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Super Earth Defense Game!

(9 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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dancemonkeySuper Earth Defense GameOur most recent competition has shown some seriously inventive interpretations of the theme "Replay", and one of the standouts in that category is Carl Foust's Super Earth Defense Game. It's a typical side-scrolling shooter on its face but, in a unique twist, really shines once your ship gets destroyed.

Using the [arrow] keys to move and the [space bar] to shoot, you must avoid or destroy waves of enemies before making it to the final boss. The replay theme (or in this case, "REPLAI", Responsive Emergency Paradox-Limiting Aerospace Insurance System) comes into play once you are destroyed: it's described as a portable time machine that takes you back to the start of the level. You then fly and fight alongside your past self until the point at which you died.

You have only three replays available, but after you die the critter that killed you is colored differently than the rest, rendering it invulnerable so that it can stick around to kill your prior incarnation. This has the net effect of giving you an extra set of guns for a short period of time, hopefully making it easier for you to pass through the level.

Analysis: I particularly enjoyed the blocky, hyper pixelated graphics in this game, and it was instantly one of my favorites for that reason. I appreciate it when developers recognize that graphics aren't the final word in the quality of a game, and do so intentionally and with great care rather than by cutting corners.

This game does has a few flaws though that render it only an average shoot-em-up.

Carl made the choice to slow down the rate of fire, but I found that frustrating rather than challenging. Send about four times more enemies at me and let me rain near-constant death upon them!

The final boss has also been criticized for being too easy, and I heartily agree. I tried Jay's tactic of just hanging around at the top of the screen and I barely had to move. Either juice up the boss's tactics or just lower his hit points so I don't have to spend too much time dealing with him. The aforementioned rate-of-fire boost may have solved this issue as well.

The ship was also very slow to control, and this too was really frustrating. This may also have been a design choice to heighten the difficulty, but that choice was at the expense of the excitement. Shooters should be fast, noisy, and hairy, with little time to think. Can you imagine if Defender had a REPLAI system?

Despite my snobbish comments I can't say that I didn't have fun playing. He's made a good game that with a few small improvements could be a truly excellent experience.

Play Super Earth Defense Game

JayJay - The first time I fired up Super Earth Defense I was a bit skeptical. It seemed like so many other games I had seen and played before. It wasn't until my first ship died and I clicked "Continue" did I realize the very clever design within. All of a sudden, as an epiphany, I saw the potential possible within a game that actually requires you to play well 3 times to muster up enough fire power to beat it. Unfortunately, Super Earth Defense isn't that game. But it is a brilliant design with enormous potential nonetheless. I'm hoping to see this idea fleshed out further with better level design and more devious boss fights. Exceptional idea, Carl!


I really like how the replay theme was implemented. Very original. Good luck with the contest Carl!

Alex Kaplan July 17, 2007 5:10 PM

I REALLY like the way you've implemented the theme, although I was a bit disappointed by the graphics. But, hey, it was only four weeks (maybe less, depending on when you started) Those blocker shields were a bit disappointing when I realized the darned things don't explode.

Great job and good luck =)


Now this is a kick-ass implementation of "replay". Thumbs up.


The gameplay and interface aren't as impressive as the other games,and the game itself was pretty short.

but points go out on the creative idea of the replay games.
It's funny watching yourself make stupid mistakes, and it brings a certain element of Strategy to the game.

Lumpfish July 17, 2007 5:27 PM

This is my favorite contest entry so far!


oh, this one is cool! I like being able to let my former self take out some fighters while I figure out what my current self should do next! I have to remember how I played before, though, for that strategy to work. Haven't got very far, but it's a lot of fun. I kinda like the graphics, reminds me of Space Invaders.

bigmanoncampus July 17, 2007 5:49 PM

I like the way the replay theme is used. I would say that this is my favorite game so far in this contest. What would be cool though, would be if you could kill the invincible purple things that killed your last ship so it could keep playing, but just sit there and kind of shoot until it gets killed again.


Great game. This implementation of the theme was exactly the sort of thing I was hoping for when I found out about the contest.


Quite fun, interesting concept and a decent challenge.

However, I wish the ship could fire faster and the noises got kind of annoying before the end.

I also was surprised with the shield enemies - i thought you'd be able to push them into others and kill them, but no.

Basically - a good start, could use some power ups and more length.

Well done though.


Its rather easy to get through the level with one ship alone. The boss is a joke though. But I did like the replay feature. That was interesting and useful. I like this game. Good entry.


So far I'd say this is the best implementation of the replay theme. The graphics were decent. Maybe not as great as Bonte's but not bad for the "Old scool" shooter. The music and sound effects were lacking somewhat, but it didn't matter too much in such a short game. I'd have liked more levels or power ups, were this to be built on. But as it stands I'd say this is the best entry so far, followed closley by Bonte's.

TheSimpleAndy July 17, 2007 6:49 PM

lol, I had this exact idea for my game, but moved onto something different. The difference in my idea was that you would have to save your previous ship from dying, and when you did that, you would continue with the main ship. and if your 'saver' ship died, then you would get a another saver ship to save your 'saver' ship to save the main ship. I am glad I dismissed my idea though or else they would be pretty similar!


An innovative interpretation of the Replay theme - it reminds me of the "ghost car" concept you get on driving games where you try to improve on your last lap.

I did find the movement a little clunky and the firing somewhat slow and this made getting past the shield ships quite difficult, particularly as they don't destroy (at I can't destroy them as far as I have got through the game).

The old-school pixelated graphics were nicely done but I would have liked to see this theme carried through to the title screen, instructions, buttons and perhaps the backdrop too.

The 8-bit music matched the pixelated graphics nicely but I thought that the firing sound was too loud and very soon got on my nerves.

All in all, this appears to be a challenging little shooter with a neat gimmick. But I do feel that a little more polish would enhance the overall look and playability.

Psychotronic July 17, 2007 7:30 PM

Pretty cool. I like the mega-pixel graphic style, although the scribble explosions are a little too obviously scribbles. It feels like the whole thing could be tuned a little more - the main ship fires way too slowly, and the boss is much easier than the stage leading up to him.

But the concept is really great. It's lots of fun teaming up with your ghost ship, picking off the enemies you missed last time around, and making extra-large gaps between the shield ships. I'd love to see a complete game based around the idea.

But there's a problem. The way the game is structured, you have the most firepower on the easiest parts of the game, where you don't need it. I already know I can get through the first part of the level, but when I die, I have to play that part again with an extra ship on my side. Except that now it's even easier. I know the object is to get a high score using all three ships if possible, but it still feels backwards.

I'd love to see a game that somehow requires you to use all three of your lives strategically to get through the level and beat the boss. Sort of a Lost Vikings in SHMUP form. The possibilities are really wide open with this. Great job.


That was fun. Thanks.


I agree with those above: the gameplay was mediocre, but the "replay" surprise was very creative. The current version is a game I'll only play once, but I'm glad I did.

I hope you'll improve the gameplay after the competition; this could really be a hit.

(Three quick thoughts: I'd like to be able to fire faster, hoped the shielded ships would explode when pushed into other ships, and was bored during the boss battle).


Thanks to everyone who played or commented. There are a lot of great observations here. Without responding to each one I'll say that most of them are spot on. With a little more time to add features and do some playtesting it would be a much better game.

TheSimpleAndy: I wasn't sure how I would handle that sort of thing so I kept it simple.

I'm surprised that so many people seemed to find the boss so easy. What would make it more fun? More hp? more shooting? Difficulty levels are certainly on my wish list of features.

I was originally thinking about a game like Nethack in which you can actually be attacked by the ghosts of previous players. So I imagined a game which could only be beaten through many playthroughs, perhaps by more than one player. Of course, since I only had two weeks to work, I had to shrink it down to a simple shmup.


One suggestion for making the boss better: make it so the player must continuously cross between the upper and lower areas while fighting. At first that's what I thought would happen when the "pushers" came out the bottom. So I moved to the top and was able to just stay put for the duration of the fight.

Alternating the pushers between the top and bottom might have been a quick and easy way to increase the difficulty of the boss.


jay: When you moved to the top the "pushers" should have started coming out from the top of the boss, i.e. they should follow you. At the same time the laser starts firing quickly making it very risky to move to the other half of the screen.

What I do is dodge the shields, getting a shot in when I can until the boss pattern changes.


I second all above comments about the "replay" implementation. It was very surprising, I love it !

Congratulations Carl, It's a very good entry.
Here is some (subjective) suggestions that might help you :

I found the spaceship quite "slow", which makes ennemies hard to avoid. It may had to the challenge, but I find this very frustating. Faster spaceship alonside with faster ennemies may be funnier.

I would personnaly lower the boss health, as I think it was not very challenging but damn long to beat it (yes I got only one ship left ;)).

As Jay noted, forcing the player to cross the beam would add to the fun. For example the boss could fully move to the up or the down border of the screen, forcing the player to swap sides.
Maybe making the two "weakpoints" able to alternatively fire a laserbeam could do the job too.

You could also try to force the player to go behind the boss, in order to avoid some "you should really avoid this attack" (in case you increase ship velocity)

Anyway great job, I encourage you to polish this game after the competition, it deserves it ;).

Skatche July 17, 2007 8:37 PM

Great idea, poor implementation. The controls felt clunky and unresponsive, the collision detection seemed oversensitive (is this because the time travel device pulls you out before impact?), and the level design was entirely uninspired. The best I can say about this is it was a reasonable "proof of concept" for the idea of flying alongside your own ship on previous replays (which really was a good idea).


Awesomest game yet! I don't know much about flash or actionscript but I still wonder how the creator did it.


I just tested the "moving from one side to the other" tactic on the boss. As mentioned, the shield enemy does switch sides.

I've played the random mode several times (I've played the normal "continue" mode enough to get through it without getting hurt) until my finger hurts. One thing that I do like about this game is that your ship shot rate is pretty good. It forces a bit of thought on which enemies to shoot and which to avoid.

As for the boss... well, everyone already said it, no point pushing it. A (rather messed up) way to make the boss more difficult is to send out the normal enemies and sheilders as the attack waves we have seen in the game, along with the normal enemies that go straight across. Either that, or have the boss send out normal enemies that move in a wave-like pattern. As noted, the ship and lazer moves slowly, thus avoiding/shooting enemies that move vertically is a pain. Add in the fact that the boss is shooting lazers at you and it can really hurt.

It would be nice if the enemies can shoot as well (even if is just horizontally), but that's just asking for too much. Oh yeah, I've gotten waves of "nothingness" in the random mode, or long pauses between waves sometimes. Is this supposed to happen?


I don't remember the shield enemies changing sides, my mistake then. Perhaps the reason I thought that was even though they changed sides they were still avoidable and allowed me to remain in the upper section and stay out of range of the boss for the duration of the fight.

My point was to make it so the player must continuously cross between the upper and lower areas while fighting.

The boss pattern didn't seem to change enough to force me to change tactics.


very cool game


i thought this game was pretty sweet and the best to choose from so far.

jacs#101 July 17, 2007 10:49 PM

two words



Good concept.....but didn't impress me...looking forward for our teams entry to be shown here


Anon: there are about seven different waves to choose from, including an empty wave. So it's quite possible to randomly get a few empty waves in a row.

I intentionally made the shooting slow so you'd have to pick your shots, rather than just spray bullets. That said, I think there is a frame rate issue that makes it go slower than it should, especially when the boss is releasing ships. Try setting the quality to low and see if it feels better.


Very fine work. Wonderfully clean implementation and I rather like the retro-look graphics.

Whilst I did find the game a bit easy it showcased the concept well and was fun to play. Which is what it's all about!

DeSangre July 18, 2007 3:15 AM

Carl, this is a very good start, but I think the only thing that's really worth of mention here is your implementation of the "replay" theme.

I think you should've really had this game playtested by a shoot'em up fan, since gameplay, level design, and graphics are definitely below average.

Anyway, as a lot of people said, you need only a few tweaks to make your game really work.

Escapee July 18, 2007 3:39 AM

I liked this game a lot! The replay theme was ace and I liked the graphics.

Well done :)


Really, really great. Excellent implementation and nice graphics. The last boss was particularly enjoyable if you chose to die halfway through, then work on the other wing with your new ship.


great game! I loved the way the theme was implemented. It also reminded me a little of an old TI 99/4a game.. Parsec. I used to love that game! Great job, my favourite so far. :)

the_corruptor July 18, 2007 6:58 AM

You shoot a little slow, but otherwise the game is incredible! props on this, and it's in the lead so far for my vote!


Great idea the 'replay' thing, but the game itself is a bit short.


Probably my favorite implementation of the theme so far. The gameplay could use some work (everything I might suggest has been suggested already), and it was a bit short for my taste, but with some work I think it could be a solid game.

the_corruptor July 18, 2007 9:24 AM

One other thing that was a little dissapointing with the game that people haven't mentioned so far is the existance of only two levels; one predefined, and one totally random. if the 'continue' mode allowed you to continue from one level to another, until you used up all three lives in one level, say, that'd be great.

Also, a faster moving ship would be nice, even if it doesn't shoot faster.

And some more obvious way to move those shield enemies out of the way, such as shooting them on the edge to move them vertically a little, in addition to moving them back.

Eventually, the addition of powerups could improve the gameplay even more.

long story short, great idea, good implementation, just needs a little polish to be a real hit.


You could potentially get through the level without using the replay.

How cool would it be to make multiple levels that actually need you to play them differently each time in order to finish them? Maybe you could increase the replay count to 5 to take into account that each runthrough might not be perfect?

Also graphics blah blah blah only had a month blah blah.
The concept of a ghost run taken to shooters is a really cool idea. Props.


Heh, didn't even see the "feature" first time I played it through. I beat the boss and thought "That's it?" Only after reading the comments here I realized I missed a huge thing.

Now, the game is really not something to write home about, but the idea has its potential. I'm thinking in the lines of creating such levels which are insanely difficult the first time around but perfectly doable with the right "replay" strategy. The emphasis should be made on creating perfect ghosts in first few tries so you can finally beat the level the third time as "yourself".

For example, in this game the boss could have made an impassable barrier, and the "upper half" could have become increasingly harder so in the end you could barely survive. The second time around, you would know your "ghost" would be hacking away on the upper half so you could concentrate on the lower and try to take him down, but still it should be hard. The third time you would essentially have two "perfect" sidekicks and total the boss with ease.


I thought this was quite interesting, and I had been waiting for a game like this to come along--haven't really had that much time to play it, but so far, so fun!


There's another replay element here - the fact that you're replaying the old school games like space invaders and defender ;-) doubly good implementation of the theme


Andy - nice idea! Bring in some really obviously retro Space Invaders or Defender characters in all their 8-bit sprite-tastic charm.

Tristenkw5 July 18, 2007 10:50 PM

This was an amazing concept that I hope gets used in some future game series, even on consoles! The idea has so many possibilities, for games of all types, RPG, Action-Adventure, Puzzle, etc.! It even adds a bit of strategy to this simple Shumup. I decided, at the end, to go ahead and LET myself be killed after getting halfway through the boss' life. And after playing through the game again, the idea worked perfectly, and I defeated the boss in double the time that would have been needed in the first play through. This idea has HUGE potential, and you should let as many people know about it as you can!


I really enjoyed the way the "Replay" theme was implemented in this game - really unique and added a surprise element of strategy to the standard side-scrolling action.

I also liked the megapixel graphics. But I would have preferred it if the explosions were done the same way; even cheesy yellow NES-style "pops" would have been better than the scribbles, which I found kind of jarring. Same goes for the hand-written buttons and other text - real fonts look a lot more polished and professional.

I agree with many of the other earlier comments - some powerups would be nice, as would a faster fire control. And instead of "invulnerable" shielded enemies, I would have liked it better if they were killable with multiple hits, or (even better) if they exploded upon being pushed into each other.

Overall, though, the game is on the right track. Good job.

Carl Foust July 19, 2007 3:23 PM

Just letting people know that I'm working on a follow up to this game based on your comments. It's already looking and playing a bit better.

Supertarman July 19, 2007 9:58 PM

This is a really awesome game. There is one thing that i didn't like about it though, when you go back in time you should be able to kill the ship that killed your original self. Then you could possibly have your "first" ship be controlled by the computer based on how good you did when you controlled. Other than that the game is amazing.


Wow, awesome concept, Carl. After reading the instructions, I was under the impression that I had to activate this Replai device - but as soon as I died, I realized what was about to happen and immediately praised the concept to my coworker before I had even restarted.

At first glance, this concept looks like it would be difficult to pull off in a commercial version of the game. Enemies would not be able to react to the player, because if they did, then the ghost ship would be of no use (or would die on collision if you were going to give it health). This forces all enemies to be in some sort of static formula, which is fine, but easily becomes mundane.

One consideration is to make an insanely hard game and just give the player a ton of lives. Design it so that a life will only last say 20% of the level - than again, how boring would it be to sit through the first 20% of the game for the 3rd or 4th time. Plus, how would you rank games on it? Can't rank on time since that encourages an ideal game that never utilizes the Replai system. Can't rank on score because that encourages intentionally dying immediately before the end so that you can clean up more enemies later. Maybe you can make the goal 100% enemies destroyed, with the game restarting once you hit the end - but then you'd should have an auto fast foward/autopilot option so you don't haveta replay the whole level to kill one character...

Anyway, I really should get back to work, lol.

Terrific, original idea - glad you're going to make another. Better work hard before we see some innevitable clones. I eagerly wait for the next version to pop up on JIG :-)


the really funny thing is

that the the replay theme was put in by using a system called REPLAI

which sounds like replay

Carl Foust September 7, 2007 9:45 PM

Thanks for the review, dancemonkey and Jay. I've already responded in the comments to a lot of these issues. I started work on the game late--there's maybe a solid week's work in it, so I made graphics that would look nice without much work. I wish I had stuck with the pixelly theme a little better in places.

The ship's movement and firing rate are linked to the framerate, which I think adds a lot to the frustration somewhat because when the movie slows down a bit(like when the boss moves), so does everything. I know now how to avoid this.

Update on the next iteration of SEDG: it's on hold while I work on my entry for the next competition. Already I've added a new enemy type, the boss behavior is a bit more interesting, and there's a functional level editor(which I will eventually use to create some challenging levels). The UI also uses a proper pixelly font instead of my scribble-writing.


Hey, cool. I'm glad you're still working on this.


Same here, I'm looking forward to a revamped version. This was probably my favorite concept in the competition. Had it been a little more complete, I think it would have won easily.


it was really fun, but you didnt even need to "replay" in order to win the game, so the theme wasnt even necessarily there.


more levels!

VDOgamez May 11, 2009 11:03 PM

No fair! This game totally stole my idea! I've been wanting to do this for years... :( One of the major differiences is that in mine, the enemy that killed your last guy is NOT invincible, so by killing it, you start back in control of your now saved guy. Oh well...


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