13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is the latest 2D creation from Vanillaware, a studio known for gorgeous art and fun, fast-paced games. But this game also represents a departure from the developer's past work, featuring a genre-blending mash-up of visual novel-style storytelling segments and an RTS-esque battle mode that players can switch between at will.
Throw in giant mechs, aliens, and even more sci-fi shenanigans, and you've got a game that's catnip for a genre fan, but also one that's got a lot going on. No one would blame you for missing some Easter Eggs and secrets, and here are just a few that you might want to keep an eye out for.
7 There's A Secret Cutscene
13 Sentinels features three separate modes – Analysis, Destruction, and Remembrance – and it tracks your progress through each mode with a percentage. When you beat the game, you'll see that both Destruction and Remembrance modes are at 100 percent… but Analysis isn't.
If you jump into this mode and scroll to the bottom, you'll find a new cutscene labeled "Infinite Possibilities" that raises some questions about the game's events and its ending. Is this story destined to play out over and over again, all across the galaxy?
6 Fluffy Is Hidden Under The Cartridge
13 Sentinels was originally a PS4 exclusive, but Switch players were blessed with a port further down the line. And for players who opt for the physical edition on the Switch, there's a cute hidden Easter egg in the packaging.
When you remove the game card from the slot in the case, you'll discover an image of Fluffy – a small cat with a big role in the story – cleverly hidden beneath it. It's a cute little touch that rewards observant fans.
5 Kurabe's Favorite Movies… Or His Memories?
Though 13 Sentinels features 13 playable characters – hence the title – the game's hero character is Juro Kurabe. He's front and center in the game's art, his story was reportedly the first one that director George Kamitani began writing, and he's the first person you'll control in the story. He's your introduction to the game's world, in other words, and his predilection for nerdy sci-fi sets the tone for the game as a whole.
Throughout his story, he'll trade videotapes of '80s sci-fi movies and talk about the latest films with his friends. But as you play, you'll notice that you're playing through the plots he mentions. Are these references just to his favorite movies, or are they foreshadowing for the story?
4 Individual Stories… Or Movie References?
But this method of building a plot isn't limited just to Kurabe's story. The whole game is built out of cultural references to movies, books, and video games; even though each character's story is part of a larger plot, they're also self-contained narratives that play with the conventions of different genres.
One story might reference things like E.T. or Wall-E, while another might be a time loop saga like Groundhog Day. Even the characters within the game seem to be aware of the tropes that govern their lives. Can you spot all of the different references in the game?
3 The Countdown Timer Actually Counts Down
At one point in Fuyusaka's story, you'll discover an underground UFO, filled with unfamiliar and advanced technology. Among the various machines strewn about, you'll also uncover a timer that counts down to disaster. You'll want to fast-forward through the scene because the ticking clock brings a sense of urgency.
But if you don't advance the dialogue and choose to wait instead, you'll notice that the timer isn't on a loop – it's actually counting all the way down to zero. But since it's set at something like 3 million seconds, it's still a mystery as to what happens then.
2 Even The Smallest Details Contain Easter Eggs
The storylines for each character contain plenty of references both big and small, obvious and hidden. But the game's so jam-packed with Easter eggs that the smallest bits of the story include stealthy references to classic sci-fi. One of the game's major driving plot points is the development of nanomachines, titled Innerlocitors, and the eventual havoc that they wreak on the world.
In a post-release Q&A session, director Kamitani revealed that these nanomachines were named after a device from the 1955 sci-fi film This Island Earth, while a giant computer that the characters uncover references a classic manga titled Toward The Terra. The references in this game pull from all different eras of nerd culture.
1 Vanillaware's Done RTSes Before
13 Sentinels gets a lot of mileage out of its combination of visual novel storytelling and RTS combat, and its blend of different styles is definitely unique – especially given how many of Vanillaware's past titles focus on fast-paced combat. But it's not the first time that developer Vanillaware's gotten in on the RTS genre.
One of their first games, GrimGrimoire, was a side-scrolling RTS for the PS2; it's sort of like if the two major modes of gameplay in 13 Sentinels were combined into one. And an HD remaster for modern consoles titled GrimGrimoire OnceMore is just around the corner, so if you dug the unique vibe of 13 Sentinels you might want to dig into Vanillaware's past work as well.
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