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  1. #1

    [PSV] Tokyo Xanadu

    If I had to describe Tokyo Xanadu in one sentence, I would say: it's like Persona, only with action segments instead of turn battles. There's a bit more than that to Tokyo Xanadu, but how the game develops is very reminiscent of Atlus' own.

    The game starts off in the middle of April, with days divided into three segments: school (morning and early afternoon), free time (afternoon and early evening), and battle (evening and night). Interactions are not as deep as Persona, and the cast seems smaller as well. During school you are only a spectator to various characters interactions, and only once I've been asked to perform something; so far the game hasn't given any hints that there are various stats influenced by what you do or don't, my guess is that it just affects your relationship with characters.

    During free time you go around the city, choosing two characters you want to help during that time, and follow how the story unfolds; at this time you can also visit the various shops to buy equipment, items, and ingredients for the various recipes the game offers; food is used to boost stats during battle segments. The city is well laid out, with a lot of locations, and you can jump anywhere thanks to an handy fast travel map; these maps are not just for the city itself but also for complex buildings, like the school. Loading times aren't spectacular, but at least every location has a decent level of detail with a god number of NPCs.
    Free time is also when your character goes through an awful lot of part-time jobs to get some money; crystals collected during battle segments can also be exchanged at certain shops for more cash.
    The story revolves around Kou Tokisaka, the 2nd year high school student you play as, that one night gets trapped in a nightmarish dimension with Asuka Hiigari; Hiiragi is battling demons and of course Kou summons his own weapon, surprising Asuka. If I'm not mistaken, demons are born from people's fears and uncertainties, whose are then sucked in into this dimension.

    Battles take place in fairly standard dungeons; characters go around these dungeon as a party, but you control only one at a time. Each character has his or her own elemental affinity and moveset. It's possible to switch between characters at any time to exploit an enemy's weakness, though you can't do this mid-combo. Combat is relatively slow, with good feedback from your and enemies' attacks; enemies have all their attack windows, and the overall feeling is quite good; I'm still not sure how to lock on an enemy, so there's a lot of fidgeting with the camera to keep enemies inside the field of view. Framerate is limited to 30, but at least it's constant.
    Every character can be customised with a series of crystals to enhace some of his/her capabilities, though so far I've only got on for Kou, so I can't tell how deep this system will be. As with school and free time segments, combat doesn't seem particularly complex or deep as other games featuring that kind of stuff, giving the impression that Tokyo Xanadu goes for a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none approach; I hope this pays out in the end, because the game doesn't seem rushed; in fact, it's fairly high production values, with good voice actors (though not every line is spoken), and a lovely graphical side. Characters of course received the highest amount of detail, but environments haven't been forgotten entirely, and show some polygonal detail and decent textures; one thing I particularly appreciate is that the lip syncing is great, and is even applied to portraits in text boxes; the whole effect is far better than, for example, Yoru No Nai Kuni, and Yoru No Nai Kuni used fully-modelled mouths while Tokyo Xanadu relies on textures.

    Among my recent purchases Tokyo Xanadu seems the best one, though it might try to be too any things at once.


  2. #2
    Definitely high up my localisation wish list, this. Thanks for the impressions!

  3. #3

  4. #4
    Game completed, so here are my closing thougths.

    There are multiple endings, I've got the "bitter" one: I have an idea on how to get the good one, and will probably replay the game if/when it gets ported to the west. Considering that I've spent around 25 hours playing, skipping all sidequests and not fully upgrading weapons, Tokyo Xanadu must pretty good to warrant a second playthrough; thankfully there are multiple difficulty levels, although normal isn't particularly challenging: all characters have plenty of life, basic restorative items are found for free in crates, and despite being well designed bosses aren't particularly difficult to bring down.

    First, the nasty bits: the camera is too close to the player, often masking the action when players are too close to walls and swarmed by enemies; during certain boss encounters it also fails to show the sorroundings, resulting in some unexpected hits. It's not game breaking and it might be due to the Vita capabilities, but having a large field of view would have helped a lot.
    Framerate is solid, but it's 30fps. Being an action game Tokyo Xanadu suffers from this, and then again it might be due to the platform it's on. It must be said that the level of detail is constant throughout the game, assets, and environments, and at the very least the game looks good.
    Some sound effects are of public domain, and they stuck out with me for some reason.

    Combat can get repetitive, but this requires a bit of explanation.
    There are five elements in Tokyo Xanadu, all enemies belong to one. Your characters do as well, though they can change their affinity at the start of a dungeon. Before facing a dungeon, you create a party of three based on their elemental affinity and the enemies'. All characters are very different, though they all have the same attacks: a three-hit close range combo, a long-range attack, jump-dash attack, charged close range attack; certain characters can perform short air-combos opposed ot others that only have one air attack.
    Defeated enemies drop white crystal that can be exchanged for money; there are three bonuses to defeat enemies: elemental (use the opposite element), air (kill with an air attack/combo), and fatal (kill it in one or two hits, or overly damaging blows). More bonuses will make enemies drop more crystals and even upgrade items, so the game encourages to switch between characters. Enemies often come in groups to supplement their weaknesses (brawlers will charge while "turrets" will stay away), so you have to adapt to your current character's strength and weakness to fully exploit the enemy's weakness.
    There is an overreliance on the jump-dash attack to deliver several powerful blows and get at least one bonus, but it doesn't work against all enemies.
    However the combat feels good; every blow has the right weight, there are stuns after powerful blows to avoid seeing a character's HPs being drained instantly (something that happens in Yoru No Nai Kuni/Nights of the Azure, for example), and movement is alright. Jumps are a bit floaty, but they allow for an adeguate window to perform attacks.

    Bosses are great, both in design and mechanics. I really had fun facing them because every single one has some gimmick to make the encouter unique. Later bosses are a real treat, with an elaborate art style and complex attack patterns. Some are so huge that the camera has problmes tacking them (groan) and multiple lock-on points. Most bosses don't have an elemental weakness, while others do, or others change it mid-fight, requiring to switch characters to quickly defeat it. If anything, later bosses might bit a tad easy due to the ability to spam three special attacks and quickly bring down their health, but at least none overstays its welcome.

    Dungeons are a rather simple affair, there are some light puzzle elements to open the only way forward, and sometimes platforming segments...and those could have been left out, especially in the later dungeons where distances aren't particularly easy to judge due to the camera; thankfully missing a jump only means to retread back to the platform, and you won't land in dangerous terrain.

    The story is completely linear, from what I've gathered. You can select with whom to engage your free time, but the main reward is to increase a character's soul level. Soul levels give playable characters a boost in stats and access to special attacks, and have a marginal effect on the story. I think that soul levels can't be maxed out for all characters, and to get the best ending you have to focus on at least three, including NPCs.
    Story and characters aren't particularly original, but it's well written and never goes into excessively lenghty expository scenes. Plus, the story segments are always presented with multiple point of views, animated characters, and coincise dialogues, something that a lot of games fail to do.

    Tokyo Xanadu is a quality game that fans of JRPGs shouldn't miss.

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