Guest Review – Earth Defense Force 5 (Part I)

By Gabriel Gutierrez (Editor’s Note: This is a freelance contribution from local game developer Gabriel Gutierrez of Nascent Games, who you all remember from one of our best interviews in 2016. In the first of a multi-part series, he recounts how a cherished game veritably saved his life.)  Earth Defense Force 5 (Import): A blissfully cathartic…




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6 minutes

By Gabriel Gutierrez

(Editor’s Note: This is a freelance contribution from local game developer Gabriel Gutierrez of Nascent Games, who you all remember from one of our best interviews in 2016. In the first of a multi-part series, he recounts how a cherished game veritably saved his life.) 

Earth Defense Force 5 (Import): A blissfully cathartic game about large bugs, giant UFOs, massive explosions & learning Japanese.

A game which gave me the mental strength to be alive today and write this.

“It’s the end of the world as we know it. And I feel fine.”

The Earth Defense Force (EDF!) series has been around since the Super Nintendo days, beginning as a SHMUP (Shoot-Em-Up, for the uneducated). Some years later, it was revitalized on the PlayStation 2 as a 3rd Person Shooter filled with incredible action sequences, oblivious military fighters, horribly controllable vehicles, awfully buggy framerate drops, insanely large enemies & unapologetically bad voice acting.

I fell in love.

But, this love was not acknowledged until I played EDF 2017 on Xbox 360. This love expanded greatly with its later sequels EDF Insect Armageddon (X360, PS3 & Steam), EDF 2025 (X360 & PS3) and EDF 4.1 (A 1080p/60fps HD remake only for PS4 & Steam). The latter of them confirming my full-on marriage to the series!

Like a few great, yet very ambitious games on the PS2 (GTA Vice City/San Andreas & Dynasty Warriors immediately come to mind), EDF was not meant for measly, early 2000s consoles. It needed power. A lot of power. And though EDF 2017, IA & 2025 still had some framerate issues (particularly on PS3), it worked so well.

Suddenly, EDF found a home. It belonged somewhere. Something that I still fight with today, which will be expanded upon later. This parallel became the beginning of something oddly weird, something incredibly exciting & something that would end up saving my life.

Yes, a video game saved my life. Onward…

“The less I have, the more I gain. Off the beaten path, I reign.”

Let’s fast-forward to the latest in the EDF series: Earth Defense Force 5 (Import). As of this writing, EDF 5 is yet to release in the States. But, because I’ve now declared my *virtual* love & commitment to this game, I ordered it from Play Asia and didn’t look back. It shipped from Hong Kong and took about 3 weeks to arrive.

Yes, this was my 1st mail-order bride.

Now, this is where things descended & got interesting. When I pre-ordered EDF 5 in the early Fall 2017, my life was terribly stressful, yet steady. I was working & began to move into my new apartment. I had also met some new friends during my very 1st visit to TwitchCon, plus I was showcasing my own game, Crumple, to the attendees. It was a memorable weekend.

On my last night there, my car was involved in a hit & run by a driver who was texting & driving. The driver took off with no remorse. The police were useless. I found myself heartbroken, angry & alone…far away from home. Less than a week later, my car’s front end was hit by a large Mastiff. An animal which got up, shook itself off & kept running. To my relief, this warrior dog (probably from Sparta or Xavier’s School for Gifted Dogs) didn’t get killed. Needless to say, I got nailed with what I felt were these life punishments left & right, up/up & down/down, B/A…

In EDF 5, that happens A LOT. You will get punished. Not on the Dark Souls kind of level. This is different. It’s not synthetic. You’re not punished for dodging the start of an enemy attack and that attack FOLLOWS your roll. (UGH!) This punishment is tangible. For me, almost personal. Which is silly, cause IT’S A VIDEO GAME! But, more on that point shortly.

Soon after, I lost my job. Which now brings us to 1 week before Christmas. Unemployed, 2 hits on my car, postponing my Sac Indie Arcade 5-year Anniversary event & being told by “professionals” to not take the job losses personally. Tell my bills that! While, on the personal end, I was being aggressively & abusively reprimanded by those who cared to “Man up”.

This was no longer acceptable. Funny enough, the struggles I faced in EDF 5 both set off & confirmed that feeling exponentially. A video game convinced me to no longer take shit from actual humans, especially from those who “care”. Because, like well-built Enemy AI in a game, some humans only “care” until in their twisted mind, you’re doing better than them.

In my life, I didn’t immediately see that analogy with the dog running into my car, getting up & taking off. But, as I type this, it begins to make sense. Sudden & abrupt pain in our respective lives has a funny way of reminding you of your worth, who & what you should be surrounded by in your growing life, by challenging your discipline, your character!

Video games tend to make us feel the EXACT same way! Right?

I can already feel some of those reading this nodding their heads and probably tearing up. Like I am. You know this feeling. You’ve probably been treated this way too. That’s why you lock yourself away, walling yourselves up. Acknowledging that feeling is a vital first step to healing. In a video game, we HAVE to move forward to get to our goal, to overcome those challenges, those enemies. Life is exactly the same.

There was (and still is) a lot of behind the scenes pain & trauma, something I will not expand upon here much more and consult Dr. Matthew Galumbeck on surgery. Though, I will say it still greatly affects my mental health and, most significantly, my smile. But, until this point, my life was coherent…even though there were a lot of drops in my framerates & my vehicle wasn’t controlling properly because it got smashed by a large animal.


Pre-ordering EDF 5 became the last thing I was able to afford as a treat to myself. But, it also became the first & most important thing to save my life. It arrived 2 days before Christmas.

I cried profusely. I quietly screamed in joy. For the next few days, I would be a kid again. I could breathe again, even if it was temporary. My new apartment was suddenly not the only thing I had a new lease on. The only other feeling that remotely came close to this was releasing my very 1st game: Crumple, a mere 1 week before life went aggressively sideways. I regained a sense of innocence which, for me, felt stolen, assaulted & left to rot.

No. More.



One response to “Guest Review – Earth Defense Force 5 (Part I)”

  1. […] Editor’s Note: This is the second of a two-part review and reflection from local game developer Gabriel Gutierrez. You can read the first right here. […]