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In the future, humans have colonized Mars for three centuries and are near completion of its terra-formation. Other than political friction with Earth, it is considered humanity's Golden Age. One day, contact with the Vesta asteroid mine was lost. The asteroid had been taken over by a hostile alien force that would be become known as "First Approach" (F.A). The F.A began causing terrible destruction and then suddenly vanish before anything can be done to stop them. In order to combat this threat the Solar system Defense Force (SDF) was established. However, irregular electromagnetic waves from The Seed, F.A's power source, will cause the SDF's unmanned fighters to malfunction. In response, the SDF adapted the Remote Artificial Intelligence Network to allow remote control of the their newly developed space fighter, Antares.
The first three levels are virtual combat simulations to let Frank Boyd, the pilot, get acclimated to using the RAIN system to pilot three Antares fighters at the same time. Frank's training is interrupted by an F.A, codenamed "Isis," hijacking the battleship Osiris inside a colony. This turns out to be a diversion to allow the F.A time to take over the Ziggurat Space Elevator, topple it, and destroy the Martian capital of Sheffield. Frank assumes control of three fighters left at the city and disables the core of the elevator. Then, things get worse.
Tropes used in Border Down:
- Beam-O-War: When an enemy fires a laser similar to your Break Laser, a large ball of energy is created that takes up a large portion of the screen. Small enemies and enemy shots are destroyed. Large enemies and bosses will take more damage compared to the Break Laser alone but only if the energy ball is toughing them.
- Continuing Is Painful: The Border System. When you start the game, you are given a choice of three difficulties/paths: Border Green for easy, Border Yellow for medium, and Border Red for hard. Choosing a harder difficulty allows for a higher score, but you technically only have one life on each Border. If you're on Green and you die, you Border Down to Border Yellow. If you die on Border Yellow, you Border Down to Border Red. And if you die on Border Red, it's game over.
- Inverted with actual continues because you keep your score, keep your progress on the Stage Norm meter, and you start at Border Green regardless of what Border you started the game with.
- Deadly Walls: Sort of. You can rub against a wall for a little bit, but continuous rubbing will kill you.
- Downer Ending: The only difference between the 6-D ending and the level 6 Nonstandard Game Over is Frank's brain got fried by the RAIN system and left in a vegetative state. 6-C is a little more hopeful; Frank's at least somewhat back in a properly conscious state, although the immediate terraforming is emphatically not going to work out. Also, it seems Frank's willing to give RAIN another go. Considering that he successfully wiped out the Earth conspirators' own version of Antares, and he has a better grip of what RAIN does...Question is whether the conspirators can still control RAIN's output..
- Engrish: The Engrish is good enough to let English-speaking players know what the story is, more or less.
- Every Ten Thousand Points: The Stage Norm quota. Reaching it allows you to go up one border at the start of the next level.
- Government Conspiracy: The First Approach were actually a fiction of the Earth officials behind the creation of SDF. SDF and RAIN were all just a ploy to (a) rip up Mars and force it back under Earth's rule...with Frank himself as a convenient fall guy for the disaster...and (b) design the ultimate battle machine--Red Wasps, the heavily armored versions of the Antares fighters that act as the 6-C and 6-D bosses. Even worse, everything but 6-C/D was a simulacrum fed to Frank to force him to ruin the space elevator...
- Hallucinations:The bosses for level 3 & second half of the level 5 boss. All of level 6, depending on how many Stage Norm clears you got and how much time is spent playing in the three Borders.
- Hitbox Dissonance: Shots can pass through your ship and won't blow it up as long as it doesn't touch the hitbox in the center. However, it will blow up if the ship itself, not the hitbox, crashes into solid objects.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In level 5, the mission is to disable the elevator core just enough to prevent the SEED from activating, but not to the point that it will explode. This is accomplished after the fifth boss's first two phases. Unfortunately, phase three is Frank hallucinating that it isn't defeated after all...
- Nintendo Hard: The game itself is hard. It seems impossible at first because you can only play sections of a level in Practice Mode that you've reached in Arcade or Remix mode, continues unlock over time, and you don't start with any.
- No Export for You: Only released in Japan. The game should work on an American Dreamcast and the menus are in English.
- Nonstandard Game Over: Level 1, 2, & 3 show excerpts from the SDF's reports about the RAIN system.
Level 4 shows Frank visibly distraught after failing to stop the Osiris and being consoled by his CO.
Level 5 shows the wreckage of the Antares and some of the space elevator in orbit after it fell onto the Martian surface.
Level 6 shows the massive canyon caused by the space elevator falling to the ground. The terra-formation of Mars is set back 100 years, the Martian economy collapsed, the Martian government fell into disarray, and Earth had to send its military to Mars to establish a provisional government.
- Spiritual Successor: Successor to Metal Black, a Shoot'Em Up by Taito. Hiroyuki Maruyama, the president of G.rev, started the company and did subcontracting work for Treasure and Taito to generate revenue just to make this game. Why? He just really liked Metal Black.
- Time Limit Boss: Subverted; the timer is used to calculate the bonus points you receive when you defeat the boss, with higher bonuses the closer the clock is to 0:00 remaining. If you fail to defeat the boss before the timer reaches -30 seconds, you still proceed to the next level, but take a hefty 6 million points in penalty.
- Title Drop: When your ship is destroyed and you see whether or not you got close enough to the checkpoint to start the next border at the second half of the level or the boss fight.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The RAIN system. The fact that piloting three space fighters with three separate missions via a remote control neural link overloading Frank's brain might have something to do with it.
- Not to mention that except for the battles in 6-C and 6-D, everything Frank experienced--hallucinatory experiences included--was custom-made by the Earth conspirators to manipulate him into doing their dirty work for them...They WANTED him to break. That way, he could easily be disposed of, and/or unable to mount a proper defense against being blamed for the space elevator disaster. But if 6-C is anything to go by...