Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain Interview – Producer Looks Forward to More “Freedom of Expression” in Games

Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain will be launching soon and I had a chance to play it at a press event. Following a demo of the game, I had the opportunity to sit down with Nobuyuki Okajima, EDF Series Producer, to learn more about Iron Rain, with the help of a translator. One major tidbit that Nobuyuki shared during the event was that Iron Rain is geared more towards a Western audience and a number of changes have been made to the game that makes it different from previous EDF titles. During a brief interview with Nobuyuki, I was able to find out more details about this and more.

Brad Crespo: EDF, as a whole, has gained a pretty substantial cult following in the West. You mentioned that Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain is a more-so a spin-off game that’s targeted towards Western gamers. How is the game more for the Western market?

Nobuyuki Okajima: Compared to the previous EDF titles, there are two major things we changed with EDF: Iron Rain: The location and the characters. Previous titles had you in Japan, mostly in Tokyo, and didn’t mention the nationalities of the characters. In Iron Rain, it’s different — the background is changed like you can be in San Francisco or LA or somewhere else in the United States, and also the character you have can be customized. Since there are so many different people here [in the United States], you can make a character that resembles how you look, if you’d like.

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BC: I noticed that there were a lot of character customization options, which I really liked.

NO: We changed this content because we want to provide players with the experience to become somebody and do something that’s special and memorable.

BC: YUKE’S, best known for the WWE2K series, is developing Iron Rain. However, they also have developed robot movie licensed games for Pacific Rim and Real Steel. Given that they’ve been focused on developing wrestling games lately, did you and your team have to “show them the ropes” on how to make an EDF game or did you give them complete freedom to develop Iron Rain on their own?

NO: Great question. Many of the team members in YUKE’S have worked on the EDF series before, they’re very experienced with it — so, I didn’t have to walk them through on anything with Iron Rain. A lot of YUKE’S team has young creators that have a lot of respect for Sandlot [the developer of the previous EDF titles], and everyone on YUKE’S knew about the two main things [location and character customization] that needed to be changed for Iron Rain.

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BC: Kind of like wrestling, EDF is very over-the-top but it’s also such an epic experience that I actually love — there’s just something so comforting about it. Do you and your team plan to continue to make games like EDF, or do you plan on creating games in the future that are more emotionally-charged or serious? I’ve truly enjoyed your past games, but I’m just curious if you plan to make a different type of game.

NO: I’ve been a game developer for so long, and I actually have never made a serious or emotionally-charged game. Almost all my games are silly, crazy, and fun, so I don’t think I’ll be switching gears to make something different.

BC: Currently, Iron Rain is going to only be released digitally, and EDF 5 was also released digitally. Do you plan on finding ways of producing physical copies in the West for any of the EDF games, perhaps with the help of limited run publishers? Maybe do a remaster or remake of past EDF games, as well?

NO: Right now, we don’t have plans to make a physical version of Iron Rain. It is our experimental EDF title. Releasing it digitally lets anyone around the world purchase it, including players in Japan. I think it [releasing digitally] is the way to go since for kids games, having a retail release makes sense, but our company doesn’t make kids games.

If there are certain needs, like if fans want remasters of past titles, then maybe. The problem is that bringing older games to new consoles isn’t easy. We currently don’t have plans to make a remaster or remake any EDF games.

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BC: You’ve been in games for a good while now and have seen how the games industry has evolved. Now, there’s a big push on games following a “games-as-a-service” model, early access games, and more. How do you feel about the current state of the industry? Is there anything you’d want to see changed with it?

NO: As a creator, I would like for there to be even more freedom of expression and creativity in games. There are so many ways to include expression in a game. There are so many different types of players and each player has a niche that they like.

I wish that more games matched the different niches that players like, so everybody can play something they like. I believe that the games industry is about responding to individual needs, and I hope that more games are able to respond to everyone’s needs.


Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain is set to launch exclusively on PlayStation 4 on April 11.


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Brad Crespo

Editor-in-Chief - On a quest to play as many new games as possible while trying to finish an endless backlog.