Citizens of Earth (Wii U) Review

By Albert Lichi 20.01.2015 7

Review for Citizens of Earth on Wii U

The SNES was home to some of the most important RPGs of all time; fans to this day still hold Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy III (VI), Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars and, of course, Earthbound in high regard. The year was 1995 when Earthbound hit Western shores and the cult classic established itself as one of the most memorable RPGs of its time. At the period, seeing an RPG in a modern setting, with suburban locations was a huge novelty that sparked players' imaginations. Compounded with an emotionally gripping story and offbeat humour penned by Shigesato Ito, Earthbound left a lasting impression that influenced young minds to eventually create games that were influenced by this immortal classic, such as modern titles like the obscure Grasshopper Manufacturer DS game Contact and Double Fine's Costume Quest. Even the creator of South Park, Trey Parker, cites Earthbound as a huge influence on his work: "mundane American setting and child heroes" was a concept that fuelled the engine of South Park: The Stick of Truth. Now Eden Industries aims to give players its take on the lasting inspiration of Earthbound with Citizens of Earth. Does it merely ape off of the legacy of Shigesato Ito, or can it stand on its own? Read on for Cubed3's latest review…

It would be easy to dismiss Citizens of Earth at first glance due to its rather bland and generic aesthetics. The game mostly looks like a cheap Flash game that would be available to play on a browser or on a mobile device. Lacklustre and limited animation and characters that do not express themselves beyond their initial portrait would make any player assume this game is pretty cheap cash grab that Atlus put out to ride that endless hunger the Earthbound fans have had for a sequel. Sure, even the colour palette is largely uninspired, consisting of mostly primary shades and the environments are flatly drawn. Character designs are nothing to write home about either and resemble stock cartoons that can be found in public domain collections of generic character designs. However, if there was ever a case for not judging a book by its cover, Citizens of Earth would be the author.

Despite its uninspired aesthetics that fail to do its inspiration justice, this is actually a very well crafted and deftly balanced RPG. The game wears its influences like a badge of honour, and Eden Industries, the developer, has often proudly proclaimed how Earthbound is its main influence. However, another influence is Suikoden, which is illustrated by the vast amount of characters that can be recruited. Gamers assume the role of the Vice President of Earth whose epic quest begins with a cup of coffee (and a throwback to Earthbound and Chrono Trigger, naturally), and the game does a decent job easing the concepts and gameplay mechanics with a few easy recruits and basic mooks to fight. Each recruit is very unique, in and out of battle, with talents that impact the gameplay in meaningful ways. All of the recruited characters are like regular Joes and Janes that are defined by their occupation, which in turn define how they are used in and out of combat. One example is a butch lifeguard who will make underwater zones accessible and has a wide variety of life-giving skills and water-element attacks. With over 40 citizens to recruit and each of them requiring a side-quest to complete in order to persuade them to join the Vice President's ranks, Citizens of Earth gets a lot of mileage out of simplistic gameplay using the medium to its fullest extent.

Screenshot for Citizens of Earth on Wii U

The sheer size of Citizens of Earth is another surprising aspect. A huge, sprawling city with many sectors and districts, even woodlands and rural areas, are there to be explored. The boring visuals really do make it easy to be surprised sometimes by how much Eden Industries packed into this game. There are some surprises that are negative, though, like the frequent load times. When a game that looks like an early Flash game has so many load screens, especially when running on the same platform that had Bayonetta 2 with very few instances of loading times and pushed some of the most impressive visuals, it's mind blowing that Citizens of Earth has so much loading and so frequently. The loading does take a toll on the pacing, too, since character movement is pretty expedient and moving from door to door and exploring at a pretty brisk pace is all brought to a screeching halt every few seconds to enter a small house or take a flight of stairs (of which there are many). It is also worth noting the game did randomly freeze within four hours of playtime during the review process.

Another quality Citizens of Earth has is that of a '90s era LucasArts title. The style of writing and sense of humour has more in line with a LucasArts-type game than it does with the offbeat tapestry that Shigesato Ito penned. This quality does help it stand out on from the crowd, rather than just being a wannabe - where Citizens of Earth shines is in its writing and story. It greatly helps that most of the dialogue is voiced and flawlessly performed. The lead, in particular, who is the Vice President, has the right combination of egotistical politician, news anchorman, and just a right amount of pompous momma's boy. It makes events more unique by focusing on a comedic slant rather than heart, not that it lacks heart, it just is not the core pillar of Citizens of Earth. Like The Wondeful 101, Citizens of Earth is a game about the power of the regular guys and gals who make up the world; the power of team work and the triumph of the human spirit.

Screenshot for Citizens of Earth on Wii U

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Citizens of Earth may not have had the nuanced artistry that Earthbound had, but, in spite of its limitations, it owns what it has available and runs with it. The game is a passionate and valiant gallop that has its arms flailing around, but it still succeeds and fulfils its goal. The team at Eden Industries has made a fine RPG, one that Atlus should be very proud of. Any RPG enthusiasts would be doing themselves a great disservice by skipping Citizens of Earth based on its art style - this game is the real deal and is one of the better balanced RPGs to have come out in a long time. Citizens of Earth will most likely fulfil Earthbound's destiny and become a cult classic as well, and it has been a privilege to have played it.

Developer

Eden Industries

Publisher

Eden Industries

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

I'm a rpg fan, but the graphics and style are so replusive I have zero interest in it.  No knock on the review, but game designers really need to understand that style matters.

I'm wavering with the 3DS version, to be honest. Sometimes it's funny, other times it's too forced. Then the adventure is intriguing and well laid out, but other times it gets really convoluted and even confusing as to what needs to be done next.

Al - is everything voiced? In the 3DS version, many just go 'Ooh!' or 'Yeah!' to accompany the text. I wondered if some of the voice work had been cut back due to space constraints on the 3DS...

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

Adam Riley said:
I'm wavering with the 3DS version, to be honest. Sometimes it's funny, other times it's too forced. Then the adventure is intriguing and well laid out, but other times it gets really convoluted and even confusing as to what needs to be done next.

Al - is everything voiced? In the 3DS version, many just go 'Ooh!' or 'Yeah!' to accompany the text. I wondered if some of the voice work had been cut back due to space constraints on the 3DS...

not everything is voiced, but most of it is.
i imagine the 3ds version probably had audio cut to reduce file size.
huge disadvantage to digital only.

( Edited 02.02.2015 14:33 by Insanoflex )

Dragon0085 said:
I'm a rpg fan, but the graphics and style are so replusive I have zero interest in it.  No knock on the review, but game designers really need to understand that style matters.

i agree with you entirely about the bland and boring art style. despite that- there is a good game here underneath it.

Underneath all the bugs and glitches. My team were walking along the road and a car zoomed past, but got stuck, wedging the group against a wall. Car wouldn't move, team couldn't move... I had to hard reset again. This game is annoying me so much. Any initial entertainment factor has gone out the window!

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

on wiiu i had a few, but it wasnt that constant.

only a few isolated incidents.

I'm thinking it's definitely a case of something getting broken when squeezed onto 3DS eShop. There were some problems with the latest Adventure Time on 3DS as well after being squished without any proper consideration or tinkering to optimise it.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

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