Simple 2000: Sengoku vs. Gendai & Earth Defence Force
The Simple 2000 series, consists of obscure, budget priced games released in Japan by D3 Publisher. We take on Sengoku vs. Gendai and Earth Defence Force!
While the Simple 2000 games are low budget not only in price but in production values as well, there are still some that are comparable in a few areas to higher profile games of a similar ilk. We take a look at two titles from the moderately popular Simple 2000 series.
With Volume 16 of the Simple 2000 Ultimate series comes Sengoku vs. Gendai, a game that pits 6 mismatched characters from Japan's past and present against Gendai and his followers in battles that take place across a variety of 3-D landscapes.
The gameplay of Sengoku vs. Gendai is similar to arcade styled beat-em ups where one or two players maneuver around 3-D playing fields, hacking and slashing away at the hordes of enemies they encounter in every level. As you kill off certain enemies, special objects can be obtained that enable you to replenish your health, as well as power-up your weapons and special attacks in order to inflict more damage.
Sengoku vs. Gendai hosts an interesting cast of characters that you can choose from, each with their own unique fighting abilities. There's Mikoto, a school girl who bears a slight resemblance to Sakura from the Street Fighter games and wields a deadly double-ended spear. Tetsu is a hitman armed with a machine gun and short but effective twin blades. He looks very similar to the characters from the Golgo 13 anime.
Also joining the fray is Liz, a scantily dressed lass sporting twin daggers, a powerhouse named Billy who packs more brawn than brains, a female powerhouse named Cynthia who seems to have more testosterone than most of the males in the game, and there's my personal favorite, Reiji, a classic renegade warrior-like character who wields a powerful sword and is one of the more well-rounded characters in the game.
All of the characters are equipped with a short range of fighting moves and can block, roll, unleash special attacks and perform a variety of combo moves via different button combinations in order to thrash and beat their enemies into submission. The cool thing about the combo system is that you can string together combos and continue them from one section of a level to another, building up a huge combo count until the combo meter completely fades or you encounter a boss. In return for a high combo count you're rewarded with extra bonus points you can use to purchase special items and enhancements from the shop.
Completing certain levels will reward you with interesting new costumes for your characters to wear and there are 6 levels to play through with 3 more unlocked after clearing certain requirements - adding a modicum of replay value to the game. There's also a standard Survival mode, a gallery where you can view stills of your fighters, An Extra mode that lets you play as 6 of the enemy characters from the game, and a Boss battle mode where you can take on all of the bosses from the game.
While the gameplay has too many misses to ever be able to recover with a hit due to how annoying battling enemies across different playing fields can be, the background graphics of this turd, I mean game, are surprisingly pleasant. The character designs and animations suck, they're extremely choppy and seem to consist of no more than 10-15 frames per second, but the backgrounds and lighting effects are done quite nicely. I've caught myself shamelessly admiring many of the environments in the game despite that they're non-interactive and static - containing little to no foreground or background animations to help bring them to life. I'd love to see the graphics engine tweaked and reused in a future beat 'em up as it's impressive in a few areas and one can only imagine how cool more active backgrounds would look.
As with the graphics, the sounds throughout the game - specifically the music - also stood out in a positive way. Consisting of some very memorable orchestrated tracks, the game's soundtrack is no doubt the best part about the game. The sound effects on the other hand, forget-a-bout-it!
Despite Sengoku vs. Gendai coming up short in some areas, it does possess a few redeemable qualities. Unfortunately, they're not enough to rescue it from the pits of mediocrity in the land of turds-ville. But at such a low price point, you get what you can afford. And while I didn't really like the game, for some unexplainable reason I kept playing it. The answer must lie in the fact that I'm so hungry for arcade-styled action that I'm masochistic enough to endure it with such a game - it also doesn't hurt that the soundtrack kicks ass!
Not to be mistaken for Jaleco's classic side scrolling 2D shooter of the same name - and abbreviation - the Simple 2000 series version of Earth Defense Force puts players in the role of an EDF soldier battling the alien invasion that has infested Earth in the year 2017. As giant ships hover high above the cities, unleashing monstrous sized insects and Godzilla-like monsters, your role is to perform search and destroy operations - finding and eliminating all of the aliens throughout the cities.
The gameplay of Earth Defense Force features standard 3rd person shooting action and supports 2-players via split-screen mode, allowing you and a friend to maneuver your characters through business districts, sandy beaches, and desolate hills, trying to fend off an almost relentless assault from the aliens.
There are 23 levels to complete taking you into battle against giant insects crawling throughout the cities, enormous monsters ravaging the lands, tall mechanical drones and enemy UFOs disrupting the cities with their lasers as citizens run for their lives. As you roam the cities looking for aliens to destroy, you can acquire better weapons, ammo, and other helpful items to aid you in your mission. Health packs restore your life bar and armor suits equip you with better protection against alien attacks.
One of the best things about Earth Defense Force is the level of interaction allowed. Just about everything in the environments are destructible. Buildings, bridges, and towers can be demolished, vehicles destroyed, and innocent people killed. It's a lot of fun turning entire city blocks of upscale buildings into piles of rubble.
While definitely not a high water mark game, Earth Defense Force is quite fun. Not only can you run through highly interactive environments crumbling tall buildings while blasting away at giant alien monsters headed your way, but you also have the option of hopping into a variety of combat vehicles such as tanks, helicopters, and hover bikes and take the battle to the aliens with some much needed artillery.
Graphically, Earth Defense Force is about as plain as plain can be. The environments are drab, the textures are drab, and the character designs are pretty average. The design and animation of your main character is laughable at best, the enemies move more fluidly and look much better, although still on the cheesy side.
On the audio side, Earth Defense Force features the type of music and sound effects you'd expect from a man against monsters game like this. The sound effects consist of explosions, sounds of buildings crumbling, gigantic monsters, and cries of panic from fleeing citizens among others. The music features a small selection of spacey sounding themes and orchestrated tracks with dramatic pauses here and there to compliment the action.
So visually Earth Defense Force is a joke, music is uninteresting, and the gameplay is repetitive, so what makes it so addicting? Despite the above mentioned problems, it's still a blast (pun intended) to arm yourself with different types of weapons and put an end to the alien infestation happening in every level. Alien insects come, and just keep coming, sometimes completely overwhelming you, throwing you in the midst of a massive frenzy with you having to shoot your way out. Earth Defense Force will more than likely never make it outside of Japan, which is a shame because unlike the above mentioned Sengoku vs. Gendai, Earth Defense Force isn't that bad and would have certainly been worth a rental.