The game is clearly geared towards kids, but the game also has very human characters, a somewhat serious storyline (augmented with simple slap-together comedy and belief suspensions), an engaging drone roster, thought-provoking moral moments, and possibly the most complicated and engaging damage formula in any basic tactics game. The difficulty level for the optional parts of the game such as challenge hard mode and the latter half of the Badlands is sometimes overwhelming due to the lack of balancing in the game and the card minigames, but is mature and at times near-impossible and yet rewarding when beaten. It is a game that a gamer parent (or any adult of any age) could have amazing fun with, and their young child could easily beat the Story Chapters on Normal Mode.
In the later half of the game, fleeing through the battlefield is not only canonical, but possible inside the gameplay itself. Experience and scrap ore are only slightly affected by fleeing and/or not destroying all enemy units. However, cards are affected heavily. So much so that Hard Mode, despite rewarding less scrap ore and experience, rewards much, much more cards. Hard Mode also introduces more interesting strategies and more difficult enemies, makes the enemies much more aggressive (in some cases making some traps obsolete and remote areas of the game on Easy Mode harder), and card minigames more difficult. Because Hard Mode introduces more enemies, it also introduces a regular-occuring divergence of experience and scrap ore that exceeds Easy Mode. It is for this reason that Easy Mode is by and far not encouraged, even for an easy time; that would be Normal Mode. Players can also challenge themselves with optional difficulties, one of particular note being a veteran challenge- No Repeats Hard Mode- consisting of challenging all of the first 25 chapters (excluding Chapter 25 itself) without touching the Badlands, and then advancing through the Badlands without repeating another for more equipment and scrap ore. Another side-challenge is tackling the Badlands at the earliest levels possible, also covered in Challenge Hard Mode. For a list of the rewards, including hangar equipment, cutscenes, and new drones, in the game, visit the Rewards page.
The Damage FormulaEdit
The damage formula is put together by easy-to-understand dual traits, such as power x accuracy, and defense x speed, melee vs guns- with third traits such as attack element, terrain and barrier, and cannons. The attack and defense stats multiply each other. Taking it as simple 100% hit chance, this essentially means 160 x 160 results in an attacking or defending value of 256.00, while a seemingly much higher value of 80 x 320 would result in exactly the same value. Understanding this places a much higher importance of defense on a butterfly and speed on a pillbug, as even-level defense will result in the drone becoming a tank. This applies a brutal effect on attacks. Melee attacks will almost always be much stronger than guns, with guns having less than double the power. Cannons come out lower as well, especially as a variable in judging whether the target will be hit makes cannons easily-evadable, and guns moderately evadable, with melee attacks nearly impossible to dodge. Knowing this is very important. Enemy drones will almost always try to evade cannons and defend against melee attacks because of this. Speed/evasion is less powerful than defense, but at multiple times the ability to dodge damage completely, adds heavily to total defense, and is the only option and oft-times stat protecting against barrier attacks. There is also an easily-missable variable in all of this which will sometimes cause massively more damage than possible (one-hit-kill) if the drone being attacked has low HP or the attack power of the attacker is large comapred to the defenses of the target.
[not based on actual values, actual values unknown]
?((DSPD) x ?(flagEvasion))) ÷ ( lower?(APow) x higher?(AAcc)) = Speed Damage
?((DDEF) x ?(flagDefend)) ÷ ( higher?(APow) x lower?(AAcc)) = Defense Damage
?(DBAR) ÷ ( ?(APow) x ?(AAcc)) = Barrier Damage
((?(defDam) x ?(spdDam) x ?(barDam)) x (flagAnti x 2)) = Damage Equation
((((Damage Equation) x ?(Dlow HP)) x ?(flagEvasion)) x random) = Full Evade/Critical Chance
The game is built around tactical turn exhaust. While most turns will consist of moving a drone and then attacking if adjacent to a drone, cards, cannons, and special abilities interrupt this process and replace a part of it with their own functions. The most common one is cannon units; cannon attacks must be performed before the drone moves, making cannons take twice the turns to move into position- or alternatively, making the other drones around them pull enemies into their range. The most basic interruption of turn use is cards. Map cards require one drone's turn to be exhausted, while also most probably putting them in an awkward position in the field. Snails and locusts both have special abilities that allow them to perform secondary actions within their turn. Snails can deploy independantly of their turn use, so can deploy four units, move, possibly use a card, then deploy four more. While Locusts can move a second (or first) time if they attack.
In regard to groups, turns follow Player Turn, Ally Support Turn, Enemy Turn, Enemy Support Turn, Player Turn.
Although general drone merit is covered in Rewards/Drones, there are a few concepts that must be grasped as basics of the game. Drones are given different roles; legs, wheel, tread, flying; melee, gun, cannon; fragile, weak, tank. For the most part, melee units are tank, gun units are flying and weak, and cannon units are fragile.
Leg units have average movement on all terrains and excel on pads, wheel units excel on open road and are average on terrain, tread units excel in trees and sand and marsh but not bases and rock, and flying units can fly anywhere. Flying units are given much less defense, on top of most being gun units, and also collect no terrain defense.
Melee units are powerful in all respects and have the highest damage. Because they have high defense, they can attack and possibly destroy many enemies during the enemy's turn. They are tied with the most important drones in the game. While gun units are the below-average drones, fully intended to be so by the game. They are normally highly mobile and attack enemies from behind the front lines to get the last hit in. Gun attacks don't result in as much backlash used by melee-dominant drones. Cannon drones are most often weak and one-hit-killable (after the first third of the game), but deal decent damage far away, so must be protected and helped by baiters.
Unique drones are the mantis who is behind the front lines but with hefty attack power, bee who has weaker attack but better movement and great defense, pillbug who has the lowest movement despite wheels but hefty defense and HP and attack capability, roach who is a cannon drone but versatiles in weak beam damage and can handle a hit or two with its speed, moth who is a flying tank gunner with the best attack effects possible, and centipede who is a ground-based flying-like anti-air gun unit.
Any drone can have a high defense, especially playing the defense stats to compliment each other, but this easily docks attack capability. While enemies never equip boosters, equipping any more than one weapon has disasterous consequences on drones' potential. This is how many enemies can come at the player, but the player can fight back. Non-cannon drones should have one defense booster and one attack booster- with some rare exceptions like the bee, moth, and pillbug (only in some cases). In most cases, however, the naturally high stat non-cannon drones should even still equip one defense and one attack booster.
The game intends that melee units stay in the front lines, the cannon units protected, and the gun units only for cleaning up enemies between them, and yet gives gun units fast movement speed and the front liners less speed than half of the cannon units. The faster and better movement allows better tactical movement, allowing a gun unit to attack any enemy from any side they wish, not to run ahead. Similar to how a cannon unit requires higher movement to get into a better attack range. The game intends the pillbug and rhino beetle to set the speed of movement as one collective attacking force, while the enemy advances fast and in small bursts. The game can, however, be played hard and fast, but ignores the pillbug and mantis quite a lot if so.
Experience and Scrap Ore (and Building)Edit
Scrap ore is always very tight for the player who regularly upgrades Dor-O. Dor-O's defense rivalling K-Buto's is annoying and dangerous in the earlier game, and knowing when to buy gun weapons is difficult. Often, in the early game, a player should not build anything over 60t, and continue to scale this rule up, only building expensive things rarely. For instance, building a side armor is entirely ridiculous for only 10 defense, but the thorax armors can be donated down, especially with Thorax Armor 2, which is the maximum armor for two out of four gun drones. For cannons, it normally ridiculous to buy anything that isn't Missiles X3 or X4 until the Story Mode is finished and the player is gaining range-boosters, where the only reasonable choice is, then, a Catapult 3. Blast Guns and especially Anti-Air Systems are frequently-upgraded, so if a gunner must have any of these, Blast Gun 2, or the final forms (Gatling Beam and Anti-Air System 3 respectively) are the only option on a tight budget. Check Rewards/Gear for when each piece of equipment is available.
Bonus experience should be primarily awarded to K-Buto, or Honey-B when she joins halfway through the game. It should never be awarded to A-Geeto, his partner's sister, or Sev-N. Due to Shoya and Yui exiting the group at the end of Chapter 11, and only joining again at the finale of the game, both will re-join the group at level 7, and will only finish the Story Chapters at level 12 or so. True cannon drones only raise cannons +1 accuracy per level. In fact, having cannon units during the pre-Endgame Badlands after beating Story Mode is an unwise choice for them hogging experience away from other drones. The three mobile cannon drones are slightly better, but always think about what you are upgrading. Cannon units have no stats of importance other than cannon power, accuracy, and range. Whereas defending units need speed, defense, HP, and their attack power and accuracy- all their stats. Other drones are sinks, such as, sadly, Y-Ite, D-Scythe, Clove-R, Fris-B, and Nyght-R.
The game is guilty of being developed very fast and haphazardly, as evident from Jegard having red hair right in the intro sequence, multiple clipping and crooked 3D rendering problems, generally poor to no characterization for a large fraction of the cast, devastating card minigames, and most noticably, the balancing.
Ordinary drones are drones who are on the ground and are set back by terrain in their way. Even tread movement is impeded by rock and bases. To balance this, tough terrain provides terrain defense, a wonderful system which heavily-protects any ground unit by more than an inexperienced player may think.
Flying units can go anywhere they please and have large movement range, and are balanced by having less defense stats. However, they are then thrown off balance by disabling them from soaring a little lower to gain bonuses from terrain. Guns are very variable and aren't unique to any one gun drone except for their final weapons, and they are capable of becoming beam type and anti-air type. Further, using guns dodges high counter damage from powerful melee units. To balance this, anti-air guns aren't available until halfway through the endgame, and beam weapons generally end up with the same attack strength from low damage until the second last chapter of the game-- and on top of that, all gun drones including ground-based gun drones (Stag Beetle, Spider, Centipede) suffer so little attack power that they are altogether unusable.
Anti-air and anti-ground drones suffer equally for having their low gun damage multiplied by 2 only after all calculations reducing their attack power to single digits and very low double digits for half of the game, leading final damage of 12 to equal 24 instead in many cases. Anti-air attacks are often very effective only because of how incredibly weak flying drones are- and on top of the heavy weakness normal anti-ground drones recieve, anti-air drones are considered to need more balancing and have little to no defense. The Mantis and Cicada are the weakest drones in the game, the Mantis laughably so as he cannot equip any defense boosters whatsoever, and the Cicada only capable of gaining 45 defense at all. Both have attack powers below the average drone of their weapon classes on top of this, and the Mantis can only travel 4 squares, something that not even the Rhino Beetle stays hindered by.
Versatile drones are also heavily-balanced. Most drones equip an attack booster and a defense booster, greatly increasing their combat ability, while versatile drones instead equip two methods of attack, so as to be able to counter more drones and do more damage. To balance this, versatile drones are given less defense (rather than more, as more countering would require more constitution over longer periods), and are incapable of equipping either another defense booster like every other drone to boot, or equipping a quality attack booster to boost both attacks. In the end, actually using versatile drones as versatiles would result in very low damage even with melee attacks which is not dissimilar to gun drones and attack effect drones, and the drone dying in a few hits. Actually using versatile drones as versatiles is outrightly impossible because it doesn't matter which attack is used during the player turn, and if the drone is weak during the enemy turn they may die, especially if they counter instead of defend. The Stag Beetle has only slightly higher defense than flying drones and can boost both attacks with a radar, but one of his attacks is a gun. The Dragonfly is actually supposed to be at the same level as the rhino beetle, but flies, is anti-ground, and is gun-cannon versatile, and has very low defenses, does not have RNG+1, can't equip half the cannons in the game including all Badlands cannons, and her versatile attack booster is a radar on her cannon slot which powers the wrong second slot. In fact, the two adamantly-versatile Black Swarm generals, including the one general who is intended to be the strongest, are the weakest two generals.
High-speed drones are an entirely different flavor, where the high speed often allows enemies to completely sabotage plans hinging on luck, especially noticable in the endgame. While the player's drones relying on luck for repeated and repeated damage is not exactly the wisest thing, slamming drones like the butterfly and spider. This is because butterflies are supposed to be so flitty, and roaches are supposed to have unique method of defense. But this backhandedly applies to hearty drones like the Bee, and Spider, who are actually more powerful than they are supposed to be for their ability to easily dodge any gun and cannon attacks by using Evasion. Especially notable is the bee, who is supposed to be a minor drone, but is piloted by the most likable character and is actually stronger than all of the four generals.
In fact, the Four Generals are (intended to be) powerful drones even more powerful than the rhino beetle and dragonfly, but every one of them are afflicted with at least one of these. The Roach is an all-versatile who has an attack power as much as an ant to even more balance his high speed (devastating with a defense booster, however), the Moth is supposed to be a powerful anti-ground gunning flying tank who doesn't need terrain defense but can't get there because of her low speed and general low stats, the Spider is supposed to be the most powerful drone in the game with strength in all attacks and high defenses but can be destroyed easily from non-gun/cannon attacks and poses little damage due to using every slot as a weapon and none for defense or attack boosting, and the Centipede who mimics a flying unit but from the ground as a melee-gun versatile and yet has even less defenses than a flying unit and can be one-hit-killed by one good attack.
Battle cards are designed to amplify the drone's power so much that they turn the tide of battle for the one attack of that turn that they are used, and can be incredibly powerful, if not win the entire round. In fact, in the Badlands, some areas are outrightly impossible even at max level, without cards. Enemies are essentially fodder for cards' effects. To balance this, the game occasionally gives butterflies the ability to fully heal an entire turn worth of damage, and in the Badlands, give a deck of cards to each individual drone. Further, harder modes and more difficult enemies will altogether always win with their cards and make you lose with your own, halfing your battle cards' effects, and doubling theirs. Along with the fact that the enemy always outnumbers your drones, and especially later in the game, where Four General level drones are common and the game actually equips them well. Not only that, but although the effect of the minigames are all but a certainty, the game is unskippable and requires hard work and effort, only to slam you with failure to maximize even on easy against regular enemies, and especially on Hard Mode against high-Badlands enemies. This ends up with a near-definite one-hit-kill if wrongly placed, and doubles of the duration of the battle. Many players have actually quit Badlands 40+ entirely because of this minor system intended for fun playability, which actually makes this part of the game crushingly emotionally defeating and draining, and in many cases unplayable.
Please note that, although this takes away the usability of most drones on the roster, and quite often slams the game's playability, before judging the game based on its flaws, try to think of a flawless game on the top of your head, and realise that the many unique-to-only-itself systems and highly fun gameplay makes up for most of this. Except for the card minigames, which will greatly depend on the personality and patience of the player. However, again, the card minigames are only an issue on a few Story Chapters specifically on no-Badlands challenge, and Badlands 40+.