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Video Game / Metal Max
aka: Metal Saga

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A console RPG series developed by Crea-tech and published by Data East, taking place in a Mad Max style post-apocalyptic world, with a healthy dose of Cattle Punk thrown in for good measure. The player takes on the role of a young bounty hunter, cleaning up criminals and monsters and learning about the world.

The overall premise is that it's about 100 years or so after the Great Destruction, and the wasteland is an okay place to-oh wait, wrong game. While its post-apocalyptic adventure setting does share some similarities to the Fallout series, namely turn-based combat, open world and open-ended gameplay, and the Cattle Punk themes, this series actually precedes that by about 6 years, the first iteration coming out on the SNES, and brings in the element of locating and acquiring tanks that you can then upgrade with equipment such as main cannons, engines, sub guns, and armor to battle tougher enemies.

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The backstory of the series focuses around an apocalyptic event called the "Great Destruction." Details are unclear, but what is known is that the Great Destruction was started by a massive supercomputer named Noah who was originally built by humanity to save the world from environmental catastrophes. Noah, after running countless simulations and attaining sentience, decided that the best way to save the planet was to destroy the ones responsible for causing said environmental catastrophes...which happened to be humanity so one can guess where it went from there. A century later, after Noah's defeat, civilization has rebuilt itself in the ruins of the world, which, in the wake of the apocalypse, has changed into a new, and dangerous, frontier with threats such as murderous robots, homicidal military equipment left over from before the Great Destruction, psychopathic bandits, and...giant knife-wielding fruit. Yeah, it's that kind of game. At the forefront of humanity's survival efforts are bounty hunters (simply called "Hunters") who confront these threats head-on in hopes of collecting the lofty bounties posted on the more powerful and dangerous threats. Thankfully, there's plenty of tanks and other forms of heavy firepower left over from the Old World to make use of.

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In all the games, the player takes the role of a young Hunter who ventures out into the world to take down various bounties, though the overall plot can differ depending on the game. All of them are open world RPG's however, with very nonlinear plots that aren't completely mandatory to follow through (and, in some cases, may be completely missed unless you know what you're doing) though each game has at least one main plot that leads to a canon ending. As mentioned above, another major trait of the series is the use of tanks and other vehicles to battle your enemies, which can be obtained by buying them, completing quests for them, obtaining them from defeated enemies, or by simply finding them with a metal detector and digging them out of the desert.


The games in the series thus far:

  • Metal Max (NES 1991): The first game in the series. The player controls a youngster, kicked out of your dad's place because you want to be a Hunter instead of a grease monkey. Along the way you join with a curious mechanic and a foul mouthed lady soldier, butt heads with the famous hunter, Wolf, hunt bounties around Crime Country, and learn about the entity that brought about the end of the world over a hundred years prior.

  • Metal Max 2 (SNES 1993, GBA 2003): The young protege of a famous Hunter, you witness her group's death at the hands of Ted Broiler, a commander of The Grapplers. You set out to destroy the criminal syndicate, with the assistance of a punk mechanic, an incompetent gun girl, and an intelligent dog with a bazooka mount.

  • Metal Max Returns (SNES 1995): A remake of the NES game with enhanced graphics and references to Metal Max 2. Translated by Aeon Genesis.

  • Metal Saga: Seijin no Kusari (PS2): A young protagonist sets out from his hometown with the dream of becoming the world's greatest hunter. As he and his friends make their mark on the world, they cross paths with rivals and allies, such the mysterious and infamous outlaw the Red Fox, a heiress tank collector and her brother, and a mysterious group with sinister motives and connections to an old, infamous enemy of humanity, and whom must be stopped before they cause a second apocalypse. The first 3D iteration of the series, and featured a very memorable fully animated intro video. Received a Western localization from Atlus.

  • Metal Saga: Hagane no Kisetsu (DS): A direct sequel to the first Metal Max (and Returns by proxy). As the son of the first game's Hunter, Lebanner, you must unravel the threat of the Noah Seed and thwart the disaster that already ruined the world once before.

  • Metal Max 3 (DS): You play an amnesiac Hunter who is revived by Dr. Minch, journeying to regain your memory (and your belongings). The first game in the series to let you freely choose what characters make up your party. In addition to the main character, you can choose up to two human characters (male, female, or "okama"), from six different classes: Hunters, Soldiers, Mechanics, Wrestlers, Nurses, and Artists, with the fourth party slot reserved for everyone's favorite gun wielding dog Pochi. It also introduces armored motorcycles, cars, and the strange but powerful "bio-tank."

  • Metal Max 2: Reloaded (DS): An Updated Re-release of Metal Max 2 which uses the same classes from Metal Max 3 and includes different vehicles.

  • Metal Max 4: Moonlight Diva (3DS): When their foster father is kidnapped by a group of bad guys, the protagonist (and his android sister) must venture out into the wasteland of the world to rescue him from the clutches of an evil organization determined to awaken an ancient mobile fortress, with which they intend to take over the world.

  • Metal Max Xeno (PS4 and Vita): Following the defeat of the supercomputer NOA, humanity in the former Tokyo Bay area (now called Distokio) still struggles to survive as NOA's murderous creations, the SoNs, methodically seek out and destroy human settlements one by one. One of the last surviving settlements, known as the Iron Base, receives a mysterious visitor: A young man sporting a metal arm and a blood-red tank, and a serious beef with the SoNs. With his help, Iron Base can work towards bringing humanity back from the brink of extinction, but the SoNs are not going to make it easy for them. Released in April 2018, with a Western localization of the PS4 version only by NIS America released on September 25th.

The series features the following tropes:

  • Abandoned Laboratory: Yoshida Life Sciences Laboratory and the Global Relief Center in Metal Max (Returns). Noguchi Chemical from Metal Max 2 (Reloaded).
  • After the End
  • Aka 47: Averted in some of the games. In Metal Saga, you drove tanks ranging from a Merkava to the Maus. Metal Max Xeno does rename it's real-life tanks to titles such as Modded Tank and Red Rev, it also has tanks that are completely fictional like your Spider Tank.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Noah is a supercomputer designed to save the world and humanity from pollution. After acquiring the answer and recalculating the situation countless times, Noah always came up with the same conclusion: The Earth will always be in peril as long as humans exist. Noah's consciousness was developed after coming to that conclusion, and saw that if civilization was destroyed, the problems it caused would be erased with it. Though he seems to have overlooked the fact that destroying humanity would turn the rest of the world on end as well.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Dylan in Metal Max Xeno seems to think so, which irritates the mild-mannered Misaki to no end. However, Toni does end up falling in love with Talis, who, while not as crude as Dylan, is still rather aloof and standoffish, instead of Yokky, who is in love with Toni but is too shy and inexperienced with girls to get Toni's attention.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: In Xeno. Yokky is in love with Toni, who rejects him in favor of Talis. Talis likewise rejects Toni, partially because he doesn't want to hurt Yokky and partially because he is slowly being turned into a machine. Yokky at least feels a bit better about the situation after Maria "sets him on the path to manhood."
  • All There in the Manual: The website for Metal Max Xeno has several extra tidbits of background information for the player, such as revealing certain acronyms used in the game like Po-M (Post-Mankind) and SoN (Spawn of NOA) and explaining that Jeed, the man whom Talis recalls the advice of during the first battle, was Talis' adopted father.
  • Alpha Strike: In the early games, if you had multiple cannons your tank would automatically use them all at once. In Metal Max Xeno, your tank can only alpha strike if it has the appropriate combat chip or if certain of your tank had its chassis upgraded.
  • An Arm and a Leg: If you follow a certain specific plotline in Seijin no Kusari, the Player Character will be involved in an accident that results in the loss of one of his arms. Or well...supposedly results in the loss of an arm. Due to the limitations of the game's engine and in-game models, all that happens is the Hunter's arm being covered in bandages mummy-style, but in-game comments imply that the injury is a limb-losing one. A certain doctor can later offer to give you a cybernetic replacement.
  • And the Adventure Continues: Once the Big Bad is dealt with, Talis sets out from Iron Base with Yokky and Toni to look for survivors and settlements beyond Distokio.
  • Apocalypse How: Ranges from Class 1-2 depending on the game.
  • Apocalyptic Log
  • Arrows on Fire: The Lawless Bow in Returns.
  • Arch-Enemy: Bad Valdez is Wolf's. He also counts as The Man Behind the Man since Gomez was the one who bumped Wolf off.
    • Ted Broiler in Metal Max 2 (Reloaded).
    • The Catastropus is the most hated SoN of Iron Base. It was the Catastropus that killed Talis's mother and massacred the population of Iron Town as well as other settlements.
  • Arc Words: Metal Max Xeno features the phrase "From now on, we hunt them!" predominantly when referring to taking the fight back to the SoNs, almost always said by Talis to the point of it almost being a Catch-Phrase.
  • Arm Cannon: Talis in Xeno has one in his metal arm, called the "Hand of Revenge" that deals a powerful electric attack. However, he can only use it a limited amount of times before healing, or else the feedback will leave him paralyzed until he can be taken back to Iron Base to heal.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: In Xeno, critical hits not only do more damage, they also bypass defenses. Note that enemies can get critical hits on you. Additionally some weapons will have a description saying they can bypass some of the defense on an enemy. Finally there are weapons that use ammo like rocket bullets or even saurus bullets, making their shots difficult or even impossible to intercept.
  • Artificial Limbs: Syu in Seijin no Kusari can gain one depending on the order of the plotlines you follow.
    • Talis in Xeno has one to start with, which allows him to do a powerful electric attack that is especially effective against SoNs. It is later revealed that practically his entire body has been converted into synthetic material by SoNs nanobots.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The SE weapons that are ammo-based. Sure they're powerful and cool-looking but they have typically 5-12 shots and many of these weapons can be intercepted by enemy point defense.
    • The tank L'il Squirt is the biggest and most intimidating tank you can have, unfortunately all its cannons have 8 shots only and it's no tougher than any other tank with 2 engine slots - you're actually better off using just the Maus frame it's descended from.
    • Anti-aircraft tanks in Xeno such as the one Misaki uses, often can't have a 2nd engine slot added on. So yeah they're good at fighting aerial targets but these types of tanks, barring a rare few, tend to have inadequate shields and weight capacity. Discovering which ones can get a second slot is going to be expensive.
    • Finally weapons that are built into a tank such as the Wolf Spark for the Red Rev, look cool as they're designed to fit or have unique mountings, but they can't be upgraded and their damage levels are often lower-tier, you're better off having them removed if possible (some tank frames have unalterable weapon slots) and regular weapons put in instead.
    • Talis' Arm Cannon weapon, the Hand of Revenge. A powerful electrical attack that can put lower level enemies on the ground in one hit, and deals significant damage to SoN enemies, but after using it two times, you run the risk of it paralyzing Talis. Trying to use it any more times after that is basically rolling the dice, which makes one reluctant to use it if Talis is the last one standing. It is entirely possible to finally defeat a strong enemy, watch it explode, then come to find you lost the battle because Talis was paralyzed with no one to revive him, and you're sent back to Iron Base to start all over again.
  • Betting Mini-Game: Frog races!
  • BFG: Bazooka and Laser Bazooka.
    • There are cannons out there that are bigger than some tanks, with the 100 ton Cannon taking the cake.
  • BFS: If you beat a Yojimborg, there's a chance you can win a Bodyguard Sword. This is basically a lightsabre made out of flames. The weapon was originally sized for robots that are twice your height, so when you extend its blade, the sword is actually taller than your party members.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies
  • Big Eater: Ittica from Metal Max Xeno stands out, given that most of her reason for joining up with the team boils down to "They have FOOD!" She later justifies by explaining that she's been trapped in suspended animation for decades with nothing but nutrient solution to sustain her and her metabolism pretty much reduced to zero; she has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to cuisine.
  • Bootstrapped Theme: Dr. Minche / Mortem's theme, the Bounty Head battle theme, and the Bar's music.
  • Bonus Boss: The Bounties you can hunt down, often allowing for some quick cash.
  • Brain Uploading: Bias Brad in Metal Max 2 (Reloaded).
    • Also, in Metal Saga, while she's already a robot, if Alpha dies so many times that you can no longer revive her, you can retrieve her memory banks and turn them into a computer, then install them in a tank. It's unclear whether it's really "her," though — the tank can't operate itself.
  • Break Out the Museum Piece: The majority of the tanks you can get in Metal Saga date back to WWII.
  • But Now I Must Go: Following the defeat of Catastropus, Talis sets out in his tank to locate more survivors beyond the Distokio area. While the Iron Base is sad to see him leave, Po-M assures him that he will always have a home to return to, and Yokky (and later Toni, after the credits) goes with him. And the Adventure Continues...
  • Call-Back: It's not uncommon to find something that references a person or event from a previous game. For example, Talis can find notes from a certain Dr. Minche about reviving people with electric shocks, which is how Minche would revive dead party members in previous games.. Talis himself is a bit of a call-back, considering he's a cybernetic hunter with a red color palette, not unlike Scarlet from Metal Saga, who also has a cybernetic body and a thing for the color red. Talis' tank, the Red Wolf, even references Scarlet's outlaw nickname, the "Red Fox," though the Red Wolf itself is a bit of a Recurring Character within the series.
  • Canon Discontinuity
    • The series is a bit...odd when it comes to its timeline and background, especially between the Saga and Max titles. To start, the terminology seems to diverge with Xeno, with Noah becoming "NOA" and the Great Destruction becoming the Great Annihilation (perhaps to keep players from confusing it with a different Great Destruction?). It also messes with the timeline, with implications that NOA was defeated a few decades after the Annihilation, and the events of the game happening a few decades after that, for a total of roughly a century or two after the world officially ended, which conflicts with the first game's establishment of there being a lot more humans around a full century after the Great Destruction/Annihilation, and let's not even get started on how this conflicts with the games that came after.
    • In Metal Max, Noah is responsible for causing the Great Destruction. But in Metal Max 2, Brad Bias is responsible for causing the Great Destruction.
    • Metal Max overall seems to enjoy its vagueness. On top of the timeline is that Xeno is the first, and only, game to actually establish just where the hell the game takes place in the real world (Northern Tokyo Bay, if you were wondering). It also leaves open the question of just how extinct humanity is, since it only ever mentions the people of "Distokio" with little reference to the world beyond save for some side notes, and at the end of the game, Talis leaves to find other survivors, giving the implication and hope that humanity yet lives elsewhere. It's entirely possible the events of the game are happening at the same time as the other plots, but, again, the series leaves this question unanswered.
  • Canon Name: As mentioned in the Hello, [Insert Name Here] entry below, the default name for the player character of Metal Saga: Seijin no Kusari is Syu, but this is not mentioned in the Western version of the game.
    • In Xeno, the Player Character's name is "Talis" by canon, but as with the above example, you can change this to whatever you wish.
  • Collection Sidequest: Big Medals in Metal Saga. Unfortunately, seems to be Unwinnable by Mistake, as one or more seems to be completely unfindable, and the amount you do find, doesn't seem to trigger anything.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: The Backstory of the main character in Metal Saga 2. Was adopted by Maria and became her protege.
  • Chainsaw Good: Not only do you get a Chainsaw but you also get a Chainsaw Launcher!
    • In Metal Max 3 there are multiple types of chainsaw, from the Jet Chainsaw dropped by Dominguez to the Killer Chainsaw you can buy in Teppen Town.
  • Cozy Catastrophe: Metal Saga featured thriving cities and included a luxury train with a casino inside. Those hopeful times take a nosedive for Metal Max Xeno. One thing is for certain, someone must have had a good amount of spare resources on hand to be able to build a country-spanning railroad in the middle of a post apocalypse desert.
  • Crossing the Desert
  • Cult: Gluteus Maximus in Metal Saga, a cult of body builders. You can even join it for a Non-Standard Game Over.
  • Darker and Edgier: Metal Max 2 (Reloaded). It goes further in Metal Max: Xeno where humanity has been believed to be reduced to a handful of people (though the game does end on a very hopeful note) and the main protagonist is Secretly Dying.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: For the hero and his allies. Dr. Minche / Mortem will revive you for free — he's just doing it For Science!.
    • In Xeno, if all party members are downed or incapacitated, you and your tanks are automatically teleported back to Iron Base for healing and repairs.
  • Disc-One Nuke: Midway through the Metal Max Xeno, in one particular crater, Ghost Tanks will appear. Killing them will often get you a Ghost Cannon. They're a bit on the heavy side, but for a long time they're the mightiest weapons you can get for your tank. They hit harder than the Saurus Cannons you can get from fighting the boss-like Warshipsauruses and in the first playthrough - the only cannons that are stronger are 220mm Gaia cannons and you can only get 2 of them and those you find near the last boss of the game. Keep in mind that Ghost Cannon shells are pretty easy to intercept.
  • Door to Before: In Metal Max (Returns): You know that cave near the Large Cannons you had trouble destroying early on? Guess where you pop out after defeating Noah?
  • Downloadable Content: Metal Max 4 has 32 Bountyheads that are DLC only.
  • The Dragon: Ted Broiler in Metal Max 2 (Reloaded).
  • Early Game Hell: Starting off at level 1 with only a peashooter, you'll find yourself dying very quickly without the safety and firepower a vehicle.
  • Easy Logistics: The world is ended, civilization is crushed, humanity teeters on the brink of extinction at a moment's notice...and yet somehow people (namely, some newbie hunter kid and his companions) find enough resources to trek across vast deserts in massive fuel-guzzling tanks and people can build massive, multi-track casinos/passenger trains that go from one end of a continent to another without batting an eyelash.
  • Energy Beings: Trans Brad; Bias Brad's Second Form.
  • Excuse Plot: The "story" of the PS2 installment is literally: "You want to be the world's greatest hunter. Do this by traveling from the Eastern side of the planet to the Western side. Good luck." That being said, there are several plots you can follow to their respective endings, though the main quest and ending involves journeying to an ancient missile silo and stopping a mysterious organization from causing another apocalypse.
  • Expendable Clone: The Grapplers and Madam Muscles' mooks.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: Tankasaurus in Metal Max 2 (Reloaded.) Also the T-Rex Tank in Metal Max 4.
  • Final Death: Wolf in Returns (Nina also, if you are driving Wolf's tank when you rescue her from Valdez). Everyone that is killed (except party members) in Metal Max 2 (Reloaded).
    • Also, in Metal Saga, if Alpha dies more than ten times, she suffers a power failure and can't be revived... Although her memory banks can be retrieved, sort of.
  • Force Field: Metal Max Xeno explains that this is one of the huge advantages of using a tank. Humanity had figured out how to create shields on their tanks, making the battles against NOA forces much better.
  • Freudian Excuse: Bias Brad's reason for causing the apocalypse is because he was afraid of death and was angry at the prospect of seeing his genius being defeated by an incurable disease that he contracted. As a result, he wanted his intellect to remain unmatched and so reduced humanity to near-extinction with nuclear fire which was then followed up with a status quo that was cruelly established and maintained through his human hunts so as to prevent anyone else from reaching or surpassing his level. He died but saved himself by uploading his mind to a super computer, claiming that death only took a disease ridden corpse.
  • Genius Bruiser: The series has a few brainy body builders, ranging from Metal Max's Mad Muscle to Metal Saga's Father Muscle and Metal Max 4's Mighty Muscle.
  • Goggles Do Nothing: The main character in almost every game has a tanker cap with goggles, but is never seen using them.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: The first game's hero saved the world by destroying Noah for good, but other than a few friends of his nobody knows it. He has his own descendents, so the legend may not be completely forgotten.
  • Guide Dang It!: Good luck finding every little event and item without a nicely detailed FAQ or map. Especially the tanks. There are also a few really bad glitches involving items a first-timer wouldn't know about unless he / she read a guide.
    • The Synchronizer and Cyclotron code in Metal Max 2 (Reloaded).
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: As with many RPGs, you can choose the name of your Protagonist, though, at least in the Japanese version of Seijin no Kusari, the default name for the Protagonist is "Syu."
  • Here We Go Again!: In Seijin no Kusari after defeating the Ziggurat, if you choose to retire from being a Hunter (or later return post-game and opt to retire), the ending sequence will play and the credits will roll, but once they're over, Syu's mother will exasperatedly comment that he wants to become a hunter again with this sort of reaction.
  • Heroic Mime: Played with in Metal Saga: Syu's text boxes make liberal use of ellipses with the occasional punctuation mark to convey emotion ("..." "..?" and "..!" most predominantly) but dialogue choices and conversations with other characters implies that he actually does speak normally.
  • Higher-Tech Species: Besides NOA hijacking the world's nukes, the other reason why its forces are succeeding in pushing humans to the brink of extinction is that the A.I. had better tech. Xeno mentioned that NOA had access to the complete pool of human knowledge and quickly leapfrogged humanity in technology, the neph-tech that's supposed to be humanity's salvation against NOA is just reverse-engineered NOA tech.
  • Human Popsicle: The Protagonist of Metal Max 4 was cryogenically frozen during the time Noah went berserk. Those who were frozen at the time are called "Heat Seeds." The mission of the Heat Seeds is to restore civilization after everything calmed down. The protagonist's mother was the one who instituted the project. Unfortunately, she died during the process of revival from cryogenic stasis.
  • Human Resources: The Grapplers of Metal Max 2 (Reloaded) go on people hunts to get guinea pigs for their cruel experiments.
  • The Igor: Dr. Minche / Mortem's Assistant is literally named Igor. He drags your corpse to the Doctor in Metal Max 3.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: In Returns: For tanks, The White Muu. For on-foot weapons, The Laser Bazooka with all four lenses.
    • In Xeno, for the first playthrough - you can only get two mighty 220mm Gaia cannon and these happen near the end. You find one in a chest after you go through the shopping mall at the final stage and defeat the 2nd boss you encounter there. Later you'll find a chest with Gaia alloy and you'll probably have a 220mm Gaia cannon base from fighting Saturn Jellies earlier, with these items you can build a 2nd Gaia cannon if you let your party get killed off. If you have successfully raised your base to Level 10 technology, you can upgrade the Red Rev tank to use its final pattern - this gives the Red Rev a pair of cannons with tons of ammo and attacks that rival your strongest cannons in the game.
  • Kill It with Fire: Flamethrowers, for both people and tanks!
  • Kill Sat: The BS Controller can act as a remote for a satellite cannon in Returns.
    • Syu of Metal Saga can also call down an orbital laser strike with his laptop, though it is more of a "special" attack that costs money to use.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: The beam and other elemental energy weapons definitely have their uses, but they can't match ballistic-based cannons and machine guns in sheer number and variety. Additionally it's the ballistic weapons that have the highest rate of fire or greatest amount of damage.
  • Laser Blade
  • Legacy Boss Battle: Amongst the DLC Bosses in Metal Max 4 are Bad Valdez and Noah from Metal Max (Returns), the 4 Grappler Emperors from Metal Max 2 (Reloaded), and Olga Mode from Metal Max 3.
  • Lightning Gun: The Neutron Gun. Also Noah and Trans Brad uses this, but in the latter it's more like lightning breath.
  • Lock and Key Puzzle: You need ID Cards in order to open some of the doors. Some of the keys are found in places one would not expect.
  • Locked Door: Oh so many.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Minche / Mortem, Dr. Optica, and Bias Brad.
  • Magikarp Power: The Neph equipment starts off pretty nice but when you get enough Neph add-ons, your Neph equipment starts evolving to gain special abilities such as having the Neph cannon get rapid-fire.
  • Meaningful Name: "Talis" in Metal Max Xeno which can be seen as a shortening of "Talisman," an object or fetish meant to bring good luck to the wearer. Given that Distokio was well on its way to becoming a human-free zone before he arrived, he definitely seems to be the stroke of good luck the Iron Base needed.
  • Men in Black: Alex and his henchmen Bonnie and Clive in Seijin no Kusari. While it is never established whether the Bonnie and Clive are human, Alex himself turns out to be a robot tasked by Noah to finish the job it started.
  • Military Mashup Machine: All over the damn place. In Seijin no Kusari you have things like a gigantic desert-roving hovercraft/aircraft carrier/battleship, A WWII dive bomber combined with a vulture, a B-2 Stealth bomber combined with a manta ray, helicopters combined with dragonflies, missile launchers and artillery cannons combined with... gigantic pairs of legs...and this is just scratching the surface.
  • Multi-Track Drifting: At one point in the animated opener to Seijin no Kusari, Syu can be seen power sliding a 50 Ton Tiger Tank. Unfortunately, it's not possible to do this in the game proper.
  • Money Sink: The Gold Eating Insects. Enjoy spending hours upon hours to get them to grow by feeding them your cash.
    • Gifts in Metal Saga. You will be sinking ridiculous amounts of money into buying literally hundreds gifts just to unlock some extra cutscenes and/or endings.
  • More Dakka: Many of the weapons that hit all enemies. In Xeno, the "Wild Vulcan" (earned from an enemy gunship/animal hybrid) is a machine gun that can attack 6 times. In comparison, burst weapons typically shoot twice and it's considered pretty impressive for a gun to shoot 3 times. The main drawback to the "Wild Vulcan" is that after the first shot, the gun starts hitting random targets.
  • Nail 'Em: The Rivet Gun in Returns.
  • New Game+: In Xeno you can play again on New Game+. Benefits including being able to increase the difficulty and also there are new monsters to fight and items to find.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: The monsters you fight. Even some bounty bosses.
  • Noodle Incident: The "Great Destruction," which is the apocalyptic event which lead to the current world in the series. Environmental catastrophes occurred, and the computer systems Turned Against Their Masters. A scientist known as Professor Brad presumed to have vanished right around this time.
  • No Hero Discount: Justified in-game for Xeno. D'Annunzio, the manager of Iron Base, says that it's commerce that makes our species human. So he's not going to give you any discounts or freebies.
  • Non-Standard Game Over:
    • You can receive one at the very beginning of every game if you decide not to set off on your journey or "Return Home", depending on the installment. Metal Max 3 is the first game to not have this right from the start of the game.
    • You can also ask either Misha or Rachel to marry you, which will end the game.
  • One-Winged Angel: Bias Brad, in Reloaded he even has a third form.
    • Alex in Seijin no Kusari has a monstrous Humongous Mecha form that he takes on after you defeat the Ziggurat for a final battle.
  • Only Mostly Dead: As long as the corpse is fresh, Dr. Minche / Mortem can revive you or your allies at no cost (since the process is experimental).
  • Only You Can Repopulate My Race: Discussed in Xeno, where the crew states that Toni might need to have children with one of them to keep the human race going; Maria joining doesn't take the burden off of Toni either, as she quickly lets the party know that she has had no success in bearing children. Toni wants no part of it, though she concedes that she would want to pair with Talis if it does come down to it.
  • Penal Colony: Death Cross in Metal Max 2 (Reloaded).
  • Permanently Missable Content: Certain bosses may (or may not) drop their items. Some of these items may (or may not) be completely unique.
    • Returns gives you Item, Equipment, and Monster lists for your BS-Con, giving you a way to measure your progress towards 100% Completion. Bonus points for the Strawberry Lipstick, an useless novelty item that nonetheless has a convoluted process to acquire within a limited portion of the storyline.
    • In Metal Saga, you only get one shot at each bounty boss. If you lose, you get revived and can continue the game (as usual), but you can never fight that boss again, which means you can never collect their reward, never get any items they drop, and miss out on any plot developments related to defeating them. Ouch.
  • Prenup Blowup: You can propose to your childhood friend Misha. If you do, she asks if you'd like to save the game beforehand, which prompts your character to reply: "Ah, a prenup." Then the game ends.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Being a game set After the End, its not surprising that the companions you make aren't the most well-adjusted people in the post-apocalypse world, and that's saying a lot.
    • In Seijin no Kusari alone you have companions such as:
      • Mika/Misha, a Meganekko Wrench Wench.
      • Kiriya, Mika's brother with Hidden Depths of his own.
      • Shirley/Charlene, a trash-talkin' cowgirl with a penchant for firepower.
      • Cannon-wielding super dogs.
      • Alpha, a Secret Character cyber-girl.
      • Rashid, a swordsman who can slice tanks in half.
    • Metal Max Xeno features this motley lineup:
      • Talis, a cybernetic Hunter who is obsessed with destroying every last SoN he can find.
      • Yokky, a formerly-alcoholic Mechanic who is hopelessly in love with a girl who didn't even know he existed.
      • Toni, the girl in question who is the Sole Survivor of Iron Town...and is also hopelessly in love with Talis.
      • Dylan, a former bandit leader with an attitude to match and a distinct lack of shirt.
      • Misaki, an academic Medic who wanders the desert in an AA tank and is often mistaken for a girl.
      • Maria, a veteran Soldier who is older than she looks and has an affinity for kissing people unexpectedly-namely Talis.
      • Ittica, a rambunctious shape-shifting "Mute" Survivor who enjoys eating and playing pranks on the others with her powers.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: The series has a lot of recurring songs between installments (understandable, since every game in the series is pretty much a remake of the first, often scene for scene). Most noticeable is the bounty boss theme Battle With the Wanted, which has been exactly the same in every installment. Compare: Metal Max, Metal Max 2, Returns, Metal Saga, Metal Max 3, Reloaded, and Metal Max 4.
  • Robot Buddy: Despite NOA being an A.I. with better technology than the human race, it never does hack into friendly A.I. units. So benign robots such as Po-M are never looked at with suspicion by any of the humans and she's seen as an integral part of the Xeno team.
  • Robot Girl: Alpha in Seijin no Kusari, Po-M in Xeno.
  • Robosexual: Subverted in Xeno. Po-M muses that the repopulation of the human race would be easier if she had a reproductive system, but D'Annunzio and Jingoro collectively reject the thought.
  • Rocket Punch: Your characters can equip a rocket propelled fist as their personal weapon.
  • Scratch Damage: This series is a rare jrpg aversion, it was completely possible for you or your tanks to be immune to weak enemy attacks if you have good enough equipment and likewise strong enemies can take no damage from weak attacks from your characters.
  • Secret Government Warehouse: Ghost Base in Metal Max (Returns) which also houses the best tank.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: Take on any of the final bosses in these games without tanks. Have fun with that.
  • Showdown at High Noon: Rodriguez is Version B. It is also a Duel Boss / Duel to the Death complete with Dramatic Wind and tumbleweeds.
  • Shoot the Bullet: Xeno has the "interception fire" mechanic where certain weapons, especially the SE types, can shoot down enemy projectiles. Your heroes can even learn a skill called "Human Patriot" where they can shoot enemy projectiles while outside of a tank, with Talis doing so with his prosthetic arm.
  • Space Compression: Subverted as most of the games take place in a part of the world. Metal Max (Returns) takes place in a land called Crime Country.
  • Spider Tank: In Metal Max Xeno, you get to fight and capture one of these for use. It's a tank chassis mounted on multiple mechanical legs instead of treads.
  • Tank Goodness: Naturally. The characters' use of armored vehicles can be likened to Final Fantasy VI's use of Magitek Armor.
  • Tanks, but No Tanks: In this game, a tank is any vehicle with some armor and big guns. This means that your tank force can have SPGs, dune buggies, anti-aircraft vehicles, buses, fire trucks, etc., along with the standard tank.
  • The Tokio Fireball: Given the post-apocalyptic nature of the series, this is hardly surprising, but the setting of Metal Max Xeno speficially takes place in the former Tokyo Bay area (Or rather Tokio Bay, the city having been renamed at some point before the apocalypse for...reasons) which has been turned into a massive desert by the Great Annihilation. As you explore, you can even come across the ruins of several Tokyo landmarks such as Tokyo Big Sight, New National Stadium, and even Tokyo Tower.
  • Those Two Guys: The Pichi Pichi Brothers.
    • Bonnie and Clive in Seijin no Kusari though they don't get enough screen time to actually explore their relationship.
  • The Unfettered: Talis in Xeno comes across as this at first. Following the death of his mother and later his adopted father at the hands of the SoNs, he makes it very clear that his sole purpose for living is to kill every last SoN he comes across. As the game progresses, however, he opens up a little more, to the point that begins to genuinely care about his friends at the Iron Base and eventually revealing to Yokky that his drive for destroying the SoNs comes from the fact that he was infected with SoN nanites which has turned him almost completely into a machine on the inside and he fears that his transformation will destroy what is left of his humanity; when Toni confesses her feelings for him, he turns her down, not only because of this but also that he does not want to hurt Yokky, who himself is in love with Toni.
  • Unmoving Plaid: Although it is very hard to spot unless you're looking for it, in the FMV opening sequence to Seijin no Kusari, Syu's vest has a camo pattern made using this type of animation.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: The two Big Cannons in Returns, which teach you to use part breaking attacks such as Piercing Shells and the Wrench Boomerang (and the Buggy's open top as well).
  • Wave Motion Gun: Noah's strongest weapon in its final form.
  • Weaponized Animal: The series had cannon-mounted dogs for the heroic side and in-game NOA had spliced animals with combat machinery, so you ended fighting creatures like the Warshipsaurus which is a dinosaur mixed with a destroyer.
  • We Will Use Lasers in the Future: Sure, the ultra-tech ballistic tank cannons are kings of the battlefield, but there's a good reason why both sides use energy-based weapons too. The various energy weapons can be used to exploit any elemental weakness an enemy has and only energy weapons can induce a shield break on particular special enemies. Additionally it's the energy weapons that tend to be the most powerful weapons for your heroes when they're on foot.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Want to be an asshole? If you decide to take your time bringing a recently-killed party member (or Syu himself) to Dr. Mortem/Minche to revive them, approaching family members of the deceased party member/protagonist in question will result in them calling you out for it.
  • Wide Open Sandbox: Metal Saga can make you feel pretty lost with all the choice you're given so early on in the game.
    • Returns is a bit better about this. You can follow the world's semblance of linearity, passing through each major landmark and experiencing its story... Or you can make for Canabelle and Hell's Gate while dealing with the bare requisite minimum Bounty Heads and other roadblocks, reaching the best buyable equipment in record time.
  • Wrench Wench: Being a game both about the post-apocalypse and tanks, it is no surprise that there is a fair share of these throughout the series. Two specific characters in Metal Saga: Seijin no Kusari are Misha (or Mika in the Japanese version), Syu's childhood friend and optional companion, and Nina, Syu's mom.
  • You Killed My Father: Talis' mother was killed by SoNs when he was young, and serves as the basis for wanting to kill every single SoN he comes across, or at least as many as he can before his own synthetic-converted body destroys what is left of himself.
  • Zero-Effort Boss: The "War Memorial" Bounty found in the north-eastern desert in Seijin no Kusari It's literally just a giant slab of rock that sits there and lets you wail on it till it explodes. The hard part is finding the damn thing in the massive sandstorm that dominates the aforementioned desert, and surviving the ghost tanks that dwell within in. Once you "defeat" the Memorial, however, both the sandstorm and the ghost tank attacks subside.

Alternative Title(s): Metal Saga

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