In an alternate universe to our own, humanity has subjugated all other life in the galaxy and spread throughout the stars. However, peace is a forgotten state of existence. A new revolutionary front called the People's Alliance for Common Treatment (PACT) has toppled the once mighty New Empire and is spreading throughout the galaxy. Led by the mysterious Veniczar S. Arcadius and his cult of personality, PACT appears intent on dominating every human being in the galaxy.
You are Captain Kayto Shields of the starship Sunrider. Hailing from the neutral world of Cera, you are thrown onto the galactic stage when your world is invaded by PACT. Your mission: To find allies from across the galaxy and stop the PACT menace once and for all.
Sunrider is a hybrid Turn-Based Tactics game / Visual Novel created by Love in Space. Funded successfully on Kickstarter, reaching over fourteen times the required amount.
Has an official website here, with a public beta version available here. The first 2 chapters, First Arrival and Mask Of Arcadius, are also on Steam here, and a novelization is available here. The 3rd chapter, Liberation Day, was released on March 4, 2016 and is available here. A DLC chapter called [RE]turn was added on May 24, 2016. Sunrider Veniczar, a prequel novel with heavy spoilers, can be read on their Patreon page by pledging at least $5. Sunrider Academy, a Dating Sim set in an Alternate Universe where the main cast are still in high school, was released on April 15, 2015.
The 4th chapter, titled Sunrider 4: Captain's Return, was officially announced on December 3, 2022 and released in February 2023.
Sunrider contains examples of:
- 2-D Space: While ships can and do perform three-dimensional maneuvers in cutscenes, in gameplay space combat takes place on a two-dimensional plane.
- Absent Aliens: Aliens are never seen or mentioned outside the occasional reference to Space Whales, despite the first game starting with an exposition dump about how humans have "subjugated" all life and become the dominant species in the galaxy. A scene in Chigara's route in Sunrider Academy suggests that this is because humans exterminated aliens rather than subjugated them in the distant past.
- Absurdly Powerful Student Council: In Academy on Ava's route, this is inverted. It is revealed that no student council in the past 30 years has managed to even get a club budget passed, and that most student council presidents just use the position to get dates.
- Abusive Precursors: The ancient Ryuvians were not nice people. Their empire ruled the entire galaxy for tens of thousands of years, their emperors were worshipped as gods because of their nearly-magical technology, and their royal court was a snake pit of intrigues and plots. They also had fleets of dreadnoughts whose main weapons could destroy everything within half a lightyear, and conceivably destroy reality itself if they all fired at once. Fortunately, they've long since forgotten the secrets of their technology and become a Vestigial Empire. Unfortunately, a time-travelling Ryuvian warlord has become trapped in the present day and plans to rebuild the Empire by conquering the galaxy.
- A Commander Is You:
- Ryuvian (Elitist): All of their ships have high health and deal massive damage but their number is very limited.
- Alliance (Turtle): Their main policy is focused on defensive doctrine and all of their units have higher health than PACT's counterpart in Mask of Arcadius. Also, they can win a long term war against PACT due to their attrition advantage.
- PACT (Ranger): They prefer to use lighter ship and long range engagement but they fall short in term of attrition war.
- Pirate (Guerilla): Lackluster health and firepower since they need to use old and outdated weapons.
- Sunrider (Unit Specialist): They are a mixture of many units for many different purposes. It requires you to use combined arm tactics due to their specialised nature.
- Mining Union (Generalist): Although they only use lighter ships for escort, they are able to befriend multiple sides and own a large private army with different backgrounds. This makes them a Jack of All Trades faction.
- Cera (Pariah): Although they are a guerrilla army, they don't have a strong center leader like Cosette, and they are forced to either hide themselves or join the Pirate side.
- Prototype (Gimmick): They don't have any ship but since they are able to send their own spy into all of the factions they are able to access units from different factions.
- Action Girl: Most of the girls fit this, as they pilot Mecha into battle.
- Advert-Overloaded Future: The Astrium, the space station that serves as the economic center of the Solar Alliance, is crammed full of brightly-colored holographic billboards advertising all sorts of products.
- A.I. Breaker: PACT Outposts in Sunrider 4 prioritize debuffing your units over utilizing any of their other attacks. Even if an Outpost is the last enemy left on the map, it will forego launching its missiles and firing its assault guns in favor of debuffing any units that have not been debuffed. This allows Claude to trivialize them by repeatedly using her Restore ability to cure whatever debuffs they inflict, letting the rest of your team whittle an Outpost away as it futilely reapplies the same status effects to the same units.
- The Alliance: Discussed in Asaga's ending of Sunrider 4. She tells Kayto that she plans to bring the old Ryuvian empire back in a more benevolent form as the Holy Ryuvian Alliance, which would see the independent nations of the Neutral Rim working together to push out PACT and ensure the balance of power between the galactic superpowers. She would still lead this Alliance as its Empress, but the various member worlds would have equal standing rather than being vassals of Ryuvia Prime.
- All There in the Manual: The official website has three lore articles covering topics that are important to the setting's history but are discussed only briefly in-game.
- Alternate Universe: Sunrider Academy takes place in one. It's also chock full of references to the VN.
- Amazon Brigade:
- The player's main force is an all-female Mecha squadron. Lampshaded by Ava when she mentions that part of the male sleeping quarters had to be repurposed to deal with the fact.
- The Prototypes are a Hive Mind variant.
- And Now You Must Marry Me: Veniczar Arcadius wants to force Princess Asaga of Ryuvia to marry him so he can gain access to the secrets of Ryuvia's Lost Technology; in return, he will spare her planet from a PACT invasion and guarantee its autonomy. Once the ceremony has concluded, he reneges on the deal, kills her father and annexed the planet anyway, though the party shows up just in time to crash the afterparty.
- Also a rare lesbian variant, as is revealed later.
- Antagonist Title: Mask of Arcadius refers to the masked main antagonist Veniczar Arcadius.
- April Fools' Day: On April 1st, 2019, Love in Space announced a "tie-in" Live-Action Adaptation of the original 3 chapters of Sunrider with assistance from Netflix, with a teaser trailer developed with early footage (spoiler alert: it's all fake)
- Apocalyptic Log:
- Parodied. The second half of Mask of Arcadius begins with Ava dictating a log entry about how the Sunrider's crew has been stranded for months on a desolate planet, how the chain of command is breaking down and how she's the only one left who can restore order... only for Asaga to interrupt, revealing that they're just on shore leave at a beach resort.
- Played straight in Sunrider 4. Kayto's crew visit the abandoned lair of Crow Harbor where they discover that his men are all dead. Some of the corpses are holding datacrystals containing personal logs which detail their growing discontent with being trapped in such a barbaric time period and their fears that Crow is going off the deep end.
- Arbitrary Weapon Range: The Vanguard Cannon has a maximum range of 7 tiles. It will strike everything in its path and then stop once it reaches the space you targeted, even if it should logically keep going to hit more enemies. Averted in Liberation Day, where the Vanguard Cannon now has unlimited range.
- Armour Is Useless: Played with. All units have an Armor stat that mitigates damage taken from attacks, and the higher your Armor is the less damage you take. However, every time a unit gets hit their Armor stat goes down slightly, making it less and less effective as the fight drags on. Kinetic weapons in particular will tear through Armor like tissue paper. Deflector Shields work the same way, with the added bonus that they get stronger when multiple shields overlap, but they'll only protect you from laser and pulse weapons.
- Artifact Title: The series title becomes this in Sunrider 4. The eponymous ship got blown to smithereens at the end of Liberation Day, and the ship that ultimately replaces her has a completely different look and name. Later subverted in the end where the name is given a far different meaning. Fontana gives this title to Shields upon literally riding a sun to victory.
- Artificial Stupidity: In Sunrider 4, the enemy AI is generally pretty good about shooting down incoming missiles and torpedoes. However, enemy units will sometimes fly straight into swarms of missiles to get at a more tempting target beyond them. Nine times out of then, they will not survive this.
- Attack Its Weak Point: The Imperium took a direct hit to its port side from the Sharr'Lac's main gun in the distant past. The damage has not been repaired by the time the Maray encounters it in Sunrider 4, giving the Imperium a weak spot in its otherwise impregnable hull.
- Attack of the Political Ad: Chapter 20 of the novelization features one for Admiral Grey.A montage of PACT ships firing on civilian vessels and stations, several Progress Party big wigs, and Arcadius's looming mask played while a serious voice narrated the images to grating music. "Division… Politics… Corruption… Deadlock… While the Veniczar has been conquering the galaxy, the Solar Alliance did nothing but play politics." A heroic image of Admiral Grey rose on the screen, blocking the fading image of Arcadius as a rippling Solar Alliance banner provided backdrop. The Solar Alliance's anthem played loudly. "Vote Admiral Grey and throw those crooks out of office! Honesty. Integrity. Courage. Only the Admiral can save us from the Veniczar! Not some politician!"
- Back Stab: Sunrider 4 revamps to combat system so that each unit now has individual armor values for its front, back, left, and right sides. The back generally has little to no armor, meaning that any attack from behind will do extra damage.
- Bag of Spilling:
- Although you can import your save from Mask of Arcadius into Liberation Day, only your choices are saved, not your upgrades, purchases, and cash on hand. Your units are given a predetermined set of upgrades and some money to distribute as you like, but it's likely that some of your ryders will be downgraded. All purchases from the Mining Union are reset, including Chigara's near-essential Repair Booster.
- Justified in Sunrider 4: The Captain's Return. The Sunrider was destroyed at the end of the last game and has been replaced with an entirely new ship. Most of the crew's Ryders have likewise been replaced, so the upgrades you made to the original machines obviously won't carry over. Kayto himself is also out of practice at commanding his forces due to six years spent in hiding; to relearn the Orders that he used to be able to issue, he must first shake off the cobwebs by fighting Cosette.
- The Battlestar: The Sunrider is not only armed with Trinity lasers, missile launchers, and a pair of powerful kinetic cannon turrets, it also contains a hangar bay for "Ryder" Mecha.
- Beach Episode: The second act of Mask of Arcadius begins with the Sunrider's crew taking some much-needed shore leave on a beach resort space station, with all of the hijinks that entails.
- Beam Spam: The general tendency of enemy fleets in most battles (especially ryder-heavy ones). With the appropriate upgrades and a full complement of mercenary units, the player can also use this to good effect.
- Berserk Button: Don't comment on Cosette's apparent age. It will not end well.
- Big Bad: Veniczar S. Arcadius is the leader of PACT who aims to conquer the galaxy. His first order of business is capturing and marrying the Princess of Ryuvia to gain access to it's secrets. His true identity is a Hive Mind of female Artificial Humans known as the Prototypes, led by three people: Alice Ashada, Alpha Prototype, and Claude Treillo.
- Big Bad Ensemble: Sunrider 4 has multiple villains competing for the role of main antagonist. In one corner we have Crow Harbor, a temporally displaced Ryuvian warlord who wants to restore his ancient empire to its former glory by reconquering the galaxy. In the other corner we have Veniczar Fontana, the leader of PACT, who wants to defeat Crow Harbor and use the warlord's advanced technology to unite the galaxy under PACT's dominion. Crow is killed by Fontana's forces late in the game, leaving PACT as the main focus of the last act, though the Prototypes—under Omega's new leadership—are set up to be a major antagonistic group going forward.
- Big Damn Heroes: In the second mission, The Sunrider is up against a small but dangerous pirate force, with the crew still shaken up by the defeat of Cera in the beginning of the game. So while the pirates are attacking, their leader is attacked by the Black Jack and Asaga, who announces herself as a "Hero of Justice".
- Big Damn Reunion: Two instances of this occur in Sunrider 4, when Kayto reunites with certain members of his crew after six years of separation following the Liberation Day Massacre. When he reunites with Asaga, she surprises him by joyfully leaping into his arms. When he reunites with Ava, the first thing he does after the initial greeting is pull her into a big hug, which she reciprocates after a moment's surprise.
- BFG: The Sunrider has a capital ship weapon strapped onto its frame. It costs 2,500 command points to use, but anything hit by it (up to and including space stations) are in for a world of hurt. Alliance battleships also mount a very powerful spinal kinetic cannon.
- Black-and-Gray Morality: PACT were originally heroic rebels but have since become no different from the Empire they overthrew. The Alliance, however, is developing into a military dictatorship, and their ruthless Admiral Grey is willing to murder Alliance diplomats simply to manufacture a casus belli. Even Kayto often has to make hard choices between what's right and what will defeat PACT. And that's not even getting into the Prototypes, Claude, and Crow.
- Bling of War: While the Sunrider's crew and the Alliance wear dressy but understated uniforms PACT commanders favour extremely fancy outfits reminiscent of Eropean aristrocracy in the 18th/19th centuries, an odd counterpoint their position as Commie Land.
- Boss in Mook's Clothing: Nightmares are the toughest non-boss enemies in the series. These ancient Ryuvian Ryders have more health than the toughest PACT capital ships, maxed-out armour, maxed-out shields, and very high evasion, making them not only tough as nails but hard to hit as well. All of their attacks are highly accurate and highly damaging, and they usually come in groups of at least three, with Ryuvian cruisers to back them up. Fortunately, they can only be encountered in skippable side missions.
- Bottomless Magazines: Averted with missile and torpedo launchers, which carry a finite amount of ammo and cannot be reloaded mid-battle under most circumstances. Played straight with all other weapon types: the Sunrider's flak guns and kinetic weapons will never run out of rounds no matter how many times you fire them during a battle.
- Breaking the Fellowship: The crew is forced to split up following the Liberation Day Massacre. Sola and Kayto are in hiding on Tydaria. Ava and Asaga have gone to Ryuvia Prime to gather military support and look for Lost Technology. Icari is getting in touch with her black market contacts to recruit mercenary backup. Kryska has returned to the Solar Alliance to explain how the Alliance military tried to destroy Cera and hopefully regain Alliance support for their cause. Chigara is battling Alice in the Prototype mindstream. Claude is amusing herself doing who knows what.
- Broken Pedestal: Averted. Fontana turns on Arcadius not for this trope, but because the Prototypes who took up the name disgraced everything his idol stood for.
- Captain's Log: Several scenes begin with Kayto dictating an entry for his log, usually to show that some time has passed since the previous scene and to bring the player up to speed on what's happened since then. He even prefaces them with the words "Captain's log", in a Shout-Out to Star Trek.
- The Cavalry Arrives Late: Late in Sunrider 4, Kayto asks Alan Grey to send an expeditionary fleet to the World Fountain so they can take down the whole PACT navy in one fell swoop. This fleet fails to arrive on time, forcing Kayto to go ahead with Plan B. By the time Grey's fleet shows up, Kayto has already accomplished his objective and there's little for them to do but protect him from PACT stragglers as he makes his exit.
- Chainsaw Good: Cossete's ryder, the Havoc, mounts a chainsaw half as long as it is tall.
- Cold Sniper: Sola is this, both inside and outside her ryder. The only difference is that the Seraphim uses a sniper rifle so large it can threaten capital ships.
- Colony Drop: The Hawk Faction's backup plan if their coup fails is to deorbit the Solar Congress and crash it into Solaris, wiping out the government and killing millions.
- Colour-Coded for Your Convenience:
- Each of the women aboard the Sunrider have unique hair colours (at least unique from any other girl on board, Sola shares a hair colour with Kayto) even Guest-Star Party Member Cosette, the only blonde. The ryders also all have unique colour schemes (many matching their pilot's hair colour).
- Most factions also have a colour scheme they stick to; light red and white for Cera, dark red for PACT, green and white for the Alliance, blue for the Mining Union and, oddly enough, even the pirates despite not being a single faction all (except for Cosette's Havoc) show up in dark green. The exceptions are the automated Ryuvian vessels that can be silver, white or red depending on which unit type they are.
- In Sunrider 4, missiles and torpedoes fired by your side are white, while missiles and torpedoes fired by your enemies are red. Hacked missiles will change color to reflect whichever side is currently controlling them.
- Commie Land: PACT has a very communist philosophy, though they are becoming increasingly as imperialistic as those they rebelled against.
- Costume Evolution: Everyone's outfits have gotten more elaborate in Sunrider 4. This is most notable with Kayto and Ava, who have respectively added a Coat Cape and a half capelet to their uniforms, and with Fontana, who has gone all in on the military dictator look now that he's the leader of PACT.
- "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: Kayto and his crew spend most of Sunrider 4 running around the galaxy looking for clues to Crow Harbor's whereabouts. After their most promising lead gets snatched away, Kayto suddenly remembers the Talbur, a compass which points out members of the Ryuvian royal family. They go back to Asaga's royal chambers and eventually find the Talbur under a pile of her underwear, at which point the absurdity of the situation hits Kayto, and he realizes that they'd have saved themselves a lot of time and effort had they remembered it sooner.
- Crapsack World: Ongress is an immensely valuable planet due to ongressite, a rare resource found only there that can be refined into high-grade fuel and munitions. Unsurprisingly, the planet has changed hands a LOT throughout history, first by the ancient Ryuvians, then by the New Empire, then by PACT and finally by the Alliance, but regardless of who holds it, the poor schmucks living there have been underpaid and over-exploited at best, and outright enslaved at worst. Thus you have millions of people living in habitats designed for tens of thousands, the air is noxious due to malfunctioning or outright absent air purifiers and most drinkable water is polluted with industrial runoff which causes many to sport deformities, mutations and severe health problems. It comes to no surprise that it's also a breeding ground for pirates, cutthroats, and slavers, including Cossette.
- Crazy Enough to Work: Kayto holds this opinion of the plan Ava comes up with to finally take down the Legion.Kayto: So in other words, the only way to kill that thing is to fly right in front of its primary weapon and shove a Vanguard down its maw, huh. Absolutely insane. I approve of this plan.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: The prologue consists in Kaito's homeworld Cera being conquered after Legion's single, devastating attack. Again at the end of Chapter 4, the Legion starts delivering one to the entire Alliance fleet, to the point where they have to resort to taking cover behind enemy ships to take them down as well.
- Cute Is Evil: The Prototypes, when unmasked, are surprisingly adorable for a Hive Mind race that has sinister plans for humanity. Also Claude.
- Dating Sim: Not the main game but the Sunrider Academy spin off.
- Darkest Hour: By the end of Liberation Day, Admiral Grey is dead, Chigara is (physically) dead, the Sunrider has been destroyed, any hope of peace between the Alliance and PACT has been torn to shreds, the party is scattered across the galaxy and forced to go to ground, Chigara's spirit may or may not be going insane as she battles Alice for control of the Prototypes' mind stream, and to top it all off a time-displaced Ryuvian fleet has suddenly appeared in the Mnemosyne Abyss, ready to take over the galaxy and rebuild the Holy Ryuvian Empire. The whole goal of [RE]turn is averting this via Time Travel.
- Dark Horse Victory: In Sunrider Academy any or all of the three "trouble clubs" can go from being on the edge of being disbanded to galactic champions within a year.
- David vs. Goliath: If the player makes the right choices, the Sunrider can bring down the much larger Legion by firing the Vanguard Cannon straight down the barrel of the Legion's own Wave-Motion Gun at point-blank range.
- Death of a Child: When Alliance marines rescue Kayto and Kryska from Cosette's forces on Ongess, a little girl that they met earlier named Kyoko picks up a knife to defend herself and is promptly gunned down by the marines.
- Decadent Court: Sola describes the Ryuvian Empire of her time as this, with courtly intrigues more frightening to her than any battlefield where accidentally saying the wrong thing or snubbing the wrong person could get you marked for death.Sola: The Ryuvian court of my era was… a snake pit. Betrayals. Assassinations. Machinations. They were a part of the palace culture.
- Decapitated Army: How Kayto defeats a PACT invasion force that outnumbers him six to one.
- Deconstruction: Of the idea of reseting the story after a Bad End including the Non Standard Game Over, expanding even to Railroading. The only reason this exists is because of Claude Triello, a.k.a. Canon, a Physical Goddess who can tamper with time and space however she pleases. Whenever you screw up to get a bad ending, and even go into undoing move commands, she is basically rewinding time to a degree while giving the player Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory to correct the mistake. As part of her name, she is ensuring that there is only one route of the storyline despite the secondary objectives you achieve, and that is only because she allows it for her enjoyment. Anything else is left to their fate as per your or her decisions.
- Defeat Equals Explosion: For enemies (except some plot-important Ryders) and the Sunrider, but not for your own Ryders. Justified, since your Ryders retreat back to the hangar when critically damaged, while the Sunrider itself has nowhere to hide.
- Difficult, but Awesome: Standing your ground in a mission designed to overwhelm you with waves of enemies and force you to flee is extremely likely to bury your ryders under a swarm of Demonic Spiders, but if you manage to win, you'll have more money than you know what to do with. There are also optional missions where you can take on extremely powerful Ryuvian Lost Technology opponents. You can acquire the Wishall if you win.
- Dirty Communists: Although their economic policies aren't much elaborated on, PACT seem to fit the bill pretty well. They started out as a popular revolution against the decadent and oppressive leadership of the New Empire. They're one of the galaxy's two big superpowers, in opposition to the more democratic Solar Alliance. Their ships and mechs are painted red, their officers and leaders wear red uniforms, and characters from outside the PACT even refer to them as Reds. To drive the point home, their leader Veniczar Arcadius rallies his troops with a speech denouncing capitalism and imperialists at one point before a major battle.
- Do Not Adjust Your Set: In Sunrider 4, Captain Paladin hijacks every holo on the Astrium to broadcast the declaration of her coup d'état.
- Doomed Home Town: The capital of Cera, the protagonist's home planet, gets nuked immediately following the first battle.
- Doomsday Device:
- Project Paradox is a huge installation capable of crushing an entire solar system into an artificial black hole.
- The Sharr'lac is an ancient Ryuvian superweapon capable of obliterating entire fleets and, if used en masse, plunge the universe into a singularity. How did the ancient Ryuvians limit it's use? They designed it so that it was powered by the life force of Ryuvian female royalty so, if the king wants to use his awesome superweapon, he has to sacrifice his daughter in the process. Unfortunately, Sola proves there are ways of cheating the system.
- Downer Beginning: Sunrider 4: The Captain's Return opens with the Final Speech that Kayto gave at the end of the previous game as he prepared to sacrifice himself to save his home planet from annihilation. Six years later, he's now a nobody living on a backwater PACT-controlled mining colony. The monotony of his depressing new life is broken up by the sudden announcement that PACT has kicked the Solar Alliance out of the Neutral Rim. The war is over, and he lost.
- The Dreaded:
- The PACT flagship Legion is a three-kilometre long dreadnought that dwarfs every other ship in the setting, has enough firepower to take on entire fleets singlehandedly, and is so heavily armoured and shielded as to be almost invincible. When it first appears during the Battle of Cera, the Ceran admiralty knows right away that they're outmatched and urges the civilian government to issue an immediate surrender, not that it does them any good.
- The Nightmare Ascendant, an ancient Ryuvian Ryder. Sola reacts with fear at its unexpected arrival during the Battle of Cera, and for good reason as it promptly devastates an Alliance fleet and No Sells a direct hit from the Vanguard Cannon. She mentions that in her time it was powerful enough to destroy a thousand strong Ryuvian fleet singlehandedly, and Arcadius/Alice gleefully talks it up as being much more powerful than even the Paradox Core.
- Earth-Shattering Kaboom: In Sunrider 4, the Maray heads to the planet Ko'rath following rumors of a mysterious Solar Alliance fleet doing something there. When they come out of warp, they discover that the planet has been cracked open like an egg, with half its crust blown off into space to expose the mantle. This destruction is revealed to be the result of a Tactical Paradox Core detonation, allowing the Alliance fleet to mine Ongessite from the resulting asteroid field. And they proceed to do it again to another planet, Rentos.
- The Empire: Has two historical empires in its backstory.
- The Holy Ryuvian Empire was a theocratic stated ruled by a succession of God Emperors, and it controlled the entire galaxy for tens of thousands of years before it went into a sharp decline. By the present day it has become a Vestigial Empire consisting of a single backwater planet.
- The New Empire was founded in the wake of the Ryuvian Empire's collapse, and its rulers saw themselves as successors to the Ryuvian God-Emperors. It was an oppressive place where the elite lived in luxury on the paradise planet of Eden Prime, while the rest of their citizens toiled in poverty. They tried to conquer the entire galaxy and were the dominant superpower for several hundred years, until the fledgling Solar Alliance defeated them in the Alliance-Imperial War and stopped their conquest cold in its tracks. Over the next century a revolution would sweep through its territories, causing the New Empire to collapse.
- The People's Alliance for Common Treatment, or PACT, which is what the New Empire was reorganized into several years before the start of the game. They are the actual antagonists for the main story, and a commie version of this; several characters even refer to them as an empire.
- Elite Mooks: The PACT Elite.
- Enemy Civil War: PACT splits into two factions after Fontana exposes Arcadius' true nature and shoots her in the face at the end of Mask of Arcadius. One stays loyal to Arcadius, the other sides with Fontana.
- Enemy Mine: Fontana's faction of PACT allies itself with Kayto and the Alliance in order to bring down Arcadius and the Prototypes once and for all.
- Energy Weapon: Most of the mecha and ships seem to have some form of laser-based attack. Also see Shout-Out.
- Escort Mission: Two levels (though both are technically optional), which generally require knowledge of the obscure "hate" mechanic to beat and are quite hard even then. The second one has a number of conversations with heavy Lampshade Hanging, especially if the first has been played.
- Everyone Has Standards:
- Cossette refuses to take part in human trafficking considering how she was used as a slave herself. She limits her piracy activities to aim against the wealthy, merchants and military ships.
- Fontana is shaken over Grey's threat to nuke an impoverished planet of 40 billion people. He points this out as a good reason why PACT are more of good guys than the Alliance thinks.
- Moreover, he has great concern over Arcadius when he become more and more unstable. He is also disheartened over PACT's willingness to slaughter civilians and inherited decadence by recruiting former Imperial Officers.
- Experienced Protagonist: Kayto Shields is a trained Captain by the beginning of the story.
- Explosive Instrumentation: Depending on the player's choices, Ava can be severely injured by an exploding console toward the end of Mask of Arcadius.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Several locations are reminiscent to modern-day nations.
- The Solar Alliance is the United Space of America with a Solar Congress and President.
- PACT undergoes a shift as a Commie Land nation, starting off like the Stalin regime of the USSR. Once Fontana takes charge, it becomes more like the People’s Republic of China following reformations, drastic modernization, and expansion of economic power.
- The Denari Expanse is Space Africa, known for its proud warriors and being a territory colonized for resources. To top it off, its people are treated as second-class citizens by developed nations after its valuable resources were exhausted, leaving it infested with crime and poverty, and recovery from its crumbling state is a major issue.
- The Federation: The Alliance, despite its name. However, there are hints that the Alliance is not all sunshine and daisies either...
- Fighting for a Homeland: The crew of the Sunrider, after the invasion of Cera.
- Final Exchange: After Fontana exposes the Prototypes controlling humanity from the shadows, the People's Alliance.Arcadius/Prototype: You Are Too Late...We already own everything.Fontana: No. (fires point blank in the head) You do not own PACT.
- Final Speech: Kayto gives a lengthy one as he prepares to ram the Sunrider into the Machievelli Actual. Subverted, as he ends up surviving.Kayto: All hands, this is Captain Kayto Shields of the assault carrier Sunrider. Last surviving vessel of the Cera Space Force. We travelled the stars, finding allies across the galaxy, with the hope of liberating our home world. It was a long journey, filled with adventure. At times, we felt sorrow. At times, we celebrated our triumphs. Throughout, we were hopelessly outnumbered. Our mission was nothing but a long shot, a gamble against impossible odds. Finally, we are here, at our home's doorsteps. Let it be remembered. On this day, we did not abandon Cera to fend for herself! [Kayto begins crying] On this day, the Sunrider stood her ground! We did not run, but protected all those we hold dear until we fell into the black night! We did not falter in our defense of our family! Today, we perished to save our home! [an apparition of his dead sister Maray appears before him] THE SUNRIDER… AS HER FINAL ACT… WILL SAVE EVERYONE!!!! MARAY…!!!! I'M COMING HOME…!!!!
- Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon:
- The Sunrider's Vanguard Cannon is built into the nose of the ship, as is the Legion's own Wave-Motion Gun.
- Sunrider 4 makes this trope into a gameplay mechanic. All weapons now have distinct firing arcs as part of the combat overhaul, with lasers having an extremely narrow arc extending from the unit's front. If you want to shoot someone with the Maray's laser, you'll have to turn the ship to face them.
- Freeware Game: The first game in the series, Mask of Arcadius, can be downloaded for free. The other games are not free and must be bought.
- Full-Circle Revolution: PACT may have started out as a populist revolution against the oppressive New Empire, but by the start of the game they've become just as bad as the government they overthrew. If nothing else the Empire was content to sit within its own borders, while PACT is aggressively expanding into the Neutral Rim and forcing planets to join by nuking their cities from orbit.
- Fun with Acronyms: PACT - People's Alliance for Common Treatment.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: The Legion's main gun is depicted as being able to destroy great chunks of its enemies' fleets with each blast, with only the most skilled pilots being able to avoid it. In the actual battle against the ship the blast is that powerful if it hits your units but its planned route is clearly marked the turn before it fires and simply moving one hex out of the way removes a unit from danger. Really it's more of an annoyance.
- Generican Empire: The Solar Alliance, the People's Alliance for Common Treatment (PACT), and the defunct New Empire.
- Genre Savvy: The Sunrider crew display this at times, like when they set up Chigara's attempted confession to Kayto. Asaga lampshades the fact that scenes like this often get interrupted, only for Icari and the others to point out that they've taken every possible countermeasure to ensure they aren't interrupted by anything, including the use of communication jammers. Unfortunately, this winds up aiding the Prototypes' plan.
- Glass Cannon: The Ryuvian Lancer frigates that you can summon in Sunrider 4 are slow, lightly armored, and mount a single weapon which they can only fire once on any given turn. That weapon is a Vanguard Cannon-level laser. If a Lancer can avoid being shot to pieces, it can do a lot of damage with that thing.
- Great Offscreen War: The Solar Alliance-New Empire war, which led to the rise of PACT.
- The Guards Must Be Crazy: In Sunrider 4, Kayto is in hiding on a backwater mining planet because there's a warrant out for his arrest. Despite this, security there is so lax that he can go around telling everyone exactly who he is, and nobody, least of all the guards, believes him. Everyone assumes he's a delusional drunk trying to pass himself off as the legendary starship captain.
- Guide Dang It!: A key part of winning several levels is the "hate" mechanic* , which is currently explained nowhere in the game.
- In Sunrider Academy getting onto a girl's route requires maxing out her affection for you and triggering certain events by going to certain places at certain times. The former is explained well enough in the tutorial and quite intiutive in its mechanics, the latter is not.
- Harder Than Hard: Space Whale difficulty, which the creators freely admit within the game itself they haven't even really play-tested and aren't even sure if it is even possible to beat
- Hard Light: The ancient Ryuvians possessed such tech. When encountered as a boss, the Seraphim creates two (actually three) holograms of itself which all prove to be just as solid and deadly as the real thing. Arcadius also possesses such tech, as his holographic projection was able to shoot and kill the King of Ryuvia.
- Haunted Technology: Hinted at in [RE]turn. Alice implies that the consciousness of the Sharr that once flew the Nightmare Ascendant is somehow contained within it, possibly explaining why she is able to Awaken like Sola and Asaga despite lacking Ryuvvian royal blood but then seemingly cannot Awaken during the battle in the Sunrider reactor bay, outside of the ancient ryder.
- Hero Must Survive: While other units are expendable and only reduce money gain when lost, the destruction of Sunrider means Game Over. Justified, since while the Ryders retreat when critically damaged (back to Sunrider hangar bays) instead of exploding, the Sunrider itself has nowhere to run to and is destroyed if sustaining too much damage.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Depending on the player's choice, Ava will sacrifice herself so the Legion can be destroyed.
- High School AU: The Sunrider Academy spin off is this.
- Hollywood Hacking: The Bianca, Liberty, and PACT Support units can disable defensive systems and even completely shut down enemy ships, making them easy pickings for their allies.
- Hourglass Plot: The Icari and Kryska pair. Icari started off as a mercenary who belittled any sort of idealism, morality, or legal authority. On the other hand, Kryska starts off as a devoted soldier of the Solar Alliance to the point of My Country, Right or Wrong, believing in its government and military code to the fullest. Icari shifts to a more moral person when her (attempted/indirect) murder of children to get the Solar Alliance to declare war on PACT causes her to reconsider her actions, along her continuous bonding with the crew. Meanwhile, Kryska’s idealism starts cracking with Admiral Gray’s attempt to destroy Cera to finish off PACT, all while being ordered to kill off the Sunrider crew to silence them on the whole ordeal. She is next left disillusioned when she is acquitted of her crimes due to politics rather than revealing the truth. For extra insult, it results in the Alliance completely withdrawing from the Neutral Rim, against her wishes of continuing to fight against PACT. Finally, she gets betrayed by the Rear Admiral who testified on her behalf and used her as a means of sabotaging the Alliance from within. Once she is rescued and the Sunrider team salvages the situation, Kryska reports herself KIA to the Solar Alliance and joins Icari to work as an independent two-woman mercenary team.
- Humongous Mecha: Called Ryders here. They make up most of your team during battle.
- I Am Legion: Arcadius always speaks using "we" and "us". Cue many of him appearing later on.
- Idealist vs. Pragmatist:
- The commander Shields can go either route depending on the choices he makes. One example is whether to rescue diplomats from PACT ships or allow them to be killed to further provoke the Solar Alliance. The former becomes more rewarding in this case as the Liberation Day expansion gives a bonus mission to escort hundreds of children who were brought with the diplomats back to their home planet for extra cash.
- The crew for the Sunrider is also very divided. Asaga, Chigara, and Kryska are on the Idealist side. Asaga favors what is right with her sense of justice. Chigara is reluctant to kill, keeping Asaga's Blood Knight tendencies in check, and prefers using technology to help people. Kryska sees the Solar Alliance as a fair and just nation that wishes to liberate the Neutral Rim of PACT and pirate attacks. She even helps the Sunrider stop the Alliance military from destroying Cera and turns herself in to expose their abuses, believing the Alliance people would see no justification for such acts. Ava, Icari, and Sola are on the Pragmatist side. While Ava can comply with Kayto's Idealist choices, she does everything by the book and doesn't mind sharing how the pragmatic side of things work. Icari is a mercenary who has a complete distrust of authority and doesn't mind getting her hands dirty. Sola is a Shell-Shocked Veteran who shoots first and asks questions later on the battlefield. Claude has no preference for either side. However, she ends up on the Pragmatist side as she's trying to prevent a universe-breaking paradox from occurring.
- Veniczar A. Fontana of PACT is the Idealist who treats political prisoners with the utmost respect, does not sacrifice lives pointlessly, and is concerned about PACT's state of affairs, let alone wishing to reform it after he overthrows the Prototypes. Admiral Grey is a Pragmatist who is willing to cover up war crimes to uphold the military's reputation and threaten to destroy a planet to stop PACT from winning a battle. It is fitting that his command fleet is titled Machiavelli Actual. On the other hand, a peace conference between the two could place them on either side. Gray wishes for the Solar Alliance to have complete control over the Neutral Rim's reconstruction efforts to prevent a humanitarian disaster. Fontana wants to keep the Alliance out, even if such a disaster occurs, to keep the Neutral Rim completely independent and prevent either nation from gaining too much power.
- Ill-Timed Sneeze: In Sunrider 4, the crew discovers Crow Harbor standing in an inert, seemingly lifeless state when they board his dreadnought. Claude approaches him to check his vitals, only to let out a powerful sneeze which wakes him up. Cue the party running back to the Maray as Crow brings his ship back online for a boss fight.
- I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: When the Bianca shoots, Claude may shout "Dang it, Captain! I'm a doctor, not a fighter!" Based on the accuracy of her ryder's only weapon, she's telling the truth.
- Immediate Sequel: Liberation Day picks up right after the end of Mask of Arcadius, with Fontana having just unmasked Arcadius as one of the Prototypes and Chigara freaking out upon realizing that the Prototypes look just like her.
- Implausible Fencing Powers: Asaga shows this by partially awakening her Ryuvian royalty abilities and flying across to Chigara to deflect a sniper shot.Icari: A-are you kidding me? T-that bullet was travelling at 150 percent the speed of light!
- Inertia Is a Cruel Mistress: In Sunrider 4, ships and Ryders will continue to move in the same direction at the same speed from turn to turn until you spend energy to change their course. And naturally, the faster they're going, the harder it is for them to slow down. If you aren't careful, your units can end up crashing into each other or their opponents, incurring an energy penalty for the next turn.
- Internal Reveal: In Sunrider 4, Ava shows Kayto evidence that Claude had falsified Chigara's medical records to make her seem like a normal human, meaning she must have known that Chigara was a Prototype all along. Incensed, Kayto goes to confront Claude, who tries to spin a yarn about keeping Chigara's true nature a secret so as not to hurt his feelings. If he presses her on the issue, she'll fold and admit that she's been in cahoots with the Prototypes since she first came aboard the Sunrider, something that the player learned at the end of Liberation Day.
- The Internet Is for Porn:Claude(When debuffing an enemy):"Oh! I accidentally downloaded his entire porn collection!..."Space Whales"?"
- I Warned You: During the battle of the World Fountain, Kuushana notices that Kayto is trying to break through PACT's lines to reach the Fountain and realizes that something isn't right. She orders the fleet to move away from the Fountain, but Fontana countermands the order, not willing to let this chance to bring down Shields and the Prototypes slip away. Then Kayto fires a graviton torpedo into the Fountain, triggering a chain reaction which transforms it into a new star and annihilates half of Fontana's navy. When Kuushana and Fontana reconvene in the aftermath, she archly reminds him that she told him to move the fleet away.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Several protagonists and antagonists - the notable ones being Lynn, Fontana, and Claude a.k.a. Canon - often call out the Captain for his brash behavior that has caused more than good. This has been strongly pointed out since Liberation Day, where he refused to see Chigara as a Prototype, which triggered the Liberation Day Massacre. Afterwards, he took his anger at Fontana for the mess just because the Veniczar rightfully killed Chigara in retaliation. Then in Sunrider 4, he still refuses to own up to these blunders and constantly puts his crew in danger, such as trying to destroy Crow Harbor and his advanced ancient fleet by himself when he had no chance of succeeding, all to continue to prove that he is still a big shot in the galaxy. It is only after Kayto gets captured, and Claude drives the point home, that Shields finally admits his mistakes.
- The Juggernaut:
- The Legion is a three-kilometre long dreadnought with enough firepower to destroy a planet's entire space fleet in one salvo, without using its Wave-Motion Gun. When fought as a boss it has maxed-out shields, maxed-out flak, extremely thick armor, and almost twice as many hit points as its entire escort fleet combined. Even the Sunrider's Vanguard Cannon will barely scratch it, and it takes Alliance battleships armed with powerful railguns to do any real damage to the Legion.
- The Nightmare Ascendant is an ancient Ryuvian Ryder with just as much firepower as the Legion and even more health. Its first act is to devastate an Alliance fleet with a swarm of Attack Drones, and it No Sells a direct hit from the Vanguard Cannon. It ultimately takes the combined firepower of several Alliance and PACT fleets, plus another shot from the Vanguard Cannon, to bring the Nightmare Ascendant down.
- Crow Harbor's dreadnought, the Imperium, has slightly less health than the Legion, but its armor plating is so thick that it's virtually impervious to harm on three sides, and its maxed-out shields—which cannot be shut off, because it is immune to all status effects—let it shrug off all but the most powerful laser and pulse weapons even on its vulnerable side. Its own firepower is nothing to sneeze at: it has pulse and laser weapons that will turn unshielded units into mincemeat, and its main laser is a One-Hit Kill if the Maray doesn't get behind cover before it fires. However, its shields and armor plating don't save it from the massed firepower of ten thousand PACT ships.
- Kangaroo Court: What the Trial of Kryska Stares became. Interesting enough, it was one to acquit the Lieutenant instead of sentencing her. The cause was the witness Storn saying that his crew acted without orders, despite Shields witnessing Grey give the order during the Liberation Day Massacre and Stares herself being told to silence him and Ava to tie loose ends. Kryska is not happy that her acquittal came from lies and politics rather than the truth and justice.
- Katanas Are Just Better: The Phoenix and the Nightmares are mounted with gigantic katanas to slice enemy ryders in melee. The Phoenix even mounts a giant wakizashi on the left arm for authenticity.
- Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: Justified in the setting. While fleets have traditionally fought by squaring off and blasting away at each other with lasers, shielding technology has progressed to the point where it's fairly easy for a fleet to achieve overlapping coverage that completely negates incoming energy fire. More forward-looking admirals have taken note of this, and are designing new ships (like the Sunrider itself) designed to close in and engage with kinetics. Ingame, kinetics also have the advantage of being much more powerful, although beams have greater accuracy and range.
- Knighting: In Sunrider 4, Asaga invokes an ancient Ryuvian law to make Kayto an honorary count so her ministers will stop complaining about how she's handing her people's flagship over to a foreigner.Asaga: Step forward, Kayto Shields. By the laws of the Holy Empire, I, Queen Asaga di Ryuvia, bestow upon you the title of Count. You are granted all the privileges and duties of that title, until the crown has deemed you unfit for service. Rise, Count Shields.
- La Résistance: The player character, Kayto Shields, is the leader of the only survivors of the Cera Space Force.
- Laser Blade: The Blackjack can dive into melee with one of these, as well as a conventional (for a giant robot anyways) blade on the other arm for good measure.
- Latex Space Suit: The ryder pilots wear "plug suits" which are...snug.
- Late-Arrival Spoiler: Liberation Day's opening cinematic gives away the fact that Asaga Oakrun's real name is Asaga di Ryuvia, and the fact that Chigara looks a lot like those two women standing in a sinister cloning facility. For that matter, the game's official website also spoils the fact that Asaga is a princess and that Veniczar Arcadius is a persona shared by hive-minded clones called the Prototypes.
- Late to the Tragedy: In Sunrider 4, the crew deduces that Crow Harbor most likely would have returned to his old base of operations after he arrived in the present day. They discover the coordinates of the base in an old archive and go to investigate. They find evidence that they were right in the form of the year-old corpses of Crow's men, who apparently died in a mutiny.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Tons of it, especially in Academy.Asaga: Press the Quick Save button, Chigara, it's time to go!
- Level-Up at Intimacy 5: In Sunrider 4, improving Kayto's relationship with the members of his crew will unlock various perks. Some of these perks are just for flavor, but most of them benefit the player in some way, such as reducing resource costsnote , enhancing existing abilitiesnote , and granting entirely new ones.
- Lighter and Softer: While the story does have its lighthearted moments and silly harem antics, at its core Sunrider is about a galactic war between two interstellar superpowers, and Kayto has to make hard decisions about whether to be moral or pragmatic in the course of liberating his home planet from PACT. Academy, meanwhile, is a Highschool AU Dating Sim where Kayto's two biggest concerns are keeping three of the school's clubs from being disbanded, and getting himself a girlfriend before the end of the year. Until Cerebus Syndrome kicks in each girl's route, especially Sola's.
- The trope certainly holds true for the setting at large though, since with various factors being different in that universe the devastating conflict that the main series centres around simply doesn't happen.
- Longer-Than-Life Sentence: In Sunrider 4, Kayto is captured by PACT and told that he's looking at a maximum sentence of nine thousand, three hundred and ninety-two years in Cryo-Prison for his crimes against the People's Alliance, with him to be kept conscious the whole time.
- Lost Technology: The Ryuvian Empire's technology was far superior to the current technology, but was lost after the empire crumbled due to internal strife. Case in point: Sola's Seraphim, a 2000 years old ryder, is at least as powerful as the current ryders, despite being merely a scout unit that has suffered severe degradation of its systems due to lack of maintenance.
- Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: Several ryders, like PACT Elites, the Paladin, and Wolf-1, have large shields mounted on one or both arms. In the first two games these are mostly cosmetic, but in Sunrider 4 a shield provides a high armor rating on that side of the machine.
- Malevolent Masked Men: Veniczar Arcadius is a former revolutionary turned Galactic Conqueror. He is never seen without an expressionless metal elf mask, and given his penchant for nuking cities from orbit, massacring civilians, reneging on deals that would guarantee planets a measure of autonomy within his empire, and cackling maniacally while doing so, it's safe to say he's malevolent. Apart from intimidation, the mask's purpose is threefold: to hide the fact that he is not the original Arcadius but a successor; to hide the fact "he" is really a woman; and to hide the fact that the current Arcadius is not an individual but rather a collective of genetically-enhanced clones with a Hive Mind… all of whom just so happen to look like your ship's Chief Engineer, to her shock and horror.
- Man Behind the Man: Starts out as a pretty straightforward war story, with PACT as the main antagonists and their megalomaniacal dictator Veniczar Arcadius as the Big Bad. Then it's revealed that Arcadius is just a persona adopted by the Prototypes, a collective of telepathic clones who are pulling PACT's strings and claim to be doing so for the Solar Alliance as well. The Prototypes in turn are subservient to their Hive Queen Alpha.
- Mega-Corp: The Mining Union, which controls Tydaria. Sophita says they and the government are practically the same entity.
- Mooks: The PACT Mook, obviously. The Pirate Grunt also qualifies.
- MacGuffin Delivery Service: In Sunrider 4, Kayto heads to Crow Harbor's old base to look for clues on where the time-traveling warlord might have gone. After a long journey, his crew discovers a mainframe containing coordinates to an ancient Ryuvian device called the "World Fountain", which Crow can supposedly use to kickstart his conquest of the galaxy—and right as they do, Fontana swoops in and steals the mainframe, taunting Kayto for leading him right to it.
- Macross Missile Massacre: Expect to be hit by one of these at the very start in many levels. Later in the game as more missile-capable units are added (and missile storage upgrades purchased), players can also do this.
- Mana Meter:
- Units have an Energy meter which depletes when they take any action: moving, firing weapons, turning to face a different direction, and so on. Energy is fully replenished at the start of each turn, but in Sunrider 4, units suffer an Energy penalty if they collided with another unit at the end of the previous turn.
- The Command Gauge fills up as you destroy enemy units and carries over from one mission to the next. You can spend it to issue Orders, whose effects include such things as granting party-wide Status Buffs, resurrecting downed ryders, summoning Player Mooks, teleporting the Sunrider/Maray to any spot on the map, and firing the Vanguard Cannon.
- Master of None: Much like real-life examples of The Battlestar, because the Sunrider has to serve as both a ryder carrier and a big-gun warship, it's less effective in either role than a dedicated vessel would be. While this is downplayed in terms of its capital armamentnote , it's played straight for the ship's ryder wing — the Sunrider has hangar space for only 12 ryders, while dialogue states that the standard PACT carrier can carry over a hundred of them.
- Meaningful Name: Sola is the only survivor of a battle that happened two thousand years ago. Everyone she ever knew and loved is long dead, buried and forgotten, so it's only apt that her name means "alone" in Spanish.
- Mighty Glacier: Investing credits into the Maray's Titan specialization in Sunrider 4 won't improve the ship's middling maneuverability, but it will boost its health and frontal armor through the roof while greatly beefing up the side and rear armor too.
- Mile-Long Ship: The Pact super dreadnought Legion, which is three kilometers long.
- Morton's Fork: At one point the Sunrider comes out of warp to find itself surrounded by a PACT fleet led by Veniczar Cullen, who demands that Kayto hand over the Crown Jewel of Ryuvia. If Kayto refuses, Cullen's fleet will open fire. If Kayto agrees in order to protect his crew, Cullen still opens fire once he has the jewel. The only reason the Sunrider isn't destroyed then and there is because Asaga admits that she's the Princess of Ryuvia and gives herself up to Cullen.
- Sunrider 4 has this during the Denari chapters, where you must choose between siding with Marqui Johanna in negotiating with the Hawk Faction or Prea’tor Qisah in destroying them. Either will provide a bonus objective showing the repercussion of your actions. If you negotiate, the Denari will be able to work with the Mining Union in Ongessite fracking at the cost of constant disruptions to the supply lines, haywire machinery, and constant cast of Ongessite poisoning worse than the planet itself. Fighting will free the Denari from external influence, but they will lose their opportunity for economic growth, with many resorting to the criminal underworld in order to make money. To make things worse, the Mining Union resorts to Ongessite fracking in the Neutral Rim, with Fontana rightfully denouncing the unsafe technology, furthering damaging the reputation of the Alliance. Either way, Claude chastise you over which route you choose.
- Multiple Endings:
- [RE]turn has eighteen: seven bad endings, one "worst" ending, three normal endings, two "alternative" endings, four happy endings and one secret ending. The happy endings are effectively interchangeable, as they play out the same way and the only difference between them is which Love Interest Kayto ends up with.
- Sunrider Academy has four good endings (one for eachLoveInterest) and a number of bad ends from failing to complete objectives.
- Sunrider 4 has seven character-specific endings which share a common epilogue, plus a secret epilogue unlocked by beating New Game Plus.
- The Multiverse: Sunrider Academy might seem like just a spin off project using some of the same characters but several things in the story especially Sola's route show it is an Alternate Universe with some level of connection to the universe of the main series.
- Mythology Gag: Sunrider 4: The Captain's Return has a few nods to the non-canon Sunrider Academy spinoff.
- Ava has become the acting prime minister of Cera in the six-year Time Skip between Liberation Day and this game. This harkens back to her Academy ending, where she went into politics instead of entering the military and was elected prime minister.
- During a conversation with Sola, Kayto mentions that she would make a good shrine maiden with her knowledge of ancient Ryuvian religious practices and customs. This is exactly what she was in Sunrider Academy's universe.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The Nightmares, especially the Nightmare Ascendant.
- Nintendo Hard:
- Especially later in the game. Their spin-off game even opens with some jokes about it.
- Liberation Day does not pull punches on difficulty, either. The game will punish bad decisions at the default difficulty.
- Non-Indicative Name: The Black Jack is, in fact, red and white. On the other hand, like its pilot, it's about as subtle as a blow to the head.
- Non-Lethal K.O.: Your Ryders, when sustaining critical damage, instead of exploding, retreat back to Sunrider. With a (rather expensive) order, you can even bring them back into the battle. The Sunrider itself, though, will be destroyed if roughed up too badly, resulting in a game over.
- No-Sell: The (more or less) final boss of Liberation Day the Nightmare Ascendant takes a reduced effect from most debuffs but is straight up immune to Chigara's "Disable" ability.
- Not Distracted by the Sexy: Ava is not distracted in the slightest by Captain Shields not wearing pants (or underwear). She easily maintains her professional self and even salutes after finishing her report.
- Not the Intended Use: Three missions in Mask of Arcadius involve the Sunrider racing to bring a unit to the far side of the map before being overrun by increasingly deadly waves of enemies. With aggressive tactics and more than a little luck, it's possible to complete those levels by destroying every enemy. Should you manage to survive, the funds earned from the battle will make the rest of the game significantly easier.
- Not What It Looks Like: In Sunrider 4, Kayto overhears Kryska and Icari moaning suggestively in the cargo hold after he gave Kryska tips on how to improve her relationship with the other woman. Given the Homoerotic Subtext between them, he jumps to the obvious conclusion and goes to investigate. To his surprise (and mild disappointment), they're just lifting weights.
- No Warping Zone: By Sunrider 4, PACT has invented planetary gravity well "fluctuators" which prevent any starships near the planet from warping away. One is activated at Cera as part of a trap for Kayto, forcing his team to hold off the far more numerous PACT forces long enough for Lynn to hack the fluctuator, shut it down, and give them an opportunity to escape.
- Obvious Rule Patch: In Mask Of Arcadius, the money earned after a battle is the sum of the value of all destroyed enemies minus a fraction of the damage remaining on your units, a repair fee. It's possible to end each level without paying a cent in repairs by destroying all the enemies but one, then repairing everyone with Chigara's ability before ending the level. In the sequel, the repair fee counts all damage taken, not just remaining damage, and repairing units before the end of the battle no longer reduces it.
- Older Than They Look: Older Than She Looks: Cosette is the leader of the pirate gang hounding the Sunrider throughout much of the game. She's murderous, ruthless, borderline psychotic and looks like a little kid. Kayto at first thinks she's a child soldier, but it turns out the ongressite runoff polluting her planet stunted her growth past eleven and, according to her, she's one of the lucky ones.
- One-Hit Kill: In Sunrider 4, the Huntress's Vanguard Cannon is so powerful that even a grazing shot will destroy the Maray. If it gets close enough to start charging the Cannon and you can't get the Maray behind cover before it fires, get ready see Claude's smirking face on the Game Over screen.
- One-Hit Polykill: Lining up the Vanguard Cannon well can take down a considerable portion of an enemy fleet before you've even had to move.
- One Stat to Rule Them All: Energy is generally the most important thing to level up on the Sunrider or any of its ryders, due to the fact that it allows the unit to take more actions in a single turn.
- One-Word Title: Named after your ship.
- On the Rebound: Kayto and Ava both speculate that his relationship with Chigara and its disastrous consequences came about because she turned him down when he wanted to rekindle their former affections. They don't come to a definite conclusion on the topic though taking Ava's route in [RE]turn pretty much confirms it.
- Operation: [Blank]: Operation Wedding Crash.
- Overnight Conquest: The PACT invasion of Cera along with other worlds in the Neutral Rim.
- Peace Conference: Liberation Day sees Kayto sitting in on a session of peace talks between the Alliance and a moderate faction of PACT. While both sides sincerely want peace, neither side is willing to budge on their respective demands and so the talks don't go anywhere. Much later on, the titular Liberation Day ceremony is meant to serve as one of these. It fails horribly, leading into the Darkest Hour described above.
- People's Republic of Tyranny: The People's Alliance for Common Treatment, or PACT, has shades of this. Its leader Veniczar Arcadius is a former anti-Imperial revolutionary turned megalomaniacal galaxy-conquering dictator with a cult of personality, and PACT itself is heavily implied to be a communist state with several parallels to Soviet Russia, especially with its crimson theme for warships and how Veniczar Arcadius talks about capitalist corruption when facing the Alliance.
- Pint-Sized Powerhouse: By Sunrider 4, technological advancements have resulted in ships and Ryders that are smaller than their predecessors but just as heavily armed. This is most notable with the Maray, which is less than half the size of her predecessor the Sunrider but can carry just as many Ryders and has a near-identical arsenal: the only thing the Sunrider had which the Maray doesn't is a Vanguard cannon.
- Planet Looters: In Sunrider 4, Kayto discovers that an ultranationalist faction of the Solar Alliance is using modified Tactical Paradox Core detonations to crack open planets and transmute their natural elements into pure Ongessite, which they can then mine from the resulting asteroid field.
- Player Mooks: Ships manned by faceless crew are available for hire starting from chapter 5.
- Point Defenseless: Generally averted with regular missiles, but rockets will often breeze through most flak. A special ability can be used to invoke this trope, and player upgrades can tip the balance in either direction.
- Portal Network: The Ryuvian Canal is an ancient warp gate that allows instantaneous travel between the modern Neutral Rim and the Denari Expanse, a star cluster on the far end of the galaxy. According to Sola and Asaga, the Canal is all that remains of a gate network that once covered the entire galaxy.
- Portmantitle: A fusion of "Sun" and "Rider".
- Privateer: The explanation for earning cash by destroying enemy vessels. Just about everyone is an enemy of PACT, and Ava has a folder of letters of marque and bounties against PACT vessels, while Asaga has an anti-pirate contract with the Miners' Union, which provide the Sunrider with funding to continue operating despite the Cera Navy being defunct.
- Private Military Contractors: Near the end of Sunrider 4, Icari and Kryska decide to leave the crew and found a mercenary company together. They make it official in their shared ending, with the two of them assuring Kayto that he can count on Isidolde & Co's services in the battles to come... provided he can meet their fee, of course.
- Psycho Serum: Crow Harbor's followers have an injectable nanomachine solution which can give anyone the Awakening powers of a Sharr. It also drives the user violently insane and ensures that they will soon die a slow, horrible death.
- Putting the Band Back Together: The surviving members of the crew split up after everything went pear-shaped at the end of Liberation Day. Six years later, Kayto comes out of hiding to reassemble everyone to deal with threats old and new.
- Ragnarök Proofing: In Sunrider 4 the party visits the Library of Sharr Helena, an ancient Ryuvian temple/space station that has gone without maintenance for 1,111 years. While many of the library's systems have failed in that time, the station itself is still intact, and the doors—which are programmed only to open in the presence of Ryuvian royalty—remain functional. As do the automated security Ryders.
- A common criticism of Liberation Day is that the story quickly went this way, stripping out player choices in favor of predetermined events. Somewhat infamously, this took the form of forcing a romantic relationship with Chigara and Asaga's resulting violent jealous breakdown, regardless of decisions made in previous games. A later patch extended the ending slightly to mitigate some of these criticisms, though without fully altering any existing content.
- Hilariously lampshaded by Kayto in [RE]turn while trying to distract Claude's past self:"Where's my input, doc?! Lately I feel like I'm being railroaded down a certain path without any say in what I want! It's like all my choices have just up and vanished! Before this… I used to be a free man. I used to be able to make command decisions! I used to be able to rip up rulebooks! But right now… I just feel like I've been chained to the doghouse."
- Ramming Always Works: With the Sunrider having just taken a crippling hit that knocked out all its weapons and the Alliance flagship Machiavelli Actual poised to obliterate his home planet Cera with a weapon of mass destruction, Kayto Shields gives his crew the order to abandon ship and rams the Sunrider into the Machiavelli. He lives, but both ships are destroyed.
- Real Robot Genre: Silly harem shenanigans aside, the story centers around military space-fleet actions as two galactic powers squabble over strategic and resource nodes on the frontier, with mechs largely being used in place of space-fighters during larger engagements between capital ships. Furthermore, while the player's Ace Custom mecha are generally superior to the enemy's mass-produced models, it's still advisable to have juggled your resources well by the mid-game, or being overwhelmed by superior numbers will wreck all of them.
- Relationship-Salvaging Disaster: Invoked by Claude in the fourth installment. If Claude did not intervene, he would have given into the stress at work and continued to take his anger on Sola until she could no longer bear it, leaving him forever alone on Tydaria. It took Claude summoning a few of ancient Assassin drones to alert both of them and mend their relationship, along with get the old crew back together.
- The Remnant: The Sunrider is a heroic example. After Cera's conquest by PACT, the Sunrider and other surviving ships were left without central command but with a grudge against PACT. Whether Kayto identifies the Sunrider primarily as this, or as a ship of Space Pirates and mercenaries, is up to him.
- The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: PACT started as a liberation group to overthrow the tyrannical New Empire, but by the time the game starts they're "liberating" neutral planets by aggressively ordering them to join or, should they refuse, blowing them up until they surrender unconditionally. The game's opening shows PACT's flagship, the Legion, warping in and blowing out Cera's capital city without a word.
- Right-Wing Militia Fanatic: The Hawk Faction is a militant, ultranationalist faction of the Solar Alliance which isn't happy about the armistice between the Alliance and PACT. Its members blame political mismanagement for how the war ground to a halt, and they seek both to reignite the war and to overthrow the Alliance government in a coup d'état. Ironically, they're pawns in a PACT plot to make the Solar Alliance destroy itself from within.
- Royalty Superpower: Thanks to millennia of genetic engineering, the daughters of the Ryuvian royal bloodline have the potential to unlock a power called the Awakening, which makes one or both eyes glow while it's being used, grants them enhanced perception and reflexes, and gives them superhuman piloting skills. Sola possesses this power from the start, while Asaga obtains it at the climax of Mask of Arcadius.
- Run or Die: The final part of the Library of Sharr Helena mission sees your Ryders being chased through the halls by Kuushana and her Wolf Squadron. They pursue you relentlessly, advancing at a rate of one room every two turns. If they catch up to you, it's game over. And yes, you still have to deal with all the puzzles on top of this.
- Too Awesome to Use: Liberation Day has an achievement literally called this for reaching the end of the game without using the Wishall.
- Laser weapons on almost every ship, from the Sunrider's Trinities to the Legion's batteries, arc when firing for no apparent reason. The only laser weapons that fire remotely realistically are those mounted on ryders (and the pirate destroyer), which fire in a straight line.
- Missiles work like modern real-life cruise missiles, firing in an upward angle, traversing the space to the target, and finally striking in a downward angle.
- Royal "We": Veniczar Arcadius talks this way foreshadowing their Hive Mind nature.
- Samus Is a Girl: A villainous example with Veniczar Arcadius/Alice. Most of the galaxy assumes her to be male, between her androgynous figure, masculine clothing, and wearing a face-concealing mask that also alters her voice. It isn't until the very end of Mask Of Arcadius that she's unmasked as a woman, though her gender ends up being the least surprising aspect of that revelation. As for why she does this, Liberation Day reveals that the original Arcadius was a man, and the current Arcadius has been impersonating him ever since his death.
- Screw the War, We're Partying: After a good hard battle, there's nothing quite like a relaxing trip to the beach to boost morale. Kayto employs this after the successful defense of Far Port much to the delight of his (mostly) fun-loving crew.
- Sequel Hook: Tons in Liberation Day:
- Alice and Chigara are still battling within the midstream, while Alpha fears it slowly being corrupted.
- Claude is revealed to a time-travelling goddess. Her failed efforts to unite humanity through the Prototypes causes her to defect.
- Fontana reinstates Veniscar A. Kuuschana as Fleet Admiral, either controlling the Legion or Assault Carriers to prepare against the Alliance invasion.
- The Ebon Fleet, lead by Sola's uncle Crow, appears in the uncharted regions of space. He then declares war against the galaxy to rebuild the old empire.
- Sunrider 4 continues the trend. Crow Harbor is dead and the World Fountain has been destroyed, along with the Huntress and 40% of the entire PACT Navy. However, Fontana and Kuushana are still alive, Omega and her Kayto-obsessed Prototypes are still out there, and Cera is still under PACT rule, with Miirage Foster slandering Kayto's name to turn the people of his homeworld against him. The captain's war isn't over yet.
- Sequel Number Snarl: Sunrider 4: The Captain's Return is an odd example. It is technically the third game of the main series (unless you count the non-canon spinoff Sunrider Academy), but is considered to be the fourth "chapter" thereof because Mask of Arcadius is the first two chapters packaged as a single game.
- Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Liberation Days [RE]turn mode revolves around this, with Claude sending Kayto three days into the past so he can try to prevent the Liberation Day massacre.
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: One sidequest in Sunrider 4 sees the crew get into a fight with two pirate gangs to get their hands on "the Package", a mysterious item which is the subject of many an outlandish dark net rumor. Once they beat the pirates and have the Package, they open it to reveal... absolutely nothing. Turns out the vaunted Package was never anything but an empty box. Understandably, everyone reacts to this discovery with varying degrees of annoyance and disappointment.
- Shoot the Mage First: PACT Carriers and Support ryders are heavy on this trope, the former due to its continuously spawning new ryders and the latter because of ability to inflict very nasty debuffs on the player.
- Shoot the Television: In Sunrider 4, Kayto puts a bullet through his tv while Veniczar Fontana is giving a speech proclaiming PACT's victory over the Solar Alliance.
- These lines of dialogue.Asaga:"I'mma firin' mah lazer!"
- Icari's a cold-blooded, katana-wielding killer in a yellow and black suit...
- Asaga's not allowed to play Duel Creatures, A card game.
- A subtle one, but the name of the Ongessian settlement visited early in Mask of Arcadius is identified with a code format identical to those used by Stargate Command to identify planets without proper names.
- One optional mission in Sunrider 4 has Kayto and Cosette paraphrase the memetic "Hello, there!" exchange from Revenge of the Sith, with Kayto saying Obi-Wan's lines and Cosette standing in for General Grievous.Cosette: Captain Shields! You are a bold one. KILL HIM!
- The Astrium has billboards advertising Rick and Morty, amongst various fictional products.
- The Maray's cafeteria has footage of Kiryu Coco on one of its holoscreens.
- The scene where the Maray's Ryders work together with the people they were just fighting to stop the Solar Congress from crashing into Solaris is a clear homage to the climax of Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack.
- Let’s see. The moment the Maray enters the World Fountain alone, it charges towards the vastly superior PACT fleet with the commanders baffled over its suicidal run without even changing course. Then cue Shields have if deliberately summoned the Prototypes flagship, leaving the commanding officer wetting his pants. And while getting shot at by both sides and several obstructions along the way, the Maray completes its mission with almost no casualties. Perhaps they watched Serenity before going on the mission?
- These lines of dialogue.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!:
- At the battle for the Paradox Core, Arcadius starts boasting of his immortality when Sola interrupts him with a killing shot to his ryder.Sola: "Even in this era, their speeches run too long."
- Fontana also kills another boisterous Arcadius once she unmasks.Arcadius/Prototype:"What can you do? We already own everything!"Fontana:"Wrong."Fontana shootsFontana:"You do not own PACT."
- At the battle for the Paradox Core, Arcadius starts boasting of his immortality when Sola interrupts him with a killing shot to his ryder.
- Shut Up, Kirk!: Though she's not talking to the villain in Liberation Day, Claude catches a kill shot to her ryder while protecting Chigara from Asaga. Due to being a Physical God, she gets better, though.
- Sink the Lifeboats: An example where the hero can do this. In an early mission, you take down a band of pirates engaged in selling kidnapped girls into slavery. After defeating them, you can either bind their survivors over for trial on a planet with an underfunded justice system, or you can jam their distress beacon and leave them to die.
- Smart People Build Robots: Chigara, who tells Kayto that she built the Black Jack and the Liberty from scratch. Also applies to all the other ryders and the Sunrider itself, as she is in charge of the R&D department. She also finds herself building small machines without thinking at times.Chigara: Ummm... I actually made this little contraption in my sleep yesterday night...I was really confused when I woke up and saw a power converter on my bed, but I think it should work perfectly for your ship.Kayto: Well, I'll be damned. Not only does it work, but the efficiency's been increased by 20 percent.
- Sole Survivor: Seems to be a running theme.
- So far, the Sunrider is the only ship in the Cera Space Force that managed to escape PACT's invasion of Cera.
- Chigara is the only person who survived the Diode Catastrophe.
- Icari is the only member of her family to survive the encounter with PACT troops.
- Sola - despite her Heroic Sacrifice - is the only survivor of Ryuvian Civil War's final battle.
- Someone to Remember Him By: Played with in Sunrider 4. Kayto names his new ship the Maray after his sister, who was killed in the opening salvo of the war.
- Space Is an Ocean: Naval terminology rules the day, with destroyed enemy craft even being refered to as being "sunk."
- Space Opera: The plot involves the crew of a single ship getting embroiled in a galactic war between two interstellar superpowers as they try to liberate their home planet from a Galactic Conqueror. The only thing missing is the presence of aliens.
- Space Pirates: Cosette and her gang.
- Space Whale: Space Whales, which are never actually encountered in-game but are mentioned several times. Sunrider Academy has Kayto and Chigara walk into a holographic exhibit on the creatures during her route, where they learn more than they ever wanted to know about space whale mating habits. They finally make an appearance in an optional mission in Sunrider 4.
- Standard Scifi Fleet: The Solar Alliance and Pact have frigates, destroyers, cruisers, carriers, and extremely rare (and gigantic) super-dreadnoughts. Traditional space fighters are replaced by Humongous Mecha called Ryders which fulfill many of the same roles. The Sunrider itself is The Battlestar, and was a unique kind of ship at time of its creation, but by the end of Mask of Arcadius the PACT has begun mass-producing their own version of assault carriers. Liberation Day adds gunboats and fast cruisers to the mix.
- Story Difficulty Setting: The lowest difficulty setting, "Visual Novel Mode," is explicitly described as being for people who only want to enjoy the story without having to worry about the challenge / hassle of combat.
- Straight for the Commander: Was an encouraged strategy. Enemy units that yield in this situation used to grant more money than destroyed, until a later patch made them yield half of the regular amount instead.
- Succession Crisis: One of these took place in the backstory. When the Ryuvian Infinite Emperor and his eldest son were assassinated, his two remaining sons—Sola's father and Crow Harbor, either of whom could have been behind the assassinations—went to war over the throne. Since that war happened two thousand years ago and the Ryuvian Empire has long since crumbled, nobody remembers who won.
- Super-Persistent Missile: In Sunrider 4, missiles and torpedoes will keep chasing their targets until they hit them, no matter how many turns it takes to reach them. The only way to stop them is to shoot them down, or to hack them so they switch targets to their own launchers.
- Their First Time: Before Ava leaves for the military, she invites Kayto over to her apartment where they spend the night together.
- The Stinger: The Ebon Fleet, the armada of the Holy Ryuvian Empire, appears in the present time from five thousand years into the future. Officers report that their time device malfunctioned and are unable to return to their timeline. The leader, Crow Harbor, then declares he'll rebuild the Holy Ryuvian Empire.
- Time Abyss: Space whales are stated to live for millions of years. When the crew finally encounters a pod of them during an optional mission in Sunrider 4, Sola marvels at the thought that these ancient creatures have lived through the rise and fall of the Holy Ryuvian Empire, which itself is older than recorded human history.
- Time Skip: Sunrider 4 begins six years after the events of Liberation Day.
- Trust Me, I'm a Doctor: Claude when she asks captain to take off his underwear during a "medical exam".Claude:"Now, now captain... Don't be shy. I'm just a trained professional doing her job."
- Truth in Television:
- Kryska talks about how ships in the Solar Alliance are gender-segregated as a means of enforcing discipline. This is true even in modernized military forces where women are accepted and treated equally, including the United States Armed Forces that Solaris is based on, going down to outright basic training within each of the branches.
- Unexpected Gameplay Change: In Sunrider 4, the mission to the Library of Sharr Helena takes the game's normal combat interface and repurposes it for a puzzle-solving dungeon crawl. Each Ryder plays a specific role in solving the puzzles: Asaga and Sola can open doors by standing in front of them; Lynn can analyze data crystals, sending the party to the next floor; Claude can use her gravity gun to shove dislodged power cores back into their sockets; Kryska can hold doors open and takes no damage from being in irradiated rooms; and Icari is good at scouting ahead because she can traverse rooms much faster than anyone else.
- Unstable Equilibrium: After every mission, the Sunrider earns funds equal to the value of the enemies destroyed minus a repair fee of the damage taken by friendly units. The less well you do, the less money you earn, and the less money you have to upgrade your units, making your odds worse going forward.
- Vestigial Empire: Ryuvia used to rule a mighty empire that controlled most of known space, and has such a long history that many speculate that it's humanity's cradle. Now, thousands of years later, they only control their former capital planet.
- Villain Has a Point: Fontana points out that the Alliance is no better than past Empires and PACT as they are willing to use underhanded and morally questionable methods to get what they want. Examples are how the Alliance broke their treaty with Ryuvia over handing Far Port back for the sake of establishing a strategic point and taking advantage of Fontana's virtues by threatening to blow up a planet.
- Wave-Motion Gun
- The Sunrider's Vanguard Cannon, a spinal mount anti-capital weapon that can be fired only using special orders tab. Uniquely, it's the only weapon under Kayto's direct control - the Sunrider itself is under Ava's command.
- Veniczar Arcadius' flagship, the Legion, comes equipped with an even bigger one.
- The Huntress, being a Sunrider-class ship, naturally has its own Vanguard Cannon. This gives it a serious edge over the Maray, which has no such weapon and can't hope to survive a hit from it.
- Wedding Smashers: After Veniczar Cullen kidnaps Asaga and takes her off to Ryuvia Prime to be married to Arcadius, the Sunrider's crew launches Operation Wedding Crash—in which they use the Sunrider's modified warp engine to bypass the PACT fleet surrounding Ryuvia and come out of warp right above the space station where the wedding takes place—to get her back. They also try to assassinate Arcadius for good measure, but that part doesn't go so well.
- We Have Reserves: PACT will just keep throwing more and more ships and ryders at the Sunrider no matter how many she and her ryders destroy. This is likely in part because "Arcadius" does care how many humans die.
- Welcome to Corneria: Each character has a number of different lines, a few for each of various circumstances. These circumstances include selecting the character's Ryder or ship, ordering them to attack with a given weapon, hitting with anything, missing with anything, being hit, and various types of special abilities. They only have a few for each, however, and given the length of typical battles it's not uncommon for some phrases to be repeated a couple dozen times over the course of a single battle, let alone the entire game.
- It gets worse for the damage messages, since there appears to only be one per unit for each "tier" of damage. For Ryders, it might not be obvious, but the Sunrider's high hit points means that you might be hearing that sections 32, 16, and 2 have been heavily damaged several times in a row.
- Wham Episode:
- The end of Mask Of Arcadius, where the titular Big Bad's true identity is revealed, a revelation that sows distrust and paranoia across the ship and changes the nature of the story.
- The Liberation Day massacre, where Chigara dies and everything the protagonists have been fighting for goes up in smoke.
- Wham Line: From the end of the novelization, when Arcadius is unmasked:Kayto gaped as he stared into the face of a woman… with mauve hair and blue eyes. For a moment he wondered if he'd gone mad, if the insanity of the battle that raged around him had finally smashed his traumatized psyche to pieces, but the utter looks of shock on every other face in the CIC argued otherwise. Wordlessly, Kayto stared into a face he'd seen almost every day, one in which every ounce of kindness and warmth that ordinarily graced it had been replaced with twisted fury, arrogance, and madness. Chigara's face.
- World of Technicolor Hair: Some of the characters have relatively normal hair colours but the rest are more exotic. Kayto Shields and his sister Maray both have naturally white hair, as does Sola. Chigara has periwinkle blue hair, as does Veniczar Arcadius. Kryska has indigo blue hair. Veniczar Fontana has dark purple hair. And Claude has bubble gum pink hair. Nobody comments on any of these hair colours.
- You Are Better Than You Think You Are: When Asaga pushes herself to the brink of death protecting Kayto from the Prototypes, Kayto, at Claude's suggestion, goes to Asaga to confess his shortcomings. He admits that he's used her and the other girls to validate himself, that he lashed out at Sola during his exile because he'd lost faith in his friends, and that the hunt for Crow Harbor has just been a way to restore his reputation and soothe his bruised ego. He claims that he isn't a hero, just a coward and a failure. Then Asaga wakes up and assures him that he's wrong about himself: the only reason everyone is still alive, and that they've come as far as they have, is because of him. He has survived battles and achieved heroic feats that nobody else could possibly pull off. He may not have the Sunrider anymore, and he may have had more losses than victories lately, but that doesn't matter. So long as he believes in himself and keeps moving forward, he is the hero he made himself out to be. This pep talk convinces Kayto that there's still a chance to set things right, and he goes into the final battle with his confidence restored.
- You Have to Believe Me!: In Sunrider 4, Kayto has learned that Sola's Evil Uncle Crow Harbor has somehow traveled through time to the present day and is planning to take over the galaxy. He tries to warn the Tydarian authorities about this, but they take his crazed warnings as seriously as they do his claims that he's the legendary starship captain Kayto Shields—which is to say, not at all.
- Zerg Rush: PACT kicks off the Second Battle of Cera by throwing hundreds of thousands of ryders at the Alliance fleet in order to take out the shield cruisers protecting said fleet from PACT's long-range lasers.