by January 23, 2015 @ 1:29 pm
As an EarthBound fan, it’s only natural that I jump at the opportunity to check out the latest RPGs influenced by Ness and company’s grand SNES adventure. Games like Cthulhu Saves the World and Boot Hill Heroes instantly spring to mind, as does the recently launched Citizens of Earth, an “EarthBound-like” where you take on the role of the Vice President of the entire world in a quest for world peace.
Sadly, as much as I would’ve liked to have had my full review of Citizens ready by now, I received a press code of the Wii U version, which is extremely buggy. Issues include lengthy load times and constant crashes. Within my first two hours of playing, I had already encountered a handful of freezes, setting my progress back just enough to cause great frustration.
Thankfully, Atlus and Eden Industries were graceful enough to send me a backup review code for the 3DS, which I’m currently a few hours into and am happy to report has been bug-free thus far. So, after playing both versions for a decent length of time, I’d like to give a brief rundown, or review-in-progress, of the things that stand out most to me in Citizens.
Right off the bat, you get a sense of exactly the type of humor that Citizens tries to invoke. It’s not as bizarre as the brand of comedy in EarthBound and instead opts for the sometimes-topical, sometimes-random nature that we’ve seen in games like Cthulhu Saves the World. Some players will find that not every joke works, but if you dig offbeat, head-scratching quips and dopey characters, you’ll find that the game’s sense of humor is to your liking. Personally, I found a lot of the characters and their one-liners to be quite enjoyable.
When you encounter enemies on the map, you’ll engage in turn-based battles. These are generally fun, though it can get tedious taking on the same lower-level baddies repeatedly, especially once you’ve faced them a dozen times before. You can ambush enemies from behind and get an instant win, but this isn’t always possible, so you have to take them on even if you really don’t want to.
Citizens uses an energy system for its battles where you can store up points to dish out some heavy offense. Some abilities reward you with energy while others expend it. Most light attacks will grant you one point when executed. Store up at least one point and characters like the Vice President’s mother can give a hug to another party member so that both characters get a nice health boost. The Vice President’s brother, on the other hand, can deliver a heavy pummeling if you store up at least two energy points, and an even mightier walloping if you store three.
There are things I like and dislike about the energy system, though this could be because I’m not too far into the game. The one thing that grates on my nerves a bit is how I’m able to bring most enemies’ HP down fairly low before I’ve stored up enough energy to perform a strong attack. By the time I’m ready to use a cool, strong move, there’s really no reason to even bother. That said, there have been times when I take on multiple enemies or bosses and have to put those higher skills to use — they’re just few and far between. Again, this could change down the road.
One of the game’s nicer features is the ability to change the difficulty on the go. The School Mascot character can be found in front of the school (though you can recruit him if you fulfill a certain request) and can alter the difficulty for you if you’d like. The medium setting was too easy for me, so I cranked it up just a bit. I tried playing on a much higher setting, and this caused enemies to get a lot tougher. Raising the level of challenge a few notches above medium was the sweet spot. It helps that increasing the difficulty rewards you with extra XP and cash during battles.
Something that’s gotten a mixed response is the art style of Citizens. Some folks really like it, while others don’t exactly care for it. On the Wii U, I thought the game looked really good. The whole thing has this Saturday morning cartoon look to it that’s cheery and lighthearted. On the 3DS, however, the graphics look kind of washed out and lack the visual splendor of the big screen counterparts. In addition, there’s no 3D effect in the game, which is kind of a bummer.
Though I’m having a lot of fun playing Citizens, I can’t recommend the Wii U version — at least not yet. I’ve also read that the PlayStation 4, Vita, and PC versions suffer from crashing on occasion, which is upsetting. As of this writing, the 3DS version is the way to go, even if it is the graphically weakest of the bunch. Stay tuned to Exophase as we’ll have the full review available soon.
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