After months of waiting and hopeful speculation, D3Publisher has officially announced that Earth Defense Force 3 Portable will be hitting American shores at some point during the upcoming winter. This news was relayed via the game’s official American Twitter account, which simply states, “Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable Coming to North America for PlayStation Vita!” There’s a link there to the game’s official Facebook page, but that site only brings up an image with similarly exciting, yet ultimately informationless text.
Though we appreciate the multi-pronged attempt to get this news out there, it does little to prepare new players for the game. Thus, this seems like a good time to compile what we already know about the game. Despite the title, Earth Defense Force 3 Portable is more or less the same game that was released on the Xbox 360 in 2007 as Earth Defense Force 2017. That game, though largely unheralded, attracted a devoted cult following and EDF2017 became something of a sleeper hit — particularly for those gamers who enjoy chaotic multiplayer games full of giant bugs just begging to be blown to pieces. As a result of this success, D3Publisher tapped American development studio Vicious Cycle Software to develop a proper sequel. The result was 2011’s Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon, which while a valid follow-up to EDF2017, failed to capture that game’s quirky, decidedly Japanese tone, leaving many fans of the earlier title hoping that D3Publisher would again join forces with Japanese developer Sandlot to create a true EDF2017 sequel.
While we have yet to receive that game, Sandlot was tapped to bring Earth Defense Force 2017 to a handheld system. Specifically, Sony’s PS Vita. Instead of a direct port however, Earth Defense Force 3 Portable would be something of a remix of the original game. It improves the title’s graphics, cleans up a few of the more egregious software bugs, adds new levels and weapons, and resurrects the “Pale Wing” character class from Global Defense Force (which, for the record, is the game that would have served as Earth Defense Force 2, except that the series has a really bizarre, confusing history when making the transition from its original Japanese iterations into English-language titles). Most crucially however, the Vita version of Earth Defense Force 3 Portable includes both local and online multiplayer modes, allowing gamers to multiply their bug-exploding potential by however many Vita-owning friends they can round up.
At the moment we have no indication on when Earth Defense Force 3 Portable might hit store shelves, but given the relatively small amount of text included in earlier Earth Defense Force titles, we can’t imagine that the game’s localization process would take an exceedingly long time. That, combined with the fact that the Japanese version of Earth Defense Force 3 Portable just hit that country’s retail outlets, leads us to believe that D3Publisher will have more information on the imminent English port sooner, rather than later. This is, after all, the company’s flagship series, so don’t expect them to let us forget that it’s on its way to this side of the Pacific.