I think the PS Vita is a speccy piece of kit. And being a bit partial to the odd handheld system since the days of the Game Boy I’ve amassed quite the game collection. Problem is my Vita never fulfils its life purpose to be, well, portable.
It all started off okay, and at a time where the 3DS was gathering dust, there I was on the bus with my brand-spanking-new portable system playing a shiny new Wipeout game. All was good in the portable gaming cosmos as it had always been. But after a while I just fell off – or perhaps fell out of the habit of – taking it with me. Sure, I’d play it at home in front of the telly while the cricket or whatever was on, but it never managed to find its way into my bag as I’d rush out of the door in the morning.
For good reason too, because while the system itself was friendly enough for short bursts the games largely were not. Sure like the Playstation Portable before it, the Vita was great for 2D fighting games, which in turn are bloody cracking on-the-go. But you can only beat the crap out of a bloke so many times before it gets old. At which point I’d reach for something with a little more meat on it to get my gnashers into.
And what a catalogue the PS Vita has accumulated over the years. It’s so good that, between Experience Inc’s prolific output of old-school dungeon crawlers and one-off classics like Killzone: Mercenary, I have never really been left wanting. Which is why it’s so disappointing that I’ve never really let it soak in the sun in the great outdoors, instead confining it to the bedside table, relegating it to a somewhat nocturnal existence.
That is until I splurged on the remake of the second Earth Defence Force; aptly titled Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders From Planet Space. Now I’ve come to really enjoy the Earth Defense Force series since its ballsy budget release on the then-futuristic Xbox 360 not terribly long after its release. Earth Defence Force 2017 was an outright cracker of a game that ought to have been downright shithouse. It’s kitsch-as-hell premise combined with its absolutely brainless gameplay resonate with me much more than I care to admit; particularly when anything more than “aim and shoot” is just a bridge too far for my brain to deal with. Whether it is shooting ants or spiders, or any of the myriad of 1950’s sci-fi inspired alien machines, it never really strays beyond being a quick and dirty arcade shooter. And sometimes that’s fair dinkum all I’m after.
And here’s the thing: Earth Defense Force really feels like it’s in its element on a handheld. Despite most of my history with the series being confined to my telly, its short missions and mindless action are absolutely perfect distractions for travelling or just the odd minute or two of downtime throughout the day. Earth Defense Force 2 may have been born as a budget home console game, but after the 15 or so hours I’ve spent preventing the destruction of Earth in the palm of my hands, I might find it hard going back to the big-boy console games.
At a time where mobile gaming is ridiculously relevant, and Pokemon Go is ‘the shit’ so to speak, it’s good to be enjoying a favourite pastime from long ago. For years I’ve been searching for the game that would spark that natural affinity I have for handheld systems. Earth Defense Force 2 on the PS Vita fits that bill perfectly. It may not be as fancy as Pokemon Go, or as simple as a smartphone game, but it is reminiscent of the sorts of games that made portable games so appealing in the first place. I’ll freely admit that Earth Defense Force 2 isn’t the greatest game in the world, but at the right time and in the right place, it can be the perfect game to whet your portable gaming appetite.