Nobuyuki Okajima is a long time producer of the cult favorite Earth Defense Force franchise, whose new multiplayer focused title has ventured to PAX East in Boston with D3 Publisher. The Young Folks team discussed Iron Rain’s development, new features and modes, the story and much more with Okajima-san in this interview.
The game releases April 11th 2019 on PlayStation 4
Our Gameplay Impressions Will Be Published Right Here Very Soon, Video Interview Can Be Found Below
Grant Jonsson, The Young Folks: What was it like seeing the Earth Defense Force series grow from a camp budget title to a huge cult success?
EDF Series Producer, Nobuyuki Okajima: As you mentioned, EDF first was born on the Simple 2000 series – that is a cheap set of games. But we gained so much support from the users, so we grew successful. Iron Rain is different from the numbered series – the numbered series started very small and have grown a lot. It is from the numbered series success that we make this new series – Iron Rain.
Grant: Iron Rain is clearly set to be a lot more dark and gritty than previous titles. What were some of the biggest changes made to appeal to a Western audience?
Okajima-san: We changed it so it would be more acceptable to the worldwide fans. Because the numbered series, they started small and became big. And with number (EDF) 5 released just last year, in Japan it is so popular; but worldwide it is more a cult [title]. So we wanted some kind of breakthrough to become a major [player] in the Western market as well. Because we believe [in the] the EDF concept – [that is to say] bare hand humans fighting with aliens and monsters – that’s a concept we can share worldwide.
Grant: What can you tell us about the new class; the Prowl Rider?
Okajima-san: In Iron Rain, there are the 4 PA Gears: Troopers, Jet Lifters, Heavy Strikers, and then the Prowl Riders. The first ones are inspired by the number series, but the Prowl Rider is very original to Iron Rain. It’s very fun. It is somewhat between the Trooper and the Jet Lifter; but it moves very different.
Grant: What was it like working with a different team for an Earth Defense Force game?
Okajima-san: The numbered series was developed by developers called Sandlot, and we’ve been working with them for [about], 15 to 16 years. They are the experienced developers.
This time, we were able to work with Yuke’s, they have new and very young developers. They are very famous, working on the WWE pro wrestling games. Inside of Yuke’s, there’s some young creators who love the EDF numbered series and they were very excited to do the new EDF. In addition to that, Yuke’s had a lot of respect towards Sandlot, because of their like of EDF, they say that as involved as they are getting with making Iron Rain, they understand how great Sandlot is, and I’m very happy to hear that and I have a very good relationship with both developers.
Grant: The new game is set in the United States instead of Japan, but is there a chance of a cameo from Storm One?
Okajima-san: Ahhhh, there’s a skin. I think with the preorder, you can get the skin for Storm One.
Grant: What can you tell us about the story in the new game?
Okajima-san: With Iron Rain, we tried to make a story that Western users can relate more to. The end users, they can become closer to the character. The main character, 7 years ago, he or she was fighting the mothership of the enemies, but it exploded so they were hurt and in a coma for those 7 years. The story starts with the tragedy, but then the hero or heroine comes back to resume their battle with the enemies.
Grant: Since the beginning, do you have any favorite memories from the series development?
Okajima-san: So many things. I’ve been doing it for, like, fifteen years! Many good memories, many bad memories, particularly the Simple 2000 series, when we were starting small, I wanted to pass these to Western users, but there were circumstances [where] they could not do it. And I felt so frustrated.
So we’ve been through a lot, at this point what I can say is: with the numbered series, we are now on number five. And with each one, there are new users we are gaining – and it’s very rare. Usually a [series] declines in users. I’m so happy about it. There are so many things, but the gaining users…and I’m so happy because people like you come here and it means Western users are keeping an eye on this, we made this series so worldwide fans can play more.
Grant: Just one final question, there’s a new competitive multiplayer mode in this game, what can you tell us about adding something new?
Okajima-san: So the co-play in Iron Rain, you can play with up to six people; but with the competitive mode where you play against each other – we planned it from the beginning. Since we had the concept of this: to become popular in the Western market, maybe we – we must have the competitive battle mode in multiplayer. Finally, it’s called Iron Rain but when we started the project, the tentative name was EDF VS, from the beginning we were thinking about the multiplayer.
Grant: I just want to say, I enjoyed my time playing the game. I’ve heard of the series before but haven’t played too much, but I’m going to be keeping my eye on this for sure.
Okajima-san: This game’s just for you!