By Carl David Dayagdag


Navigation:

Page 1 - Senko no Ronde's introduction
Page 2 - How Senko no Ronde is different and why people might not like it
Page 3 - Story and character overview
Page 4 - Senko no Ronde in the East
Page 5 - Home release updates, its Western arrival, and a doujin game
Page 6 - Virtual On and Towards the Earth (anime) comparisons
Page 7 - Arcade and Xbox 360 comparisons
Page 8 - Gallery and Links


Page Sections:

Introduction
Rondo sounds like Rondeau, but neither mean Ronde.
To dance well requires an understanding of the basics.

Despite the fact that the 2D shooter (or shmup) is one of the oldest genres in videogames, there have been very few games that pitted players against each other instead of working together to save the world, and I can only name two off the top of my head - ADK's Twinkle Star Sprites and Sammy's Change Air Blade, both arcade titles. Just recently, another game attempted to mess around with this concept. In 2004, Hiroyuki Maruyama, the founder of Game Revolution (or G.Rev for short), a company who proved itself to the industry with the release of Border Down and by providing Treasure with the engines for Ikaruga and Gradius V, decided that their next arcade title would be something to similar to Twinkle Star Sprites and Change Air Blade, with one major difference: it would feel as though it was a fighting game.

In order for this to work, a few key elements must meld to be consistent with both genres: movement is strictly two-dimensional, both players must always be facing each other at all times when they are not performing any complex actions other than moving, and there must be greater emphasis on attacking each other with projectiles over melee attacks.

So G.Rev decided to use characters who would pilot giant robots (or "Rounders" as they are called in this game) as the player's avatar that would wield the firepower of a typical shmup boss. To set it apart from Change Air Blade and Twinkle Star Sprites, both players were free to move to any point on the entire screen. To remain true to both fighting game and shmup genres, a player's arsenal would consist of projectiles at long range and melee attacks when in close proximity to their opponent. Since G.Rev wanted it to feel more like a shmup-based fighting game, the player can transform into a screen-filling shmup boss whenever the player feels like it.

This would become G.Rev's most ambitious project to date, as they probably almost bankrupt the company again by hiring a several talented people to help flesh out the game's world. For the mecha designers, there's Koichi Mugitani, who should be well known for doing the mecha designs for Xenosaga Episodes I and II, not to mention his collaborative efforts in the mechanical designs for Mars Matrix. While Nanashiki Yamamoto did all of the illustrations for Under Defeat (G.Rev's game that was released after this one), he's been relegated to only doing the mecha designs here. Last, but definitely not least, there's Shuji Sogabe, who not only was involved in the mecha designs, but was also the main contributor to the character designs and illustrations along with the aid of his partner Mizuki Takayama, both of whom I haven't been able to find anything relevant in their past works other than blurbs that they both did random illustrations together, but it looks like they were popular enough to appear in Newtype USA's October 2006 issue for its How To Art section. For the music, we have ex-Zuntata member Yasuhisha Wanatabe at the helm again, fresh from the completion of composing the soundtrack for a hentai game which I would link to the actual site itself if it was safe for work. G.Rev also hired some pretty recognizable voice actors to add personality to the characters as well.


Rondo sounds like Rondeau, but neither mean Ronde.

G.Rev called this game Senko no Ronde, a title that probably might appear in a translator's bad dream. The two kanji that comprises Senko means rotation and light; when these two kanji combine, the word refers to polarimetry, which is the science of measuring how much a light wave travels equally in two directions in a circular fashion through an object in order to measure its optical properties. The second set of kanji is the most confusing part of the entire name as it conflicts with the Western text right below it; the kanji says Rinbu, not Ronde. Once you start searching for ronde in other languages, however, it all makes sense: rinbu means "circular dance" and ronde is its French equivalent. The Japanese character no in the game's title is a particle used to connect both nouns together, and if it were literally translated we'd get some mess like "Round Dance of Polarimetry." It sure doesn't sound anywhere near as poetic as what G.Rev was going for, not to mention those that do know what polarimetry means will figure out that the name is redundant. A more meaningful title would be "Encircling Dance of Light," but I'm going to be using Senko no Ronde (or Senko for short) for the rest of this feature to avoid confusion.

At this point though, you're probably unsure of which word to use for this game's title when others want to hear the phonetic pronunciation of the name. It's the French word, with a silent e. The Japanese would pronounce this as rondo due to the nature of their language, and the following samples below confirm this, even though they also say "Drama CD" after they pronounce the game's title.

Senko no Ronde Pronunciation

To dance well requires an understanding of the basics.

Senko no Ronde is a very different fighting game when compared to the standards set by Capcom's Street Fighter II several years ago, and since it's rather unique, an explanation of the game system is needed in order to not become easily frustrated with it.

Sub Sections:

Overview
Control Scheme
Dash System
Close Combat
Charge Gauge and Special Moves


Overview

Senko no Ronde's camera views both players from either an overhead or isometric perspective, and the more the camera zooms in, the more isometric the view becomes.

What will freak out most players just at looking at the screen for the first time without any briefing as to what to expect are the Weapon Gauges. These are the two circles that encompass each player's Rounder at all times, and it informs the player of the ammunition status of their Main and Sub Weapons, with the former weapon always the outermost circle surrounding the player's avatar. There is also a large white circle that serves as the arena's wall, which can be used for various tactical advantages depending on what character the player chose.

As with any other fighting game, players are always facing each other at all times. If either player performs a more complex action other than moving around such as dashing or firing a weapon, that player's Rounder will break target lock.

Projectiles fired from the player whose Armor (life) Gauge is on the left side of the screen will always have a green glow to their weapons while the player whose Armor Gauge is on the right side will have a yellow-orange tint to them. Explosions relevant to the match at hand are always pink. The reason for implementing these decisions is because while it can be nice to display a various assortment of bullet colors, people would begin to complain that it's rather difficult to keep track of what might damage them and what might not.

Control Scheme

The player's Rounder is controlled using a standard arcade stick:

The buttons all sound pretty straightforward, except for the Action button. This button is context-sensitive, as the command executed will differ depending on what the player is doing at the time the button is pressed. When the player's Rounder is moving, pressing the Action button will make their mech dash. If the Action button is held down while the player isn't moving, three things will happen:

The most obvious one is a Barrier will appear right in front of the player's Rounder to reduce damage caused by their opponent's projectiles to a mere fraction of what they usually deal and will also negate all stun effects caused by them. The second change that will occur is that the projectile properties of the Main and Sub Weapons will change while in this mode; a weapon that usually only fires a straight line of bullets may launch out a slower spread attack instead while the barrier is on. The third change is that while the player's movement speed is reduced, moving in any other direction than towards their opponent will cause their Rounder to break target lock and fire their weapon at a slight angle way from their adversary.

Dash System

Because the natural movement speed of the player's Rounder is too slow to avoid most enemy projectiles, dashing is usually the most effective way of avoiding them and gaining an advantageous position at the same time. Players can also return fire during the middle of a dash, and the Rounder's projectile properties are altered when fired during this state as well. If the player chooses to fire their weapon during a dash, their Rounder suffers a freeze time penalty, where the player's Rounder is unable to respond to commands for the remainder of the dash as well about a split-second after the dash ends, which is usually more than enough time for their opponent to land a direct hit.

Other than returning fire, there are two other skills players can utilize during a tash. Inturn dashing is a technique where the Rounder turns at a slight angle away from their original dash trajectory, and the maximum degree of the angle is dependant on what character the player chose, and this technique is typically used whenever the player needs to increase their chances of landing a direct hit with their projectile weapons. Watari (Vertical) dashing is where the player immediately sends their Rounder off in a completely different vector during the middle of their dash, and this technique is executed by holding the stick in a completely different direction followed by pressing the Action button.

Close Combat

The Main and Sub Weapon Gauges also serve another purpose in Senko no Ronde: they determine the minimum distance needed before pressing the Main and Sub Weapon buttons on the arcade stick become Close Combat (CC) attacks. If the player's opponent crosses their Main Weapon Gauge, it will disappear, and at this point, pressing the Main Weapon button will cause the Rounder to execute a Chase CC,

which is where the Rounder draws out its weapon before it charges at the opponent with them. The player must press the Main Weapon button again the moment their Rounder comes into contact with their opponent to begin swinging at them with their weapon. A successful CC strike will stun their opponent's Rounder for further hits until the last swing generated causes their opponent to fly back.

Sub Weapon CC attacks are different from their Main Weapon counterpart, although like the Main Weapon Gauge, the Sub Weapon Gauge will disappear the moment their opponent crosses it. Pressing the Sub Weapon at this point will not generate a Chase CC; instead, the player's Rounder will perform a stationary CC attack at its current position, and as such, Sub CC attacks are usually defensive in nature while Main CC attacks are offensive.

Although it might be logical to try and use the barrier against CC attacks, they won't work; the only option to negate these attacks is to simply get out of the way of them or to hit the opponent with a faster CC attack.

Charge Gauge and Special Moves

Pressing both the Main and Sub Weapon buttons together causes the Rounder to execute a Barrage attack which drains reserves from the player's Charge Gauge, the third Weapon Gauge in Senko no Ronde located right below the Armor Gauge. Barrage attacks drain a specific amount from this gauge, and the amount drained is based on which character the player chose, as the image below demonstrates:

While the Main and Sub Weapon Gauges reload and empty in response to the player using them or not, the Charge Gauge has different parameters that determine how fast it will fill up and what causes it to empty. By default, it's only around half-filled at the start of each match and fills up slowly. Blowing up destructible objects deployed by your opponent such as missiles or getting hit by them fills it up even faster. When players activate their barrier, it stops charging up, and slivers of the Charge Gauge empty for each projectile it absorbs. Getting hit by certain attacks (mostly melee attacks) also drains a set amount of the Charge Gauge. Besides the Barrage attack, executing special moves also drains a set amount from it as well.

Yes, there are special moves in this game. Since some of G.Rev's members consisted of Taito's former arcade division, they decided to implement Psychic Force's method of executing special moves, although it's been streamlined so that you only need to press the buttons needed to initiate the Barrage attack after you performed the required movements needed. Psychic Force's special move execution is slightly different from typical fighting games, as regardless of your orientation to your opponent, as long as you did the required movements for the move to execute before pressing the necessary buttons, it'll still go off. So, for example, if the special move required you to do this,

M+S

You can instead do any one of these:

M+S
M+S
M+S
M+S
M+S
M+S

and that specific special move will execute.

If you guessed that almost all of these terms were taken directly from Virtual On, you are quite correct on that one. However, there's more to this game than just Virtual On's system, as the next page will demonstrate.

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