Political jokes, cheeky humor, blatantly cheesy gags? Is this Last Week Tonight with John Oliver? No. It’s Citizens of Earth – an old school, text-scrolling-on-the-screen-while-static-portraits-appear-on-screen RPG. And it’s hilarious. You’d think that a game which makes entirely too many puns and bases its plot on a clueless Vice President trying to run things would get annoying quickly. But you’d be wrong. Citizens of Earth manages to find the right balance between cheeky humor and clever satire to keep you entertained as you’re trying to combat the machinations of the evil Moonbucks Corporation.
If you’ve played a game called Earthbound, you’ll see that this game is quite obviously inspired by it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though. Citizens of Earth also manages to throw in a bit of Pokemon-esque gameplay into its delightfully weird mix. The pun-filled satire is everywhere. Yes, you will fight an actual boss called ‘Puppet President’. And the power controlling this finely named gentleman? Yes, a force actually called ‘Seat of Power’. Just in case you weren’t getting the references. And the political jabs flow liberally too. Our protagonist, the Vice President, literally fights none of his battles himself. He lets his citizens do all of the fighting while he hides behind bushes and fusses about his hair, while providing his thoughts about what is happening on screen. A hero for the ages. The dialogue is funny and manages to keep the tone of the game light even when it’s commenting on some pretty serious issues. For some reason, there aren’t too many spoken dialogues in the second half of the game. It’s a small oversight though, since the text floating on screen is pretty funny.
All around town, you will run into a lot of characters who are very vocal about what is happening in the city. After you’ve finished a task (defeating a certain number of enemies, completing minigames etc.) you can recruit these characters to your cause. There are more than three dozen such NPCs you can recruit, and they’re all suitably different from each other. You have the protective mother, whose weapons of choice in a fight are verbal beratings and good old-fashioned spankings. There’s the programmer stereotype who attacks with, you guessed it, binary machine code. There’s a wide variety of characters, and some of them are hilarious takes on popular stereotypes such as Ninja and Conspiracy Guy. There’s not much overlap between these characters, so it makes adding them to your roster worth it, just to see what wacky things one of them will say next.
After you’ve recruited a character, you have to train them before they can become really useful your team. Hence, the Pokémon comparisons. The Baker, for example, can make delicious snacks for you, saving you valuable trips to the local store. The Pilot, on the other hand, can transport you around the globe in an instant. Depending upon your school of thought, one of those abilities is more important than the other. Merely having your characters present when a battle breaks out is enough to earn them some XP. Much like Pokémon, you’ll have to carry some characters along simply because you need them to level up. Some characters like the School Mascot are overpowered, but with a roster boasting so many different characters, this is bound to happen.
Citizens of Earth has a pleasant, crisp art style with sharply drawn lines and interesting character designs. Crystal City, the town where most of the game’s action takes place, is well constructed and once you’ve played the game for a while, you’ll have no problem finding your way around. The different areas in the town feature a diverse cast of weird characters and sights, so you might want to take some time to just walk around.
In the game is pretty straightforward and sticks close to the Earthbound formula. You have basic attacks and more powerful ones which require the use of energy orbs. You gain energy orbs each time one of your attacks land. There are some standard class strengths and weaknesses against certain types of attacks. Sometimes, the fights feel cheap because just as you think you’ve beaten an enemy, they pull out a Deus Ex transformation. Luckily, you can swap characters in after you’ve failed a certain battle. Dying isn’t too much of a problem either, since the game will pick up from the exact spot where you died. There’s one more thing – if you leave a room where you’ve killed some enemies, they will respawn immediately.
In spite of its flaws, Citizens of Earth manages to keep your interest due to its charming and witty nature. Just talking to one of the many weird characters which inhabit Crystal City makes for some laugh-out-loud moments. As a tribute to the 90’s era RPGs, and as a fun game in and of itself, Citizens of Earth is well worth a run through.
Game Score: 7.3 Out of 10