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Fight For The Top 50 2014 – Earth Defense Force 2025

I love the way that developers have been exploring more sophisticated themes in games in recent years, but not everything can be heavy and poignant all of the time. Yes, sometimes I want to play complex games with intense narratives. On the other hand, sometimes I just want to shoot a bunch of aliens. That’s when Earth Defense Force 2025 becomes the perfect game.

Learn more about the Game Informer Fight For The Top 50 Challenge 2014.

A hostile alien force called the Ravagers is invading Earth, after apparently being defeated in the previous entry, Earth Defense Force 2017. To combat the resurgent threat, you control members of a military squad who try to send the enemy army (consisting of giant ants, giant spiders, giant wasps, and giant robots) back home to space. In a series of quick missions (usually 10 minutes or less), you drop in and blast a swarm of bad guys with rockets, missiles, lasers, and other entertaining weapons. You hear the over-eager chants of your fellow EDF soldiers, then usually watch them die as they stumble over each other trying to fight the overwhelming alien forces.

Earth Defense Force 2025 harnesses an undiluted kind of arcade action that is increasingly rare (my review). The focus is 100 percent, B-movie, sci-fi carnage. It doesn’t care about world-building. It doesn’t care about character development. Here’s all you need to know, from beginning to end: Aliens are invading, and you need to kill them.

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The way you kill the aliens is at the core of what makes this game so fun and addictive. The third-person action is easy to grasp, and the controls are intuitive. You run around and fire your weapons at just about anything that moves. The explosions, acid, insect blood, and lasers constantly flooding the screen make every moment feel like barely controlled chaos. However, your winning strategy is somewhere between twitch precision and indiscriminate destruction.

You start with a meager arsenal of weapons, but the more you play, the more you pick up. You don’t have any sort of traditional progression system; new weapons and extra health drop randomly. That may seem frustrating, but the satisfaction of finally collecting that improved assault rifle or energy beam is immense – more so than just opening a predetermined chest or waiting for the odds to work in your favor on a boss drop.

You even have the choice of four classes (I recommend the Wing Diver, with a jetpack and penchant for energy weapons), and you can team up in co-op either online or locally. While I definitely love cutting down the Ravagers in single-player, the best moments in EDF 2025 are the ones where you and a friend survive a harrowing mission by the skin of your teeth, then try it again on a higher difficulty in hopes of reaping even better rewards.

When it comes to deciding Game Informer’s Top 50 Games for 2014, this gem is perilously easy to overlook. In a world where people want an excuse to play their new-gen consoles, EDF 2025 is a last-gen entry in an already niche franchise. The Earth Defense Force series is not known for its careful balancing or impactful story, so it might get overshadowed by more ambitious titles with bigger budgets. That would be a shame; when it comes to pure popcorn action, EDF 2025 can’t be beat.

The Top 50 Challenge

You need an open mind to fully enjoy Earth Defense Force 2025. That’s why I’m glad Kyle has taken up my challenge; he isn’t fiercely loyal to one particular genre over another, and is able to find things to appreciate in just about every game he plays. Yes, there are flaws in EDF 2025, and I wouldn’t ask anyone to ignore them or pretend they don’t exist – but if you can see past them, you’ve got one of the most shamelessly fun experiences of the year at your fingertips.

Kyle Hilliard was given one day to play EDF 2025. Come back tomorrow at 8:00 PM CT to read his impressions and see if he'll support the game's inclusion on our Top 50 Games of the Year list.

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Barely Related: Star Wars wakes up the Force

This week was full of little geeky goodies. Om nom nom.

Welcome to Barely Related, a conversational Friday column that presents the non-gaming news stories that we, the Joystiq staff, have been talking about over the past week. And no, we’re not…
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Swery And Capy Team Up For Super Time Force D4 DLC

The team at Capybara Games are big fans of the enigmatic developer Swery65, and have made some DLC based on their games Super Time Force and Sworcery for his oddball murder mystery D4.

In tribute to the truly kooky works of Swery, Capybara made a selection of downloadable clothing featuring design elements from Sworcery and Super Time Force for D4. These DLC packs are available now for free at the Xbox Live store.


[Source: Twitter]

 

Our Take:
It's so cute when two independent game studios fall in love. 

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Super Time Force Ultra

It’s easy to be wary of high-concept indie titles based around some quirky concept like time travel, gravity, teleportation, guns that shoot science instead of bullets, etc. When they work, of course, they work marvelously, like Portal, Braid, Antichamber, The Swapper, Fez, or any of the best puzzle platformers. But there’s no denying that there is a glut of gimmicky imitators in the genre, and more often than not the concepts, no matter how interesting they sound on paper, are stretched thin across never-ending tutorial levels. So despite Capybara’s strong record it was with some trepidation that I embarked on Super Time Force Ultra, the updated PC version of their time-traveling run n’ gun Super Time Force (which won Microsoft’s first-ever IGF “XBLA Award” for a publishing deal on Xbox 360 and Xbox One).

Thankfully, STFU shrugs off the stereotypes quickly and easily, and while the game is certainly unique and innovative, it has the frantic pacing of a good run n’ gun that is not found in most puzzle platformers. On top of that, there is an element of light tactics that strangely enough reminds me of Sega’s 1988 cult classic arcade game Gain Ground. It’s a mad idea that I would not have been brave enough to work on, but I’m happy that Capy was.

At the start of each level, you select a character from your team to play as and begin running and gunning in typical fashion. At any point in the level, however, you can Time Out and rewind time to a previous point and select another character (including the same character, if you like). When you start up again, your previous characters will still be there as ghosts, fighting and dying alongside you.

In essence, the game allows you to play co-op with yourself, with up to over 30 characters playing together in each level. Your team grows slowly as you complete missions and is diverse in movement and weaponry. One of your starting members, for example, is a fast-walking sniper whose charged shot goes through walls, and another has a shield that can be used to block enemy fire and create force fields. With a single character it’s impossible to beat a level within the 60-second time limit – the bosses alone have too much health to take down in such a short amount of time. Destroying barriers, exploring side paths, collecting items, and rescuing new members also drain a lot of time, providing ample reason to rewind and bring in new teammates (or copies of the same teammate).

Time Outs are also activated automatically when you die, and it is possible to then save that dead character by killing the enemy earlier or throwing up a shield. Since there’s no input for the revived character after his or her point of death, Capy came up with another way to bring them back into the action – as collectable “power-ups” that give your current character an extra hit point and also the revived character’s abilities.

It’s certainly a strange game that defies conventional wisdom. For one thing, it’s very hard to actually lose in STFU, given the generous amounts of Time Outs per level (30), but somehow it doesn’t feel problematic. In Klei’s Mark of the Ninja I felt the liberal use of checkpoints hurt the game’s pacing and went against the game’s ninja assassin theme, but was told that it let the player focus more on “creativity” rather than playing perfectly. The “creativity” argument makes much more sense within the context of STFU’s light-hearted time traveling story and mechanics, in my opinion. In the same way that a painting emerges out of overlapping brushstrokes, it feels like a complex group assault emerges out of your individual playthroughs, a feeling that’s highlighted at the end of each level with a looping replay that lets you see it all unfold from beginning to end (a la Super Meat Boy).

There’s still plenty of incentive to play levels more than once and the true challenge lies not in simply surviving and beating the game, but in collecting “shards” (slow-mo power-ups) and “glorbs” (extra Time Outs), and beating each level under the time limit. These tasks require serious planning and completing them will earn badges and, more importantly, unlock new teammates, which, to carry the painting analogy further, feels like getting a new color added to your palette. You’ll also unlock short levels in the “Helladeck” that are more about puzzle-solving than running n’ gunning.

Capy’s presentation has always shined in its games and Super Time Force is no exception. The art/design team of Vic and Mike Nguyen has developed a striking, boxy pixel art style that is very colorful fun to look at. The characters, who run the gamut from wizards and robots to skateboarding dinosaurs, are well-animated and reminiscent of early LucasArts adventure games like The Secret of Monkey Island. One thing that really impressed me was the amount of unique content that was created for the game – even within a single area levels are distinct and detailed, with very little reuse of setpieces.

It would have been easy to make the entire game the Helladeck levels and call it a day. That the Helladeck is merely an optional challenge attached to something so much bigger and vibrant is a testament to Capy’s dedication to taking the initial concept to its limit. There’s really not much more to say other than that it’s great – if it sounds like something you might like, you’ll probably like it.

(Note: Capybara Games has an awesome tumblr.)

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Games with Gold in September: Super Time Force, Halo: Reach

Xbox Live’s Games with Gold rolls into a new month with Super Time Force and Crimson Dragon free on Xbox One starting on September 1. Super Time Force takes the place of August’s Strike Suit Zero, and Crimson Dragon carries over into another month of…
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Super Time Force Ultra adds Left 4 Dead, Team Fortress 2 characters

Capybara Games has turned the proverbial Valve, and now three characters drawn from Left 4 Dead and Team Fortress 2 are pouring forth into the upcoming game, Super Time Force Ultra. Zoey from L4D uses twin pistols and propane tanks to destroy her…
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Super Time Force Ultra finding time for Steam this summer

An “Ultra” version of Super Time Force will time travel to Steam this summer, developer Capybara Games announced today. The Steam version of the time-shifting game will include some “very cool (but presently very secret) stuff.” The difficult,…
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Super Time Force characters invade Minecraft Xbox 360

Likely due to some paradoxical shenanigans in the time stream, the cast of Super Time Force will appear in the Xbox 360 incarnation of Minecraft with the release of Skin Pack 6.

Though Skin Pack 6 has yet to receive an official release date, once it…
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REVIEW / Super Time Force (XO)

 

It seems as if certain things in life are cyclical in nature, always making their way back in some familiar form or another such as fashion or history.  Video games with pixelated art are no exception.  Countless purposely pixelated games on existing hardware have been the norm for years now and it’s no surprise that more are to come.  This is how Super Time Force presents itself, but underneath its retro aesthetic lies a fun and innovative gameplay experience that’s, though frustrating at times, deeply satisfying.

 

 

Aside from its pixelated graphics and equally nostalgia-inducing music, Super Time Force is a side scrolling shooter whose main gameplay mechanic is what’s at front and center.  It revolves around manipulating your play through with the ability to control time.  The way this works is by first utilizing the “time out” button (B) which stops time itself.  From here you may rewind to an earlier point in your play through or fast forward to the point you initially hit time out.  Everything plays out the same as the first time, which includes deaths.  Now, the brilliance in this mechanic is you can rewind to before your death or any other time and try to play through it again with the ghost of your former play through self fighting side-by-side with your current play through self. You start with 30 “time outs”, but you can obtain more through out the course of the stage.

As you make your way through the wildly chaotic stages you will have access to multiple types of characters along the way, each with their own unique attacks.  Each character has a regular attack and a special which can be triggered by holding down the X button.  A special attack can be a barrage or bullets in three different directions or a shot that can go through walls.  There is also no limit to how many times these special attacks can be done, which is great because your character can only take one hit before it is destroyed.  A bonus is earned if you save one of the characters from a previous play through from death.  For example say an enemy shot your character because of a miscalculated jump.  Rewind to before your ill-fated jump and if you succeed in destroying the enemy that killed your former self before said killing, you gain a bonus.  This bonus is two fold.  By saving the life of previous characters you obtain additional lives per characters saved and are able to perform each of the characters special attacks you saved regardless of how many different ones you saved.

 

 

While Super Time Force‘s novel take on gameplay is fun, it is also the crux of the game.  The frustration levels can be high at times, especially since there is no reset button for the time outs.  You must complete the stages, mistakes and all.  The 60 second time limit can also be frustrating, but much like other aspects of the game, I wouldn’t remove it.  The 60 seconds you have to finish a stage feels too short on some stages, but just right on others.  I had a couple stages that I actually completed with less than a second left on the clock.  I had to “time out” over and over just to try to get to the exit just a little faster.  I would venture to say this has more to do with the difficulty of some of the stages than the time limit itself.  This innovative/frustrating take on gameplay makes me wonder if something could’ve been done to make it less frustrating without taking out or changing what makes it special.

Besides the pixelated art and gameplay, two other qualities of Super Time Force stood out to me.  The first being story.  It’s ridiculous.  Super Time Force in general feels like a game made in the 90′s, and that’s not a bad thing.  The story revolves around the Super Time Force going back in time to change events for hilarious reasons.  To me it sometimes felt like the antagonist was actually good because of his constant plans to try to stop us from changing events in time.  You follow orders from Col. Repeatski and travel to different times for ridiculous reasons.  This fit the game perfectly and I highly enjoyed its non-serious story.

 

 

The second quality I enjoyed was the music.  Simply put, it’s wonderful.  Right from the start screen the retro music is pumping in your ears and it never lets up.  Every stage has memorable music to it.  Even the stage select and all the boss battles have great music.  Super Time Force, in more ways than one, reminded me of Mega Man and that wasn’t such a bad thing.

Small issues aside, Super Time Force is an exciting take on an old genre.  The story is ludicrous, but fits the game perfectly.  The time out mechanic, for the most part, is very fun to use and while the stages could get wild with action, it somehow fits everything else about the game.  Add in some great music and pixelated art and this game has been one of the best in 2014 so far.  It’s all over the top, but at the same time it’s just right.

 


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Test Chamber – Super Time Force

No point in Earth's timeline is safe from Capybara Games' (Superbrothers: Swords & Sworcery EP, Below)  new adventure. Super Time Force is a downloadable, 2D adventure that encourages players to die, rewind time, and play alongside their fallen comrades. We downloaded it onto an Xbox One and tested out the mind-bending, time-manipulating action for ourselves.

Join Andrew Reiner and myself as we travel back to the time of dinosaurs and the not-so-distant past of 199X.

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Learn more about Super Time Force by reading Matt Miller's positive review.

For more episodes of Test Chamber, visit our hub.

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