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Video Game / Einhänder

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Glory with the Moon. Mercy on the Earth.

A PlayStation 1 side-scrolling Shoot 'Em Up from SquareSoft. The player takes the role of an anonymous fighter pilot sent by the moon nation Selene to fight its war against Earth's forces, raiding its only city (called Sodom in the Japanese version). Initially armed with nothing but a weak machine gun, the fighter can nevertheless grab weapons called gunpods from enemies, including plain old cannons and missile launchers as well as a lightning gun and energy sword. What follows is a single small fighter cutting a huge swath through huge installations defended by endless numbers of aircraft and turrets.

Most likely, you have heard of this game because of how dissonant the game is compared to other series made by SquareSoft, since this is a rare case of SquareSoft doing something other than the RPG genre.

The composer (Kenichiro Fukui) for the game would later go on to compose songs in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, produce the theme song for Final Fantasy XII, and play as the keyboardist in The Black Mages, so you might have heard of this style before. The soundtrack from the game combines several genres (ranging from Techno to Rock) in unique ways that would be comparable to the likes of Yuki Kajiura. The most notable song from the game is "Shudder" (which would be the other reason you are here), which combines Fast Rap, Techno, Rock, and other genres all for the first few bosses in the game.

Surprisingly, Einhander itself appears in World of Final Fantasy as a mirage, and a monster with its name and primary gimmick appear as a boss in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. It also has cameos in Kingdom Hearts III as a custom Gummi ship as well as Schwarzegeist (and Monitor) being a Gummi Ship bonus boss.

Tropes used in Einhander:

  • 2½D: As mentioned below, one of your weapons can fire into the fore- or background, as well as enemies sometimes appearing from said locations. The game makes this clear in no uncertain terms in the opening mook force, which appears in the foreground, before spinning around and entering your 2d plane. Interestingly, the camera also spins back and forth in various angles relative to your craft, even as you stay in the same plane (so that you are looking from a rear 3/4ths view at one moment, and then from below and to the side in another moment. Several boss battles even have the camera pan before the boss uses some attack or another, not to mention many points in the levels themselves. You even get a short first person view point just before the first boss, but only if you didn't get Secret Bonus 3.
  • Ace Custom: The Einhander post-Time Skip has a few noticeable modifications, presumably to give it a better chance in space against Selene's forces.
  • Action Bomb: One of the enemies in stage 5. They don't attack on their own, but if given enough time, will self-destruct. Green-lined ones will explode into a plasma Sphere of Destruction, while the more dangerous red ones will explode into a starburst of projectiles.
  • After the End: The events of the game take place years after the great war; there's nothing on Earth but wasteland outside the Cyberpunk city. Gloriously showcased by taking the alternate route at Level 1. You descend through what seems to be a giant cavern underneath Gesetz' Megapolis. The scenery shifts from the bright, Blade Runner-esque city to a dark landscape littered by broken skyscrapers, presumably berserk automatons, and at one point, a presumably unexploded inter-planetary ballistic missile.
  • All There in the Manual: The only real indication to explain why the Earth forces speak German (otherwise, one could easily assume they only speak German in that part of the world), and where the capital city is located is because the instruction manual barely mentions that the city was built over the ruins of an autobahn. It also mentions briefly that Germany (or what's left of it) set up a One World Order after the bombs fell, while the defeated eventually became Selene.
  • Animal Mecha: The monkey mecha Ausf A Gestell, who is ironically not named after an animal.
  • Animal Motifs: Almost all the Earth forces are named after animals, including the bosses and Mini Bosses. The bosses and minibosses also share traits to the animal they're named after. And then there is also that deranged Humongous Mecha monkey...
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: The Riot weapon can pierce enemies' facial armour and hurt them directly, something which even the Flash cannot do (on certain enemies and bosses). Justified as it's an electrical weapon and fries them from the inside out.
  • Astral Finale: The final chapter and final battle takes place in space against Selene Forces.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Most of the minibosses and bosses can be defeated quickly if you know where to shoot them in. The same applies to larger enemies that can be defeated by shooting them in their engines and such.
  • Attack Pattern Alpha: Some bosses, particularly Stage 2 boss Spinne orders this.
    "Kampfformation D! Kampfformation D! Alle kampfstationen deine Ziel ist klar!" note 
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • The Mosquito gun pod, a Player-Guided Missile, sounds cool until you find out that the missile is guided by the fighter's movement.
    • The Python, although one of the most damaging weapons in the game, is shot out in a string of shots somewhat randomly controlled in opposition to the player's motion. As such, it is quite difficult to damage the enemy with it.
    • The Flash, which shoots a cool-looking purple beam that slices through everything (bypassing armor and still going after that) but the ammo is ridiculously rare AND limited in amount. Unless you unlock the secret ship that always comes with 9999 ammo with any gunpod.
  • Ax-Crazy: The ape Mini-Boss of Stage 5, Ausf. A Gestell, attacks your char like a deranged monkey: it frequently tries to swat the player's ship, and if knocked down, throws a crate at the player (similar to a certain ape). Befittingly enough, the background music when you fight it is called "Madness".
  • Balance, Power, Skill, Gimmick: The Einhander ships:
    • Astraea Mk.I is Power, being able to use two gunpods at the same time, allowing players to lay down the hurt.
    • Endymion Mk.II is Balance, being able to carry three different gunpods for added versatility.
    • Endymion Mk.III is Skill, carrying only one gunpod but compensating with a double standard machinegun, where carefully choosing a gunpod will either help or hamper you.
    • Schabe is Gimmick, gaining more and more firepower the more gunpods you collect.
  • Bilingual Bonus: All the enemies from stages 1-6 speak in German. If you know the language, you can understand that they're trying to kill you. Most of the dialogue, however, is incomprehensible due to sound effects and alarms that go off when they talk.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Einhander pilot succeeds in ending the Forever War by virtue of wiping out the majority of both sides' militaries. However, both Earth and Selene promptly erase all mentions of the protagonist from the record, with only those who fought and survived the conflict knowing the truth.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Neither Earth nor Selene are seen as good people as they both run on lies towards the other side. The "Black" side in question is not Earth but Selene, due to being the aggressor of World War III and the aggressor 100 years later.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: Subverted in that The Stinger shows that the player character actually wins against the army.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • The Spreader can fall into this. Like the grenade, it is one of the two weapons that can shoot backwards; they are the only two weapons that can effectively fight the Stage 3 Boss, Gustaff, who is prone to try shooting you from behind. Also, like the Cannon example above, getting real close to the enemy can result in some terrifying rates of fire. Even better, nearly the entirety of Stage 4 includes massive amounts of mooks and later, tight corridors, a role that a spread-shot weapon is really suited for.
    • The Grenade gunpod. It does the most damage-per-shot out of all the weapons in the game, but it has an arcing projectile and hence, slightly more difficult to land accurate shots with. Then again, due to its low ammo, it's better used on bosses and mini-bosses anyway, and so accuracy is much less important. One more thing, though; it can fire backwards too, which is real handy to fight Gustaff with (see above).
    • Your humble Vulcan. Widely available and can reliably destroy your standard mooks. Combined with the Endymion Mk. III's double standard guns, it can do some serious damage over time.
  • Boss-Altering Consequence: Secret Point Three on Stage Four will allow you to cause a nuclear meltdown by either destroying a reactor or destroying an enemy that will crash into it. When you Outrun the Fireball, the Sturmvogel boss who shows up to deal with you will have a cosmetically burnt and damaged shell because it was caught in the blast, whereas it will be shiny if you didn't destroy the reactor.
  • Boss Warning Siren: The game gives a warning that is themed into the level. For example, in the first level, after fighting your way through the city, the police decide that they can't take you down, so they follow behind you like a low speed chase, keeping their sirens going while they basically escort you right towards the first boss. Following bosses might have klaxons sounding off to indicate that the boss is powering up and becoming mechanically operational, or have someone over a PA system order for another boss to scramble and prepare for battle.
  • Breakable Weapons: While attached to your ship, the gun pods can gradually collect damage from collisions and enemy fire and eventually be destroyed if replacements are not collected. The ship's bare manipulator arm, on the other hand, is completely indestructible.
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: The Bad End implies that the EOS fighters really did come to assist you and were actually late.
  • Cavalry Betrayal: Your relief force of EOS fighters become this at the end.
  • Charged Attack: The Riot gun pod.
  • Chicken Walker: The Star (Starling) and Panzerstar (Armored Starling) enemies, as well as the boss Sturmvogel (Thunderbird). Fridge Brilliance when you consider that they are named after birds in German.
  • Climax Boss: Schwarzgeist, or Black Ghost, the stage 6 boss.
  • Collision Damage: Double-subverted. Your ship does not get destroyed when you contact a hard surface, but will if you continue pushing into it.
  • Combination Attack: The Mini-Boss of Stage 3, Gecko, fires a laser at a Mook, who reflects and amplifies it into a huge laser.
  • Combining Mecha: Sturmvogel and its armor attachment.
  • Cores-and-Turrets Boss: Not a boss, but the turret train cars in Stage 2 qualify. To beat them, destroy their control towers and ignore the turrets. However, you can get two secret bonuses if you shoot down enough turrets before destroying the control tower.
  • Continuing is Painful: With the Schabe.
  • Crapsack World: Almost all of Earth has been reduced to wasteland due to World War III, and Selene isn't doing too well either due to running out of resources that are only available on Earth. The only "civilized" places you see are Sodom and the large underground base/power plant leading to Stratagem's mass driver. And the city doesn't fare too well: there's a long shot during Stage 1 of an holographic ad for gas masks, complete with a creepy electronic laugh.
  • Dark Reprise: The track "Conflict" is a dark reprise of "Dawn". Dawn is a fast-tempo, somewhat hectic techno piece that picks up quickly as you assault the enemy's launch base while mooks swarm you. Conflict instead starts in a calm, almost ambient trance, before Dawn's leitmotif plays. Slowly, the tempo picks up to be the same, and later, even faster than Dawn. Notably, the stretch where Conflict plays has the game's most crowded screen-filling throngs of enemies.
  • Deadly Walls: A downplayed version. See the Collision Damage example above.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist:
    • You lose the equipped gun pod at death, but by choosing a starting gun pod, you can get them with increased damage in your continuation.
    • Subverted by the Schabe, which can't kill anything stronger than a Mook without a lot of gun pods collected. And it gets reset to level 0 each time it gets destroyed...
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: The Vulcan gun pod is weaker than the standard machine gun, though it does have More Dakka.
  • Determinator: Gesetz, whatever it is they want with their Stratagem rocket, will not give up. When Einhander storms their launchpad and reinforcments are on their way to help them, Gesetz rushes the launch while Ausf D Durer buys some time. When the launch is successful but Einhander manages to blow off Stratagem's rocket boosters, the rocket uses it's momentum to align itself and fire Schwarzgeist in low orbit. Then, if you destroy the correct part of Schwarzgeistnote  before destroying it, Schwarzgeist launches Monitor as a last ditch effort.
  • Developer's Foresight: Half the replay value is finding out all the secrets the game offers, but mostly, it's finding what attack patterns the bosses don't have. There are repertoires for just about any conceivable scenarios, including loss of specific weapons and armor, as well as movement/location. For example Gecko, Stage 3's mid-boss, will fire airburst depth charges to ward you off if you try to outsmart it by taking refuge directly above it. Even better, nearly each boss can be "time-outed", and some bosses have a unique Villain: Exit, Stage Left animation. For example, the Stage 5 Humongous Mecha boss Ausf. D Dürer will go to the background and fire a flashbang grenade, before literally jumping off the boss fight stage. There is a boss that can only be fought if you destroy a specific part of the penultimate boss. The game has a special soundtrack just for that case.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: Some of the weapons are this:
    • The Hedgehog gunpod. It's a bomb/airburst depth charge launcher that only shoots up or down. There are those select times where you are either pinned to one side of the screen or can abuse a Boss's weak point, which are often directly on top of it. This gunpod is made just for that occasion. Also, it has plenty of ammo and can rapid fire its depth charges, making for a curtain of long-lasting wide explosions for your enemies to run into.
    • The same goes for the Blade, which is essentially a lightsaber for your ship - obviously, it has VERY limited range, but a very skilled player can turn it into Hell for standard enemies and boss parts. Try performing the Shoryuken motion (forward, down, forward) motion and the Blade will extend itself to the whole length of the screen, and waving it around by pressing the arm position change button on the Endymion models will make it slice and dice enemies.
    • Strangely enough, the most powerful weapons at your disposal appear to be your ship's engines (fired behind you when you change the speed of the fighter) and the manipulator arm you use to pick up weapons.
  • Direct Continuous Levels: For levels 1-6. Your craft is shown heading to its next destination while Hyperion directs you to your next objective.
  • The Enemy Weapons Are Better: All player ships are equipped with a default machine gun that just does chip damage if you run out of any other weapons. Most of the weapon Gunpods you can obtain in the game are all from Earth Forces including the powerful Flash and Grenade, although you can start out provided with said weapons once you manage to find them. Subverted, technically, as it turns out the EOS forces use the same gunpods. In addition, the secret ship Schabe varies: it only has a machine gun but it gets more powerful as gunpods are absorbed, and depending on the enemy pattern or boss, it's either very good or very poor.
  • Energy Weapon: Mini-Boss Gecko loves to use this one a lot.
  • Enforced Cold War: Both Earth and Selene are actively keeping the Forever War going, as it justifies their continued existence. Unfortunately for either regime, the protagonist's survival throws a wrench at the status quo.
  • Exact Words: The protagonist can pull this off against the first boss, who tells them "Dies ist eine Warnung! Entladen Sie alle Ihre Waffen!" (This is a warning! Unload all your weapons!). Cue protagonist unloading all their weapons into the boss.
  • Exclusive Enemy Equipment: Subverted. While all gunpods initially need to be obtained from enemies, you can start out with said gunpods in your loadout once you manage to obtain them once.
  • Featureless Protagonist: The game doesn't reveal any information about the Einhänder pilots, save for the name of two of them if you unlock their illustrations in the gallery. It's Ralph Cunnigham and Myriem Cleve.
  • The Federation: Gesetz (Sodom in Japan)
  • Forever War: Neither Earth or Selene want an end to the conflict. It's like a page from Nineteen Eighty-Four: the perpetual war is what allows leadership of both nations to remain in power and maintain the status quo. This the reason why Selene wants no survivors from their suicide missions to return home (they know the Earth isn't a paradise at all) and why, even after the conflict actually ends, the Einhander's actions are erased from history.
  • Gatling Good: Your ship's basic machine gun, the Vulcan, and the Juno all fit into this. Especially the latter two.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Garnele, the Stage 2 mid-boss, will explode behind one of the background rocks you can sometimes see during the battle, but only if you kill it by destroying it's "head".
  • Guns Akimbo: The first Sub-Boss, Greif. The Astraea fighter allows the player to wield two gunpods simultaneously.
  • Gratuitous English: The folks of Selene speak a slightly mangled kind of English, even if they are correctly pronounced.
    "Received telegram from conduct satellite Hyperion. Order the following operation. The armored train is spotted leaving the city on their way to the east. Pursue them, and locate the enemy supply route."
  • Gratuitous German: Meanwhile, German becomes Earth's global language. Starting with the federation being called "Gesetz" (German for "Law")...
    "Achtung! Einhänder kommt! Drei sekunden bis kontakt!" note 
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: The epilogue mentions that both the Earth Forces and Selene have deleted every record of the protagonist's existence and endeavours. Only "those who actually fought and were wounded in the war know the name of 'EINHÄNDER'."
  • Headshots Kill Robots: Played straight almost all the time — opponents have a glowing green spot that happens to be the weak-armoured cockpit, and that spot is usually the head. Destroying it will destroy the Mook/Miniboss/Boss. But it's not universal; in the case of Gecko, the weak spot is the bottom; for Schwarzgeist, it's the middle section. The Sturmvogel's weakpoint, meanwhile, is not the "head" of the Boss, it's the armor that combines with it.
  • Heavily Armored Mook: The enemy in stage 2 called "Star" (Starling in German) returns as a tougher-to-beat armored version in stage 5 called "Panzerstar" (Armoured Starling). Exaggerated with the Sturmvogel, which is also named after a bird ("thunderbird", literally). The boss not only looks like a large, scaled up Star unit with additional armaments, it actually has a Mecha Expansion Pack armor which is the real target.
  • Heel–Face Turn: As an initial Villain Protagonist, you pull this off once you find out the moon forces declare that you are no longer needed once you complete stage 6.
  • Helpful Mook: The Accidentally Assisting type, they are your source of ammo.
  • High-Altitude Battle: Stage 6 has your ship fly near outer space in order to destroy a large, presumably combat-capable space shuttle before it can deliver its payload. After you do destroy its boosters, it performs a last-ditch effort and launches the satellite anyway. Cue the Boss Battle. And if you destroy the satellite in a certain way, you have to face a smaller satellite miniboss it launches out too.
  • Homing Projectile: The Wasp weapon, which can home in on enemies in the background and foreground. The side weapon of the Schabe when it collects a wasp will also home in on enemies, background targets and foreground targets alike.
  • Hot Blade: Salamander's blade tail heats itself up when it uses it to attack.
  • Hover Mecha: The first miniboss Greif is a robot with a hovership instead of legs. It's named after Griffin in German, oddly fitting since a griffin is half lion and half eagle.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Both Earth's and especially Selene's leaders show humanity's warlike nature, the selfish lies they spread to their people, and how they aren't above throwing away lives for the latter.
  • Humongous Mecha: Earth forces just love them, but special mention goes to Hyperion, who wouldn't be out of place in a Gundam show down to the paint job.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: Destroy both of Greif's weapons and he'll whip out a laser cannon to replace them.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: Astraea Mk.II, one of the secret fighters; it functions like the default Astraea Mk.I, but starts with 9999 ammo for both gun pods. Now arm it with the rare gun pods, Juno and Flash...
  • It's a Wonderful Failure: If you lose the battle against the Stratagem Spacecraft in Stage 6 by running out of time, your fighter starts to power down and you fall to the Earth, as a swarm of police fighters are heard opening fire on your ship. And after hearing a brief narration from your pilot, you get a creepy Non Standard Game Over screen with a shot of a pilot's helmet laying on the ground cracked, while this depressing music plays.
  • It's Up to You: Subverted. While the intro animation only shows a single fighter, Selene actually sent a team of fighters. You can assume that they're off doing their own thing while you do yours.
    • Played straight at the end of Stage 6 while pursuing Stratagem. Hyperion tells you that your reinforcments won't make it in time and you alone will have to destroy Stratagem and later Schwarzgeist.
  • Kaizo Trap:
    • Greif, the Stage 1 miniboss, will still take potshots at you if it's beaten by destroying it's hover part. He even tries it once while offscreen.
    • The submarine that appears before the Mini-Boss in Stage 4. If you "defeat" it the conventional way by destroying the body, its cockpit will detatch from its body, and fire out a very deadly spray of rapid shots.
    • Salamander, the Miniboss of Stage 4 itself. When defeated, it will flail its arms about like a drowning guy... and these can still collide with and kill you.
    • Sturmvogel and Ausf D Durer, the Stage 4 and 5 bosses, have one of their attacks consisting of a rain of projectiles (arcing energy balls for the former, missiles for the later) with the last shot delayed by several seconds compared to the other. The former at least gives you a hint about it while firing as one of its projectiles has a much wider arc.
    • Successfully defeating Schwarzgeist will award you with the mission clear screen. Destroy it a certain way, however, and you get treated with a full blown midboss called Monitor. While Monitor is weak, it is fast and throws you quite the bullet curtain. Naturally, losing to it means you have to destroy the whole boss again.
  • Killer Yoyo: Gustav has one razor yoyo-like device on each shoulder. He can send them out to attack you, and they can be destroyed.
  • Kill Sat: Two of 'em. On crack. The "final" level is about stopping the first from reaching Selene. The second is your heretofore unseen commanding satellite, which resembles a Humongous Mecha more than anything else.
  • King Mook: Sturmvogel is basically a huge, armored version of the "Star" mooks you've fought in the second stage as well as the "Panzerstar" mooks you fight in the stage after beating it.
  • La Résistance: Selene really isn't this. It's revealed to be The Empire before the final stage. It's also mentioned, however, that the Einhander pilot meets up with an actual resistance group seeking to put a stop to the war. They help in making the ship ready to take on Selene.
  • Laser Blade: The Blade weapon.
  • Lethal Joke Character: Schabe, the other secret fighter, has nothing but a machine gun, but picking up gun pods will upgrade it as well as it's current gunpod. While the Schabe might seem weaker compared to the basic Einhanders (e.g. it does not have any defenses whatsoever), it gains a different secondary fire as different gunpods are collected to level it up. At level 20, not only Schabe has four default machine guns, but if happens to pick up a Wasp or Mosquito gunpod... hoo boy, it gains INFINITE HOMING SHOTS OF DOOM!
  • Long Song, Short Scene: Invoked with the Stage 6 song "Impatience"; it runs around 3 minutes, but any sufficiently skilled player can get to the Schwarzgeist boss fight before it ends. You don't have time to listen to it fully, since it's the exact amount of time it takes for the Stratagem Spaceship to leave the atmosphere.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: You can do this by using the wasp weapon. Stage 4 boss Sturmvogel also uses this on you.
  • Man Versus Machine: At the end of the game, your human-controlled Endymion/Astrea fighter faces off against the AI-controlled Selene EOS fighters with AI based on your battle data. The winner is Man.
  • Maniac Monkeys: Sub-Boss Ausf A Gestell is a killer mecha ape that fights aggressively.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Most of the bosses and sub-bosses are named after fantastic and real animals:
    • Your ship, nicknamed Einhander (one-handed sword)by the German-speaking Gesetz, has a single arm-like extension that can equip different gunpods. The shape of the ship itself vaguely suggests a hand, with the turbines, wings, and the manipulator arm being the fingers. Both the cover of the game and the intro narration refferences this.
    • Selene takes an awful lot of names from Greek mythology:
      • Their name itself comes from the Greek goddess of the moon.
      • Astraea was the goddess of innocence and purity who fled to the stars after witnessing Man's wickedness.
      • Endymion was a human shepherd or astronomer who, after Selene above fell for him was plunged into an eternal sleep by Zeus so he'll never die.
      • Eos, the fleet of A.I. fighters coming to rescue you but not really is named after the goddess of dawn.
      • Hyperion, your command satellite and Final Boss is named after the Titan that fathered Selene and Eos above.
  • Mecha Expansion Pack: When it's low on health, Sturmvogel calls in a huge armored attachment to merge with it, starting the second part of the bossfight.
  • Mile-Long Ship: Stratagem is colossal for what looks like a cross between a space shuttle and a rocket; you ship is smaller than it's auxillary exhaust ports. One can theorize that it was made to act as a spatial command center to attack the Moon, judging by all the weapons and mooks on-board.
  • Mini-Boss: Each level has at least one (Greif, Garnele, Gecko, Salamander, Ausf A Gestell) while Stage 4 has another in the large submarine.
  • Mook Maker:
    • The military train cars in the second stage spawn lots of small shooting drones and attack vehicles. Its locomotive part, Spinne, has a dedicated arm to launch small fighter jets at you.
    • Your welcoming committee to Stage 4's underground Naval Warfare Research and Supply Facility are waves upon waves of fighter aircraft. Later, you come across a submersible carrier that is responsible for launching said fighters.
    • The Strategem Spacecraft has the ability to spawn flying mooks which you can kill enough of for a Special Bonus.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Spinne, the train car with four weapons attached to its arms. There's a good reason why it's named "Spider" in German.
  • Nicknaming the Enemy: "Einhander" is actually the name given to your fighter by the Earth Forces. Its "real" name is either "Astraea" or "Endymion".
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Salamander can best be described as a "Stingray submarine with arms that hangs onto monkey bars", a tail that can heat itself into a swinging blade, and it has a kickass Wave-Motion Gun-esque water cannon that can make even Metal Gear RAY green with envy.
  • Nintendo Hard: Short though it may be, this game is hard, in no small part due to your ship being a One-Hit-Point Wonder. Having limited ammo makes the game even harder than it needs to be, unlike other shoot-em-ups where you usually have unlimited ammo.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: Allowing the timer to expire at the start of stage 6 causes your ship to shut down and plummet to Earth, where it is immediately set upon by German forces. The game ends here even if you have extra lives remaining.
  • Not the Intended Use: Your ship's exhaust and manipulator arm are meant to be supportive abilities, yet clever and skilled players can also use them to damage enemies and block shots. More often than not, they're even stronger than your gunpods.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder:
    • Get hit by anything, you will explode. Oddly, the walls and floor will not kill you. Not instantly, that is...
    • Your gunpods can absorb a limited amount of damage for you before they are destroyed. If you are skilled and/or lucky enough, you can even use the bare manipulator arm to block attacks, and the arm itself is indestructible. This is reflected by the color of the equipped gunpod's background. Green means it has a healthy amount of HP. Yellow means it is damaged. Red means it is about to break, and the weapon itself should blink red. Acquiring the same gunpod will restore its life immediately.
    • The Schwarzgeist fires a large burst of missiles at you. If your arm is empty, you can go into the top left corner, hold up and left, and block all 20-odd missiles which will hit the arm and explode but not do any actual damage do you.
  • One-Hit Polykill:
    • The Cannon Gunpod will penetrate weaker enemies and is hence able to destroy groups of them.
    • The Flash and the Riot both fire a penetrating laser and lightning attack respectively.
  • One-Man Army - By the end of the game, you've single-handedly ended the war by shooting down anything that can fight. On BOTH sides. And lived.
  • Outrun the Fireball: If you get Secret Point 3 during Stage 4 (causing one of the flying enemies to crash on the nuclear reactor below, causing it to go haywire), you end up going up a tunnel with the explosion just behind you. Then right before the boss, the entire thing goes up and you begin the boss fight exiting a giant pillar of fire. Badass. There's also a rewarding detail: if you fight the regular form of Sturmvogel, it's paint job is shiny smooth. If you unlock Secret Point 3, the boss's body will be burnt and (cosmetically) damaged.
  • Pacifist Run: It's possible to play through much of the game without ever firing a shot, especially when most bosses will eventually retreat. The exception is the Hyperion, however, as it will eventually fire an unavoidable Wave-Motion Gun blast.
  • Palette Swap: The first boss, Drache, has two versions. The one you go up against depends on whether you unlock the secret bonus while fighting the Greif — he's normally green, but is blue if you got the secret bonus. By the way, the blue version can randomly spawn a Juno, a very powerful big brother variant of the Vulcan.
  • Player-Guided Missile: The Mosquito is a powerful missile whose movement is controlled by the player. Since this is a game where much dodging is required, it becomes Awesome, but Impractical.
  • Power Equals Rarity: The Flash, Juno, Python, and Mosquito can only be obtained very few times per playthrough, although the latter two are Awesome, but Impractical due to their weird trajectory and control scheme respectively.
  • Precision F-Strike: Shudder, one of the boss themes, has two. This is especially jarring considering pretty much no Square games have had them, and also the fact that the game is rated E. The part of the song in question is actually from something else (Warning, contains multiple F-Bombs!).
  • Prepare to Die: Ausf D Durer, the Stage 5 Boss.
    "Du wirst sterben." note 
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: With the exception of Schwarzgeist and Hyperion, all bosses taunt the player in German before attacking.
    Greif: "Lande nach anweisung von boden, und schießen Sie nicht auf!"note 
    Drache: "Dies ist eine warnung! Entladen sie alle ihre waffen!"note 
    Garnele: "Ich schicke dich zur Hölle! Sterb, du feigling!"note 
    Spinne: "Kampf Formation D! Kampf Formation D! Alles fertig machen zum kampf der Klasse A!"note 
    Gecko: "Einbrecher entdeckt! Einbrecher entdeckt! Ortung! Beseitigen!"note 
    Gustav: "Willkommen. Hier findest du nur dein grab."note 
    Salamander: "Schnell auftauchen! Schnell auftauchen! Vorbereitung auf luftangriff!"note 
    Sturmvogel: "B-Gruppe abwerfen! B-Gruppe ist gelandet! B-Gruppe unterstutzung!"note 
    Ausf A Gestell: "Hier ist P-Funf! Einhander am sechzehnten geraten gefunden! Uberlass sie mir, gefahrlich nicht!"note 
    Ausf D Durer: "Du wirst sterben!"note 
  • Protagonist Without a Past: The Japanese version includes images of two pilots; they were removed in the English version.
  • Putting on the Reich: Rather subtle and not as obvious, but the Earth gives this impression, though the swastikas are replaced by stylized eyes.
  • Reporting Names: "Einhänder" is the Earth forces' name for your fighter. Its "real" name is either "Astraea" or "Endymion", depending on the specific model you're flying.
  • Rewarding Vandalism:
    • Aside from enemy Mooks, there are some containers that hold gun pods inside.
    • You also get Tech Points added to your score by destroying the environment, such as the neon signs in the first level, or causing a nuclear meltdown by shooting some support struts located above a reactor and letting gravity do the rest.
    • Certain special weapons can be acquired by destroying certain parts of the enemy. Part of the fun in playing the game is seeing just how far you can strip the bosses naked. The Ausf A Gestell has about 20-some separate weapon and armor points you can remove before you destroy it or run out of time and move on. It just looks like a bare-bones frame when you're done. You can acquire the Flash gunpod if you allow it to kick enough boxes at you in the process.
    • Destroying all the signs near the end of the first level will allow you to net an early Riot pickup, which is useful for beating Greif in just the right way to get the alternate path.
  • Rhyming with Itself: "Shudder" rhymes "black man" with "Dutch man".
  • Robeast: Drache, the first boss, seems to fit. The background story notes that its AI emulates beasts' behaviors. Hence why the robot roars when you defeat it. Ausf A Gestell, the mad ape mecha which roars in its intro, every time it's knocked down, and upon death.
  • Rollerblade Good: Ausf D Durer, the Stage 5 boss.
  • Secondary Fire: The Wasp gun pod can be switched from regular rockets to guided missiles.
  • Sequential Boss:
    • After Drache's "head" is destroyed, it then raises up, walking backwards and attacking with its actual weaskpot.
    • Once Gecko takes enough damage to blow off its gun attachments, it changes its attack pattern.
    • Salamander initially attacks the player from the water, but once it takes enough damage, it will emerge from the water while hanging onto the bars above.
    • Once Sturmvogel suffers enough damage, it calls in a Mecha Expansion Pack armor attachment to provide extra firepower.
    • Ausf D Duerer begins to use its diverging stream laser once both its arm weapons have been shot off.
    • If beaten in a certain way, Schwarzgeist sends out the Monitor which you will have to fight as well.
  • Shock and Awe: The Riot weapon is some form of lightning gun.
  • Shout-Out: The Schwarzgeist resembles the second boss from the Super Famicom shmup Macross: Scrambled Valkyrie in terms of both design and attack patterns.
  • Shown Their Work: The player is operating in the heart of enemy territory and military communication often sounds terse compared to common speaking. The point is to relay precise information as quickly and in few words as possible to avoid enemy detection or jamming. Due to the repeated use of the words "telegram" and "satellite", the info is being sent in short bursts for the same reason... just like Real Life military teletype communications.
  • Simple, yet Awesome: The Cannon gunpod. It's the most simplistic gunpod compared to the more flashy stuff, firing a single powerful shot forwards as the most basic of attacks. It's also got a pretty solid firing rate, ammo is plentiful, and its damage is pretty good. As long as the bullet has disappeared from the screen, you can fire another round. This can lead to some terrifyingly high rates of continuous fire if you get up and close to the enemy. Even better, the Cannon pierces through lesser enemies, and a particular section in Stage 2 has mooks lining up, as if begging to be shot by the Cannon.
  • Smoke Out: The Stage 5 boss does this if you take too long to fight him.
  • Space Zone: Some levels have multi-directional scrolling, but the fighters can't turn around.
  • Sphere of Destruction: The hedgehog creates miniature variants that do continuous damage to enemies unlucky enough to touch them.
  • Spider Tank: The Sub-Boss Gecko.
  • Spread Shot: The Spreader gunpod fires a burst of 5 shots in a spread pattern. The accumulated damage on single targets is capped at 3 shots, so hitting an enemy with all 5 shots does the same damage as 3 shots hitting. Because its firing rate is only limited to One Bullet at a Time, however, and its gunpods are quite common, there is nothing quite as deadly as the player unleashing a rapid-fire torrent of Spreader shots on single targets at point-blank range.
  • Stage One Nuke: Three of them in fact. Destroy all weapon carriers before the gas-mask advert and then destroying all the billboards will reward you with the Riot gunpod-carrying mook. Taking the alternate route by destroying Greif's floater unit can award you with a second Riot gunpod. Later, assuming you take the alternate route, the pallette-swapped Drache can spawn an even rarer Juno autocannon.
  • The Stinger: A post-credits scene shows an Einhander fighter powering up, implying that the player succeeded in destroying the entirety of the Selene nation and survived.
  • Stock Sound Effects: "Shudder" uses a part of the rap from a stock rap, "Masterbits Rapsody Vocals 2 Climax 9".
  • Suicide Mission: The Astraea/Endymion are on kamikaze missions to basically damage the forces of the Earth as much as possible before dying — which makes sense when you think about it. It IS a SHMUP, you're probably going to die at least once in the gameplay itself. The only problem is, you actually survive.
  • Suspicious Videogame Generosity: Not only some stretches before boss fights generously provide you with gunpods, but even if you die, the game will always provide you with some sort of gunpod-carrying mooks. Of course, these mooks can and do kill players regularly. Exaggerated again in the Stage 7 before the final boss, where every enemy carries two gunpods at once.
  • Tank-Tread Mecha: Third boss Gustav has triangular tank treads instead of legs. It can fold itself into them and roll around the cramped arena space.
  • Theme Naming:
    • Almost all of the Mooks (including bosses) are named in German. In particular, some of them are named after World War 2 tank naming convention in German. An example would be Stage 5's miniboss and boss, SPKB-06 Ausführung A "Gestell" and SPKB-07 Ausführung D "Dürer", and Stage 3's boss, "PR-01 Gustav".
    • Following the tank theme naming above, the rest of the Earth Federation's units are named after animals... in German.
    • In sharp contrast, Selene's forces are named after figures and deities in Greco-Roman mythology.
  • Threat Backfire: Drache threatens the player's ship with "This is a warning! Unload all your weapons/ammunition immediately!" in German. Since you immediately face him after that, the player does just that by unloading all their weapons/ammo into its face.
  • Timed Mission: The battle against the rocket in stage 6; failing to destroy both engines before time runs out will net you a Non Standard Game Over.
  • Time-Limit Boss:
    • All the bosses save for one will quit attacking after a certain point of time. If you "beat" them this way, you will lose out on boss repulse points.
    • The final boss, Hyperion, can't be stalled out this way, though; take too long to defeat it and instead of giving up, it will fire an unavoidable blast of its Wave-Motion Gun at you.
  • Time Skip: After the battle with Schwarzgeist, the game's narrative skips one month later, in which the final battle with Hyperion, the EOS fighters, and Selene occurs.
  • Title Drop: During the game's opening narration.
    There was a time, in the era of great chaos, when the Earth and the Moon were at war with each other. A daredevil from the moon piloted a bizarre aircraft. It was feared, and because of its shape, called...Einhander.
  • Traintop Battle: Stage 2.
  • Unperson: In the ending, both Selene and the Earth Forces delete every record of the protagonist's existence and endeavours. Only "those who actually fought and were wounded in the war know the name of 'EINHÄNDER'."
  • Upgrade vs. Prototype Fight: Your human-piloted Endymion/Astrea v.s. a whole squad of the unmanned EOS fighters that you were gathering battle data for. You win.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: With the right weapons and timing, you can keep shooting off Ausf A. Gestell's parts until it becomes crippled from losing its arms or feet. The attack where it throws a crate at you gets reduced to it pathetically kicking it at you if you remove one hand.
  • Villain Protagonist: The backstory reveals that the moon colony Selene (who you fight for) is the aggressor that caused World War III and has returned to attack Earth after 100 years of peace to obtain a dwindling resource. They're also not above offing you once you've completed your mission, which causes the player's Heel–Face Turn.
  • Wall Crawl: Gecko does this, true to its name.
  • Waterfront Boss Battle: Salamander, the amphibious stingray submarine with a pair of arms. It attacks you from the water during the first half of the fight... after which it gets out of the water to attack you while hanging from two bars above.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: A LOT of them. See all of them here.
  • Weaponized Exhaust: The rocket chase sequence on stage 6. Touch the exhaust and you're fried in an instant. It also fries mooks too. The Player Character has this too — every time you change speed, you fire out a burst of exhaust which can actually do very decent damage to anything unlucky enough to be behind you.
  • Wham Episode: Selene is revealed to be The Empire all along at the end of the game, and they decide to pull a You Have Outlived Your Usefulness on you.
  • Wham Line: After you defeat Schwarzgeist in Stage 6, you get this message.
    "Received a telegram from Hyperion: Enemy threat removed by your heroic attempt. The battle pattern of the latest E.O.S. unmanned fighter has been completed according to the data from your battle record. For your meritorious deed, you are honored to be selected as the target of the last E.O.S. test. Congratulations. After your death, you will advance two classes and be awarded the sirius decoration. Glory with the Moon. Mercy on the Earth."
  • World War III: Part of the game's backstory.
  • You Have No Chance to Survive: At the very last stage, Hyperion transmits one message for the protagonist ordering them to stand down. It's the only boss taunt throughout the entire game that's in English:
    "Received a telegram from Hyperion. You are committing a major act of treason. Remove your armaments promptly then surrender. Repeat, you are...."
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Hyperion pulls this on you at the end of Mission 6. Considering that you were actually sent on a suicide mission...


Video Example(s):


Einhander (Ausf De Gestell)

This mid-boss from Einhander's 5th stage certainly isn't monkeying around with your destruction.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / AnimalMecha

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