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MS Saga: A New Dawn, also known by its Japanese title Gundam: True Odyssey, is a Play Station 2 RPG loosely based on the long-running Gundam franchise. An odd duck by any standard, MS Saga marries the iconic Humongous Mecha of the Gundam franchise with an entirely new setting and plot, effectively creating an(other) entirely new Alternate Universe to add to the Gundam menagerie. The result is predictably Troperiffic, cheerfully combining standard JRPG tropes with standard Gundam tropes into something of a Cliché Storm that may none the less be a Guilty Pleasure for fans of either (or especially both).

As a departure from most Gundam video games (which tend to be either arcade-style Action Games a la the Gundam vs. Series or Turn-Based Strategy in the vein of Super Robot Wars), MS Saga is a turn based Role Playing Game in the style of the Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest. The player controls a party of characters each piloting a mobile suit; as they fight, the characters gain levels (which increases their stats and expands the pool of more powerful "boost attacks" and useful "techniques" that they can perform), while the mecha can be equipped with various combination of weaponry via a Grid Inventory system. In a hanger with proper facilities, mecha can be upgraded and otherwise modified -- parts from many different mecha can be combined to form one new machine in a robotic form of Mix-and-Match Critters (incidentally mirroring the Real Life practice of combining multiple model kits into a single, new unit, a process known as "kitbashing"). Of course, you can always just switch wholesale to a shiny new mecha once you get your mitts on one. This multi-tiered system, with the linearly-developing Character Levels of most JRPGs applying to the pilots and the less restricted Character Customization more typical of Western RPGs applying to the mecha, can lead to the construction of absurdly-customized parties.

Note that this effort will not be wasted; MS Saga can reach Nintendo Hard levels even during normal gameplay. Additional extras, including Bonus Dungeons, Bonus Bosses, Boss in Mook Clothing battles, Tournament Arc Sidequests, and more are added at nearly all points in the game. Thankfully, these are generally optional, and in fact sometimes become Lost Forever without their existence ever really being hinted at. Getting true One Hundred Percent Completion is an impressive feat.

MS Saga incorporates mecha primarily from the Universal Century Gundam timeline, specifically from Mobile Suit Gundam to Chars Counterattack, but includes weapons and equipment from everything through to Victory Gundam. Mecha and equipment from Gundam Wing and G Gundam also appear, though primarily as rewards for beating the aforementioned optional content. The game did poorly both critically and financially, having the dubious honor of being the worst selling Gundam Play Station 2 game ever, though it's something of a Cult Classic among the few who took a shine to it.

The game provides examples of:

  • Absolute Cleavage: Li Fang.
  • Accidental Pervert: When Vargas first encounters Li Fang, she accuses him of trying to look up her skirt. It's likely intentional on his part...
  • After the End: The Great Fall, which killed 90% of humanity in a week, took place sixty years before the game begins. Thanks to the G Systems (which are basically Matter Replicators), the world recovered in fairly short order, if quite a bit emptier than before.
  • Alpha Strike: Various boost attacks; Gatling Body (fires all non-handheld weapons), Gatling Fire (fires all ranged weapons), and Ultimate Weapon (attacks with every weapon you have, including your melee weapon, which can be quite hilarious when you unleash the fury of bazookas, beam rifles, machine guns, Shoulder Cannons, and Wave Motion Guns on a target, then run up and punch it... and then it explodes).
  • Anti-Grinding: You don't get massive amounts of experience from random battles and stat gains from levelling up only makes up about a third of your offensive stats and none of your defensive. Your far more likely to just battle for money than exp.
  • Attack Drone: UC Gundams bits and funnels make an appearance as techs that can be powered up by the right equipment.
  • Awesome but Practical: Some of the most useful Boost attacks are Gatling Fire and Lightning Lancer. Gatling fire shoots all ranged weapons and is easily powered up and available to nearly every character. Lightning Lancer attacks without regard to Action Initiative and cannot be countered.
  • Awesome but Impractical: Shield cannons; as shields with built-in weaponry, they theoretically provide the benefits of both a shield and an arm-mounted weapon. Unfortunately, they tend to be large, relatively weak as both weapons and shields, and have significant speed penalties.
    • Some Boost Attacks have no real use. Explosion uses one of your ranged weapons to deal damage to all enemies in a huge Wave Motion Gun style attack, but since it just divides the normal weapon damage up between multiple targets, it ends up being fairly weak. Speed Lance is one that allows you to make a melee attack before anyone else can act, regardless of Action Initiative, but in late-game this does more harm than good since it doesn't allow your allies to set up support moves to cover you from Counter Attacks.
  • Big Damn Hero: Hal in the Gundam, Fritz and his Full Armor Gundam, plus Hal during the final dungeon.
  • Bigger Stick: New weapons and Mobile Suits are necessary at regular intervals if you want to survive.
  • Bishonen Line: Done with the Big Bad's mecha. He starts off in the Alpha Azieru, and when that's defeated he uses the G-System to reconfigure it into an evil version of Wing Zero Custom.
  • Boobs of Steel: The melee-oriented ladies (Tremmie, Rezner and Li Fang) are more stacked than the ranged-focused girls (Aeon and Lapis).
  • Boss Dissonance: While the mooks aren't exactly a cakewalk, the bosses are absolutely brutal. Starting at around mid-game, they can One-Hit Kill an unprepared party. Expect to engage in some Trial and Error Gameplay as you figure out a good loadout for a particular boss.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: The Master Gundam and Mini-G system are your rewards for fully exploring the Bonus Dungeon and fighting every suit in the game, including the Bonus Bosses. There is nothing much you can do with either one.
  • Can't Catch Up: Starting with the second mobile suit you get, it becomes clear that some mecha just flat-out overpower others. Given that you can only build a limited number of MS during the course of the game, and many of the ones you built are unique, you'll frequently have to settle for a subpar ride for some of your characters.
  • Charged Attack: Boost attacks, which require you to use between 4 and 10 units of energy, generated at 2 units per turn (unless you use items, equipment or abilities to increase it).
  • Char Clone: It wouldn't be Gundam without one! Hal has all the classic attributes of a Char.
  • Commissar Cap: Rezner wears one, as do a few other Eisengrad officers. Give her a Beam Pistol for extra Commissar points.
  • Counter Attack: Both enemies and allies automatically counter a melee attack on them with a melee attack of their own. Learning to deal with these is absolutely vital for the proper use of melee-oriented characters.
  • Crap Saccharine World: Don't let the cutesy look fool you, its still Gundam. The backstory alone kills 90% of the population.
  • Crutch Character: Gavenger, who has good ranged and melee stats, all three basic defensive boosts, and a great healing ability. No other character has this combination of abilities.
  • Cowardly Lion: Fritz. He gets better.
  • Difficulty Spike: A very noticable one toward the end of the game.
  • Disc One Final Dungeon: Both the battle for the Dark Alliance base and retake Eisengrad paint themselves as the final battle. Neither are anywhere close.
  • Disc One Nuke: Its possible, but hard, to aquire equipment that is a couple upgrades better than what you should have. Some equipment is also alot better than its place in the story.
  • Eleventh-Hour Superpower: The Nu Gundam -- which has the largest possible equipment grid and among the best stats in the game -- is only available after the penultimate boss fight. The Sazabi, similarly powerful, only joins in for the second half of the Final Boss. You'll need them both for the Post End Game Content.
  • Expy: In addition to Hal, the obligatory Char Clone, Major Rezner has a strong resemblance to Ms. Matilda from the Mobile Suit Gundam.
  • Fight Woosh: The screen breaks into squares that fade out. They're even coloured differently for special encounters.
  • Five-Man Band The cast rather easily falls into one
  • Glass Cannon: Both Tremmie and Li Fang deal damage fast and hard, but lack defensive boosts. A number of MS with good melee or ranged stats but poor HP and armor stats also qualify.
  • Grid Inventory: Used to equip weapons. Each mobile suit's inventory is a rectangle of a certain height and width (the smallest is 3x4, the largest is 8x8), and each weapon is represented by a certain arrangement of squares. Melee weapons tend to be tall and skinny, while ranged weapons are short and wide; for example, a basic beam saber is one square wide and three tall, while a basic beam rifle is only one square tall but three squares wide. The dimensions of the grids reflect this as well; a melee-oriented suit will be have a tall, thin grid, while a ranged-oriented suit will have a short, wide grid, and a balanced suit will have a nearly square grid.
  • Infinity+1 Sword: The Nu Gundam is pretty much this. It has the highest speed and ranged stats and has some of the higher strength and armor as well as having a full 8x8 inventory grid. Burning Gundam can be considered one as well solely for its melee stat, which is way off the roof.
  • Jack of All Stats: Quite a lot of suits, notably the GM series of mecha. Generally averted for the characters; all of them focus on something.
  • Lethal Joke Character: Guncannon customised for barefisted melee attacks. How does that work?
  • Let's Play: has an impressive one Here at the lparchive. Has humor, Fritz bashing, but is played by a person who self-admittably makes tactical errors and refuses to finish the Bonus Dungeon.
  • Magic by Any Other Name: MS Saga calls them "techniques" instead of "spells", but they're still magic, complete with a pool of "Technique Points" instead of MP and a stat ("Mind") that controls how powerful a character's techniques are.
  • Magic From Technology: Presumably the case with techniques -- though the details of how that works probably don't bear thinking on.
  • The Medic: In a change from usual fare, the best medics are Fritz and Tristan.
  • Mighty Glacier: Tristan, Gavenger and Bazuli all have considerable offensive abilities but are also slow. Several MS with good HP and armor but low speed also qualify.
  • Mismatched Eyes: Tristan, for no reason.
  • My Rules Are Not Your Rules: Enemy suits have loadouts, abilities and powers that you cannot duplicate, without even counting the MS that you don't have access to.
  • Mystical Waif: Aeon, and how.
  • Nintendo Hard: The final stages of the game and the bonus bosses. The latter can easily kill you in one hit.
  • Older Than They Look: Marie, dubbed "Fossil" by Fritz, which she doesn't appreciate. It's implied that she's well over 70, being one of the founding members of The Unicorns.
  • Overly Long Name: Marie Orijin Neikeshuneku Tokita. We only get to see the full version once.
  • Palette Swap: There are relatively few actual enemy models in the game. Some of the more obvious ones include bosses like Big Zam or the Gundam Wing Gundams that show up again later, with different colors and more power.
  • Post End Game Content: An odd example; after you beat the Final Boss, you can save. When you load that save, it drops you at the save point immediately before the final boss, as if you hadn't beaten him yet -- except that the Eleventh-Hour Superpower that you acquire during the final boss battle is still there, and now the Bonus Dungeon is open
  • Power-Up Letdown: You can often invest alot of time, money and resources to aquire equipment and mechs that aren't much stronger or even weaker than what you already have.
  • Shout-Out: To other series.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Gavenger, staying behind to execute a You Shall Not Pass after the party has been chased into a small tunnel. He dies, which is considered stupid by some players since he could have just collapsed the mouth of the tunnel, and some of the enemies' suits are too big to follow the party in the first place.
  • So Long and Thanks For All the Gear: Averted, party members that leave cannot have their equipment custimized. Your still throwing away money by upgrading them though.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Justified, in the beginning the resident authorities on technology refuse to research weapons tech, wich leads to both sides using only the most basic of equipment. Later on villians Vladi/Hal and Gabriel have access to the more advanced tech. Then they find the unsullied equipment on the moon.
  • Special Attack: Boost attacks, which can be anything from a slightly more powerful melee blow to making the party temporarily invulnerable to specific kinds of attacks to simultaneously firing every weapon you have equipped and following up with a melee strike for good measure.
  • Standard Status Effects: Same old effects, shiny new names to make more sense as applied to giant robots. Acid is poison, Short is paralyze, etc.
  • Super-Deformed: The mecha of all things, are semi-SD. They're about halfway between their normal "realistic" proportions and their chibified SD proportions. This means that they're about 30 feet tall (instead of the usual 60-or-so) and more stylized than the typical depiction of mecha, but not to the point of being cutesy looking or their heads making up 80% of their bodies. The humans, though, are still normal.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Played straight and averted. While Bazuli and Lapis join the party near when Gavenger and Aeon leave and can take over some of their roles, they cannot do their most pivotal boosts and make up by focusing in other areas.
  • Too Awesome to Use: Engine energy equipment and high-stat boosts can turn the tide in many battles. Too bad you can't buy them.
  • Wake Up Call Boss: The first Gouf will teach you the importance of defending against boost attacks. The Xamel shows the necessity of defensive boosts.
  • With This Herring: Averted; top-tier (for the time) mobile suits are given to you at multiple points in the game. Don't expect much help upgrading them, though.
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