Game Title: Tokyo Xanadu
Developer: Falcom, Aksys Games (Publisher)
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Download: 2.2 GB
Availability: Europe (Digital), North America (Digital, Retail)
PSTV Support: Yes
Falcom has made quite a few different games for handhelds, most prominently of the Legend of Heroes series and the Ys series. What the West has not seen much from Falcom is new IPs. They tried to do this with a new series that didn’t leave Japan for a long time. It was called Tokyo Xanadu.
Now that it is coming West, the situation is a bit strange. The PS Vita version of Xanadu is coming out now, while the PS4 version is coming later in the year, packed with new characters and story content. Aksys did this in a smart way with spreading the releases out to not completely burn off Vita owners with the “definitive” version being out right away.
But, let’s not focus on that. Here is my review of the PS Vita and PSTV version of Tokyo Xanadu!
Unlike Ys and LoH’s fantasy setting, Tokyo Xanadu takes place in present-day Tokyo. Kou is a student who tries to save a classmate from some muggers and ends up knee-deep in a battle between underground Japanese groups and an alternate dimension called “The Eclipse”, which caused a disaster that killed thousands in Tokyo years prior.
The plot follows Kou as his friends and family become victim to this “Eclipse” and the monsters within, slowly forming a group that can fight back to prevent a second Disaster from coming and hitting Tokyo.
Tokyo Xanadu is one of those stories where you go in and think you’ll never remember all the names or roles of the dozens of characters thrown at you, but before you know it, you don’t even need their dialogue up to know who is who. It’s a charming game that gets more so the further you play.
Tokyo Xanadu is an Action-RPG with School Sim elements in the mix. Picture it like Trails of Cold Steel but with a modern setting and easier access to dungeons.
Your main progression in the game will be between moving around the city to spawn story scenes and dungeons to navigate and “Free Time” days, where you can revisit dungeons, do side-quests, or use Affinity Crystals to experience Friendship Bonding scenes with many of the other characters. These Character Scenes are similar to Social Links from Persona, and exactly like Character Bonding from Trails of Cold Steel 1 and 2.
One last thing on my current point. There are also shops around the city, where you can spend money on items and equipment, or Exchange gems dropped by enemies into money. If you’ve ever played a Legend of Heroes game, the shop system and Exchange System is just like the system from that series.
And that really drives a bit point with me. Tokyo Xanadu borrows a lot from the Legends of Heroes series. In fact, the Friendship Events, NG+ options, Towa being a character, the shop system, navigating the town, having to exchange gems for money, and even the way the customization menus look and the orbs you use in that menu look almost copied-and-pasted out of Trails of Cold Steel. For a game that Falcom aimed to have a different feel than their other flagship series, they failed. Tokyo Xanadu is unique in dungeons, but everything else feels like Legends of Tokyo: Trails of Xanadu Steel. It feels like they borrowed far too much from Cold Steel and not enough in the “new systems” department.
As I just said, dungeons are where the game becomes unique. Being an Action RPG, enemies spawn in the dungeon and you fight them in real-time. You’re able to use melee attacks, ranged and power attacks that use up MP, and swap out between party members according to the situation. This is very simple, yet strategy manages to creep in anyways.
Fighting enemies is a battle of weaknesses. All characters have elements tied to their attacks and all enemies have elemental weaknesses. Exploit the weakness and you do more damage. The same with physical and ranged attacks. Some enemies are immune to ranged skills, forcing you to fight them up-close. These can also result in special kills, which should be your goal as they affect the Rank you get for completing the dungeon.
Rank ties into your Wisdom, Courage, and Virtue stats. By S-Ranking Dungeons, answering story questions correct, and completing side-quests, you increase these stats. When you reach the final dungeon, these stats affect whether you are able to get the True Ending path and playable Epilogue, or you get the short, saddening Bitter Ending. The nice thing is that getting the Bitter End will tell you how to obtain the True End and give you the chance to restart before the final dungeon, but only certain aspects of those stats will still be available as side-quests expire each chapter.
Now, length. We know the PS4 version will have more content, but Tokyo Xanadu is a lengthy game on its own. When I finally finished the game up with the True Ending and Playable Epilogue, I had logged over 37 hours. I had not done about 90% of the side-quests, though, so if you stick to all the side quests, it would likely last 40 hours or more. For anyone debating getting on which version to buy, you’ll still get a good 40 hours out of the PS Vita version of the game.
The game isn’t hard to control, and is also compatible with the PlayStation TV. Everything is done with the actual buttons on the system, so there’s no need to worry about touch or motion controls coming into play. If you want to play the whole thing on your TV, you can.
Controls are simple enough. The Left Analog Stick moves you around dungeons, and the Right Analog Stick moves the camera. The D-Pad is used to swap characters and use special combat modes. The L trigger is used for locking onto enemies, and the R trigger is used to dodge. Start lets you open the menu and Select lets you see the mini-pad. Then, we have the face buttons. You use X for normal attacks and Square for Ranged/Power attacks. Triangle is used for switch your current two characters.
Not a hard way to play, and the game does a nice job explaining it all to you.
Visually, I can’t say it looks awful but I also can’t say it looks wonderful. It uses the same graphical engine as Trails of Cold Steel, but there are more jagged edges on the character models. It doesn’t look quite as smooth as Cold Steel aside from when it is zoomed in, when character models smooth out more.
Performance is something that needs to be discussed, though. Load Times aren’t very long, but frame drops do tend to happen. Like in Cold Steel, many story scenes have frame drops that are definitely down beneath 20 fps, and combat does as well. The frame drops in combat are the same. Whenever a large enemy is defeated or a large AoE attack is used by the enemy, the fps tanks well under 20 fps. Most of the time it doesn’t affect your flow with an enemy death sparking it, but the final boss has a few large attacks they frequently use, so one of those fights will have a lot of drops. Still manageable, but it is quite frustrating.