Citizens of Earth Review
Here at The Gamer's Lounge, we were fortunate enough to get a few different editions of Citizens of Earth to review on multiple platforms. We each got to take a stab at it on our various System of Choice, and this allows us to do a thorough review. While I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the game, the Wii U edition had a few flaws that hinder my complete recommendation of it.
Citizens of Earth is a modern love letter to some classic game design: the parallels to games like Earthbound are obvious, as you find yourself in a modern world utilizing everyday things as RPG design elements. Need health? Forget Curaga, eat a donut. Need something to boost your special abilities? A mana potion won't do it, but a cup of coffee will perk ya right up. The comical world comes alive in the characters as well: your Conspiracy Theorist party member will be able to take down that killer coffee bean by proving the truths behind the government cover up that brought him into existence.
The title fits the game well, as the storyline revolves around every citizen you meet. As the newly elected Vice President of the World, you find yourself flexing your power (awfully high-and-mighty for someone who got elected on someone else's coattails) by encouraging others to fight for you. If it breathes, and isn't an enemy to kill, you can go through a series of steps to recruit the character. This means you'll find mailmen, bakers, schoolteachers, bodybuilders, and every other Average Joe in town to join your party, instead of some superhero. I love the "everyman" attitude prevalent in the game. It feels like you are dragging the equipment store guy along with you to save the world, instead of letting him sit in his little hole and ignore the impending doom, capitalizing on your need for armaments. These people go about their business without you, and you can have them work when they aren't in your party: the school teacher can hold class to give others XP, for example. Every character is only named by their profession. It's as if they introduce themselves when they join your party. While I may have a hard time inventing names once I get near the 40th party member, it's fun to find names that match their personalities, and the game is so lighthearted I don't see someone tragically dying, so naming them after friends seems okay so far.
Fun voice acting is present as much as is possible: our hero has a snide comment for every folly that comes his way: not that he gets his hands dirty, though. Much like a Pokemon game, you run the citizens from the sideline, and don't do any physical fighting yourself. It's amusing to see your party wiped out while the Vice Prez is standing on the sideline, and the "continue" cut-scene is your party encouraging you to get back out of bed: this guy must really have the highest Charisma stat in history. Battles unfold by running into enemies in the overworld: you can dodge or attack head on, and how you come in contact changes the start of battle. Your mom nags the enemy until they're defenseless, your postal worker brother has a hidden fight-club talent side, and the School Mascot cheers you on. Battles can be brutal: if a bunch of enemies are near you when a battle starts, you'll find yourself overwhelmed, and they have an uncanny ability to call in reinforcements. The game's turn-based strategy lets you stay on top of the situation, so smart planning is key.
My beef with the game has to do with technical limitations. I feel as if a game like this could take full advantage of the Wii U, but it merely uses the off-screen pad to mirror the main television. There's a handy map that could have been used on the second screen, as well as a tablet that the VP pulls up for the main menu that so obviously would have fit as your GamePad, much like the tablet in Lego City: Undercover. And while a mini map is in the corner at all times, you can't tap it to bring it up, a shoulder button (on the other side, mind you) is required to look at it. You can use the touchscreen in battle, but again, it just makes me feel as if it could have been utilized more.
In conversation with the other reviewers, they were confused when I complained about the loading screen. Our PC reviewer said he barely ever saw the loading screen, but every scene transition turns to the same loading screen on the Wii U. They're short when going between floors in a home, but going back to the world map or transitioning between sections feels hefty for a digitally downloaded game. Go to door, watch screen turn black for a noticeably long time, new screen pops up, loading bar, black screen, then game again? It feels like ten plus years ago, especially when we're talking about a 2D RPG, I don't care how pretty the sprites are. And when you accidentally step outside when getting too close to a door? That doubled loading time just feels all the longer.
While I can highly recommend this game for what it is: a lighthearted RPG that breaks a lot of barriers, giving a modern world and the average Joe a chance to star in a solid gameplay experience, it's the technical limitations that bog it down. None of the other reviewers complained of loading times, and the PC/PS4 don't have the features naturally present on the GamePad that would be missed. If the Wii U is your sole source of gaming bliss, I still say this is a worthy pick up. If you have any other system, though, it may be worth taking a look at the other reviewers' opinions to see which system fits your needs best.
I give it a 3.5/5.
Opinions from around the Lounge
I played both the PC and PS4 versions of this game. I found the core of the game to be solid. It is a really a great RPG that reminds me of Earthbound or any other Classic RPG. The graphic style is great and looks excellent in 1080p. The cartoon style fits well with the story. Speaking of the story, it is a very strange story filled with crazy stereotypical characters which isn't a bad thing. The funny story and crazy characters make it a fun play. Unlike Ryan, on the PC I experienced little to no load times at all. While the PS4 did have load time, it was not to the extent of the Wii U version. If you are a lover of classic 16-bit era RPG's and want to have a good time, then this game is for you. If you like a more serious RPG, then you may want to look elsewhere.
I played the PS Vita version of this game. I also found it to be a great SNES-esque RPG. The graphics and sound/voices are great, the story is great and original and it has a lot of characters, each with their own unique traits and skills, which helps keep the game interesting. The game fits very well on the PS Vita, since you are able to save and resume at any point. I never have to worry about finding a save point when I am coming up on the end of my break at work or the end of my commute. I found that the PS Vita version had quite less loading times than the Wii U version. Unfortunately, you cannot play this on a PS TV and there is no cross-buy or cross-play between the Vita and PS4 versions. It would be nice to play on my PS Vita while at work or on the road and then load it up on my PS4 or PS TV and resume from where I left off at home on my nice, big TV. Overall, I am in agreement with the other reviewers. If you are a fan of retro RPGs, try this one out! You won't regret it!
Citizens of Earth is available for PS4, PS Vita, Wii U, 3DS and Steam for $14.99. Thanks to Atlus for providing codes for review.
Do you have a 3DS? Would you like to win a copy of Citizens of Earth? Make a post in the comments below about what your favorite 16-bit era RPG. We will pick one random post and that person will a download code for Citizens of Earth for the Nintendo 3DS!