When first hearing about Citizens of Earth the one game that kept falling into the conversations was Earthbound, and (unfortunately) as of the printing of this review I have never played it. At first I thought this would either affect my ability to review Citizens of Earth or hamper it in some way. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Eden Industries has released this cute yet difficult JRPG and no matter what game has inspired or influenced it in the end I was left satisfied and impressed.
Citizens of Earth places you in the shoes of the newly elected Vice President of Earth. His only power seems to be the ability to command others to fight his battles for him. You will spend hours recruiting citizens to fight for you and each one brings with it a different point of view. From a Cop, Photographer, Cat Lady, and even a Conspiracy Guy each character adds spice to your game. The locations you will visit throughout the game are varied enough to keep each one feeling fresh. From the beach to a cyber-computer world you will face new enemies and see new sights with each location you see. Due to the large amount of quests you will find yourself backtracking from one area to another rather frequently and the varied scenery keeps your mind from jumbling up each area and makes completing these mission that much easier.
The story was interesting enough to keep me playing but honestly it wasn’t the main reason I picked up my Vita. That stems from the recruitment of each citizen. Recruiting them wasn’t just a simple task of walking up to them and asking for their help, as each recruitment required you to either complete a mission or solve a puzzle to gain their loyalty. These tasks sometimes had me scratching my head, doing my best to figure out just where they wanted me to go or what they wanted me to accomplish. It felt overwhelming at first but Citizens of Earth presents you with a world that begs to be explored and after hours of walking around the map I began to notice little tidbits of information that were needed to recruit other members and everything quickly fell into place. For example, the Photographer will only join you if you allow her to take your picture at certain locales in the map. The first time I met her I had no idea where any of these places were, but a few hours in I found myself remembering what she requested and finding them with relative ease.
Citizens of Earth is a deep game hidden inside of a shallow package. What do I mean by that? Let me explain. When you first pop in Citizens of Earth, you will quickly notice something. The settings menu is bare. Can you change the difficulty? Negative. Can you zoom in or out to get a better view of your surroundings? Nope. Wait, how about the ability to fast travel? Nada. I was instantly turned off by what I felt was a lack of quality setting or abilities that most gamers take for granted now-a-days. That is where this game goes from being just a run-of-the-mill JRPG to what I feel is a game that I will remember for years to come. Citizens of Earth makes you realize that the abilities you take for granted can be stripped from you and leave you to discover on your own. Each citizen you recruit in Citizens of Earth has a special ability. These abilities range from the above listed settings you are missing, to the ability to call in a car to quickly travel around the map and so much more. I felt this was an ingenious idea to make the gamer earn their ability to change the difficulty or fast travel and not just be handed these settings at the beginning.
This game is for the most part a solid experience that I would recommend to any JRPG fan, but like with every game it does have its downfalls. The combat in Citizens of Earth can feel a little watered down. It took me awhile to get the hang of it and even when I felt I had it mastered I still would prefer to avoid it all together. Enemies were varied and bizarre but always had that Saturday morning cartoon feel to them. The voice work during combat was quickly repeated and I found myself growing tired of hearing the same lines over and over. This would cause me to change the characters I was using on a regular basis instead of finding a team I felt comfortable with. Another pitfall was the menu itself. Citizens of Earth boasts a large amount of quests, sidequests, and treasure to locate but unfortunately the menu makes finding these items more difficult than need be. I would have had loved a separate menu to keep track of missions and track previous conversations. I found that if I put the game down one day and picked it up the next I had a hard time remembering what it was I needed to accomplish from one mission to another.
Overall Citizens of Earth is a solid JRPG that boasts bright visuals, comical conversations, and a cast of characters that will add personality to your hours of gaming. Though it does come with some negatives, this title is filled with great ideas and a plethora of quests to keep you marching around the game world for hours. Citizens of Earth comes on a few platforms today but I highly recommend you pick it up on the Vita, as the ability to take this game on the go made car rides and down time enjoyable.