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Tokyo Xanadu eX+ 1

NIHON FALCOM is no stranger to Japanese role-playing games. Having been behind the successful Legend Of Heroes, Dragon Slayer, and Ys series, it was met with positive feedback when it debuted Tokyo Xanadu on the PlayStation Vita in 2015. The title, taking root from the popular Xanadu franchise, showcases many core elements present in the developer’s previous creations, among them an in-depth party system, dynamic combat, and on-the-fly character-switching. Given the welcoming response, a port to traditional platforms was inevitable, hence the release of an enhanced version on Steam and Playstation 4.

In Tokyo Xanadu eX+, players take control of Kou Tokisaki, a broody teenager with a heart of gold. When he’s pulled into an alternate dimension, Kou finds himself caught up in a plot involving otherworldly creatures called Greed, magical weapons, and the mysterious phenomenon “Eclipse.” Along the way, he must balance this out with the need for a normal routine in Morimiya City — going to classes, meeting new people, and generally just hanging out and helping others in need.

Fans of JRPGs such as Persona and Shin Megami Tensei will no doubt find a welcome and familiar premise here. With Tokyo Xanadu eX+ having two main phases, one involving the city and the other the mysterious otherworldly dungeons, it certainly doesn’t make any effort to hide where it got its inspiration from. The good news is that, for the most part, it does just fine. Kou is basically given the option to do whatever he wants, and there’s a certain charm in exploring the city and going on specific quests. The setting lends itself well to how the story and characters progress, and while Kou can come off a bit flat, the other characters are given a fair amount of depth and personality.

Needless to say, the latter adds meat to Tokyo Xanadu eX+, as friendly characters and would-be party members don’t just appear as cardboard cutouts but are given a fair amount of dialogue and personality. However, unlike in Nihon Falcom’s previous titles, Tokyo Xanadu eX+ features real-time combat. This represents a tonal shift that may prove jarring to Nihon Falcom regulars; while the story moves at a pace that is best described as reasonably slow, the combat sections are anything but.

Significantly, Tokyo Xanadu eX+’s Combat system moves away from the more traditional JRPG experience and opts for a more hack-and-slash approach to gameplay, with characters able to dodge and perform special attacks both on the ground and in the air. From combo attacks to flying attacks to special attacks to mid-battle character swapping, the game offers an interesting take on battles, treading a middle ground between slow and steady turn-based-with-active-time-battle-gauge gameplay (à la Final Fantasy) and fast full-on action (as in Witcher or Dragon Age).

Tokyo Xanadu eX+ 2

Combined with the challenge presented by bosses which are both terrifying to behold and entertaining to fight, Tokyo Xanadu eX+ proves to be reasonably heavy on both strategy and tactics. Fighting never devolves into button-mashing madness and requires displays of skill and sound decision-making, a welcome development for a genre whose best titles primarily rely on arbitrary stats and numbers.

As the tweaked version of its Vita ancestry, Tokyo Xanadu eX+ features additional scenarios, content, and rebalancing to make the game an overall better experience to play. And, thankfully, it runs at a smooth 60 frames per second, with few hiccups and bugs overall.

In the final analysis, Tokyo Xanadu eX+ is well worth its $60 price tag. Its story isn’t perfect, but its attention to characters and the painstaking care it put into the setting and the complex combat system makes it a great buy for JRPG fans, even for those who already played it on the Vita. With a first-run playtime of around 60 to 70 hours, it’s a bit short on the whole, but the amount of content available plus its fun factor give it outstanding replay value. Highly recommended.


Video Game Review

Tokyo Xanadu eX+
PlayStation 4

THE GOOD:

• Familiar setting with an interesting, if imperfect, story and a colorful cast

• Challenging yet fun combat system

• Superb music and voice acting

THE BAD:

• Shorter than other comparative JRPGs

• A bit too reminiscent of Persona and Legend of Heroes

• Can be dragging at times

RATING: 8.5/10