Tokyo Xanadu is your usual JRPG high school setting with students having special powers. Red tears appear around the world as demons known as Greed are trying to invade the human world.
Kou is caught up with the class president Hiragi one day and finds out he too has the Soul Device power that allows him to fight against these demons. Together, he and his friends work together to keep another disaster from happening.
It’s quite interesting to see the direction Falcom went with Xanadu. They seemed to have combined the action element from their Ys series and adopted the social element they introduced into their more recent Sen no Kiseki (AKA Trails of Cold Steel) games.
So, when you’re not out dungeon crawling you can have some bonding time with your party members similar to Atlus’ Persona games. Stronger the bond, the more bonuses you have while dungeon crawling such getting healing or your party member joins in your special attacks.
Or you’re answering questions in class or quests and rewarded with stat points if you get it right.
Helps to keep it fun and create a more immersive experience so, even if the story doesn’t interest you you’d probably want to know what happens to the characters.
Then there’s also the use of an orb based system that Falcom has been using in their Legend of Heroes games for a while and offers a great amount of flexibility like in FFV.
Dungeons are fairly much your standard JRPG affair – enemies have elemental based weaknesses, unleash some special moves, explore, defeat boss. Repeat. That said, they do add a few simple puzzles in along with some traps you need to dodge to try and keep things interesting.
What really made it bland was the enemies and bosses didn’t feel very challenging. No, “Yes, I beat it!” kind of satisfaction until very late into the game.
You’re also limited to 3 party members each time you enter a dungeon and, only one character can be on screen at any time unlike recent Ys games. Fortunately, it’s not too hard to switch between them juggling between the triangle button and the right button on the D-pad.
Each character used a different element, what I did like was how Falcom has tried to make gameplay more fun by letting the characters remind you what element is best when fighting enemies instead of having to memorise elements. So hey, my party members are “alive” and they care!
You also have a better chance of getting drops if you defeat enemies with the correct element so, that’s a bit of an improvement compared to those hideously low drop rates RPGs are usually known for!
Presentation wise, the engine is same as Sen no Kiseki really which was developed back on the PS3 so on the PS Vita’s high density screen it feels quite lacking. You probably notice a lot of graphics look the same as Sen too. In fact, Towa makes a cameo appearance.
That said, the graphics team seems to manage fairly well with what the graphics engine can do when zoomed out for large scenes. Seems Falcom’s strong point still lies in 2D graphics and still have some way to go before they can create same quality art with 3D graphics.
There is no full voice acting as usual. Falcom seems to like skimping out on the voice acting for their games which might be a good choice when on a tight budget since voice actors are paid by line. Still, it feels odd when you’re listing to characters speak then suddenly, they’re muted.
I enjoyed the mix of social and action elements of Tokyo Xanadu but for the most part, it felt like a very standard JRPG dungeon crawler. There was just no challenge that left me feeling satisfied after defeating bosses. Fortunately, those social links kept me playing to find out what happens to my party members.
Now that this social link seems to have become a standard part of Falcom games, we might see more RPG developers copying Atlus’ Persona games which wouldn’t be a bad thing. Part of the big success of Persona was how immersive it was and I’m sure its sales figures were bumped up because of how the virtual social element of the game appealed to female audience too instead of just your everyday high school guy going around beating up monsters.
- Quick jump between locations.
- Rewarded with better drop rate for using correct element.
- Party members remind you which element to use.
- Social link element similar to Sen no Kiseki.
- Enemies and bosses felt unsatisfying to beat.
- Re-used graphics.
- Graphics engine feeling dated.
- No full voice acting.
- Bland dungeons to explore.
- Battles don’t get challengingly satisfying until the finals.