A series of PC Turn-Based Strategy games by Falcom. The original Vantage Master was released in December 1997, and was followed by Vantage Master V2 in early 1998, and by VM Japan in 2002. 2002 also saw the English translation of the original game (well, sort of) and it becoming available for free download on their website. The other games still haven't been released outside of Japan.
All of the games have you play as a summoner capable of calling forth elemental creatures known as Natials in battle. The gameplay consists of duels between summoners, who move around the hexagonal board trying to capture magic stones which provide more mana for additional summoning. In a campaign, every battle earns you a new Natial or a new spell.
This video-game series provides examples of:
- Animated Armor: Oomitsunu, the living armor from Vantage Master Japan.
- Awesome, but Impractical: Most of the highest-tier Natials are very powerful, but also very specific; unless you're winning overwhelmingly already, you're often better off with a more well-rounded lower-tier Natial instead.
- "Blind Idiot" Translation: Falcom's translation of the original PC game was given away for free, so what can you expect? It's still playable, at least, and it's not a very plot-focused game anyway.
- Cameo: The original game features the main characters from Popful Mail, Brandish, the Legend of Heroes series, and the Ys series as secret playable characters. All were Falcom franchises.
- Also, Sun Wukong from Journey to the West shows up as a summon in Vantage Master Japan.
- Contractual Boss Immunity: Subverted, especially in Vantage Master Japan. Summoners are not at all immune to the game's Standard Status Effects, so hitting them with petrifying, sealing, or charming effects can often end the battle near-instantly if you can get into range.
- Elemental Powers
- Elemental RockPaperScissors: Air Natials are strong against Earth Natials; Earth beats Water; Water beats Fire; Fire beats Air.
- Expy: Most of the Natials in Vantage Master Japan are expies of similar Natials in the original game.
- Flying Seafood Special: The flying fish in Vantage Master Japan.
- Golem: Da-Colm, the big bruiser of Earth Natials.
- Harmless Freezing: Zamilpen in Vantage Master; the flying fish in Vantage Master Japan.
- Kappa: Midorosuiko, the healing water Natial from Vantage Master Japan.
- Mighty Glacier:
- The Shaman summoner class is slow, but has a brutal ranged attack where he throws a boulder.
- Mon: Subverted, in that while you summon monsters to fight for you, you're on the field and can be attacked yourself. Some summoners are focused on being good at personal combat themselves, too.
- Non-Elemental: Summoners have no element, which is a mixed blessing — they can do high damage to all elements, but they take high damage from all elements, too, and since you lose if your summoner dies...
- Olympus Mons: The higher-tier Air Natials are gods.
- Place of Power: Magic stones, which provide mana and heal anyone standing on them.
- Scissors Cuts Rock: The top-tier water Natials in both versions have such outrageous physical defense and attacks that even Earth Natials (theoretically their weakness) generally can't beat them one-on-one. While their magic defense is slightly less obscene, it's still very high, and few Earth Natials have magical attacks to exploit it anyway. Their real weakness is their obscene cost combined with slow movement on land.
- Sinister Scythe: Oonevievle, a high-tier Fire Natial from the first game, uses one of these.
- Standard Status Effects: Vantage Master just had frozen / petrified, which functioned identically. Vantage Master Japan added poison, magic-seal, charm, buff and debuff effects.
- Summon Magic: The entire point of the game.
- Tactical RockPaperScissors: Air beats earth beats water beats fire beats air.
- We Cannot Go On Without You: You lose if your summoner dies; unsurprising, since your summons all require upkeep from your magic to exist.