Outta this World
Oh, Citizens of Space… where do I even begin with this game? As a spiritual successor to Citizens of Earth, the bar was already set fairly high for it — both in terms of writing and gameplay — and there’s no denying the very real possibility that it could have failed to live up to a game that already seemingly went all-out. Maybe it was because of that that it decided to (literally) transcend the surly bonds of Earth in order to venture where no red-haired politician had previously dared to venture. Or maybe not. Whatever the reason, though, it worked — and oh what good news that is.
Simply put, Citizens of Space is bigger and better than its predecessor. I mean, it takes place in space. How could it not at least be bigger? Jokes aside, though, this game really does its best to take everything that fans loved about Citizens of Earth and improves upon them. It’s clear that Eden Industries but a lot of TLC into this game — from its story that nicely mixes a little bit of seriousness in with its overt silliness, to its gameplay mechanics that appeal to players of all ages and skill levels — in order to create something that players could enjoy.
Despite taking place a very, very long time after Citizens of Earth, Citizens of Space‘s opening feels pleasantly reminiscent of that of its predecessor. The game begins with the newly appointed Ambassador of Earth stepping foot into the Galactic Federation — a federation that, as its name suggests, brings together all of the planets in the galaxy — in order to be officially sworn in. But it’s not the process of being sworn in, or the uncaring attitude toward both the Ambassador and the planet which he’s representing, that’s cause for concern, however. Rather, it’s the fact that, shortly after his ceremony, he finds his own planet (that would be Earth) missing! And thus, with little information to go off of, and even fewer people actually caring about his predicament, the Ambassador sets off on a quest to restore Earth to its former glory.
While doing something like attempting to become the savior of an entire planet might sound like a plot line out of a gritty action game, Citizens of Space is anything but. Once again drawing from Earthbound-like origins, and throwing in a heavy helping of Futurama for good measure, Citizens of Space is not only charmingly goofy but surprisingly self-aware as well. Given today’s political climate, it takes a lot to make a satirical game revolving around politics and not completely fall into a mess of boring, trope-y rhetoric. To be fair, Citizens of Space doesn’t avoid this entirely — there were definitely a few jokes in there that have already been done to death — but most of it was novel and unique. After all, this game takes place in space! The sky’s the limit! Er… you get what I mean.
Politics aren’t all that this game’s story has, though. There are a lot of other happenings going on as well. And these happenings, of course, are spearheaded by none other than Citizens of Space‘s zany cast of characters. Working in an even more ambitious manner than its predecessor, Citizens of Space bumps up its meet-and-greet roster by not only taking folks from all walks of life but from different planets as well! A gang of robot cowboy bandits? This game has it. A teleporting, alien clown? Yep, that’s there. A multi-dimensional hippie-hacker? Pfft, why wouldn’t this game have one of those? The fact that the developers were able to (literally) transcend space and time with this game allowed them to reach a level of creativity that they weren’t previously able to work with — and the fact that they took this new-found creative freedom to its limit is very obvious.
Campaigning for Earth’s Completion
So, this might be a strange thing to say, but I’ll say it anyway; it blows me away how much of a legitimate RPG this actually is. Citizens of Space is honestly one of the goofiest, most satirical games that I’ve played in a while. It’s constantly poking fun at itself, and it would be easy to write it off as nonsense. But, here’s the thing — it isn’t. Despite how it might present itself, Citizens of Space is very much a fully fleshed-out RPG, and one which lovingly pays homage to the classics at that. Much like Citizens of Earth, Citizens of Space is a nice little combination of Earthbound with modern RPG mechanics. Much of the game revolves around a very tried-and-true formula of making your way through a number of deceptively lengthy areas, and even a handful of dungeons, in order to reclaim various parts of the earth. Sure, your protagonist may be a goofy-looking politician in a suit, but other than that it really doesn’t feel too far off from a typical (and high-quality) SNES RPG.
Citizens of Space isn’t all the same, though. And that’s largely because (if the name of the game didn’t give it away) of the fact that you get to travel where no man has ever gone before. …Okay, that’s a lie; every place that you visit is populated in some way or another. But that still doesn’t change the fact that you get to visit different planets. Rather than creating one giant, interconnected map, Citizens of Space fragment its explorable areas by placing them each on different planets. From the
planet-turned-wasteland beautiful resort planet Tropicool, to the fungus-saturated lush and beautiful world of Arbora Prime, there are plenty of unique and interesting places to visit in this game.
Citizens also make a return as well (which, once again, should be pretty obvious). Throughout the game, players will encounter a number of colorful individuals from across the galaxy that they can recruit into their party. While recruitment is generally the same as it was in Citizens of Earth, with players needing to complete a quest before most Citizens will join them, the way in which they work is a little different. Rather than just lumping everyone together, citizens are now grouped into one of three categories, battle, support, and summon. While this does narrow the pool of fighters a little bit, it also allows players to use any and all citizen abilities whenever they please — a mechanic which nicely streamlines things.
Sticks and Stones
As great as the Ambassador of Earth is with speaking, sometimes words just aren’t enough. Fortunately him (and you!), though, you’ve got citizens to fight your battles for you when the going gets tough. While things remain fairly consistent between Citizens of Earth and Citizens of Space when it comes to exploration, combat is an entirely different story. Ditching the highly Earthbound-esque battle style, Citizens of Space instead favors something more akin to the Paper Mario or Mario & Luigi, fights now require a bit of extra timing and skill on the player’s part. Nearly every citizen skill now comes with a small mini-game — such as stopping the cursor at the correct time or mashing a button repeatedly — which can boost the power of the said skill. Personally, this is something that I could take or leave. Earthbound enthusiasts may be disappointed by this change of pace, but, as someone who’s been into Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi for a while, I think that mini-games like this can be fun. Some of them are a trite lengthier than I feel they need to be, though.
The player character is also a little more helpful this time around. By spending Charisma accumulated throughout battle, players can use the Ambassador to butt in between turns in order to use items, enact policies that change the mechanics of battle, and even summon citizens to help out. Much like battle citizens, summon citizens’ skills require the player to play a mini-game (which are usually considerably longer than the normal ones) in order to see how effective the skill will be. I do think that it’s a little disappointing that not everyone can be taken into combat this time around, but I think that Eden Industries did this in order to create more well-rounded combat party members, and the fact that you use the non-combative citizens as support is a nice way of finding a middle ground.
A Wonderful Second Term
Eden Industries may have knocked it out of the park with Citizens of Earth, but Citizens of Space has shown that Eden Industries clearly had it in them to push themselves even further. While it may look goofy and nonsensical initially (which, to be fair, it totally is), don’t be deceived; underneath its charmingly silly appearance lies a high-quality turn-based RPG worth jumping into.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PC ; Publisher: SEGA ; Developer: Eden Industries ; Players: 1 ; Released: June 18, 2019; ESRB: T for Teen ; MSRP: $14.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a copy of Citizens of Space given to Hey Poor Player by the publisher.