
  • Took A Level In Bad Ass: ANTS god damnit! Ants start off as the weakest of the weakest Mooks you can fight (though technically they're STILL Giant Mooks). They quickly become something you'd scoff at by mid-game, at which point the defense of many of your units could have reached such a high level that ants can at best inflict Scratch Damage on them. BUT after a certain point in the game, ants start appearing again... equipped with freaking BEAM FANGS. All your formerly invincible high-armor drones, like the oh-so-mighty Rhinocerous Beetle, start to get overwhelmed really easily, really fast, in front of those swarms and swarms of goddamn ants equipped with lightsabers in their mouths.
    • And then there're the mosquitoes. They start off as the flying equivalent of ants, but at the same time the ants start learning how to use beam fangs, mosquitoes learn how to self-destruct enmasse. When they do it, it hurts.
  • Translation Convention: Played straight. The characters in the story consist of humans from all around the world and talking alien insects. Everyone is speaking their OWN language all along, yet at the same time when they hear others talk, the words they speak come out as whatever language the listener understands best. Everyone doesn't notice this until it's lampshaded by Janie (an American) while she is talking to Yamato (a young Japanese boy who's unlikely to be anywhere near being able to converse in English). Professor Sakuma speculates that everyone can understand each other because of the Master Cards, but he doesn't reach a definite conclusion.
  • UST: Main characters Yamato and Tsubasa, although it looks like they might be resolved during the epilogue.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: If it's a bug that can be remotely described as "cute", "pretty", or "charming" (butterflies and bees, for instance), the heroes will have access to it as a unit, while the "creepier" bugs like water bugs, moths, cockroaches, spiders, and centipedes are enemy units. Though many of the latter do join your group later.
  • Why Did It Have To Be FREAKING GIANT BUGS: Considering the fact that a good deal of the main cast are children, and the game is filled with giant insects (mechanical ones with GUNS), this isn't surprising. For every single female cast member: cockroaches (more specifically Hydel's Jet-I), spiders, and centipedes invoke this trope. As for Yui, goddamn everything except for Hicar-I, her own drone.
  • Virtual Paper Doll: One of the features in this game is highly customizable Drones for you to use... You can even paint on them! And rename them!
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: By the end of the game, the entire party returns to Earth, only to realize that only 30 minutes have passed on Earth since they've been gone.