Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

The Southern Cross series isn’t really Robotech…

At my house, the “unseen” ‘mechs never went away.

I’ve been watching the old Robotech series on Netflix. It really is neat to see the mecha I know as the Warhammer, the Archer, the Phoenix Hawk, the Crusader, and the Marauder do their thing. (Maybe the Zentradi Battlepod is the Ostroc/Ostsol? I dunno about that, though.) I switched ahead to check out the second series before finishing Macross; big mistake! It was quickly obvious just how big of a hatchet job they did to string these three independent series into one continuous story.

“The Masters” opens up the the main character going into a dorm room to tell a story to her mopey pal. It turns out to be all flashbacks and spoilers to the Macross series. Ugh. Here’s how they link the series together. They make the main character of the second story the daughter of two of the main characters from the first. The random wasteland where the action takes place is supposedly where the SDF-1 blew up or something. And the announcer makes sure to mention Protoculture in every episode so that the Invid Invasion will be justified later. It’s pretty bad.

The fact that BattleTech never borrowed any mechs from this makes the show seem even less a part of the series. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to work the hovertank, that stubby Veritech plane variant, or the bioroids into that universe. I wonder if maybe “The Masters” is an older series. While the Macross occasionally leans towards recapitulating Battleship Yamamoto, the second one falls into Dynaman-isms. For instance, in a fight they will sometimes repeat a sequence three times when it is supposed to be especially effective. Sometimes a unit will just stand back for a second so that light can flash on its face plate.

But all of that pales in comparison to to having a giggly goofy anime babe not only be integrated into the armed forces, but be the hotshot mecha pilot. I know, I know. Buffy the Vampire Slayer proved that it is fun to have the ditsy blonde chick beat up the bad guys. But there is just no sense of irony in “The Masters.” I mean, the last episode I watched had her rivals getting jealous of the short pink outfit that she bought while on a shopping binge. She even pitched a crying fit in order to wheedle her subordinate into asking his uncle for a favor. Seriously, this is like having Minmei take over Roy Fokker’s role; I just can’t buy it. I’m not even going to mention the thing about the rabbit ears, argh! Some characters face heart wrenching dilemmas. Others get a bath scene in every episode.

A line you will not see in this series: “Hey Sterling, have you ever been mistaken for a man?”

I remember digging the The Southern Cross source book when I was a kid, though. I didn’t have any idea of any of this stuff. I probably thought that it was all supposed to be one big franchise from the beginning. The fact that the Alpha and the Beta looked like a logical evolution of the original Veritech fighter seemed to make the oddities of the Southern Cross seem that much cooler. That… and the shield rules were awesome to the mind of my teenage selfe. But if shields were that effective… why did only the ground forces of the Southern Cross have them? And why does the Southern Cross use aerospace fighters instead of transformable mecha? And what happened to the Destroids….?

From the Gray Death Legion book… a Warhammer prepares to launch missiles while a Phoenix Hawk meets an early demise.

Ah well. None of this makes sense, but at least the personalized body armor is cool.

Those “Veritech” hovertanks…. I can’t stop thinking about them from a gaming perspective. They really are wonky. They can’t fly… but you stay in hover-mode if you need to get somewhere fast. Guardian mode turns you into a mobile howitzer with jump jets. Man, it would be hard for me to switch to any other configuration and have to give up that main gun! Though the guardian mode has a support weapon, from the episodes so far it looks like you’re in trouble if another mecha gets right up on you. That piddly hand rifle is pathetic, but you really have to have a humanoid configuration in order to grapple and take advantage of cover.

One of the things that I wondered about as a kid was how to handle a first edition Mechwarrior campaign where the players were part of a garrison. “The Masters” shows you that right up close. It’s still weird, though. Sorta like switching the to Deep Space Nine after having a ship that can go anywhere. (But then you end up having to give the players a ship again so they can go places because having the action all at the station doesn’t really work anyway? Never mind.) Here in “The Masters”, you have these invaders that are facing something near to a stalemate situation. They’ve burned up most of the defending air units, but they don’t have the resources to finish the job– they have to complete their mission (whatever it is) and so are standing off, fighting a battle of attrition and waiting for their moment.

But what do the bad guys really want to accomplish? I have no clue. They showed the Robotech Masters maybe just once or twice in the first several episodes. I really wonder what was going on in the original Japanese cut. It’s just so clear that they changed the main character’s name to Sterling and then replaced whatever background music that was there with the same tiresome themes from the Macross series. It makes me wonder what the game universe for the original story could have developed into on its own.

I don’t actually own a single piece of Robotech merchandise anymore. I did have that die cast metal Spartan figure when I was a kid, though…. And those model kits were just awesome. They were on sale when I bought my first hobby game so I remember them like it was yesterday. Oh, if anyone has a set of Robotech game books that are up for trade… talk to me. Those strike me as the sort of thing that people will buy out of nostalgia, have them sit around for years, and then get tired of them. I know because I went through that same cycle when I lived near a great used book store….


9 responses to “The Southern Cross series isn’t really Robotech…

  1. darkpaladin45 March 26, 2013 at 6:03 am

    I’m not sure if you are aware, but Palladium has the license again and they have been publishing books for Robotech. They are actually working with another company that produces miniatures to produce a miniatures game called Robotech RPG Tactics.

  2. Charles Saeger March 26, 2013 at 6:12 am

    It isn’t. The three Japanese shows were all unrelated, and Carl Macek put them together to meet syndication requirements.

    The original Macross is on Hulu if you want to see it; it’s an English translation from about 2007. Nobody has bothered to reimport the others.

  3. RogerBW March 26, 2013 at 6:41 am

    Yeah, Macross gave us a lot of the classics. So did Fang of the Sun Dougram, which I’m watching at the moment, and in many respects it’s a much more BattleTech-like setting (mercenaries, divided loyalties, poaching techs from the opposition). That’s where the Shadow Hawk, Goliath, Scorpion, Griffin, Wolverine, Thunderbolt and Battlemaster come from – all of them pretty iconic ‘Mechs to my way of thinking.

    (I rather suspect that BattleTech may have been at least in part inspired by the Revell model imports, which included ‘Mechs from both Macross and Dougram.)

    If you have any tolerance at all for subtitles, I’d strongly recommend watching the original Macross rather than the Harmony Gold version. (Roughly speaking: Super Dimension Fortress Macross became Robotech, Super Dimensional Cavalry Southern Cross became Robotech Masters, Genesis Climber Mospeada became Robotech New Generation. But they were indeed completely unrelated series, and Harmony Gold made an awful lot of changes to try to make them fit together, to be more to the assumed taste of an American audience, and to have a minimum “series” episode count for syndicated TV sales.)

    • jeffro March 26, 2013 at 7:29 am

      Dougram! I wondered where all those other mechs were.

      I actually prefer subtitles. All the stupid stuff in Akira gets lost in translation when you have the subtitles on.

    • Jason Packer March 26, 2013 at 9:44 am

      Jeffro and I must have had similar exposure as kids – I had no idea where those other mechs came from, so it’s handy to know that Dougram is out there.

  4. neongoggles March 27, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    Super Dimensional Cavalry Southern Cross was cancelled due to low ratings in japan. So apparently it wasn’t very good before the edits either.
    But really i never watched much of Robotech or Robotech masters. And i am most familiar with The New Generation based on Genesis Climber MOSPEADA. Which i loved as a child.

  5. Qodannin April 19, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    Robotech ship and mecha index Vehicles

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