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Vantage Master (ヴァンテージ・マスター Vantēji Masutā ) is a tactical RPG game developed and published by Nihon Falcom in 1997. The game was never released outside of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Falcom released a sequel, Vantage Master V2, a few months after the first game's release, featuring new maps and adjusted character balance but unchanged overall game design. The English version of this game was made available as a free download as of 2002 under the title Vantage Master Online. Another sequel called VM Japan was released in 2002.
The player takes on the role of a summoner (known as Natial master or just master). A master can summon spirits known as Natials. All masters and Natials have maximum HP of 10. The object of the game is to reduce the opposing master's HP to 0. The game is played on a hex grid map with different types of terrains which affect the gameplay.
In scenario mode and expert mode, the player's master is chosen based on the answers to the 4 questions asked by the game.
The player must play through 30 stages, divided into 6 phases each containing 4 to 7 stages, against opposing masters. The initial number of Natials available for summoning is 4 but the number increases after clearing each stage. There are two levels of difficulty: Easy and Normal. The primary difference between the two modes is that in Easy mode, enemy masters will be at a lower level, whereas on Normal they tend to match yours, depending on the order in which you play maps.
In Vantage Master Portable, it is slightly different - Normal mode is essentially the Easy Mode, while Hard Mode is the equivalent of Normal mode.
Both the player and the enemy are equipped with all Natials and magics available in the game, but the map design is generally disadvantageous for the player. Expert Mode consists of 8 stages.
Free Battle allows the player to configure all settings including masters, stats, Natials, magics and map. Each of human vs human, human vs CPU and CPU vs CPU are available. Secret characters are available in this mode. (it is also possible to use secret characters in the scenario and expert mode by naming your created Masters a certain way)
Network Battle (Vantage Master V2 only)
CPU Thinking Pattern
There is two choices: Standard Version 2.0 and No Guard.
Standard Version 2.0
The CPU will make every effort to counter the player's summons and moves. Almost no summons are wasted and no mistakes are made. The CPU will also make tactical retreats with its Master and Natials. This makes the game more challenging for the player.
CPU will randomly perform some wasted summons and mistakes. Only the CPU Master will make tactical retreats. This makes the game easier to play for the player.
There are a total of 27 masters in Vantage Master, of which 18 can be accessed normally. In Expert and Scenario mode, your master is picked by answering 4 questions. The required answer to create each master are exactly the same in VM1, VM2, and VMP. Masters are in general significantly stronger in VM2 due to the game engine categorizing Master attacks as "super effective" i.e. water vs fire, or fire vs heaven.
Has high attack, defence, speed. Low magic.
Quite high attack, magic and speed. Defence is very low and moving range is limited to 3.
Attack and magic are high. Low defence is weak point.
Very high attack, defence and resistance but low magic and speed.
Paladin (Spelled Palladine in English version)
Very high attack, defence and magic but very slow.
Has high speed, wide movement and long range shuriken attack. Low defence and resistance are drawbacks.
Well balanced abilities. Has long range bow attack.
High attack, defence, speed and movement. Magic power is very low. Has long range rock throwing attack.
Very high speed and movement. Low defence and magic are weak points. Has long range throwing knife.
Bard (Spelled Bird in English version)
High magic but very low defence and resistance.
Has high magic and resistance but very slow.
Very high magic power but also has low defence and speed.
High magic power but low defence and magic resistance.
Has well balanced abilities.
High movement range but very low defence.
High attack. Low resistance.
Very high resistance but physical defence is low.
Fräulein (Spelled Frauline in English version)
High speed and resistance. Attack and defence are quite low.
Very high magic but low defence.
High attack and defence. Magic is not very high.
High attack but low magic. (Character from videogame Popful Mail)
Very fast but also has very low magic. (Character from videogame Popful Mail)
Speed is high but movement range is very limited.
Shaman of the Dawn
Very high attack and magic but weak in other areas.
High attack, defence and resistance. Magic is below average. (Character from videogame Ys)
High magic but very slow and have weak defence.
Low attack and defence but has high movement.
There are 24 Natials that can be summoned, each of which belongs to one of four attributes: Earth, Water, Fire and Heavens. Each attribute has dominance and weakness over one another in the following way: Earth beats Water, Water beats Fire, Fire beats Heavens, Heavens beats Earth. A Natial can also be day type or night type, becoming stronger in bright or dark places, respectively. Summoning and maintaining a Natial requires usage of MP.
Each attribute has its own "style". For example, Earth units tend to have poor magic resistance with decent attack. They can move very well on land, while some are able to enter water terrain, albeit with penalized movement distance. Water units tend to have good statistics, but are extremely immobile on land, and as such makes the ideal unit combo choice very map dependent. For example, on a map with very little water, a heavy Earth-Fire combination tends to fare better than a Water-Heaven combination, because of the lack of Water mobility, leaving Heaven to by easily destroyed by fire.
Fire units tend to be very strong at combat, but are also overall the slowest units. None are able to enter water. Heaven units are very mobile, with the ability to ignore most terrain obstacles simply by flowing over them. On the flip side, they tend to have below average defense, making them easily destroyed.
A basic Earth Natial, performs a weak melee attack.
Natial with 6 movement, high physical attack and defence. It is weak to magic, however. It is able to move 3 spaces underwater, making it one of the most useful Earth fighters to hunt down Water.
Natial with large angle long range attack, often able to shoot over other units to reach its targets. Very slow, with extremely poor magic defense. A Currier-Bell will often destroy Ae-Ferrion with a single magic blast.
Earth Natial with a weak melee attack but range 4 attack magic, producing 1 hex splash damage to all targets, friendly or enemy. Very slow. Poor defense, but above average magic defense.
Has highest movement of all Natials. Possesses HP recovery magic, but due to relatively low MP, heals very little per turn. Day type. Relatively strong defense, so often used to hold on to magic stones, healing itself and forcing opponents to waste many turns to dislodge it.
Most expensive Earth unit. Can fly, with a strong melee attack. Also, it can turn enemies into silver for quite a long time, in most circumstances immobilizing units completely until a Pelitt can come and use recovery magic. Night type.
A basic Water Natial. Fast but cannot move much except in water. Receives extremely strong boosts to its attack power (9 -> 13 -> 17) when leveling up, but easy to kill.
Water Natial with strong attack, resistance and attack magic. A good all-purpose combat unit, but with limited mobility on land. In VM1, its magic has a range of 3, while in VM2 its magic range is 4, with an additional point of damage.
Long range attack Natial. Fires ice projectiles 7 spaces, making it extremely useful on maps with lot of water, forcing almost all fire units to maintain a safe distance. Can only move in water.
Can freeze enemy into ice. Day type. The slowest Water natial, able to move 6 spaces in water, 3 on land. Relatively strong attack and defense, but with weak magic defense. Its freeze magic is relatively ineffective at night, due to reduced Magic Power.
Natial with HP recovery magic. Night type. At night, able to heal 4 HP per turn, making it the most cost effective healer. Poor mobility on land, however.
High level Water Natial. Extremely high physical defense, but weaker magic defense. Countered by Gia-Bro. Has a destructive magic attack that affects all Natials and masters around it within 2 spaces. In VM1, has a movement range of 5 in water, 2 on land. In VM2, this is changed to 6 in water, 3 on land, making it significantly more useful.
A basic Fire Natial with high attack. Movement of 6, but with slow speed and poor defense.
Offensive Natial with very high attack and defense. Movement of 6, average speed. Can destroy some Heaven units with one shot often.
Has a medium range crossbow attack with a range of 4. It is extremely useful for defending high ground positions, as it can easily shoot down advancing Heaven natials, who tend to have poor defense.
Can use explosive magic that affects everything in its vicinity. Extremely effective against Currier-Bell. Night type.
Advanced Fire Natial equipped with extremely long range magic and high speed.
Can fly and move a total of 7 spaces at a time. Because of its weak defensive capabilities, it is used primarily to take control of magic stones. Has relatively strong attack power, especially in the day.
Only Natial with status recovery magic. Swift. Can fly, moving 4 spaces at a time. Extremely weak defense and attack, but very well suited for taking magic stones.
Has powerful melee attack, average defence and wide area magic that can hit targets 3 hex away with 1 hex splash damage. Its weakness is extremely poor magic resistance - it is not uncommon to see a Zenosblead destroy a Currier-Bell in one shot. Can fly.
Long range Heavens Natial with movement of 4 that uses a bow with a range of 5. Can fly. Night type.
The first basic Heavens Natial you acquire with 6 movement and attack magic that can hit 4 spaces away. Can fly. Day type.
Natial with highest HP recovery capability, with a movement of 5, healing 6 HP at a time. Has good magic defense. Can fly.
Advanced Heavens Natial with 6 movement, strong melee attack power and destructive "self destruct" magic that damages all units around it in a 2 space radius, both enemy and allied. Can fly.
Vantage Master Portable
Falcom announced the development of Vantage Master Portable for the PSP on December 20, 2007, which was released on April 24, 2008. It features new characters from Sora no Kiseki series of games and multiplayer mode using the PSP's wireless capabilities.
The interface is changed slightly for the PSP, and there is no mouse functionality in the PC port. Otherwise, the game is essentially a complete 3D clone of the original Vantage Master with remastered orchestral music and corresponding gameplay mechanics. Several of the major balance changes distinguishing VM1 from VM2 are noticeable - for example, in VM1, the Master's attacks do damage at the level of Earth -> Heaven, whereas in VM2 it is changed to Earth -> Fire. As such, Master attacks are significantly less effective in Vantage Master Portable.
In addition, there is an "achievement" system in which the player can receive points after completing each mission. The amount of time taken to complete the map, the number of magic stones taken, and the amount of MP spent are all taken into consideration. To gain the maximum amount of points per mission, the player must finish the map as quickly as possible, taking all the magic stones, while spending as little MP as possible. 2 secret characters from another Falcom game are unlocked once the player reaches 2000 points.
More points are awarded for completing Expert missions than Hard Missions, and more for each Hard Mission than Normal.