No matter how bad we want it, the chances of another Earthbound coming stateside are slim. However, the influence of this cult classic can still be felt in the gaming industry today. Citizens of Earth is a great example. This Japanese-style role-playing game drops you in the shoes of Earth’s hapless Vice President, and sets you on an absurd adventure to recruit the many unique citizens of Earth to fight for you. You are a politician, after all. It’s not like you’re going to do all the fighting yourself.
In combat, Citizens of Earth will look instantly familiar to Earthbound fans, right down to the psychedelic backgrounds. But dig a little deeper and you will quickly spot the differences. Each citizen has a variety attacks that either add to or subtract from his or her power. For example, your brother has a weak attack that adds one point of power, and a significantly stronger attack that drains two power. Managing your power--while also factoring in which citizens to battle with and the weaknesses of individual enemies--is a fun challenge born out of some very simple designs.
Outside of combat, your citizens each have something to contribute to the team. Your mother can offer helpful advice on how to play the game, while your brother can order items and add them to your inventory. Not long into the game, you will recruit more citizens than your party size can accomodate. Thankfully, the Vice President can use his powers of delegation to swap out any part other party member at any time. You can even swap citizens during combat, however doing so requires you to start the fight over from the beginning.
Topping off this game’s Pokemon-esque citizen management is an ever-present sense of humor--typically in the form of a wonderfully bad pun. Citizens of Earth is a charming homage to one of the genre’s best, while still feeling like a distinct game in its own right. You can look forward to it come this October for the Nintendo Wii U, 3DS, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, and PC through Steam.