Vanguard Bandits

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Vanguard Bandits
Vanguard Bandits Coverart.png
Developer(s) Human Entertainment
Publisher(s) PSN
Composer(s) Kouji Niikura
Chiyomaru Shikura
Masafumi Takada
Platform(s) PlayStation, PlayStation Network
  • JP: July 30, 1998
  • NA: April 29, 2000
PlayStation Network
  • JP: September 24, 2009
  • NA: November 15, 2011
Genre(s) Tactical role-playing game
Mode(s) Single-player

Vanguard Bandits, known in Japan as Epica Stella(エピカ・ステラ), is a tactical role-playing game (RPG) for the PlayStation. The game was developed by Human Entertainment and originally released in Japan on July 30, 1998. It was published in North America by Working Designs.

Japan Constitutional monarchy in East Asia

Japan is an island country in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies off the eastern coast of the Asian continent and stretches from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea in the south.

Tactical role-playing games are a genre of video game which incorporates elements of traditional role-playing video games with that of tactical games, emphasizing tactics rather than high-level strategy. The format of a tactical RPG video game is much like a traditional tabletop role-playing game in its appearance, pacing and rule structure. Likewise, early tabletop role-playing games are descended from skirmish wargames like Chainmail, which were primarily concerned with combat.

PlayStation (console) Fifth-generation and first home video game console developed by Sony Interactive Entertainment

The PlayStation is a home video game console developed and marketed by Sony Computer Entertainment. The console was released on 3 December 1994 in Japan, 9 September 1995 in North America, 29 September 1995 in Europe, and 15 November 1995 in Australia. The console was the first of the PlayStation lineup of home video game consoles. It primarily competed with the Nintendo 64 and the Sega Saturn as part of the fifth generation of video game consoles.


Vanguard Bandits is a support-centric strategy RPG featuring tactical combat in a medieval fantasy world in which knights and soldiers pilot mecha . This game takes place on the Continent of Eptina where numerous battles have taken place over territory, goods, and beliefs. In the midst of the conflict archaeologists in the Pharastia Kingdom discovered giant armored mecha that they called ATACs, or All Terrain Armored Combatants, that could be controlled by the thoughts of the pilot seated inside the unit's head. The Kingdom used the power of these ATACs to assume control of the entire continent, and then decided to use them to keep the peace in their new territories. Pharastia soon began to lose control as Coup d'etats and civil wars erupted which left it in a defeated state, with only their standing army remaining.

Knight An award of an honorary title for past or future service with its roots in chivalry in the Middle Ages

A knight is a man granted an honorary title of knighthood by a monarch, bishop or other political or religious leader for service to the monarch or a Christian church, especially in a military capacity.

The term mecha may refer to both scientific ideas and science fiction genres that center on giant robots or machines controlled by people. Mechas are typically depicted as humanoid mobile robots.

Coup détat Sudden deposition of a government; illegal and overt seizure of a state by the military or other elites within the state apparatus

A coup d'état, also known as a putsch, a golpe, or simply as a coup, means the overthrow of an existing government; typically, this refers to an illegal, unconstitutional seizure of power by a dictator, the military, or a political faction.


Vanguard Bandits is an RPG strategy game played on an isometric grid of squares with representations of all the player and computer controlled ATACs, similar to Final Fantasy Tactics and the Front Mission series by Square. Each character can move around on the grid, attack, and perform support abilities. All actions during that ATACs turn takes up AP (Actions Points), and attacks produce FP (Fatigue Points). If the Fatigue Points reach maximum, the pilot becomes unable to perform any actions until he/she awakens, leaving him/her open to attack. When an ATAC unit attacks or defends from an attack, a detailed three-dimensional battle animation with music is shown over the normal grid. Between each battle is a story cutscene where the characters within the ATACs are represented on a similar grid and can interact and further the story line.

Isometric projection method for the visual representation of three-dimensional objects in two dimensions

Isometric projection is a method for visually representing three-dimensional objects in two dimensions in technical and engineering drawings. It is an axonometric projection in which the three coordinate axes appear equally foreshortened and the angle between any two of them is 120 degrees.

<i>Final Fantasy Tactics</i> 1997 video game

Final Fantasy Tactics is a tactical role-playing game developed and published by Squaresoft for the Sony PlayStation video game console. It is the first game of the Final Fantasy Tactics series and was released in Japan in June 1997 and in the United States in January 1998. The game combines thematic elements of the Final Fantasy video game series with a game engine and battle system unlike those previously seen in the franchise. In contrast to other 32-bit era Final Fantasy titles, Final Fantasy Tactics uses a 3D, isometric, rotatable playing field, with bitmap sprite characters.

Front Mission is a collection of video games and related media produced by Square, now Square Enix. The series was created by Toshiro Tsuchida and developed by G-Craft, a studio that was later absorbed by Square and existed within Square Enix as Product Development Division-6. Since the release of the original Front Mission in 1995, the series has gone on to encompass several media, including film, manga, novels, radio dramas, mobile phone applications, and toys. While the series is primarily rooted in the turn-based tactical role-playing genre, it has also ventured into other genres such as side-scrolling shooter, real-time strategy (RTS), massive multiplayer online (MMO), and third-person shooter through its spin-offs. The Front Mission video games have achieved moderate success, selling over 3 million units worldwide since the release of Front Mission 5: Scars of the War.

The player progresses through a total of 20 missions in one of three different story lines. Different battles and events happen based on the choices of the character within certain story scenes between battles, a character's level, or the morale of the group. Notably, if Bastion reaches a high enough level by the end of the third mission, he will be faced with the choice of whether to remain with his companions on the Kingdom branch or to chase after the game's villain, ultimately reaching the Empire branch. Each of these branches has two endings, the Kingdom branch depending on the overall morale of the characters and the Empire branch depending on Bastion's relationship with two female characters. And players who have beaten the game once are given the option of switching from the Kingdom branch to the whimsical, pessimistic, non-serious Ruin branch.


Each ATAC has a number of attacks available to it, depending on its weapon and gemstone; many major characters also have one (or more) special attacks not available to other characters in the game. Each attack deals a different amount on damage and has a different chance of hitting the target (affected, of course, by the character's own stats). Most attacks can only be made on adjacent squares; some can hit enemies further away, the Turbulence attack in particular having a range of four squares. Attacks from the side and rear have higher success rates and leave the defender fewer options; thus, flanking is a vital strategy in Vanguard Bandits.

Attacks can be classified into three types:

Additionally, some attacks can cause temporary negative status effects on the victim, such as reduced speed or attack power.

When attacked, the defending ATAC has several options:

If the defending character has the appropriate skill, some enemy attacks can also be parried, resulting in no damage to the defender.

Parry (fencing)

A parry is a fencing bladework maneuver intended to deflect or block an incoming attack.

As well as attacks designed to inflict damage, players can also use special abilities which assist friendly ATACs, such as increasing a stat, recovering HP or reducing FP. One skill, Turn Quake, is designed to be used on enemies; it rotates them in a random direction.

Terrain plays an important role in the game. Moving across difficult terrain such as forests and deserts requires more AP than normal, although not all ATACs suffer equally from this effect (some not at all). Some terrain is completely impassable.


All-Terrain Armored Combatants, or ATACs, are the main fighting force of the various armies in the game; indeed, the entire combat system revolves around them. ATACs are large bipedal, humanoid (though one ATAC is a quadruped) mechs powered by gemstones. Despite their high technological complexity, ATACs still utilize traditional weapons such as swords and spears. However, they can also use special attacks such as fireballs, earthquakes, flying shards of ice and tornadoes, depending on their gemstone.

Humanoid something that has an appearance resembling a human without actually being one; creatures with a mostly human shape

A humanoid is something that has an appearance resembling a human without actually being one. The earliest recorded use of the term, in 1870, referred to indigenous peoples in areas colonized by Europeans. By the 20th century, the term came to describe fossils which were morphologically similar, but not identical, to those of the human skeleton.

Gemstone Piece of mineral crystal used to make jewelry

A gemstone is a piece of mineral crystal which, in cut and polished form, is used to make jewelry or other adornments. However, certain rocks and occasionally organic materials that are not minerals are also used for jewelry and are therefore often considered to be gemstones as well. Most gemstones are hard, but some soft minerals are used in jewelry because of their luster or other physical properties that have aesthetic value. Rarity is another characteristic that lends value to a gemstone.

A sword is a bladed weapon intended for slashing or thrusting that is longer than a knife or dagger, consisting of a long blade attached to a hilt. The precise definition of the term varies with the historical epoch or the geographic region under consideration. The blade can be straight or curved. Thrusting swords have a pointed tip on the blade, and tend to be straighter; slashing swords have a sharpened cutting edge on one or both sides of the blade, and are more likely to be curved. Many swords are designed for both thrusting and slashing.

ATACs that existed before the game takes place are called "Excavated ATACs". These were built by Eptina's original inhabitants and were discovered by archaeologists of the continent's current settlers. These machines became the basis for modern ATACs though none created since have surpassed an Excavated ATAC on the combat field. Each ruler of Eptina possesses an Excavated ATAC.


Vanguard Bandits focuses on the interactions between the nations and individuals on the Continent of Eptina. There are seven different nations that are allied or in conflict:

The Kingdom is involved in a long-standing war with the Empire, which has conquered parts of the Pharastian Kingdom, including its capital. The Empire supposedly started the war in order to seize Prince Bastion, the only person who can unlock Ultragunner.


Long lost prince of the Pharastia Kingdom, protagonist of the game. When the Empire seized the Kingdom capital, Alugard spirited Bastion (then still a baby) and raised him, teaching him how to fight. He eventually returns to become the leader of the Kingdom against the Empire (but not in the Empire branch) at the age of sixteen. He pilots the Alba ATAC which he inherited from Alugard but later gains the legendary Ultragunner or the TIC-TAC, depending on which storyline he is in.
The beautiful princess of the Empire and Duyere's sister, one of the possible romantic interests for Bastion (particularly in the Empire branch). She has a temper as fiery as her red hair, and follows a "shoot first, ask questions later" approach to thwarting hostility and injustice. Often in conflict with General Faulkner. She pilots the Sylpheed, a blue-excavated ATAC with large wings.
General of the Junaris Empire, antagonist of the game. Faulkner is an evil, scheming man who will do anything to achieve his goals. He is out for revenge against the entire world for the death of his father, as well as other atrocities committed by the combatants in the war. Outwardly, he shows respect for the members of the Imperial family, but only so he can exploit them for his own nefarious purposes. He first pilots the Solarus which he gained from his father but later discovers the legendary and polar opposite of the Ultragunner, the Zulwarn.
Bastion's adoptive father and former bodyguard of the King of the Pharastia Kingdom. He fled from the burning capital with Bastion on the King's orders, changing his own name to Kamorge in order to hide from the empire.
Bastion's adoptive sister (and potential romantic interest). Her parents were killed by Imperial forces when she was very young, and Kamorge, who was a family friend, took her in. She cooks and cleans for Bastion's party. She eventually learns to pilot an ATAC.
A friend of Bastion and ATAC mechanic. Despite his small size and large spectacles giving him the appearance of a young geek, he is an extremely skilled ATAC engineer. He has some skill controlling ATAC's as well and takes hold of the Zulwarn eventually.
Alugard's elder brother and commander of the current Kingdom forces. He has a well-honed sense of honor, and dreams of the day when the Pharastian Kingdom will be restored to its former glory. Galvas is extremely inflexible and has nothing resembling a sense of humor.
Prince of the Junaris Empire and the heir apparent to the Imperial throne. Unfortunately (or fortunately for his opponents), he is brash, immature, naive and lacks leadership skill. General Faulkner uses him as a pawn for his plans. Duyere has a very intense rivalry with his sister, Sadira. He inherited the excavated ATAC Sarbelas from his father.
The silver-haired, pale-skinned ruler of Hibernia. He is at a constant state of hostilities with Duke Logan. Also considered to be the best chess player on the Continent (although in the Ruin Branch, Milea beats him on their second game and wins the rights to his ATACs for one week).
His ATAC is the excavated ATAC Altagrave.
Duke Zeira is the ruler of the Avalon Principality. In the absence of their leader, Zeira helps the people of the Kingdom in their fight against the Empire, though he has taken some flak for this back home from people who believe Avalon has its own problems to worry about. His ATAC, the Toraedore, is an excavated ATAC which is notable as it resembles a Centaur.
One of Marquis Dionne's highest underlings, Andrew is a flirtatious ninja with a taste for both alcohol and women. He shows great confidence in both his combat skills and his ability to seduce the ladies.
Ninja maid working under Princess Sadira. Cecilia is a possible romantic interest for Bastion (during the Empire branch). She is also a double agent for General Faulkner, who uses her to keep track of Sadira.
The saccharine crimson-haired daughter of Duke Logan, with a distinct Valley Girl personality. While an irrefutably spoiled brat, she does have considerable combat ability. She and Sadira have a rivalry going back to their days in the academy..
The ruler of the Junaris Empire, Emperor Degalle is assassinated on the orders of General Faulkner, so his weak and easily manipulated son Duyere (who is firmly in Faulkner's pocket) can take the throne. He is only seen in a flashback.
Devlin's "special friend". A hungry, pudgy pilot who often provides comedy relief. He claims his portly nature is due to a 'glandular disorder', which supposedly gives him a voracious appetite.
Devlin is a brash young man with a strong sense of honor. He has a fiery attitude, but he can't stand the spilling of innocent blood. He is also Melior's brother.
Ruler of Dionne-Lehve, Marquis Dionne is a gruff old warrior. His family was entrusted long ago with the guarding of Gratia, the stone required to activate the Ultragunner. His ATAC is the excavated Roaring Lion.
Duke Logan is the ruler of Nordilain. A man's man, he can never get enough fighting and is very aggressive. He also has a lecherous side. He controls the excavated Crimson ATAC.
One of Sadira's royal bodyguards, a somewhat relaxed older man. Franco acts as a father figure to the young princess, since her real father lacks either the time or inclination to be a father to his daughter.
One of Sadira's royal bodyguards, a serious old woman. Halak is the complete opposite of Franco in how she tries to rear Sadira. While Franco prefers freedom for Sadira to make her own mistakes, Halak prefers to boss the young princess around. She is the mother of Emperor Degalle (and therefore, the grandmother of Duyere and Sadira).
Reyna's close friend and fellow pilot. She has a somewhat androgynous appearance.
A blonde-haired, spirited girl who fights for the Avalon Defense Corps.
A brash, incompetent Commander in the Imperial Army. He also sports a horrible German accent which provides some comic relief. Zakov is always persuading Madoc so he can get the latest ATAC designs.
Duke Radcot is the overweight dictator of the Muspel Nation. He has ambitions of ruling the entire continent, and is not above double dealings and backstabbing in order to achieve what he wants. He controls the excavated ATAC Bahamut which resembles a dragon.
Ione's father and member of the Avalon Defense Corps. Frustrated with Avalon's commitment to assisting the Kingdom while neglecting its own people, Kaidul starts a coup d'etat instigated by Imperial agents.
Designer of many of the Empire's ATACs, including the Sharking. He is the grandfather of Puck, Bastion's engineer. Madoc has little if any respect for human life, and this is reflected in his ATAC designs.
Nana is the sweet daughter of the sleazy Duke Radcot. She steals her father's Bahamut ATAC after he is assassinated by a man in the employ of General Faulkner. Nana has a bizarre pet named Kyu-Kyu. She inherits her father's Bahamut after he is killed.
A commander in the Kingdom Military who betrays his country for more power from the Empire. He stutters and stammers a lot. He pilots a Kingdom exclusive ATAC called the Waiban.
Alden's right-hand woman, the only person on the Continent that Lord Alden unconditionally trusts. For this reason, he has her manage the affairs of Hibernia while he is away.
Assistant to Duke Logan, Shion is assigned to look after Claire. He is an extremely precise and professional person. However, he also harbors a secret crush on Claire.
A major Kingdom Commander whose town, Eiza and family have been seized by Faulkner to blackmail him into cooperating with the Empire.
Savaro is Faulkner's father. A former warrior of the Kingdom, he was tricked by Emperor Degalle into believing that it was the Kingdom who burned down his hometown, resulting in his wife's death. Savaro and the King killed each other as Imperial forces entered the capital. Faulkner inherits his initial ATAC from him after his death.


Prior to its North American release, Vanguard Bandits was titled Detonator Gauntlet by Working Designs. However, Midway forced the company to change it due to its similarity to the Gauntlet series of action-fantasy games. [1] The North American release included a bonus demo disc of Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete for PlayStation.


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  1. IGN Staff (November 22, 1999). "Name Change for Detonator Gauntlet". IGN . Retrieved 2011-04-14.