You might have varying views on whether or not the gaming industry’s been doing good things lately, but one thing that’s hard to deny: if you’re into Japanese games, this is the best gaming era so far. We’ve been seeing tons of games localized and brought over to the West for our enjoyment. It’s been nice, especially if you lived through the 16-and-32-bit days when we’d receive single games from long series, translation disasters and other import horrors.
We’d certainly have never seen a great strategy experience like Aegis of Earth: Protonovus Assault, originally known as Zettai Geigeki Wars: Metropolis Defenders. It’s too weird, too full of character and, well, just too good.
This is essentially a tower-defense game. No, wait, don’t leave! It’s actually pretty good! In Aegis of Earth, you’re the commander of a defense force assigned to protect some of the last few remaining cities on the planet. After a horrific environmental catastrophe, the world has become largely deserted aside from several heavily-defended city centers and a whole mess of monsters. These monsters, called Protonovus or just “the enemy,” mount attacks on human cities and need to be taken out for the good of mankind.
Your weapons against the Protonovus? Towers, of course! Well, technically they’re civic buildings that transform into towers through the power of technology when the time is right, but you get the idea. Between battles, you can select where to build towers throughout your ring-shaped city. During a battle, your towers will transform, your citizens will take cover and you’ll begin rotating segments of the city in order to line up your weapons to target the Protonovus. Proper tower placement in order to ensure you’ve got a sizable firing area is vital, as is arranging your towers so they can merge with other towers into more powerful forms.
This ends up being quite a bit more deep than you might expect. Early missions are easily solved by creating a city one with really powerful side that you rotate to address threats. With proper upgrading this can continue to work relatively well, but you’ll rapidly find it more effective to place additional weaponry all around your city so you aren’t left undefended. Carefully managing your resources is key to ensuring that your city doesn’t have too many weak spots.
You aren’t alone in your battle, of course; you’ve got an entire team of operators working with you. These are all characters in their own right, and they’ll chat it up between missions and during battle. You’ve got your deputy commander, for instance, who’s heading for her 30s and starting to go nuts with marriage fever. You’ve got your way-too-fired-up firearms operator who’s obsessed with merging units (“Aw, I wanted to try a three-way…” “Yes, I’m sure you did.”) The game ends up feeling more like a sitcom than a tower defense game before too long, and the writing is legitimately well done, even if it’s a bit loaded with anime tropes. Along with their personalities, operators have their own levels, energy and skills to consider, and their support can be a big help both in and out of battle.
Your operators are the real highlight of Aegis of Earth; their personalities tend to be hilarious and there’s some surprisingly good localization on offer, including high-quality voice acting in many scenes. One slight complaint is that despite that solid localization, there are some typos here and there that probably should have been caught before launch. Still, these don’t detract too seriously from a fantastic overall experience.
Aegis of Earth isn’t exactly a graphical tour de force, but given it was simultaneously released on the PS3 and Vita, as well as the PS4, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise. The game’s graphical fidelity is about on par between all three systems and the game is by no means ugly, it’s just not the best choice to show off your fancy hardware or 4K TV. Meanwhile, sound and music are fairly standard aside from the excellent voice acting.
A par-for-the-course presentation doesn’t hold Aegis of Earth: Protonovus Assault back, though. The combination of comedy, action and strategy makes for a fantastic experience. The game retails for a budget-friendly price as well, regardless of what system you’re picking it up on, so if you’re itching for a little strategy goodness there’s really no reason to hold off. Your city needs you, after all!