BASE NECTARIS (USA) proudly presents: Earth Light FAQ  (1992, Hudson Soft, Super Famicom)                             return to:  BASE NECTARIS  (site map)
Earth Light FAQ  (1992 Super Famicom, Hudson Soft)

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  Earth Light release information:


Super Famicom Cartridge (Earth Light) Super Famicom Cartridge (Earth Light)
Title:   Earth Light Release Date:   07.24.1992
System:   Super Famicom (Nintendo)     Release Price:   8500 yen ($77 USD) 
Format:   Cartridge Note:   Is the release price correct? If so, 
Country:   Japan why was Earth Light so expensive? 
Developer:   Hudson Soft Genre:   Turn-based war strategy (simulation)
Publisher:   Hudson Soft # of Players:   1
Catalog #:   SHVC-H3
  introduction & background information:


Upon its release in 1992, Earth Light was a bit of a novelty in the realm of turn-based war strategy games. In Earth Light, the entire arsenal of weapons and troops at your disposal were decidedly "cute" and cartoon-like in appearance (fittingly adorned, I should add, in wardrobes of powder-blue, canary-yellow, hot-pink, lime-green, and sugarplum-purple).  Yes, Earth Light featured purple space cruisers, pink artillery cannons, and lime-green MECHs.  This unabashedly cheerful approach to war gaming contrasts sharply with the more "serious", "somber", "gritty" and oftentimes clinical atmosphere commonly found in today's (and yesteryear's) war simulations.  Earth Light is cute, through and through (except for the just plain goofy antagonist who stars in the cinema screens . . . dig the irony of the peace medallion he's wearing?).

I'm dying to find out what this dude's name is! Email me!I'm dying to find out what this dude's name is! Email me!

I love all the character designs in Earth Light -- except for this one, of course. Why is this clown even in the game? He clashes with the look & feel of the entire game. His presence detracts from the cinema scenes and the cover art. This goofball is not even worthy of Data East's BAD DUDES, is he?

Now, I am not suggesting that Earth Light pioneered a brand-new genre in gaming (i.e. "cute-war-gaming") ... but the fact remains that I have yet to identify a precursor to Earth Light's cheerful, cartoon-like aesthetics.  So maybe I am claiming that the look and feel of Earth Light was innovative and creative.  [NOTE: If you can help clear this up, please contact me !  I am by no means an authority on this subject. Thanks! ]  So, let me clarify my thoughts:  strategy war games prior to Earth Light have had cute elements in them (i.e. cute character designs), but was there a strategy game prior to Earth Light that was so entirely steeped in cuteness?  My best guess is that there were some "SD" strategy games -- as in, "Super Deformed" -- that paved the way for Earth Light... (one possible contender is the SD GUNDAM series that began



























PRETTY IN PINK :  The arsenal of weapons featured in EARTH LIGHT looks like something you'd encounter in an alternate universe, a universe where MACROSS and BARBIE have fused together in eternal bliss. Even the names are cute as hell. This should be a toyline, no joke. I'd love it.

on Nintendo's Famicom, but I have yet to play any of these games).  Regardless, you get the point: Earth Light's entire universe is a pastel lollipop and the space armadas populating them are chewy gumdrops.  Now, I've made a lot of fuss about the appearance of Earth Light  and the difficulty in naming its aesthetic predecessor.  In other words, I devoted a lot of time and energy to one of the least important elements of a video game (i.e. graphics). I am thoroughly ashamed for being so damn shallow in my discussion thus far... let's move on, shall we?

  digging deeper: earth light's predecessor


When we shift our attention away from aesthetic superficialities and focus instead on the real meat of the game -- such as the battle system, the A.I. of your computer opponent, the play mechanics, the overall flow of gameplay, etc. --  we have a much easier time identifying Earth Light's lineage.  Earth Light is a direct descendent of another Hudson Soft strategy game: Nectaris (1989 PC-Engine, Japan). Nectaris was released in North America as Military Madness for the little-known

Earth Light (1992) Nectaris (1989) HuCard (Nectaris) Military Madness (1989) HuCard (Military Madness)
Earth Light  ( 1992, Japan )
Super Famicom Cartridge
Nectaris  ( 1989, Japan )
PC-Engine HuCard
Military Madness  ( 1989, N. America )
TurboGrafx-16 HuCard

TurboGrafx-16 video game console (TG-16 was the North American version of the Japanese PC-Engine).  Now, Earth Light is not a direct sequel to Nectaris, but the similarities between the two games are quite strong.  Essentially, Earth Light borrows all the major components of its predecessor and slightly reworks them:   (1) the core battle system remains intact (sharing a similar formula that rewards strategies that surround opponents, provide support for your troops and exploit the effects of the terrain), but it has been expanded to include hand-to-hand combat as well as secondary weapons;   (2) weapon classes, and their functions, parallel one another (i.e. both games have troop carriers for swiftly transporting slow-moving units, infantry are the only means of capturing factories (or, space docks, in the case of Earth Light),  (3) the battle scenes follow the same format,  (4) the user-interface, menu system and commands are nearly

Space Dock Captured! (Earth Light 1992)

Factory Captured! (Nectaris 1989)

Space Dock Captured!  ( Earth Light 1992 )

Factory Captured!  ( Nectaris 1989 )

identical, etc. Taking stock of these common features, it should come as no surprise to discover that both games were written by the same programmer at Hudson Soft.  [ Source: Lee Pappas' Nectaris Page ]  ASIDE:  Lee Pappas was perhaps the first person -- on an English- language website -- to discuss Earth Light's relationship to the the Nectaris series. He is a fellow Nectaris fanatic and his long-defunct Nectaris fansite inspired me to create BASE NECTARIS many moons ago.  
Space docks -- like the factories of Nectaris -- play a crucial role in the strategy of Earth Light:  they are the only reliable means of acquiring additional troops and the only means of repairing damaged troops.  However, the space docks of Earth Light cannot be "captured" as easily as the factories of Nectaris, since the space docks have defenses and hit points.  Nectaris players will have to re-think their old strategies when playing Earth Light, since the "rush-in-the-infantry- with-no-support" method won't work too well when trying to seize space docks (or enemy headquarters, for that matter).

Inventory Screen (Earth Light 1992)

Inventory Screen (Nectaris 1989)

Space Dock Inventory Screen  (Earth Light 1992)

Factory Inventory Screen  (Nectaris 1989)

Earth Light's gameplay is reminiscent of Nectaris and will appeal to aficionados of old-skool turn-based strategy games.  The battle system of Earth Light is more varied than its predecessor, however, and thus it takes a bit of time before you really hone your strategies and tactics.  For example, nearly all weapons have at least two modes of attack (after some trial-and-error you will discover which weapons work best with particular opponents),  the effects of terrain are not as intuitive and straightforward as Nectaris (I'm still trying to figure everything out),  factories and enemy strongholds cannot simply be "captured" ( they have defenses and hit points and must be defeated in battle first), etc.
Nectaris was set in the gritty, muddy, confined & repetitive battlefields of the Moon, whereas Earth Light offers vast and varied settings by taking the battles into space.  Earth Light goes a step further by adding a neo-medieval twist to the gameplay (i.e. MECHs are armed with both swords and guns; enemy strongholds resemble hi-tech "castles", etc.). The hand-to-hand melees, by the way, are an interesting extension of the Nectaris battle system -- it's fun to see an old-skool

Weapon Guide (Earth Light 1992)

Weapon Guide (Nectaris 1989)

Weapon Guide   ( Earth Light 1992 )

Weapon Guide  ( Nectaris 1989 )

sword-wielding MECH like Talus rip hi-tech, gun-laden opponents to shreds. Or should I say, I wish it were fun. Unfortun- ately, the battle scenes are anti-climatic and unsatisfying.  Whereas Nectaris provided some genuine satisfaction when you blew up your opponent's troops, Earth Light falls short viscerally.  As a result, the battle scenes in Earth Light come across as merely  perfunctory and do not add to drama of the ongoing battle.  In fact, overall, I would say that Earth Light is less alluring and not nearly as addictive as the Nectaris series.  Earth Light is certainly worth checking out if you are a Nectaris fan, but I suspect that Earth Light's charm only reveals itself after investing some time in it (unlike Nectaris, which I found instantly addicting).  For example, in some later levels, Earth Light mixes things up by having armadas of new ships arrive at the frontlines a few turns after play has begun.  This would have been a wonderful feature to incorporate into the Nectaris sequels, I think, because it opens up the game universe somewhat:  Nectaris was always a tightly closed system -- the number of troops available always clearly defined at the onset of a stage.  At least Earth Light experimented with the old formula...
FINAL THOUGHTS & QUERIES :  It doesn't appear as if Earth Light was particularly popular in Japan... although Lee Pappas states that this Super Famicom title was a limited release from Hudson Soft.  And so we are left with a bunch of questions:  Did Hudson candy-coat Earth Light in an effort to be "innovative" and make it appear more distinctive and unique than the typical strategy game of the day?  Or was Hudson attempting to broaden the appeal of Earth Light by making it palatable to gamers who weren't typically interested in the strategy genre?  Or was it something else entirely? For example, perhaps Earth Light was Hudson's attempt to develop an SD Nectaris of sorts?  Yeah, I know that is stretching things, but here is the biggest puzzler of them all:
Hudson Soft recycles and rehashes its popular series ad nauseum (this fact has permanently stunted the growth of the Nectaris series), so why didn't they try to make another Earth Light a la Nectaris?  Why, oh why, did they give us . . . 



related games:


Earth Light II: Luna Strike (1996, Japan, Super Famicom).  Developed and published by Hudson Soft (SHVC-AE5J)
Luna Strike shares little, if anything, with the original Earth Light.  From the core game engine and play mechanics, to the aesthetics and gameplay -- the two games are different.  For more information on the sequel to Earth Light, check out the embryonic Luna Strike FAQ featured at here at BASE NECTARIS.  Hey, at least it's something!




also related:


Essentially, Earth Light is a reworking of the Nectaris game engine. As a result, Earth Light is similar to the entire series of Nectaris / Military Madness games (released during 1989-2004 for numerous platforms in Japan, Germany, & North America).  If you are short on time (or patience), then you will want to consult the Quick List of All Nectaris Games.  Otherwise, I encourage you to dig into the more detailed Nectaris Legacy.



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