It’s time to look at another SNES game from back in the day. I know about the newer installments in the series, but didn’t realize that the SNES already had one. It’s cool that the series dates back all this way. The game does a good job of feeling like a nice sci-fi adventure. The story may be a little light even for SNES standards as there are no cutscenes, but it’s a solid/quick game to check out. The weapon customization also adds an extra layer of depth that most of these old shooters did not have.
The gameplay is that of a 2D side scroller. It’s an auto moving game so the screen is always going forward but you can still stay near the back of the screen or fly up close to test your luck with the various attacks going your way. You have a primary weapon which you can shoot and then you have mini drones of sorts that you can summon around you or use to focus your attacks. With them by your side your ship becomes even more of a threat although it can be hard to know which way to use it. Towards the end of the game I went with the focused attack and just trusted my primary weapon to get the job done.
As for your weapon, you’ve got around 8-10 options. There’s the classic machine gun which is still one of the best weapons you can have. It shoots very quickly and covers a wide range. Then you’ve got the bombs which look like lasers but when you hit an enemy they explode. It looks really cool even if I felt like it had less of an impact. There’s the laser which basically shoots out continuously and wracks up the damage. There were other weapons but since this game only has 6 levels I was careful not to switch it up much towards the end. I just went with the laser and figured that would be enough to help get me out of the jams.
This probably goes without saying but the game is extremely difficult. Without the added benefit of the SNES access points and rewind feature it is unlikely that I would have been able to complete the game. Right from level 1 you’ll be faced with a barrage of powerful attacks. They never let up even for a moment and 3 hits is enough to finish you off. Even when you think you dodged an attack sometimes you will find that it actually did connect. One level took me dozens and dozens of tries because of how many enemies were on the screen. The bosses are actually the easiest part since it is just one enemy attacking so you can focus more. The final boss is an exception to this as he spawns a bunch of little minions to help him out.
All of the bosses have fun designs and there is a good amount of variety here. Even not counting those guys the game spared no expense in the graphics department. The backgrounds really stand out and the game is just very vibrant. It’s ahead of its time here and it does help you appreciate the gameplay even more. The soundtrack isn’t memorable though so I suppose the game couldn’t quite win it all. The fun gameplay and solid graphics still ensure that this is a winner though.
The game is fairly short, but that is really to be expected here. There are 6 levels so you can probably take this game down in under an hour. It would be even shorter if you could beat every level in one shot but that is extremely unlikely. This game is no cakewalk and will require a lot of concentration to get through. Once you complete the game you will definitely get a sense of pride and accomplishment. That’s when you know that the game was indeed a winner.
Overall, Earth Defense Force is a very old school spaceship fighter. It’s like Galaga, but in 2D. One of the areas that really makes this game stand apart from the rest is how you can switch weapons. It’s a really nice touch and I definitely liked being able to choose what weapon I wanted for a given mission. Most likely you will find a favorite and just stick to it by the end, but I’m sure there will be some who will have fun switching the weapon based on the level they will be challenging. If you haven’t played this game yet then I definitely recommend doing so. The SNES Online has been great for checking out a bunch of games like this one.