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Video Game / Robot Alchemic Drive

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A niche 2002 game for the Playstation 2.

In Robot Alchemic Drive Japan is suddenly attacked by a giant robot from outer space called a Volgara. Only the scion of the Tsukioka clan (Naoto, Ryo, or Yui) has a chance at fending them off, thanks to the Humongous Mecha ("Meganite") built by their family's company.

The game had a unique control scheme, using the shoulder buttons to move the Meganites' legs, and analog sticks to throw punches. In addition, your characters weren't inside the robots, but had to find a good vantage point on the battlefield while also avoiding being stepped on.

It also cheerfully played up every giant robot trope it could get its hands on, Tetsujin #28 in particular.

Character designs were supplied by Cowboy Bebop's Toshihiro Kawamoto. You can tell because the mad scientist who invented the Meganintes has Spike's hair.

Robot Alchemic Drive provides examples of:

  • A Day in the Limelight: Towards the end of the game, you play a trio of missions that focus on Intrepid Reporter Mika Banhara, who until now has just been a voice reporting on the Volgara attacks.
  • A Meganite Is You: The Three Meganites have different focuses and stats.
    • Vavel is your regular Jack of All Stats Super Robot. It has balanced stats, but its specialty is energized punches and having a Super Mode.
    • Laguiole is a Fragile Speedster, with weak punches and low armor, but is incredibly fast, especially with its Jet Mode. With the ability to fly above and bypass buildings, it has the potential for saving more of the city.
    • Gllang is a Mighty Glacier, with slow walking speed, strong punches and defense and being a literal Walking Armory of More Dakka. It compensates a bit with its Tank Mode.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Yui's romance subplot is with Souya, the hot-headed, leather-clad controller of his own Meganite.
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: The American boxart, pictured above, is of a menacing Vavel stomping on a Volgara corpse. The Japanese boxart, which was used as the manual's cover art in the US, is of Vavel and Valdor against a blue sky with the playable characters featured on the bottom.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Tsukioka finds the idea of a humanoid alien showing up unbelievable to the point of ridicule, despite spending the entire game fighting decidedly humanoid alien robots. Averted by the JSDF tank commander when Dantarion shows up, noting that at this point a Kaiju showing up shouldn't be a surprise at all.
  • Artistic License – Ships: The JMSDF Kouga is referred to as the first of a new line of ship, the Fleugel-class cruiser. There are no JMSDF vessels in the cruiser classification. Instead, Kouga looks nearly identical to the real-life Atago-class destroyernote , if with an artificially high hull number.
  • Ass Kicking Pose: Your most powerful moves need you to do a Grand Charge, which is basically posing. In a Hand Wave that makes this trope almost literal, Doctor Wiltz says that the posing is REQUIRED to charge up.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Vavel's Angelic Fall is a devastating Diving Kick that can kill a Volgara in one blow and doesn't trigger their Phantom System. Unfortunately, it requires a full power bar to use, and is incredibly difficult to aim.
    • Genesis Cry combines this with Power-Up Letdown as it replaces Volcanic Wind as Vavel's Super Mode Finishing Move. Like Volcanic Wind, it still requires disabling the Phantom System for it to connect, but instead of a long range beam, it's a short range area attack with a long buildup that leaves you vulnerable. Then there's the chance of accidentally getting caught in the blast...
    • Gllang's Spread Bomb is incredibly difficult to aim, will trigger the Phantom System, and causes obscene collateral damage.
  • Big Damn Heroes: During the below-mentioned Final Battle, the American forces—thus far unmentioned in the game—show up out of nowhere to pitch in right when the battle seems to be turning against the Earth forces. And then Souya and his Meganite Valdor enter the fray and further devastates the Volgara forces.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: Laguiole's Demon Sword Desecrator manifests as a pair of lightning infused short blades extending from its wrists.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: One of these is trying to drive Nanao's place of work out of business. You can save her job by "accidentally" knocking over the executive's building.
  • Crazy-Prepared/Properly Paranoid: Everyone thought the elder Tsukioka was insane for wasting the family fortune on giant robots. Then it turns out that's exactly what they need when aliens invade.
    • Tsukioka's planning extended beyond the Meganites themselves. Senkin Corridor, a large freeway that went through Senjo, the mountains beyond, and on to Tokyo was constructed to specifications that would allow Meganites to be transported along it.
    • Goes even farther beyond THAT. Mechanical evolution is the only way any species can reach past the Nectar Barrier. Meganites are humanity's ticket to the rest of space.
  • Crew of One: The Type 90 main battle tank employed by the JSDF should have a crew of three, but players only ever see Those Two Guys.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Genesis Mode, which increases Vavels power even more than Volcanic Mode already does. It was made to cull half of humanity to ensure its survival to the year 3000.
  • David Versus Goliath: There's one mission where you're forced to use Gllang, and it's stuck in Tank mode. Once you've fired off what armaments it has, you have to take down the Volgara using nothing but your character's grenades.
  • Destructive Saviour: Playing as a giant robot stomping and fighting through the city streets can get messy. However, you get rewards for keeping select buildings standing and penalties for the level of damage a city suffers (or a bonus if it happens to be very little). You could "accidentally" knock down a few buildings for story reasons however...
  • Escort Mission: Some missions require you to defend a specific location or vehicle. Easier said than done when a single punch can end up leveling a city block.
  • Exact Time to Failure: Vavel's Super Mode doesn't last long (three minutes from activation, to be precise); if you're not sure you can win the battle within that time limit, it will explode and you instantly fail the mission.
  • Final Battle: Happens offscreen while you're storming the Volgara City. You hear radio updates of the combined world forces taking on the bulk of the Volgara.
    • Keep in mind, though, that the actual final battle doesn't take place off-screen, it's still between you and the most powerful Volgara.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: The heir to Masaki Heavy Industries will always act like their facilities are destroyed in every skirmish, even if you have a perfect run where neither the plants or main office are destroyed. The epilogue will also state that his company is going out of business no matter how well you defended it. note 
    • Halfway through the game, Nanao will get a new job at a grocery store because her old workplace "got flattened by a robot", even if both the bakery and cafe go untouched the whole game.
    • You start the game with the Gravity Drive, well before you're given a tutorial where it's explicitly mentioned you've just now received it.
  • Going for the Big Scoop: Mika Banhara is a zig-azgging example. She's perfectly fine with going on a helicopter to get up-close (Read: ridiculously lethal) footage from giant mecha battles, but with the expectation that she'll get promoted later on. When she's called to do it again, this time with a NEWS VAN, she realizes how insane it is but does it anyway because it's her job.
  • He Knows About Timed Hits: The characters explain Meganite controls using the PS2 interface, and it's surprisingly justified because when you see the Meganite controller being given to your avatar in the first level, it looks exactly like a PS2 controller.
  • Heroic RRoD: Vavel's Super Mode has a three-minute time limit: exceeding it causes it to self-destruct.
  • Hidden Weapons: The Meganites have a foldable weapon in each hand. The right hand is powers up melee but uses up energy with every hit, while the left hand powers up range but has limited ammo.
    • Vavel has a drill in his right hand and a flame thrower in his left. Surprisingly an aversion of Video Game Flamethrowers Suck once you destroy the enemies' defenses. Fairly good range, decent damage up close (which is Vavel's specialty anyway) and ut can even become a fire extinguisher in certain stages.
    • Laguiole has a lightning gun and shock prods in the appropriate hands. They do a good job of buffing up Laguiole's damage, though the lightning does go out of hand and sometimes hits surrounding buildings.
    • Gllang has a spread bomb launcher in his left hand and a hammer in his right. The spread bomb launcher does go out of control sometimes, but the hammer reliably buffs up Gllang's already ludicrous damage.
  • High-Pressure Blood: If a human character, primarily your character, takes any sort of hit, expect them to get flung a dozen meters while spraying out giant mists of blood and get back up like nothing happened unless they were a citizen or Nanao.
  • Humongous Mecha: Vavel, Gllang, and Laguiole. The latter are also Transforming Mecha, able to turn into a tank and a plane.
  • Infinite Supplies: Subverted. The organization is nearly bankrupt from building and maintaining the Meganites, so early in the game they arrange a deal with the government to be paid bounties on dead Volgara.
  • Instant-Win Condition: Destroying the enemy Volgara will always clear the mission outright, allowing you to skip sub objectives like putting out the fires engulfing city hall, saving an evac bus, or capturing a Volgara cargo ship.
  • Interface Screw: Some levels (including the one mentioned in the David Versus Goliath entry) involve the controls of your Meganite being jammed, preventing you from operating it. As the game progresses, you're forced to seek out the jamming devices and destroy them, then later stay within dangerously close proximity of your Meganite to counteract the jamming, before a permanent solution to the jamming can be devised.
  • Jack of All Stats: Vavel is the most 'average' of the Meganites, with fairly balanced speed, strength, and defenses. In exchange, he gets a Super Mode that turns him into a powerful Lightning Bruiser, but will self destruct in two minutes.
  • Kaiju: Most of the enemies are robotic creatures called Volgara, but one is a dinosaur-ish monster named Dantarion (They evidently wanted to work that in so much that they ignored the rule that space travel is lethal to organic life in this game; the Volgara remade themselves into robotic giants so they could get around that to conquer other planets. The Meganites were originally conceived to explore other planets as well.).
  • Karma Houdini: Dr. Hourai intended to kill half of the human race, but exits the story with no worse punishment than the knowledge that the Genesis Program will never be used as he intended. Worse still, by the end of the game it's stated a third of the human population was lost, which is pretty close to his goal in the first place.
  • Kill It with Fire: Vavel can swap its hand for a flamethrower.
  • The Kid with the Remote Control: Meganites are operated remotely, which means you need to find a good vantage point without getting blown up or stepped on.
  • Negative Space Wedgie: Nectar Radiance is a form of radiation that permeates all of space. It is lethal to all organic life, making space travel impossible. Humanity is spared thanks to the Earth's atmosphere blocking the Radiance. Volgara can travel through it unscathed, due to being completely mechanical.
  • This Is a Drill: Vavel's Drill Gear.
  • Lazy Backup: Sort of. You can only use one Meganite in any given battle, despite having three at your disposal. Whichever one you choose to use is presumed to be the only one 'ready' at the time. Other missions force you to use a given one, usually with the Hand Wave that the others are undergoing maintenance.
  • A Mech by Any Other Name: Your mecha brigade are designated as "Meganites".
  • More Dakka: Gllang's "Fire All Ordnance," which unloads every weapon the 'bot has.
  • Multiple Endings: You get one last scene with either Nanao, Ellen or (if playing as Yui) Souya depending on your relationship levels with them.
  • Real Robot: The three Meganites mostly use conventional weaponry, are quite tedious to move and undergo several problems throughout the story.
    • Super Robot: On the other hand, the Meganites have a limited degree of sentience and sapience. Vavel is the most super of the three, as it has a Super Mode transformation and its most powerful attacks are fire-based.
  • Red Shirt Army: At best, the tank commanders do scratch damage on the Volgara.
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: Dr. Hourai appears to die in the first level, but shows up intact later in the game with no explanation.
  • Robotic Reveal: When a human-sized robot appears in Senjo, Tsukioka thinks they can communicate with them, believing them to be the Volgara's pilot. They soon learn that it's just a scouting droid. The Volgara aren't piloted at all: they are purely Mechanical Lifeforms.
  • Rocket Punch: Vavel, the most Super Robot of the Meganites, of course has this in Assault Knuckle. And yes, you can combine it with a drill punch by pulling out the drill on your right arm. Later on, other Volgara start to gain their own Assault Knuckle though.
  • Senjo Is the Center of the Universe: You only ever deal with the Volgara in the protagonist's hometown, but it's probably that the Volgara are focusing attention there because that's where the resistance is the heaviest. As far as we're told, Japan's the only country protected by anything beyond its conventional (and largely ineffective) military. The opening does show the Volgara are a global problem, and according to the ending we lost about two thirds of the human race before they were finally defeated.
  • So Bad, It's Good: In-universe, the voice acting in this game is intentionally bad as an homage to poor quality dubbing of late 70's-early 80's anime.
  • Shock and Awe: Most of Laguiole's special weapons that aren't lasers or missiles involve zapping the living hell out of the enemy with electricity.
  • Shout-Out: The entire game is one to all the retro Humongous Mecha anime out there. Yui bases her wadrobe on the heroines of those shows. Vavel's finishers include a Rocket Punch and an attack awfully similar to Mazinger Z's Breast Fire (when firing the latter, it even does the same biceps-flexing pose Mazinger Z usually did). Also, fighting Dantarion in Tokyo is a clear Shout-Out to Godzilla.
  • Schrödinger's Player Character: The profiles in the manual makes it sound like Naoto, Ryo and Yui are siblings, but only your chosen avatar is ever mentioned in the game itself.
  • Stealth Pun: The city where most of the battles take place is named Senjou ("battlefield").
  • Superpowered Evil Side: Genesis Mode, which was meant to eliminate half of humanity to ensure its survival to the year three thousand. Averted later on when the protagonist rewrites its programming.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Human's Romote Control Dandy on PS1. Additionally, an actual sequel also was made to that game, by the same company that made this game.
  • Tanks for Nothing: Given the giant robots are really big, but the tanks have literally no effect on the battle and occasionally even require protecting.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: The Volgara's teleportation allows them to avoid most long-range attacks, which is the handwave given for why you need to fight them with giant robots; oddly, when they use it in gameplay, they always teleport straight up, and come plummeting back to the ground. Eventually, though, humanity develops missiles that can target them anyway.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: The battle music shifts depending on who has the upper hand. It gets more downbeat and desperate if you're losing, but goes into a triumphant battle theme when you start to win, or if you gain a new weapon.
  • This Is a Drill: Vavel can turn one of his hands into a drill, and some of the Volgara have drill-hands as well.
  • Those Two Guys: The two tank pilots, who seem to be there to provide a bit of levity.
  • Transforming Mecha: Gllang turns into a tank, while Laguiole turns into a jet. Vavel doesn't transform, but instead gets a Super Mode.
  • Unexpectedly Realistic Gameplay: Cool, you get to control a Humongous Mecha of a Meganite! Too bad there's no cockpit, and you have to use a pastiche of the PS2 Dualshock Controller to remotely control them instead as you try to either find a good vantage point to see and work the action, or risk getting in the firing line yourself. And actually working the controls is incredibly intricate and unrelentingly challenging, filled with secret weapons and functions Dr. Hourai didn't even bother or have the time to try telling you about. Welcome to a surprisingly Real Robot approach to the Super Robot genre.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Dr. Hourai is blasted by a Volgara laser during the first mission, only to show up alive and well two thirds of the way into the story.
  • Unwanted Assistance: In one mission, you get Valdor as backup in a fight against two low-tier Volgara. Unfortunately, it tends to stand back and just use its ranged weapons, namely Assault Knuckle, which has a habit of wrecking buildings (thus lowering your reward money) and hitting your Meganite instead.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: You can go completely out of your way to repeatedly crush the bakery/cafe/grocery store Nanao works at. Not to mention all the times you can smash up Misaki's skyscraper.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Dr. Hourai. On the plus side, he created an organization to ensure humanity's survival until the year 3000. Unfortunately, his plans involved destroying half of the human race to allow the planet to recover from environmental damage.