It Came From Japan – #1 : EinhÃ¤nder
Released in Japan on the original PlayStation console back in 1997, and the following year in North America, EinhÃ¤nder is one of Square’s (note: pre merger with Enix) few dalliances outside the genre they’re renown for – the RPG.
A kinetic and brutal side-scroller, EinhÃ¤nder quickly became popular with shooter fans for its fast action, stellar audio and the use of 2.5D by shifting camera angles and employing 3D graphics while maintaining the purity of a 2D side-scroller.
“Legend told of a great warrior from the east … “
From the German meaning “single-handed”, EinhÃ¤nder is a subtle inference to the task entrusted to the solo-manned fighters sent from the Moon to attack Earth during the Second Moon War. The plot is deliciously over-the-top and flagrantly incidental while adequately serving the purpose of setting up why such craft are now zipping along from left to right and blowing up everything in their path. EinhÃ¤nder enjoyed brisk sales and widespread popularity in both Japan and North America. Despite this success, however, Square never followed up with a sequel.
“Your technique is magnificent …”
Equipped with a standard machinegun weapon and the ability to ensnare pick-ups – referred to as gunpods – from destroyed enemies through the use of a manipulator arm, the player’s fighter was a customisable weapon of destruction zipping in and out of the scenery and destroying wave after wave of seemingly endless opponents.
The action also took place on multiple strata with add-ons flipped from either a prone or elevated position in order to fire on enemies from various angles; a game-play dynamic that turned a simple blaster into a challenging strategic romp. With these armaments ever at the ready, the player cut through droves of countless enemies to ultimately take on end-of-level bosses that had a tendency to split up into individual parts; an attempt to keep things both interesting and challenging.
For the experts, the game came with multiple levels of difficulty and was known to be both a punishing and rewarding jaunt. Sporting a multiplier system that encouraged repeat visits and the promise of racking up some truly prodigious scores, EinhÃ¤nder was the epitome of the “one more go” mindset.
“You must choose the ball or the sword … I can not make this choice for you …”
Might EinhÃ¤nder see a HD remake on the PS3? It’s unlikely, especially considering over ten years have passed and the title is more a cult classic rather than an instantly recognisable property people would gravitate towards. Then there is the fact that the publishing rights remain with SquareEnix – and we all know how busy those guys are of late.
EinhÃ¤nder was re-released on the Japanese PSN back in June of 2008 to be enjoyed by a new generation of Japanese shooter fans. A PSN release outside of this region has not been forthcoming but would surely be welcomed by the gaming public’s horde of side-scroller fanatics. We wouldn’t hold our breath however.
It Came From Japan is a weekly column discussing past games from Japan that have enjoyed a release in the west on the PS1, PS2, PSN or PSP but have yet to see a PS3 outing. We discuss the title from three separate perspectives: its pedigree and how it performed upon its original release, the game in general with a view towards game-play and plot and, finally, the probability of the game finally making a PS3 appearance outside of Japan. The column covers all genres with games of varying quality and popularity given equal standing.