Tokyo Xanadu is a game that may seem like a mystery to potential players. There haven’t been a lot of announcements for it since Aksys revealed it was bringing it to the west. It’s part of the Xanadu line, of which many installments haven’t appeared overseas. (Remember Xanadu Next for the Ngage and PC?) It makes me feel like there should be more explanations of what it is and why people should be playing it.
Basically, Tokyo Xanadu is what you get when Nihon Falcom decides to make a Persona game with an active battle system. It is a modern-day game set in a city based on Tachikawa City. (Books Orion is a bookstore found in both the game’s Morimiya City and the real Tachikawa City.) Players follow a group of Wielders who head into otherworldly dungeons with special weapons to defeat monsters there and rescue people who inadvertently find themselves inside. During the day, Kou and his friends go to school and sometimes enjoy free time segments where he can befriend various people.
It really feels like Nihon Falcom is trying to expand on Persona’s social links, building on an idea to make it unique. In fact, it’s also like a good version of The Caligula Effect. In addition to the people important enough to get an introduction where the camera pans and we get to see their name and voice actor, a substantial number of other students and teachers also get to interact with Kou. Each one has unique dialogue and their own look. As you get to know them, you’ll learn more about who they are and feel like you are actually developing a bond and relationship with them.
There’s also the whole personal stat system. While Persona has five attributes to boost, Kou has three: courage, virtue, and wisdom. You become more courageous by getting high clear ranks in dungeons. Virtue is boosted by taking NiAR quests from your phone and completing them. You become wiser when you make good decisions in the storyline or read books from Books Orion. It feels a bit more practical here, since there are actual stat-benefits from dungeon-crawling and quest completion, especially since Kou’s grandfather, Sousuke, will give him rewards for ranking up these attributes.
As for the Ys comparisons, Tokyo Xanadu can feel a lot like the more recent, 3D installments in the series. Kou and a partner traverse a dungeon filled with monsters, switches, treasures, and a boss. At the outset, you’ll be provided some information telling you the attributes of the enemies within, which allows you to pick who you want to accompany you. Different characters have different attributes. Your first two characters are Kou, a Fire type strong against Wind, and Asuka, a Spirit type strong against Fire. You’ll need to know when to switch between the two characters, use physical or ranged skill attacks, and use the right sorts of attacks to build up Strike Points for that X-Strike attack you’ll need to damage multiple enemies or finish off a boss.
With all the RPGs the PlayStation Vita gets, it can be easy to get caught up in waves of titles and not know which ones might be right for you. With Tokyo Xanadu, knowing the games it is similar to can make it easier to appreciate and understand what it is. It isn’t exactly like Persona or Ys, but it has similar systems and mechanics that fans of one or both series may enjoy.
Tokyo Xanadu will come to the PlayStation Vita on June 30, 2017.