Vanguard Bandits is fantasy turn based strategy game developed for the PS1 by Human Entertainment. It is very much a traditional turn based strategy game (grids and everything!). Unlike other fantasy games, you actually fight in giant mechs that resemble knights in plate mail armor more than actual robots. You play as Bastion and your choices effect the different turns the story takes and who you end up getting in your party. Different characters may be friends because in one storyline, and enemies in another.
V anguardbandits, as mentioned before, is a very traditional style turn-based RPG. You have grid based movement/combat. You have an HP bar. Everything costs so much AP/FP. Movement always costs AP. Combat costs you both AP and FP. Every attack has different costs for AP and FP.
Your AP bar starts at 100 and drains whenever you attack or move. Some different terrains cost more AP to move over for different ATAC’s (the mechs of the game). A good example is how most ATAC’s are terrible at moving in sand except for a very specific one. It costs you way more AP to move and thus reduces your combat effectiveness when you have to move distances.
Your FP bar is another story. It starts at 0 and moves its way up to 100. You really don’t want to reach 100 though, because then your ATAC gets ‘frozen.’ This is shown by a little star floating in a circle around. Enemy ATAC’s will have a 100% chance of hitting you if you are frozen, and there is nothing you can do! Different attacks have different FP costs. Some cost as low as 5. Others may cost you as high as 90! So make sure you watch that FP bar.
Each and every attack in the game has a hit percentage that all depends on statistics. Your dexterity effects your accuracy. Your agility effects your ability to dodge said attacks. Before each combat animation, it will give you the choice to avoid, defend, counter, or just use an attack in response. Let’s talk about the effects of each.
- Avoiding costs no extra FP and has the highest dodge rate.
- Defending costs a little extra FP but weakens attacks considerably and lowers your dodge at the same time a large amount.
- Counter costs a little extra FP and lowers your dodge rate. But you have a chance or parrying their attack and using your own. You also have a chance of taking extra damage. It’s a risky move, but one that could pay off considerably.
- Using your own attack costs the most FP (depending on the attack you choose) but is also the least risky. They do the same damage as if you’d avoid, but you do have a lower dodge chance. But your own attack has a good hit percentage too.
As a side note., some attacks have different hit percentage add-ons. Some attacks also have different ranges attached to them. This is shown when selecting any attacks.
You also have something called Skills
which cost AP as well. Most of the time, these are used to 'effect' ATAC's. Whether it be lowering defense, healing, raising dexterity, etc...
When your ATAC dies (or any ATAC for that matter) it flashes in a brilliant light that could only be brought to life by the power of the PS1 system.
A big part of the game is deciding which "elemental stones" you will imbue your characters with. Some of the ATACs have their own special stones built into them that can't be removed or exchanged. These stones are usually more powerful than the average. Each element gives the chosen ATAC a specific move set. The different basic elements are:
- Wind - Has more range and accurate attacks
- Fire - Lots of powerful and FP consuming attacks
- Water/Ice - Probably the weakest, there's some range attacks and effects attacks, but nothing super damaging
- Earth - Has some healing/range attacks
Vanguard Bandits had a pretty interesting way of advancing the story line. Sure, there are three alternate endings which is nothing too alien to gaming. However, the game also had multiple paths that you could take. There are three different paths that you can take. Something to note is that you may get different endings based on your relationships with people. There is a little interview
option between missions where you can chat it up with
different companions. This can have effects on what happens in the game.
But back to the three story lines (or branches, as tree enthusiasts would say). In each one Bastion is always the main character.
- The first basic branch is the Kingdom branch. This is the one that happens most naturally. You are a good hero throughout and it has a general good v. evil vibe throughout the whole thing. Very basic stuff.
- The second branch is the Princess or Empire branch. I bet you can't find out why ! Naturally, you follow a different path. You ally yourself with the Princess and join her secret group bent on finding bad seeds within the empire. You are often misunderstood by people of the Kingdom. They just assume you are a bad guy and attack you all the time. You just want to bring peace to the world, man!
- Then there is the Ruin branch which is just a super weird story, but still interesting nonetheless.