Is being Vice President of the Earth all it’s cracked up to be, or will it leave you feeling a bit Earthbound? Find out in our review!
It’s not unusual for games to play on nostalgia in the hopes of winning gamers over, it’s been seen a lot in the indie game circle as of late, but a new RPG has come to Vita that puts it’s own spin on one of the most popular RPGs of the 90s, Earthbound.
Citizens of Earth has a lot in common with Earthbound, it’s art style, it’s battle system and the general oddness surrounding the games plot all seem to stem from the classic RPG, but at the same time, Citizens of Earth manages to be it’s own different beast entirely, while the gameplay and graphical elements may be similar to Earthbound, the story seems to differ itself.
Citizens of Earth sees you starting you term as Vice President of the World, upon leaving your house with your mom and your brother you see that your hometown has been invaded by unhappy protestors who disagree with you being in your position.
Whilst battling through the crowds of protestors you uncover a conspiracist who claims there is something going on with the local coffee franchise, which is aptly named Moonbucks, regarding a particular style of coffee literally growing legs and running away, it’s up to you as VP of earth to discover what’s going on in an attempt to put a stop to it.
As you roam from city to city there are countless different types of enemies that approach you, if you make contact with an enemy it will initiate a random battle, however if you press square on an enemy who hasn’t attacked you yet, you’ll ambush the enemy and you’ll be able to attack first.
For those unfamiliar with the Earthbound battle system, battles are turn based, you select a move for each member of your party, then depending on how the stats play out, your enemies and party will attack each other in turn. Upon defeating an enemy, each member of your party will gain XP and when they earn enough to level up their stats will increase.
As the game continues you realise that you need to recruit citizens throughout the game to help you on your quest, but here’s the catch, before you recruit the citizen, they need you do some kind of task to do, and this is where, for me, Citizens of Earth started to feel like less of an enjoyable game, and more like an endless list of tasks to do which, for me, became an endless plethora of back-tracking and time consumption.
Each Citizen has their own particular special trait, whether it’s being able to sell you items at any time throughout the course of your play through or being able to fast travel you to places from wherever you wish, each citizen is different, and it does help to make the game more interesting, and every Citizen seem a little bit different from one another.
At this point in this review, I’m going to be completely honest, after 8 hours of playing Citizens of Earth I gave up with it, the back tracking and continuous amount of side quests that the game kept giving me became far too much, and left me ultimately feeling overwhelmed.
While all the tasks that you are given can be checked on in the Agenda menu which splits the tasks up into main quests, secondary quests and recruitment quests, it still doesn’t help that they can become quite old quite fast, especially when they require you to travel half way across the map to reach an objective, it can become quite frustrating.
The games graphics and art style look like a classic 16-bit JRPG, but with a modern touch up to make it feel a game that was released in 2015, but it definitely feels like it could be a modern day homage to Earthbound, in fact with a lot of things in this game it’s hard not to draw comparisons with it.
One thing I enjoyed above everything in this game is that nearly every bit of communication between the characters is voice acted, although it’s very rarely seen in 16-bit RPGs, it was the one thing that kept the game fresh and unique. As for the games soundtrack, it fit in with the scenarios that the game offered but it didn’t feel like anything special.
Also the game certainly doesn’t come without it’s technical issues, for example, I encountered the following error 3 times in the space of 20 minutes in a play session which really hindered my progress within the game and stopped me progressing for a little while, a full restart of my Vita was required to stop it from happening.
For all of its flaws however, there is a prolonged JRPG which will keep die hard Earthbound fans content. But for people who want a unique, constantly fresh, and enjoyable experience, then unfortunately I can’t recommend Citizens of Earth due to its repetitive nature and lack of anything in the way of new features.
To say that Citizens of Earth was a little bit disappointing is an understatement, going into the game I was rather excited about jumping into a classic JRPG of its stature, but ultimately it relied too much on nostalgia, backtracking and tedium to make it feel more like a slugfest then an enjoyable experience.