A disclaimer before I begin, it must be noted beforehand that I’m talking about a game in active production that is still early in its development cycle. Some of things I’m going to talk about today have already been implemented. Other things are half-finished, while others still are merely planned. It should go without saying, but be aware that lots can change between now and the final game as things are implemented, tested, refined, and, in some cases, dropped altogether.
The first Another Star had a pretty typical battle system for an RPG modeled after the 8-bit era. Battles were fought in rounds. You’d pick a command, the game would randomly decide on a turn order based on each combatants’s agility, and then the battle would play out for you to watch. Fairly standard stuff. There were five commands in battle: Fight, Defend, Magic, Item, and Flee. They all did pretty much exactly what you’d expect they’d do in an RPG, with the exception that there is no targeting—everyone always attacked everyone else—and the defend command not only lowered damage taken but also restored a little bit of HP.
Another Star 2 builds on the first game’s battle system, so little has changed when it comes to the commands available. That said, however, the way you use many of the commands is liable to change.
The biggest single addition to the battle system comes in the form of “guard points“. Each character will have a few guard points; probably just two or three at first, but they’ll gain a few more as they gain EXP and level up. But even maxed out, each character will still only have a precious few—maybe 10 to 16 at most, and that’s only for certain characters. These guard points form the character’s “guard meter”. Certain actions in battle will begin to fill the meter, while others (more slowly) will allow the meter to lower back down until it empties out again.
Here’s the basic gist of it: you do not want the guard meter to fill up. Collectively, your active party’s guard meters make up the “guard pool”. If the guard pool is completely filled—that is, if the guard meter for every party member is filled—and the enemy manages to land a hit, then a “guard break” happens. The round immediately ends, and new one will start with the enemy free to wail on you with heavily increased damage while your party stands there in a daze unable to resist. In other words, it’s designed to be an easy way to get yourself killed if you’re not careful with your actions in battle. Character’s guard meters are not emptied after victory either, so plan accordingly.
Another Star 2 has six battle commands, in the form of icons. (Speaking of which, it turns out there was a Famicom RPG with an icon-based interface…) Here are the commands in Another Star 2, and here’s what they do:
This is your basic “attack” command. As with the original game, every party member will attack every enemy. There is no traditional targeting system. And again as with the original game, the fight command is a bit of a gamble. There’s a chance the attacker will miss a defender completely, dealing no damage at all. Or they might land a critical hit and deal loads of extra damage. The damage range is also likely to be very wide, more variable than the first game. If you absolutely must kill an enemy this turn, then “fight” might not be the way to go.
There’s also another interesting difference between Another Star and Another Star 2’s fight command. Characters with high agility have a chance to attack twice in the same round. The chance of it happening depends greatly on their order in the turn queue. And if you’re really lucky, and the character is really fast, they might even get a third attack in… (To make up for the lack of hits, characters with higher strength will likely have a better chance of getting good “rolls” which lead to better, higher-damage attacks. You’ll be able to tell how good an attack is by the character’s attack animation.)
The attack command is also important for another reason: it’s the primary way to get your guard meter to go back down. When the character attacks during a round (but probably only the first time, if they’re lucky and get multiple attacks) their guard meter will go down by half a point.
Defending will significantly lower any damage that characters take during the round. And, like the first game, when the character’s turn comes around in battle they’ll regenerate a decent chunk of their HP. The system was easy to cheese in the first game if you were patient and leveled up enough that you could restore more HP than the damage you took from enemies. But, as you might have already guessed, Another Star 2’s guard system is designed specifically to prevent that particular exploit. In addition to restoring HP, the character’s guard meter will go up by one point. Or, if the character’s meter is already full, that point will either be split between the other two characters, or given to the only character left with any room in their meter. This can make characters with smaller guard meters a liability if you’re not careful.
Defending is also not something to take for granted. In Another Star 2, each character has their own innate elemental affinities, which means they have their own elemental weaknesses and strengths. Those who played the first game should already know what this means: if a character is hit by an elemental weakness, it won’t matter if they’re defending. They’ll still take the same amount of damage as if they weren’t—which means extra damage, since it’s a weakness after all.
Getting hit by a weakness also causes the character’s guard meter to go up by one point, whether or not they’re defending.
Magic is going to work a little differently than the first game, but it’s still the same idea. There are no “magic points” in Another Star 2. Spells are cast by sacrificing your hit points. Since magic cost HP, there aren’t really any traditional healing spells (which is why the defend command is so useful in both games).
When casting magic, only the caster gets to act in battle; the other party members do not get to do anything that round. However, magic attacks ignore enemy’s armor rating, meaning they can often do just as much damage as all three characters together if the caster is good, and they can do a lot more if they exploit an enemy’s elemental weakness. Magic attacks will also tend to do more “stable” damage in Another Star 2, with very little variance from round to round. There’s also plenty of buffs and debuffs and support magic, too. Veterans of the first game will be glad to learn that hit point costs for magic are planned to be fixed-cost in Another Star 2 instead of percentage-based, and you’ll likely have access to earlier forms of spells instead of just the most recent upgrade. Useful, since the cost will still go up with each new spell evolution.
It’s also worthy to note that spells are not planned to be tied to characters in Another Star 2. Each character will get a fixed number of spell slots (with access to a few more as they level up), and you will be able to equip spells like you would weapons or armor. Some characters will get more slots than others, making them more useful for magic. But remember that characters have innate elemental affinities now. They can use spells of any element, but they likely won’t be able to do as much damage with spells that they’re weak to the element of.
This is a new command for this game that wasn’t in the original. Skills are innate to a character, similar to how magic was in the first game. You can’t just unequip a skill and give in to someone else. Each character has at least one skill, but may gain more as they level up. There will likely be ways to use skills from characters who aren’t in the active party, at the cost of guard points. As with magic, only the skill-user will go during the round.
Items are meant to be especially useful in Another Star 2. Other than defending, healing items are the primary way for you to restore HP. There’s also magic scrolls to cast spells you don’t have equipped, and without using up HP. And there’s going to be lots of situational battle items and fun little things to play around with, just like in the original Another Star. Certainly there will be rare or expensive items to do something about your guard pool getting dangerously close to filling up…
The best part is, just like in the first game, agility is not factored into turn order when using an item. The party leader will use the item right away as soon as the round starts. So go ahead, take a chance and let your HP get really low before burning a consumable to bring it back up! As long as you survive the round, you’ll be able to heal up right away come the next.
Sometimes things go wrong. Like, very wrong. In that case, there’s little to do but run away and live to fight another day.
As with the first game, you can’t run away on the first turn. You’ll also lose a good chunk of your loot when you do choose to run.
But one planned change from the first game is that fleeing doesn’t happen right away. The enemy gets one last free turn to smack you around before you go. Thankfully, however, you’re guaranteed escape. For this last beating anyone left standing will retain at least one hit point, and you won’t get your guard broken even if you take a hit with a filled guard pool.