Tokyo Xanadu (Review) PSVita

Tokyo Xanadu (Review) PSVita
Review Score:

Developed by Nihon Falcom, Tokyo Xanadu is an action role-playing game that takes place in an alternate reality, where the year is 2005. A massive earthquake initially devastates Tokyo, but the citizens of Japan eventually rebound and rebuild the city about a decade later. This is where the game’s protagonist, Kou Tokisaka, comes into play (no pun intended). As a young high school student – and a chronic workaholic – Kou spends most of his time working part-time jobs at local businesses.

One night after work, Kou witnesses a fellow classmate, Asuka Hiiragi, being chased by a group of delinquents. Kou decides to intervene in the chase to help his schoolmate, but then suddenly finds himself in an alternate dimension that is similar to the Persona series. This event sets the pace for the entire game.

Initially, the game is spent interacting with characters, exploring Tokyo and working part-time jobs. When Kuo isn’t working or attending school, the player can explore the city via the game’s ‘Free Time’ mode. For example: when school ends, it’s possible to explore its floors and speak to the students. Larger areas such as Station Square and the Morimiya Shopping Mall (to name just a few) can be visited by selecting them from a menu located on the World Map.

This feature (while executed quite differently) is reminiscent of Sega’s Shenmue series, which allowed the player to explore their surroundings. The only difference here is that Xanadu’s city is much smaller in scale, and it doesn’t feel ‘alive’ or ‘lived in’ due to the lack of citizen traffic, etc. This changes when the player visits a location that is connected to the story, though.

As the game progresses, the player is introduced to a smart device called the ‘Xiphone’. This device has many functions, but it also works as a cellphone. While exploring, the player will occasionally receive voicemails that are important to the story. Once the player has listened to these voicemails, the Xiphone will delete the old messages and replace them with new ones. Unfortunately, there is no option available to ‘store’ important voicemails. This is a feature that should have been implemented in Tokyo Xanadu. Despite the game taking place in 2005, there were cellphones available that were capable of storing a person’s voicemail. Just something to consider for a sequel.

The Xiphone also has a Social Networking Service known as NIAR – a useful app that can be used for communicating and checking peoples’ information, to name just a few. There is also a ‘Movement Menu’ that can be accessed by pressing Square button. This feature allows the player to transport to different locations.

The other half of the game is spent exploring the ‘Underside’, or the ‘Eclipse’ as Kou later learns. When an Eclipse forms, a gate appears leading to the other side. The creatures that inhabit the Eclipse are known as ‘Greed’. There are also S-tier greed that are more difficult to kill. When defeated, they will sometimes drop ‘Gift Cubes’ that contain rare material.

Unique to Tokyo Xanadu is the ‘Battle Preparation’ screen, which appears right before battle. This window – while simple in appearance- can be used to ‘Save’ the game; swap equipment; manipulate the formation of Kou’s party; and check ‘Greed’ information in the ‘System’ menu by pressing the Start button. Elemental weaknesses, as well as Greed types and numbers, are shown under the ‘E. Attribute’.

During combat, the player and his party can move freely around the playfield. When fighting, the player can press the Left Shoulder button to lock on to a nearby enemy, and then attack by rapidly pressing X button. Kou’s arsenal also contains a variety of long-range attacks, which are executed by pressing Square button. The strength of these attacks are determined by a stat called ‘Magic Attack’, and its effectiveness against an enemy is based on how low (or high) that creature’s ‘Magic Defense’ is. For example: a creature with a low Magic defense will sustain a lot of damage, while one with a higher defense can (and usually will) absorb a good portion of the attack. When the action intensifies, the player can ‘dodge’ most attacks by pressing the Right Shoulder button while jumping. This is called an ‘Aerial Dodge’. This move is most useful when Kou gets cornered by too many enemies.

If the player can meet certain conditions during combat, they will receive a ‘Kill Bonus’ that will reward item drops and rares. This is achieved by exploiting the ‘Elemental’ weakness of each greed that Kou encounters. Elements play an important role in Tokyo Xanadu. For example: everything inside the Eclipse (i.e. dungeons) has an ‘element’. There are five elements in all: Fire, Wind, Steel, Spirit and Shadow. These elements interact with and oppose each other. Even greeds and Soul-Devices (more on this in a moment) have ‘elements’.

The weapons used by Kou and his party are called Soul-Devices. Those chosen to fight inside the Eclipse carry a special ‘power’ that manifests into one of these weapons. As the weapon’s name implies, a Soul-Device is an extension of the user’s soul. The special attacks these weapons can produce during combat vary between party members.

After clearing a dungeon (i.e. an Eclipse), the player will be graded on their performance. This grading system includes the player’s Clear Time, Damage Ratio, Greed Defeated, and any treasure found during the event.

Graphically, Tokyo Xanadu looks beautiful on the PS Vita. The clean, highly detailed graphics do a fantastic job of complimenting the story and combat sequences. The character and enemy animations are fluid, and the special attacks light up the screen with a variety of eye-pleasing colors. This is quite a feat given the PS Vita’s age. It also proves that Sony’s handheld is still capable of producing high quality titles in a market that is currently dominated by the Playstation 4 and Xbox One, and eventually their successors – the Playstation 4 Pro and Xbox One X.

As it stands, Tokyo Xanadu is a solid JRPG that does what it sets out to do – provide an entertaining, fun-filled experience with likable characters and action-packed combat sequences. Games on the PS Vita don’t get any better than this.

Mike Pittaro
Platform: PS Vita
Developer: Nihon Falcom
Publisher: Aksys Games
ESRB: T (Teen)
Price: $29.99

Tokyo Xanadu Official Website:
http://aksysgames.com/tx/

Review Score
Graphics
Tokyo Xanadu looks beautiful on the PS Vita.
Sound
Impressive voice acting and a moody soundtrack add to the game's atmosphere.
Gameplay
The dungeon exploration is second to none.
Overall
Tokyo Xanadu is a solid JRPG that is guaranteed to offer hours of enjoyment.
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