What does “Earthbound”, the Vice President of the World, and a Homeless Guy Have in Common? That Would be New RPG “Citizens of Earth”

It’s not uncommon for good ideas to not translate into good video games. However, even in instances where creative games bomb spectacularly, they can still lead to very memorable experiences.

Even though we don’t have much to go off of regarding it at this time, it still seems like recently revealed indie RPG project “Citizens of Earth” is guaranteed to at least be a memorable experience as it has not one, but several very interesting ideas forming its basic blueprint.

It comes to us from developer Eden Industries who crafted one of those aforementioned brilliant, but flawed, games with their first title, “Waveform”, and has players taking the role of the Vice President of the World in his quest to rid his small home town of various weirdos and presumed evil doers. Now being a politician, and not wishing to get his hands dirty, the VP takes on a “team leader” approach and recruits denizens of the town to fight his battles for him. The character types range from body builders, to baristas, to homeless guys, and each not only brings unique attributes to combat, but when left out of your party, can provide certain abilities based on their character type with services like discounted items in their shops, town expansions, and exploration rewards.

Few specifics are known about the game, but it is confirmed that it will be much in the style of a classic JRPG, only with no random encounters (enemies will be viewable on the game world) and a combat system that will allow for battle restarts for party member swaps. Other than that, the games creator’s are sooner to talk about the broadstrokes and style of “Citizens of Earth”, and it’s easy to see why, as the game uses concepts from some of the greatest games of all time. It’s party leader influencing combat mechanic is straight from “Pokemon”, the expanded party, and their unique abilities, are reminiscent of the “Suikoden” series, it’s got a hyper Americana sense of character and environment design that reminds me of the artwork from “Fallout”, and best of all the entire game, from the humor, to the enemies, to the  basic design, borrows heavily from my favorite game of all time, “Earthbound”.

No a great idea doesn’t always mean a great game, but when you are taking your cues from games that are both some of the greatest of all time, and in some cases the most criminally underappreciated, and using them to enhance what is already a unique story concept, you come away with something that stands on its own, and looks to be an always welcome breath of fresh air for the medium. In any case fans of classic RPGs, and bold games in general, should set aside time to keep an eye on “Citizens of Earth” as it progresses, and aims to start a Kickstarter campaign later this year.

Dreams Come True for Sega Fans

I don’t want to restart a video game war that went cold over a decade ago, but it’s hard to deny that the PlayStation was the better buy than the Sega Saturn.

I know, I know, here comes the usual Saturn fan argument. “Panzer Dragoon,” “Guardian Heroes,” “Nights Into Dreams.” That last one, in particular, has been a longtime cult favorite, and fans have been clamoring for years for Sega to re-visit “Nights.” Sure, there was that Japanese exclusive PS2 remake, and a mediocre semi-sequel on the Wii,  but none of it has fully satisfied fans’ bloodlust following the original title.

Well, not long after releasing a teaser image related to the game, Sega has gone all-in and announced a full-on HD remake of the original “Nights” to be released on Steam, Xbox Live Arcade, and Playstation Network. Besides including little pieces of the blown minds of hardcore fans everywhere, the remake will boast standard upgrades like HD graphics, widescreen compatibility, achievements, and a “Saturn Mode” that lets you play the game in its original format.

If you never played “Nights,” the reasons you should be excited for this remake are a lot of the same reasons I outlined previously for why “Earthbound” is my favorite game of all time. It’s a title brimming with style, that’s all about exploring the world of dreams via flight. Appropriately then, the best way to describe the majority of the games features is dream-like. The flying controls that make up the majority of the game handle loose and free, while a brilliant soundtrack fills the landscapes you explore, giving you a sense of freedom that has nothing to do with a concept like sandbox gaming. Instead, “Nights” surrealism frees your mind and makes you believe that even though the game has well established parameters, that somehow anything is still possible.

Yet there’s a reason this game is considered a “cult classic” and not a runaway contender for best game of all time. It’s not entirely due to the fact “Nights” came out in the dying days of a mostly underwhelming system, either. Truthfully, once you get past the game’s thrill of flying, it’s hard to not see that the majority of “Nights” is standard platforming item-fetching that is handled in a style that’s not quite on the rails, but is still more linear than it initially appears to be. Even the flying aspect has lost some of its appeal over time as it was largely based around the appeal of exciting new “analog stick technology” that has of course become anything but novel since.

I know that remakes and re-releases are big money in the video game market right now (and some, like the “Metal Gear Solid” and “Splinter Cell” collections are wholly justified), but Sega is putting their fans in an awkward position with a release like this. On one hand, not supporting this game by buying it may make Sega believe that there is not the interest in their classic library that there definitely is and should be when it comes to generally good gaming ideas. However, if fans jump on this title with the same rabid ferocity that they have shown in clamoring for its release all these years, then they will be effectively sending the message that a bare bones HD re-release is good enough for them.

There’s a group of people out there that will be happy enough buying a title like “Nights” to enjoy for an afternoon of nostalgia and be perfectly happy with it. Maybe, with the right expectations, there is nothing wrong with that. I just hope that game developers are also taking time to consider the little aspects of titles like “Nights” that have made them remain so beloved over the years, and are looking to expand those ideas into future original properties. Maybe that’s just wishful thinking, but if it’s not the case, then in the end, releases like these really are nothing more than cash grabs.

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