Tokyo Xanadu - Vita Review

Released in Japan in 2015, now coming to North America is another installment in the Xanadu series, Tokyo Xanadu. Tokyo Xanadu follows the adventures of Kou Tokisaka, as he fights the supernatural labyrinths that are appearing in the city of Morimiya. With interesting characters, a good storyline, and a really solid soundtrack, there was a lot I liked about Tokyo Xanadu, despite some of its flaws.

The story of Tokyo Xanadu has you take control of Kou, a high school student with an abnormal penchant for wanting to do part-time jobs, which is oddly justified by the end of the game. As with all good Japanese RPGs, Kou gets involved with the paranormal labyrinths, called “the Eclipse”, one night after trying to save the new transfer student from delinquents. And of course, she’s part of a secret society fighting against the Eclipse and the monsters within, called “Greed”. Suffice to say, Kou and most of his friends slowly become embroiled in the paranormal side of the world. Surprisingly enough, the “plot twists” are both incredibly apparent yet also somewhat surprising. The early game was really predictable, but as the game progressed I found myself actually somewhat surprised by some of the events.

Gameplay in Tokyo Xanadu is split between interacting with friends/acquaintances and doing side-quests, and exploring the Eclipse in order to resolve whatever incident happens to be occurring. This gave Tokyo Xanadu a sort of Persona-esque feeling to it, especially since specific interactions with other characters to deepen your friendship requires certain items called “Infinity Shards”, and you only have a limited amount of them, meaning that you won’t be able to view everything in a single playthrough, which is actually a it of a peeve for me, since I like having a save file of 100% in most of the games I play, despite the sanity loss. Thankfully, the new game plus mode allows you to carry over recorded “friend information”, so at least that’s a small consolation. The side-quests in Tokyo Xanada are usually given to you via a forum style phone app, and are probably the weirdest combination of “oddly annoying” and “perfectly acceptable” I have seen in quite some time.

The reason for this is two-fold: firstly, the game normally tells you exactly where you need to go and what you need, which is great for those side-quests that are incredibly vague, but somewhat defeats the purpose of you really trying to do anything if it’s all just given to you right off the bat. On the other hand, there are hidden side-quests that don’t show up unless you actually talk to specific people. Cue the 20 minute or so trek through every area in the game that’s accessible every time an event happens, just to make sure you didn’t miss anything. Imagine my frustration when I finished the true ending after having thought I talked to everybody in the game as much as possible, only to not only find out that there were still side-quests I had missed, but that I was also missing a few dungeons. Thankfully you’re given an incredibly useful fast travel that you can basically use from almost anywhere and will allow you to not only warp to areas, but also to specific parts of areas, like specific shops. There are also free dungeons you can explore in your free time. Thankfully the only thing that takes “time” (Infinity Shards) is the specific character interactions, so you can feel free to go train or gather item drops without worrying about running out of time.

Dungeon exploration is done in a free-roam 3-D style, with up to three party members in total in the dungeon, which is usually Kou plus two others. Party members that come with you can be swapped out at will, and you can change your party formation when you come across a relic, which also let’s you shop and upgrade gear and skills in a dungeon, which the explanation for was basically “because it works”, but at least it’s useful. In order to combat the “Greed”, you have a number of skills at your disposal. Basic attacking consists of normal ‘X’ combos, or aerial ‘X’ combos. You also have power, aerial, and ranged skills, which consume a portion of a gauge that refills over time, and faster when you mix in normal ‘X’ combos. One thing the game didn’t tell me, or at least that I didn’t notice, is that you can actually double jump inside of dungeons. Adding to the standard combat mechanics, most enemies have an elemental weakness, and swapping to another character who is strong against the enemy you’re fighting can be the additional power you need to keep from getting beat up by some of the tougher enemies. Once you have three characters you can use a sort of burst mode that will give certain bonuses depending on your partners’ elements, as well as giving you elemental advantage on any enemy.

Generally most of the dungeons weren’t that difficult, as I was consistently getting S ranks in them, although any portion involving precision jumping was absolutely infuriating. The main story dungeons actually had some pretty interesting layouts and designs, and I really liked the music, especially for the boss fights. Unfortunately there are a lot of problems that come with the game, although whether half of them are due to the localization I wouldn’t be able to tell you. For instance, there were a lot of spelling mistakes, and there were a lot of time there would be an ‘m’ instead of a space in the middle of a sentence. I also recall at one point towards the end of the game one of the characters just says his name inside the text box, so the only thing I can think of is that someone goofed on where to put the character name, inside or above the text box. There were also a lot of…sayings? I suppose? Like, I have no idea what “swallowed job-like” is supposed to mean, and there were a lot of points where someone would throw out a term that had never been brought up before and wasn’t really explained, most of them being “alternative readings” to whatever term was previously used. One of the final quests also had some glitched rewards, as I received an empty text box, 1000 gems, and a “intermdk” (or something similar) as a reward.

During the true ending credits, whether intentionally or not, there wasn’t any music, either, not that I have a way of knowing if that was a style choice, but I’m inclined to think it wasn’t. The dialogue team also made some really…interesting choices to try and make the game sound more “rough”, for lack of a better term. There were a lot of “eff that” or “eff this”s thrown around, and for whatever reason, Kou seems to like the term “fukkleducks” to replace “fiddlesticks”, I can only assume. While I suppose this could be an attempt to give Kou and the others bit more personality, I found it came across as rather childish, if anything. One of my biggest complaints though is that the game explicitly states that of the characters, who was my favorite to use, could continuously use their flight skill. I couldn’t actually get the game to do this, so either it doesn’t actually mean “continuous”, or I’m just dumb, either of which was a possibility by that point.

There is replay value, if not for seeing all the character interactions, at least there are additional unlockable difficulties. From what I understand, there is going to be a Tokyo Xanadu EX+ being released later this year for PS4 in North America, with a remastered system and additional playable characters, story, etc. If you have a PS4 and are interested in Tokyo Xanadu, I would suggest waiting for the EX+ version if it does come to North America. Overall, while I did enjoy my time with Tokyo Xanadu, I wouldn’t particularly be able to call it either bad or good, per se. I actually enjoyed all the mini-games, which may be a first for me, and the story and characters were engaging, but I found the gameplay to fell a little lackluster, and dungeon exploration to be a bit clunky or slow. I would have liked to see some larger dungeons, but give the characters faster movement speed. While Tokyo Xanadu may not appeal to everyone, with it’s lack of English voice-overs and at times clunky mechanics, but is certain to at least provide some good entertainment while waiting for your next anticipated title.

Game Software Information

PlayStation Vita
Nihon Falcom
Aksys Games
Single Player
Other Platform(s):

Provided by Publisher

Article by Richard
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