Thursday, January 13, 2011

Breast Fire, Rocket Punch, Form Blazing Sword




I find it surprising, and not for the first time, that the tags for some of my favorite subjects have but one or two entries on them after all this time. One of the items that struck me as being especially under-discussed in one of my all time favorite RPGs, R. Talsorian Games' Giant Robot Anime classic, Mekton.

As with numerous other aspects of my time with the hobby of gaming, it would seem my exposure to Mekton's original source material was somewhat atypical. By the time the original white box Mekton and the later book version was released I was already an Anime fan. Yes kids, before the 'R' word*, before Power Rangers, Toonami and every Best Buy in America having Japanese cartoons, I was already familiar with the 'Japanimation' phenomenon.








A good friend of mine in Junior High School, 'Buzz', was originally from Burma and clued my friends and I in on the fact that Battle of the Planets was really Gatchaman and robots could get big. Really, really big. This same fellow would later introduce me to a club that met one a month in Manhattan to view episodes of TV shows currently running in Japan which had been recorded on VHS tape. You could record a TV show on a machine and play it back later like a cassette tape? The mind boggled...

A fan of anything with robots, super fast action and a cool story, I was immediately in love with Anime and Manga. I collected tapes, bought magazines I couldn't read and put together plastic model kits that towered above my friends' measly miniatures.

When Mekton came out my good friend Nelson purchased it right away and we played it constantly...well...on and off. See there we're only a few of us who were keyed in to this 'underground fandom' and we still spent most of our game time on Star Trek, Star Wars (homebrew before West End's D6), Villains & Vigilantes, Champions and other supers games and pretty much anything else we could get our ravenous creativity on.






Mekton would stand the test of time however as my purchase of Mekton II in 1987 would renew my interest in the game and the subject. I ran several successful campaigns between 87' and the release of Mekton Z in 1994 (and have run several since). The vast majority of these campaigns have been rather limited in duration however, averaging between six and a dozen sessions. I do recall two long term campaigns however; World Guard Tri-G'Kura which ran for around 24 episodes and Distant Soldier Herakles (later changed to Be Forever Distant Soldier). The nature of the original material seems to lend itself to keeping the story short or, for longer term campaigns, running a number of short interconnected mini-campaigns (like OVAs).

Anyway, this brief trip down mecha memory lane has me wondering if they'll ever give the game a reboot. I would certainly support a Giant Robot Renaissance.

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8 comments:

  1. Never played Mekton, but I do remember the ads for it--and I remember fondly that "traded bootleg VHS" era of anime fandom, though I was not yet a particular big fan myself. I remember a friend of mine who's now a professional comic book artist loaning several filsm completing in Japanese with no sub-titles: "the animation's really cool, man!"

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  2. From what I hear, Maximum Mike is working on a new edition. I think it's going to be more rules-lite than the earlier games. More along the lines of the Cinematic system from the Tactical Display.

    Since you were into mecha and playing Champions back then did you ever play Robot Warriors?

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  3. BA, I'm sure you've seen the Big O, any thoughts on running a campaign in that world?

    ALL HAIL THE GIANT ROBOT RENAISSANCE!

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  4. @Trey- That's beautiful man. The kids these days are spoiled bro.

    @Fred- Why yes! In the early days of Japanese animation, Giant Robots were less scientific and more like building sized superheroes. In accordance with martial arts theories and Japanese theatre, the characters yelled out their attacks when making them. Mazinger's flying fist was 'Rocket Punch' and his most powerful attack, an energy blast from his chestplate was called 'Breast Fire'. In a latter series the mecha Daion Gamma can perform the attack.

    @Jerry- We did indeed play Robot Warriors (or 'Robot Hero' as we called it) and my Hero System Guru Genius friend Will did conversions so the mecha could build any power from Champions into their systems. We had mecha that could Teleport, Move at Super Speed, Become Intangible, Shapeshift and Multiply themselves.

    @Jay- Not specifically that world but the similarity to Batman did give us the idea for a short campaign set in an alternate DC universe where 'Batman' is a Giant Robot piloted by Bruce Wayne, Robin is a young android girl, Superman is essentially Tobor the 8th Man, Wonder Woman is akin to Revolutionary Girl Utena, Green Lantern and Green Arrow are vaguely reminiscent of the Elric Brothers from Full Metal Alchemist and Flash is a Naruto-esque Ninja. Together they formed the JLA or Japanese Legendary Assault.

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  5. I loved this game too, and I was probably infected by "Shogun Warriors" from when I was a kid before we really had any anime and the Marvel Comic was the only thing close. I found the original source later of course and enjoyed some of them too. I hung on to Mekton Z up until last year when I decided to thin out some of those Never Played games. For some reason I never could get a group to give it a try -I think Mechwarrior claimed that niche early for us and never released its grip.

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  6. Interesting. I just made an android in Gigacrawler.

    Verification Word: Fancon

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  7. Due to my early exposure to Japanese Anime I could never really embrace Battletech, Mechwarrior and its ilk. The robots seemed meaningless since tanks overheated less, planes were faster and more manuverable and the mechs were not really very versitile.

    And ugly. Gawd damn those ^*@kers are uglier than Captain Ugly's Ugly Wife after being beaten with an Ugly stick. They give supermodel good looks to Alice the Goon from the old Popeye cartoons.

    Bleh.

    I was always more partial to Mekton II than Z. I think Z, while amazing, is also too much work. I prefer the simplier mechanics of Mekton II.

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