Citizens of Earth Wii U Review
Developed as a love letter to the Super Nintendo classic EarthBound, Citizens of Earth is a turn-based RPG set in a modern universe with immersing gameplay and jab after jab at Western culture. Although I didn’t find it quite the game it could have been, I found that there was enough to keep me fairly engrossed from beginning to end.
In some ways, the developers did make an effort to deviate away from the obvious EarthBound influence, portrayed through things like it’s modern setting and use of psychedelic backdrops during fight sequences, to make something a little bit more unique; most notably in the games visual style, which adopts more of a cartoony feel to it. In turn, this coincides with a lot of the childish and naïve personalities of many of the characters, including the main character the Vice President of Earth. There is also variety in setting design as well as the enemy roster, which includes such opponents as hecklers and political protesters; in itself, adding the game’s quirky sense of humour.
In terms of gameplay, it seems to be influenced not only by EarthBound, but also by Pokémon in the form of the game’s many playable characters, but also South Park: The Stick of Truth, in that friends can be added to the player’s profile; but in this instance, they come with many more benefits. Overall, the game is very satisfying to play, and offers a very different take on the genre. The fact that the main character doesn’t even fight alongside his recruited citizens is also one of many jabs at politicians in itself.
The map system in the game can be quite needlessly complicated at times, which can especially cause problems in a turn-based RPG. Players need to know where they to go next, or where certain side quests may be, and what exactly they need to do to activate or complete them. It was pretty disappointing to learn that not all of these had been handled as well as they should have been in this game; especially as this was published by Atlus, one of the lead developers of RPGs in Japan, pioneering the Megami Tensei series. But otherwise, there are no other issues with the control scheme, thankfully.
The game can last within the region of around 20 to 25 hours. This is somewhat underwhelming and below par for a game of this kind as they can be made to last significantly longer. One of the most famous examples of a developer creating a game with an exceptionally long lifespan for the time, and on a budget, is the original Final Fantasy. One playthrough would last roughly 8 hours, but it was specifically designed to be played multiple times, as there was an array of different character combinations to try out from the start, making it last unfathomably long for a relatively early NES title. Since there are also considerably more playable characters in Citizens of Earth, I don’t see any reason why the developers wouldn’t be able to make a possible sequel last longer. I encountered the problem of turn-based RPGs that have variety of gameplay outlasting their lifespan with the likes of South Park: The Stick of Truth and Child of Light last year; hopefully, developers will take note of this and look to make improvements in the future.
The story of Citizens of Earth revolves around the newly appointed Vice President of Earth recruiting as many citizens as possible to join his cause and fight his battles for him. Though it may not be as intricate or as well thought out as Shigesato Itoi thought out the story of EarthBound, the developers still incorporated the same kind of witty humour and jabs at Western culture that Nintendo did with their 16-bit masterpiece.
Even though this game is very much heavily and openly based on a classic, it’s certainly not a lost cause in terms of originality. It does differ from many other turn-based RPGs with it’s gameplay mechanics, general visual style and in its enemy roster. There aren’t many other games that also tackle the issue of politics like this does either.
In summation, Citizens of Earth is a pretty enjoyable game, but it’s far too short for me to be able to call it a classic. My biggest hope is that in light of Atlus picking this game up after a failed Kickstarter campaign to get it going, there will be a sequel to this game, which will be made bigger and better than it’s predecessor, because overall, it’s a very good idea, and it deserves to be built upon.