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Between 1999 and 2007 I got multiple CDs with multiple games for my birthday. One of those games was "Mortimer and the Riddles of the Medallion," which came out in 1996. But I am interested in different game. It was a 2-d turn-based PC game. Unfortunately, it was completely in Japanese, and I didn't know and still don't know any Japanese.

The player lead a squad of units. Those units included infantry with guns, futuristic hover tanks, and giant bipedal mech robots. On your turn you could move the units across the map, you would just select the unit and it will display the tiles you could move the unit to. When you selected an attack, you would lose control but could see enemy unit in like sidescroller view moving towards your unit from left to right on the screen. Then the view would change and you would see your unit moving from right to left towards the enemy. Then the screen would blink and you'll see whether your unit hit the enemy or not.

Sort of like this, only imagine enemy robot instead of car: image

Things that I remember is that you could sell and buy weapons and move them between the unit inventories. Mech units had unit portraits that looked like they came from anime. You could also buy weapons. I remember buying every mech unit red sword that looked like a lightsaber and equipping it, because it would never miss and it did a lot of damage. So you would see giant mech slicing a hover-tank for example.

I never finished the game because of eighth (or maybe later) mission. One of the mech pilots would lead a squad of infantry in that mission instead of piloting the mech, and his job was to destroy the wall (or maybe the dam or shield generator; I don't know). All I know is that you lost the game if the objective wasn't completed in set number of turns or if that "mech pilot turned infantry commander" died—which happened a lot because I didn't know what the objective is or what the game controls are.

It sort of looked like the Power Dolls 1994 game, but the pilots were male I think. That's all I remember.

Edit: After further search the game that it looks like the most both by the look and functionality is "The Hybrid Front" from 1994 for Genesis, with both the map movement, unit composition and similar fight animations. No mechs with laser swords, though :(

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    How does the side scroller view compare to Advance Wars or Super Robot Wars? Both are console exclusives, but it's possible there are PC knockoffs or doujin games. e.g. Gadget Trial is very similar to Advance Wars (and definitely not this game, if it has male pilots)
    – qazmlpok
    Jun 18, 2023 at 18:41
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    Super robot wars is more modern and "prettier looking" than what I remember this looking. Advance Wars are too cutesy looking at it is not it. Maybe earlier DOS game, like 1992 or 1994?
    – jo1storm
    Jun 18, 2023 at 19:26
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    @qazmlpok as for Power Dolls from the example, it looks like that game is doujin knock off of the game I remember, if that makes any sense.
    – jo1storm
    Jun 18, 2023 at 19:32
  • What about the presentation? From memory, advance wars would basically cut to a short video of the attackers firing on the defenders, while SRW tended more towards long, dramatic scenes. Was this anything like either? (I have no experience with power dolls.)
    – qazmlpok
    Jun 18, 2023 at 19:49
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    No, nothing like that. It was 3 seconds enemy mech standing still while the background moves, 3 seconds your mech, then attack animation (either fire gun or slash with sword) and then black and "You hit for 3 damage" message or something like that. See above image and imagine that the car is a mech. Or hover tank, or infantry man with gun.
    – jo1storm
    Jun 18, 2023 at 19:58

3 Answers 3

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After some searching Battle of the Youstrass seems like its a good match.

It's a PC strategy game released in 2000 where you control a group of mechs. The battles seem to match what you were looking for where it goes into a left to right cutscene and there are anime style portraits. Here's a screenshot from here: https://www.myabandonware.com/game/battle-of-the-youstrass-f5u

Battle cutscene

Reasons it may not fit are that I'm not sure the game actually came out in Japanese (it's hard to find info on this game) and I'm not sure there are missions where you are the pilot instead of the mech.

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  • So close I can almost taste it. I'll have to play the game to find out whether it is really that one.
    – jo1storm
    Jun 28, 2023 at 14:59
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Since this isn't apparently a Front Mission game, I did a Google search for other games similar to Front Mission and found this listing. Focusing on things with simpler graphics, I found Zone of the Enders: The Fist of Mars (2001) for the Game Boy Advance. I was not previously familiar with this game, but it also looks a lot like what the question describes.

This game is definitely two-dimensional, and it also features a lot of things similar to the Front Mission games: anime portraits, transferable weapons, and mechs (here called "frames," and which take various forms, including tanks and flying vehicles) using swords. After an attack is ordered, the game switches to a shooter screen in which you apparently have to hit the enemy. There's a bright flash and another switch to your mech attacking if the attack connects. Such an attack (missing with a sword) can be see play out starting at about 2:09 in the video above; another full one (a hit with rockets) starts at 4:01.

According to various walkthroughs, there are some missions in the mid-game that need to be finished in a certain number of turns in order not to lose.

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    Looks too good again, sorry. This game didn't have mock-3d like the one above. It was really simple "scrolling forest background and one object in front of it" animation.
    – jo1storm
    Jun 18, 2023 at 20:02
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This sounds like Front Mission 2 (1997), as seen here.

The essential gameplay is pretty much precisely as you describe. You can buy equipment for your mechs ("wanzers"), which come in a number of varieties—although there are a lot more enemy types than playable types. The playable characters and important NPCs have anime portraits, for when they have discussions (both in and out of combat). The combat is tactical, with the mechs moving on a grid, then switching to an attack mode, which is shown as an animation of the active mech moving into position and attacking, with lots of flashing if the attack connected. A representative combat can be seen in the above gameplay video, starting at about 17:14.

Moreover, the game had not (at the time you are talking about) been translated into English from Japanese. Gameplay in Front Mission 3 (1999) was very similar, but that game had an all-English release in 2000, so it seems less likely to be the game you are looking for. It could also conceivably one of the other games in the series; the original Front Mission and Front Mission 4 were similar tactical RPGs, and the series had gaiden games in other genres, including side-scrolling shoot-em-up and real-time tactics.

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    Front Mission 3 looks too good. This was purely 2d game. I don't remember if it was 2d top down or 3/4 view but it is not it. Front Mission 1 might be it, let me check. Edit: Its not it. But Front Mission 1 and 2 look close to the style
    – jo1storm
    Jun 18, 2023 at 19:29

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