Citizens of Earth 3DS Review: Excuse Me, Mr. Vice President!

by David Sanchez March 9, 2015 @ 12:25 pm

After spending time with two different versions of Citizens of Earth, Exophase has the final word on Eden Industries’ quirky RPG. For more on the game, check out our previous review in progress. It’s worth noting that the Wii U version has yet to be patched, so freezing and lengthy loading times are still a thing. As such, this review was written after playing the game on the 3DS.

There are two ways your opinion of Citizens of Earth can go if you’re a fan of EarthBound. One: You can get angry at the fact that it uses the comedy RPG concept of that famed game and isn’t quite as good as its inspiration. Or two: You can appreciate the influence and take this as its own thing that’s merely inspired by one of the greatest games of all time yet still manages to be plenty of fun despite some issues. I choose the latter.

Citizens of Earth isn’t ashamed to wear its influence on its sleeve. In fact, there’s a direct reference to EarthBound shortly after the game begins. Even then, Eden Industries wasn’t trying to imitate that game or even replicate its success. Instead, this is a labor of love that pays tribute in some ways while giving you something fairly different in others. Yes, this is an offbeat RPG filled with goofy characters and strange situations, but its brand of humor is very much akin to an Adult Swim cartoon.

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You play as the Vice President of the world, enlisting the services of the townspeople to do your dirty work for you. Don’t take this to mean that Citizens of Earth is some thoughtful commentary on the state of the government or corporate America. The game simply pokes a little lighthearted fun, putting you in a position of power and giving you a slew of underlings so that the main character never really has to lift a finger in battle.

As silly as the premise may seem, it makes for entertaining character interactions. The VP is largely unaware of anything outside his personal bubble. Still, he manages to try and do a good job at helping stop any threats to the world. Sure, he won’t be getting directly involved, but he still encourages his followers to get involved for him (and for the greater good). The basis of the plot is pretty much centered around that concept. You’ve got a bunch of weird characters, and the game is just filled with both jokes that work and jokes that don’t.

When you encounter an enemy, you’re taken to a battle screen where your followers and baddies take turns pummeling one another. It’s all very basic for the most part, though there are some nuances. You’ve got standard attacks, healing abilities, items, and buffs, and like any RPG, you have to put together a winning combination of party members and maneuvers to come out on top and gain some sweet experience points.

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As mentioned in my review in progress post, Citizens of Earth uses an energy system that adds a layer of depth to battles. Performing certain moves costs energy points, but dishing out simpler moves awards you energy points, so you need to strike a balance and store up energy to really bring the pain. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t take full advantage of this novel feature. More often than not (and with the exception of stronger boss characters), by the time you’ve stored up enough energy for a big move, your enemies are near death, so there’s no point in even bothering.

You can change the difficulty during your play-through, which is a good feature to include. It sort of addresses the whole energy point issue I had with the game, though the cost is a much more grueling experience that may frustrate you. The upside is that the higher you turn up the difficulty, the more cash and experience you gain per battle.

You come across a total of 40 characters that can join your party. Most of them are unique, so it’s best to experiment by mixing and matching characters to create a ragtag party of heroes that best suits your needs. This comes with a major downside: Newer characters you meet are weak, so it’s essential that you level them up. Thankfully, you can enroll them in school (for a price) and help them catch up to your current party members that way.

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Though I enjoyed the look of Citizens of Earth on the Wii U, quite a few people have stated that it looks too much like a Flash game. Personally, I think it looks more like a Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon animated show. That’s on consoles, though — the 3DS version is hardly easy on the eyes, with washed out colors and blurry lines that are just ugly. Not to mention it doesn’t run in stereoscopic 3D, which is a questionable omission. That said, this was the version I played as the Wii U version has yet to be patched.

The delivery of jokes and punchlines is pretty good when the comedy works. Hearing the VP dish out nonsensical banter makes for a fun time, and I found myself genuinely chuckling at a lot of the humor. But while the voice acting and delivery is solid, the same can’t be said about the soundtrack. The music is hardly memorable, so don’t expect any fantastic music like EarthBound offered.

Speaking of which, the best way to enjoy Citizens of Earth is to refrain from comparing it too much to EarthBound. There’s a good time to be had here, but I found that it was at its most wholesome because I wasn’t constantly thinking, “Well, EarthBound did this thing that way.” When you take it like that, Citizens of Earth is a fun game that doesn’t hit all the right notes but still offers some good gaming. And on the 3DS, where it’s bug-free, you get a solid RPG that you can take with you on the go.

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