D3 Publisher has always created unique titles that cater to a niche audience, and that’s very obvious with Earth Defense Force 5, an action-packed thrill ride that throws players into the line of fire against gigantic space creatures, looking to wreak havoc on planet Earth. We had the absolute pleasure of sitting down with Earth Defense Force series producer Nobuyuki Okajima, and picked his brain to see just what inspired him to create the franchise along with future plans moving forward. Be sure to check out our hands-on impressions of Earth Defense Force 5 and of course, be sure to buy Earth Defense Force 5 when it launches in North America on December 11th!
Earth Defense Force 5 - 1st Trailer | PS4
Honey-Chan: Thank you for taking the time today to sit with us to conduct our interview! It’s a pleasure to stand here with the producer himself!
Okajima-san: *laughs* Thank you for coming, it’s my pleasure.
Honey-Chan: Earth Defense Force is quite the niche title in Japan but still very popular among the hardcore fans. How will you drive that same approach to the western audience with your latest title?
Okajima-san: Of course here in Japan it’s already a niche title, and so bringing it over to the western audience will be hard since it would be like SUPER niche at that point. Not only that, but trying to launch the game alongside the AAA titles is near impossible. My goal is to maintain its niche image without changing anything drastically, providing players with something unique and different to experience. In addition, Earth Defense Force really grew as a brand through organic growth such as word of mouth, and so we hope that same effect will take place in the western market, and flourish among hardcore and new fans alike!
Honey-Chan : What inspired you to create the franchise altogether?
Okajima-san: To be honest, I didn’t come up with the original concept. In fact, it came from Sandlot who pitched the idea to me, and from there we made it happen. If you remember the Simple 2000 series, it was actually during that period when Sandlot pitched the idea to me, but initially that series was catered to the more casual audience. It was truly all about creating true simplicity in each title, allowing players to just have fun and not think too much about what’s happening, but the market started to evolve and more hardcore fans started to appear asking for a more unique experience.
So I thought that EDF would be the title that could cater to that audience. I wondered if it should be shipped in the Simple 2000 series because it looked too good to be part of that series. At that point, I thought about raising the price of the game to provide more value. B, but due to the popularity and the market at that time, we decided to make it part of Simple 2000 to reach a wider audience.
Honey-Chan: With Earth Defense Force Iron Rain, what can fans of the franchise expect when compared to Earth Defense Force 5?
Okajima-san: The biggest point here that I’d like to emphasize regarding the question is, because the game has a much more polished visual presentation (AAA style) we felt that it would cater more to the western audience. Not only that, but the gameplay style and story have been modified to ensure that players can fully immerse themselves and have fun in a more dynamic environment.
Honey-Chan: The western audience is very keen about visual presentation when it comes to action titles, so will we see anything like outrageous weapons? Character customization features in the game, or perhaps future EDF titles?
Okajima-san: The player can select from both genders and from there, customize the outfit, hairstyle, hair color, eye color, skin tone, clothing, helmet, etc. All of this is good to go straight out of the box! You can’t change all of the details unfortunately since the faces are preset, but you can definitely alter the body shape making them curvy, slim, whatever you like! The weapons sadly you can’t really customize but there’s hundreds of them scattered throughout the game, so it should keep you busy discovering them.
Honey-Chan: Were there any games from the D3 Publisher brand that you felt could make an introduction into the game? Like a collaboration?
Okajima-san: We had a few ideas actually, and Onechanbara characters were one we are in the process of collaborating with. In other titles, other characters actually wear EDF themed costumes as a crossover. If you go back to the Simple 2000 series, we actually had a very simple fighting game called ‘All Star Fighting Matsuri’ which included the EDF Ranger, Onechanbara’s Aya, who fought against each other. That was one of the earliest collaborative titles we made with our brand characters. If you check the Sony PlayStation archives, it should still be there *laughs* but don’t expect anything special, it’s Simple 2000 after all!
Simple 2000 Vol. 91: The All*Star Fighting Festival (PS2)
Honey-Chan: Any final words for your fans around the world?
Okajima-san: I’d like to say to all the fans of EDF and players around the world, while it did take me some time to finally localize the game, I feel confident that all of the hard work will pay off in the end. It will be an amazing experience for you as you jump right into the action to save the world without any issues! Look forward to the official release of Earth Defense Force 5 on December 11th! Earth Defense Force Iron Rain is coming next year, so looking forward to it!
A very big thank you to the folks over at D3 Publisher for providing us with this incredible opportunity to talk more about Earth Defense Force 5 with Okajima-san, and to see his passion shine all around the world. We wish the team all the best, and really look forward to the full release so we can dive right in and enjoy!