7 Things Everyone Completely Missed In 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim

13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is the latest 2D creation from Vanillaware, a studio known for its great graphics and fun, fast-paced games. But this game also represents a departure from the developer’s past work, with a genre-bending mix of visual novel-style storytelling segments and an RTS-esque battle mode that players can switch between at will.

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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 a game that has a ground pass. No one would blame you for missing Easter eggs and secrets, and here are a few you might want to keep an eye out for.

Spoiler warning

7 There is a secret cinematic


The mode selection screen of 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim, showing a choice between Memory, Destruction, and Analysis modes

13 Sentinels features three distinct modes – Analysis, Destruction, and Remembrance – and it tracks your progress in each mode with a percentage. When you complete the game, you will see that Destruction and Remembrance modes are at 100%… but Analysis is not.

If you jump into this mode and scroll down, you’ll find a new cinematic titled “Infinite Possibilities” which raises some questions about the events of the game and its ending. Is this story destined to happen again and again, across the galaxy?

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6 Fluffy is hidden under the cartridge


A collage of images from 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim, showing Fluffy defending the honor of the cats and a photo of Fluffy's hidden image under the cartridge slot in the Switch game box

13 Sentinels was originally a PS4 exclusive, but Switch players were lucky enough to get a port further down the line. And for gamers who opt for the physical edition on Switch, there’s a cute Easter egg hidden in the packaging.

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When you remove the game card from the slot in the case, you’ll discover an image of Fluffy – a little cat with a big role in the story – cleverly hidden underneath. It’s a cute little touch that rewards observant fans.


5 Kurabe’s favorite movies…or his memories?


Japanese students see a mech for the first time in 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim

Although 13 Sentinels features 13 playable characters – hence the title – the hero of the game is Juro Kurabe. He’s central to the game’s art, his story would have been the first director George Kamitani has started writing, and he’s the first person you’ll control in the story. In other words, he’s your introduction to the gaming world, and his predilection for cheesy 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 movies with his friends. But as you play, you will notice that you are playing through the storylines he mentions. Are these references only to his favorite films or do they prefigure the story?


4 Individual stories… or film references?


the character stood on the street with captions

But this method of constructing a plot is not limited to Kurabe’s story. The entire game is built from cultural references to movies, books, and video games. while each character’s story is part of a larger plot, they are also self-contained narratives that play with the conventions of different genres.

One story might refer to things like ET or Wall-E, while another might be a time-looping saga like Groundhog Day. Even the characters in the game seem to be aware of the tropes that govern their lives. Can you spot all the different references in the game?


3 The countdown really matters


Sekigahara tells Shinonome they need to go back to 1985 while standing in Universal Control in 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim

At some point in Fuyusaka’s history, you will discover an underground UFO, filled with unknown and advanced technology. Among the various machines scattered around, you will also discover a timer that counts down to disaster. You’ll want to move quickly through the scene because the ticking brings a sense of urgency.

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But if you don’t advance the dialogue and choose to wait instead, you’ll notice that the timer doesn’t loop – it actually counts down to zero. But since it’s pegged at something like 3 million seconds, it’s still a mystery as to what happens next.


2 Even the smallest details contain Easter eggs


Shiba and Kurabe give up playing video games after school in 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim

Each character’s storylines contain many references both big and small, obvious and hidden. But the game is so stuffed with Easter eggs that every little bit of the story includes sneaky references to classic sci-fi. One of the main plot points of the game is the development of nanomachines, titled Innerlocitors, and the eventual havoc they cause in 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 the characters discover refers to a classic manga titled Toward The Terra. The references in this game come from all different eras of nerd culture.


1 Vanillaware’s Done RTSes Before


Key art for Vanillaware's first title, GrimGrimoire, featuring Lillet Blan holding his spellbook with a worried look on his face

13 Sentinels takes a lot of advantage from its combination of visual novel storytelling and RTS combat, and its mix of different styles is definitely unique – especially considering how many past Vanillaware titles have focused on fast-paced combat. But this isn’t the first time developer Vanillaware has ventured into the RTS genre.

One of their first games, GrimGrimoire, was a side-scrolling RTS for the PS2; it’s a bit like the two main game modes of 13 Sentinels being combined into one. And an HD remaster for modern consoles titled GrimGrimoire OnceMore is just around the corner, so if you’ve been digging into 13 Sentinels’ unique vibe, you might also want to dig into Vanillaware’s past work.

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About the Author

James C. Tibbs