Posts Tagged ‘Atlus Games’

Review: Citizens of Earth, Find a Fun Game –  Elsewhere!

Citizens-of-Earth-mainCitizens of Earth is gonna take an hour to download and install on my PS4 and while that might frustrate some people, it gives me a chance to gather my thoughts and think about the proposed game experience: What is this game going to be like? You gotta understand, I know extremely little about this game other than a passing comparison to the SNES title, Earthbound, a game I’ve downloaded on my Wii U but have yet to crack open. Sure I know the premise of the-oft-mentioned SNES gem, and sure there could be similarities, but given the game icon’s playful, almost retro looking image on my PS4 I’m hoping for more than an Earthbound clone. I’m hoping for ether a small novel charming world that’s easy to navigate and mentally map or a story so fascinating that it tumbles into X-COM like territory with conspiracies and secret government groups, but maybe done more playfully. I’m hoping that this game could be Charlie Brown and Snoopy meets X-COM. Yes, these two or three thoughts took an hour to form in your humble author’s head but thankfully the game’s ready and it’s time to play!

The title screen springs to life and I’m worried because it screams high-end iOS app and not console greatness. I don’t mean to belittle the efforts by the Atlus team and maybe they’re trying to appeal to the mobile audience with something that feels more casual but it doesn’t pull me in and hook me. The audio and music is quasi 16-bit too. It’s retro enough for the nostalgic vibe, yet polished enough for current gen – but it, like the title screen, is far from a compelling hook. And what’s with the various lines of dialogue – or rather single line of dialogue, “Citizens of Earth” being yelled or whispered at me from various characters? The acting is hard to judge because I haven’t even got past the main screen yet.

citizens-of-earth-1Past the opening screen, the visuals are funky, in a good way: Kind of fun but not to the point where I’m enamored with the layered 2D top down view. The biggest thing that throws is the animation, which feels close to Plants vs. Zombies, and over-tight controls. The two aspects don’t sync the way they should. I’m really glad this is an RPG and I’ll never have to do any kind of platforming magic because that might be a cruel kind of torture reserved for the world’s worst enemies. The story set up is fine. It’s a bit rushed but essentially, you’ll play as the Vice President of the World and the game starts on day two of that job.

Thirty minutes into the game, there a few things worth noting: I’ve got a least four or five side quests that are a little hard to keep organized. That’s a lot to throw at a player without even have a sense of what the BIG story, the “A” story, is for the game. All I know is that I’m the Vice President and there are protestors everywhere – these are your enemies. Speaking of enemies, the combat system is turn-based, which I actually love. They throw a lot of humor into this part of the game. For example, your Mother is part of citizens-of-earth-enemiesyour party as is your Brother. One of your Mom’s attacks is “Nag,” which lowers the enemy’s defense and deals damage. I am a little disappointed that you don’t get to use your player, the Vice President, in the combat situations. I guess the VP wouldn’t be involved such shenanigans, but it’s a disconnect that breaks the player from the main character and instead, despite choosing his actions and dialogue in other parts of the game, you’re forced to use other characters in combat. It’s weird – again, a disconnect. With regards to your party, it appears, through the game inventory screen, that you’ll encounter and party with up to 40 possible comrades, indicated by silhouetted boxes with question marks. I’m sure each will contribute something different and play on their stereotypical image or role in relation to your life. The Nerd will be smart; the Body Builder will be strong. You get the idea. I really just wish the humor was more pronounced and succinct. There’s a lot of funny stuff crammed into the combat system but it goes by so quickly that it’s hard to fully appreciate. Though, this being an RPG, I’m sure there will be several chances to appreciate it. Speaking of overplaying an element in a game that’s gonna be long, most of the dialogue is recorded and again, I’m not sure I love the acting. I read much faster than I can hear the performances and while, if I hunt through the options, I’m sure I can turn it off but I’d rather sort out the coffee conspiracy that’s occurring in town or get to the bottom of the mysterious submerged car in the lake instead of playing with options.

citizens-of-earth-2My love for RPG’s will definitely let me spend more time with this game but it falls far from fun and miles away from perfection out of the gate. I love what they’re trying to do here but the game concept is not big enough, simple enough, or appealing enough, in the right ways. Citizens of Earth wishes it could be South Park: Stick of Truth, another humorous RPG, but one built on a great brand, used in a great way, but also a game played things safe in terms of mechanics and requirements, in order to let the humor and brand take center stage. Citizens of Earth, to my knowledge doesn’t have the brand or following that South Park has, and thus it’s hard to connect and feel pulled in because the execution of all the key elements feels a bit rushed and lacking polish. If you’re making an unknown IP, grab my attention the second I engage with your product. Just do one thing really well and I can forgive other elements. Child of Light is I game that clutched my emotions from the first piece of art. Though I wasn’t always fond of the rhyming mechanic, the control and story more than made up for it. Shovel Knight nailed the retro vibe, and while their story was all parody and pastiche, the mechanics and nods to video game history made up for it. These are two examples of unknown IP games that did one thing extraordinary well to make up for other misgivings. Citizens of Earth will appeal to causal RPG fans, those looking from a break of the typical fantasy fueled offerings, but I don’t think it’s going to be deep enough, or get better, the longer you play it. Try this one if you can, because it might be your toxic cup of bold coffee, but chances are it’s just going to fill your gaming gap until something more polished crosses your plate.


Rob McCallum is an award-winning filmmaker and the director of “Nintendo Quest.” His work has been sienna Fox and MTV2 and covered by NBC, CBS, CTV, and CBC Radio. He has an unhealthy obsession with Ducktales, Masters of the Universe, and anything Jim Henson-related.

Disclaimer: This review was provided courtesy of a review code provided by Atlus.

Real Things Video Games Teach You: Harvest Moon


Time management, long-term planning, farm fundamentals, environmental awareness, and relationship building. ~Harvest Moon


Real Things Video Games Teach You was a series of Tumblr posts started by Oliver in May 2013 where he posted a bunch of posts in a short period of time. He’s recently added posts to the Tumblr account this year.  He has given VGS permission to re-post these under his name as part of  a series posting twice a week.  If you want to see all of his posts, check out his Tumblr account:


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