I have to admit it. Had I not chosen to review Defender, I probably never would have played this game. As I saw it, this title didn't appear to have much riding for it. Brad commented that one of the reasons why Midway decided to give this particular game a modern age overhaul is due to the immense popularity the original amassed. Hence, feelings of nostalgia might have contributed to the curiosity of what the new Defender might be like. As for me, seeing as how the arcade hit was released back in 1980, I'm sorry to say I can't remember having sunk quarter after quarter in order to destroy evil aliens. In fact, the original Defender had probably already been taken out of arcades for a long time when I started playing coin op. machines. Midway's updated classic was therefore something entirely new and unknown to me. Unfortunately, when browsing through a collection of titles, it looks more like the type of game that would easily go unperceived, a description it doesn't entirely deserves.
The best way I can think of to sum up the gaming experience Defender offers is to imagine a cross between Starfox 64 and the movie Starship Troopers. In other words, take the latter's giant bugs and place them in one of the N64 title's fully three-dimensional aerial arenas. The result? Aliens that can be fast, numerous and ferocious to the point of probably giving the N64 Starfox crew a seizure. There were even times when blinking would become hazardous for the safety of my ship, seeing as how the player is hunted from all sides. Needless to say I was thankful that the controls were spot on. While Brad tried out the PlayStation 2 version, I played Defender on GameCube and found myself to be equally satisfied with the button layout and the quick response of the Cube's controller.
This is one of the rare occasions when I actually felt outnumbered and against the odds. Midway did a great job of invoking in players the idea that they're not only fighting to do some large-scale pest control, but also to protect human life from extermination. You can't help but feel bad every time you hear a colonist scream in agony as he dies at the hands of a Manti. As mentioned in the first review, players have to make certain vital choices involving the rescue of humans and the preservation of outposts. Colonists proved to be a pain to save most of the time. It always seemed that rescuing one person after the other had me flying across the map and back only to realize that I couldn't make it in time.
According to Brad, part of the original Defender's success was due to its simple but addictive gameplay. I have no objection here. Often times, the simplest games can be the most addictive. Yet, as far as the new incarnation of Defender is concerned, there isn't much to get hooked to. After completing a mission, I didn't wish to go back and start it all over again just for the fun of it like certain memorable games would have me do. Also, the new Defender offers no particular element that either truly marks the gaming experience or would act as a beacon for the mind when remembering the game. This being said, it's a great space shooter for anyone that enjoys the genre. Otherwise, it just happens to be one of those titles that has a tendency to blend in the background and become virtually unnoticeable.
Disclaimer: This review is based on the GameCube version of the game.