Unconventional Games of the Year Choice #3 – 6: The Vita Is Full of Life After All.

Some people think the PlayStation Vita is dead in the water. I’m not one of those people for a few darn good reasons, number one being I actually OWN one and aren’t some overpaid analyst or internet troll with a grudge. Although the few titles listed below are only a tiny slice of what I played during this year, they’re all highly recommended because they managed to pack a load of fun into that system while being completely different game experiences.

Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable was the first “big” game of 2013 for me and Japanese developer Sandlot didn’t disappoint in bringing an enhanced “port” of their former Xbox 360 exclusive to Sony’s handheld in fine form indeed. You’re not buying an EDF game for the best visuals nor a deep and engaging story at all, folks. But if you’re a fan of 1950’s giant insect and Japanese sci-fi flicks, the mash-up here is relentless and supremely entertaining. That and the game can take weeks or months to complete if you decide to go it solo like a true EDF maniac and play through all the different difficulty levels while trying to get every single weapon and trophy you can. Toss in Pale Wing from EDF2 (she changes the gameplay up drastically and is a blast to play around with) and the ability to play with like-minded EDF mates in co-op (which makes the tougher difficulty levels much more bearable if you’re fighting for all the Trophies) and you get a fun little evergreen that’s addictive and makes you want more. Thankfully, Sandlot’s newest EDF game is headed to the PS3 and Xbox 360 in February here in North America and it’s packed full of all-new content and even tougher enemies to defeat.

If you like things grimmer yet still action-heavy, Soul Sacrifice is not only right up your alley, it’s calling out to you and drifting onto your Vita before you even realize it. Given that Sony very wisely released a lengthy demo that allows your save file to be transferred into the full version, this ends up as one of those games where you’ll try before buying and end up happier because of it. Between the dark, disturbing storyline and the combat-packed gameplay where dispatching or saving enemy souls changes up the game considerably, there’s a solid sense of progress felt as you clear each chapter and gain some formidable powers. While you can (and should) clear the game solo, a solid co-op mode insures this one will be played about as much or more with a few friends. There’s already a sequel coming to Japan and it’s bound to land here as well (most likely sometime in 2014), but it would be even better to have this as a PS4 (and PS3) game for those of us who like our games on larger screens…

Tearaway caught me way off guard because I hadn’t been following it at all until I saw screens and a fantastic gamplay movie sometime after E3. Media Molecule’s quirky art style gets a flat paper makeover and as a Vita exclusive, the use of both touch screens is superb and yes, better implemented than anything on the 3DS as far as input goes (Although you DO need to watch your fingers when that bottom screen poking action is in play). The game is part adventure, part platformer, and all extremely wonderful to sit down with for a spell. Watching someone watch someone play this game is also great, as non-gamers tend to be more amazed at what we take for granted and yep, they’ll want to try this one out after about a minute or two of watching you getting tap-happy. Between the main game and the incredible chunk of freedom you have in customization, this in one of those titles you’ll probably go back to many times after you’ve completed it…

I really wanted to play Ruin ever since I saw the demo at a Sony press event waaaaay back before the Vita launched, but it seems that the cross-platform PS3/Vita action RPG is either dead in the water or still in development hell. It’s too bad about that game, but Doki Doki Universe, while not a substitute at all, manages to be the first Vita/PS3/PS4 cross platform experience available and it’s a non-stop charmingly goofy one at that. You’re a robot that was abandoned on a tiny asteroid with a red balloon and after being picked up by a UFO, it’s up to you to explore a bunch of different worlds in order to discover what humanity means as you help a bunch of folks with assorted problems. It’s basically Toe Jam & Earl as a side-scroller (one of the guys who created that Sega Genesis classic worked on this new one), a ton of stuff to collect and optional facebook mail integration that’s great for those of you social butterflies that LOVE to share all sorts of stuff. The whimsical art style recalls a child’s drawings come to life and won’t make you think of the power of any system running it at all. Nevertheless, the game hooks you in from the beginning and keeps you playing perhaps a bit longer than you thought you would (which is always a good thing)…

Honorable Mentions (and then some!): Killzone: Mercenary, Ys: Memories of Celceta, Valhalla Knights 3, Terraria, The Pinball Arcade.

Earth Defense Force 4 Gameplay: More Pest Control With Wing Diver

(thanks again, GameEmpireHD!) 

The fine folks over at Game Empire HD are really going crazy with the EDF 4 gameplay videos. My own copy of the game is still on the way, so I’ve been keeping an eyeball on their YouTube page and taking notes galore on some of the tougher stages. Everyone has their own play style and in fact, EDF games encourage you to experiment with those random weapon drops until you get comfortable blasting bugs to bits with different gear you’ve collected. Of the four classes, the Wing Diver (or Pale Wing, or Pale Wing Diver if you really want to get formal) is the most agile thanks to her ability to fly and some of her really powerful close and ranged weapons. The tradeoffs are a very low starting armor and many weapons relying on the same energy source as her flight pack, so managing your energy is key in making sure you live to the end of a mission.

While this is my favorite class, I may not play the game through the first time with the lady. In the previous EDF games she’s appeared in (EDF 2/EDF 2 Portable and EDF 3 Portable), once you get some of her better to best weapons, she’s pretty untouchable save for confined spaces such as caves and tunnels where she can be damaged more easily by some of her own ordinance. I have the feeling I’ll go for the old reliable EDF Trooper for a bit until I get one of the Bound Shot weapons (which fire “bouncing” rounds – great for clearing out tunnels packed with giant spiders and ants and does double duty outdoors against large robots) than perhaps poke around with the new Fencer class before going with the winged one. That Air Raider I’ll save for last, as he seems to be the most challenging to use (although there are already a few exploits for the character). OK, back to playing vulture near my mailbox. I may be scaring the postman away, but he knows I get a lot of stuff sent this way so he can take the glaring and third degree when I don’t get a package I’m expecting…

Get Bugged For A Lower Price: EDF 2017 Portable Now $29.99 Until 4/2

EDF 2017 Portable_6Of course, that’s a limited time deal, ladies and gents. January’s #1 selling Vita game can now be yours (and a few friends of yours,of course) for ten bucks cheaper until April 2, 2013. Given that Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable packs the possibility of well over 50 hours of play (and then some) into that PSN download, it’s still a bargain at its non-sale price. Of course, I’m COMPLETELY biased in saying you NEED to buy this game, what with me being a fan of hard working Japanese developer Sandlot and their games. Then again, I’m gathering you’d want someone who knows what they’re talking about to recommend something like this to you, right?

Review: Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable

EDF_2017P_neweggPlatform: PlayStation Vita

Developer: SANDLOT

Publisher: D3Publisher of America

# of Players: 1 – 4

ESRB Rating: T (Teen)

Official Site

Score: A (95%)

Much more than a straightforward “port” of the former Xbox 360 exclusive, Earth Defense Force 3 Portable  comes screaming onto the Vita as the game developer Sandlot most likely wanted to make in the first place. The return of Pale Wing and her energy-based weaponry (from EDF 2 on the PS2 and EDF 2 Portable PSP) adds a new way to experience the game while an up to four-player co-op mode, rebalanced and all-new weapon drops, new enemy types, trophies galore and seven new levels makes this an absolute must-buy for anyone with a Vita. For those who’ve played the 360 version to death, there’s definitely enough new content there to get you equally obsessed (and yes, perhaps it’s finally time to get that Vita if you’ve been on the fence). Don’t let that $39.99 price point for a download put you off one bit, as there are dozens, if not over a hundred hours of gameplay here, especially if you’re looking to grab one really hard to obtain Platinum Trophy.

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EDF 2017 Portable Hits PSN – Buy It & Bug Out!


Sandlot’s niche bug blasting epic rolls onto the PlayStation Vita today and even if you’ve played the Xbox 360 version to death, this is a MUST buy. Seven new stages, new enemies, new weapon drops, the return of Pale Wing from EDF 2, new 4-player co-op and versus modes and more all await. After a shaky 2012, the Vita needs support with “smaller” titles like these and while $40 seems pricey for a download-only release, the sheer amount of content here and the fact that it will take a while to unlock everything if you’re into Trophies makes this one of the key releases for Sony’s portable this month. If you’re a fan of Japanese monster flicks, old 50’s sci-fi, high-action games with a wicked difficulty curve (Think you’re hot gamer stuff? Beat Mission 1 on Inferno with the default weapons and let me know how that goes) and hell, love supporting the underdog, the EDF wants YOU!

That and hey – the game just may help you overcome that needless fear of spiders you have… er, or it’ll just turn you into a total catatonic mess after that first stage they appear in. Hitting your Vita rapidly with a plastic flip-flop is not a very good idea, particularly in public. It’s winter here and what the heck are you doing wearing plastic flip-flops in the snow, silly? And a can of Raid, too? Hmmm… I think you have some issues to deal with that aren’t gaming related…

Random Film of the Week (Double Feature II): The Mysterians & Destroy All Monsters!


Yep, two more films that influenced Japanese developer Sandlot in their creation of the fan favorite Earth Defense Force series. The former flick can be seem as the main jumping off point for the series, as the Japanese title, Chikyu Boueigun literally translates as “Earth Defense Force”, although there aren’t any giant insects to be found here. Those came primarily from yesterday’s double feature. The aliens do happen to have plenty of advanced weaponry and a giant mole-like robot called Mogera to shake things up for a bit. The film was actually the first part of a trilogy of sci-fi flicks with Battle in Outer Space and Gorath making up the other two parts. I haven’t seen either of those two in decades, so I’ll have to track them down one of these days to check out.


As for Destroy All Monsters! (or Kaijū Sōshingeki), it was probably every kid of the 60’s or early 70’s favorite sci-fi flick of the pre Star Wars era thanks to plenty of TV airings at assorted times of the day. Packing in nearly every Toho kaiju monster (it’s more than a simple Godzilla picture, that’s for sure), loads of action and an epic plot, the film is memorable for its wall to wall special effects and not a dull moment from start to finish. I need to dig this one up on DVD one of these days as it’s also been quite a while since I’ve seen it. And yes, it’s part of the inspiration for the name of this little site, but that whole story is a longer and funnier one I’ll get around to telling one of these days. Anyway, go check these films out and prepare to take a step back into some incredible (and campy by today’s standards) sci-fi films that may be ancient, but still pack a punch in terms of being pure nostalgic enjoyment… 

Random Film of the Week (Double Feature Edition): THEM! & Tarantula

(thanks, Tobar!) 

With Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable rolling out on the PlayStation Vita on Tuesday, I figured I’d write up a short column about two of the many “They don’t make ’em like they used to!” sci-fi films that most assuredly influenced Japanese developer Sandlot when they created their cult favorite game series that got its start as a pair of budget PlayStation 2 games (The Simple 2000 Vol. 31: The Chikyuu Boueigun and The Simple 2000 Vol. 81: The Chikyuu Boueigun 2) and a more visually polished Xbox 360 sequel which has been nicely expanded and enhanced for Sony’s portable system. Both flicks are “B” movie classics worth watching if you’ve never seen either previously, with the former film being surprisingly tense and well-acted considering the subject matter and the latter film using some pretty well done matte work to convincing effect in a few scenes.

Yeah, yeah, there’s no fancy CGI here and some implausible moments in both flicks can be eyeball-rolling if you start applying any rules of reality to what you’re viewing. Nevertheless, if you’re in the right mood, you’ll be hooked into both films from the memorable beginnings of each one and stick around to their bitter endings…

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I’m Doing A Bit of Doomsday Prepping of My Own… EDF Style!

EDF_PlusSo, Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable is coming out in a few days (1/8/2013) and I’ve been doing a bit of preparing over the last few weeks by playing a few import and US games either developed by Sandlot or similar to games they’ve worked on. Yeah, yeah, I already reviewed the import version of the game, but I think the US build fixes a few minor things and I really don’t mind playing a game that fun again (in English this time).  Especially if it’s an EDF game. Do you think I have a problem here or something? I don’t think I do. Hell, thanks to too much time playing these games, I’m long cured of any fear of insects, that’s for damn sure.

Anyway, onto the library items below the jump!

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EDF 2017 Portable Release Date Pushed Up to January 7, 2013 As A PSN Release

EDF 2017 Portable D3Publisher is giving EDF fans some good reasons to cheer (as long as they prefer their content digitally released). That February 12 date for EDF 2017 Portable? Gone like a cool breeze in the desert. A press release just issued reveals that the game is hitting PSH hard on January 8, 2013 for $39.99. Yes, this is ten bucks more than the price originally announced, but as someone who owns the import (which cost me a lot more), I can VERY safely say the game is WELL worth the money. New stages, new weapons and Pale Wing shake the remastered game up significantly, the added Trophies will keep you returning to the game many times and that new 4-player co-op makes for an even more frantic experience when the going gets tough.

Attention Fellow EDF Troopers (and any potential new Vita-owning recruits): adjust your calendars accordingly and get ready to make the planet a bug-free zone.

EDF 2017 Portable Pre-Orders Are Go!

EDF_2017P_neweggPopular online retailer Newegg seems to have been the first shop to post pre-order info for D3Publisher’s upcoming Vita blast-fest, so here you go: click HERE to pre-order the game if you’re in the USA. As you’ll see in my review of the import version, the game is indeed awesome stuff and definitely one of the better games on Sony’s handheld. As there’s been a patch done for the Japanese version that tweaks and adds a few things, I’ll be giving the English version an all-new review once it ships out, so drop back in sometime in February for updated impressions.