SNES A Day 31: Earth Defense Force

earth_defense_force_us_box_art

Approximate Release Date: January 1, 1992
Genre: Side-scrolling shooter
Developer: Jaleco
Publisher: Jaleco

It took a while before I “got” Earth Defense Force, yet another side-scrolling shooter. It took several tries to complete the first level.

That’s partially Earth Defense Force‘s fault. At the start, the game gives you a choice of eight different weapons to outfit your ship with. Homing and S. Laser are the clear standouts, with the other six varying somewhere between okay and useless. If you, like me, just happen to pick Atomic or Grenade as your loadout, you won’t get very far. The A button changes the fire type of the weapon, but they don’t seem to make a huge difference.

As you destroy enemies, the weapons level up and become stronger, so lesser weapons might become worth using. When you die, you start the stage over from the beginning and can change what weapon you have, but when Homing will destroy most lesser enemies before they have a chance to shoot at you there’s not much incentive to experiment.

But I really like Earth Defense Force when using Homing. Because you don’t need to aim at all, Earth Defense Force becomes a game of positioning. I really like that aspect of the game.

I talk about games’ “hooks” a lot in these write ups, and this is a good example of what I mean. By taking the concept of aiming away from the player, the game becomes interesting in a way it wouldn’t be otherwise. Earth Defense Force isn’t an amazing game, but it’s competent and worth checking out.

Tomorrow: Cooperation is fun in the historically accurate Joe & Mac.

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