I don’t know why I waited so long to play this game. Tokyo Xanadu eX+ is a Japanese role-playing title that has some similarities to the latest Persona games but does more than enough to establish its own identity as a terrific game. Developed and published by the same company (Nihon Falcom) behind The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel and Y’s series, I finally jumped into this game during the summer not knowing what to expect. I had read both glowing and uncomplimentary reviews on Tokyo Xanadu eX+ but just decided to take a chance on it because it seemed it would be something up my alley. When it comes to gaming, my instincts are typically spot on.
There’s something about a game that plays a music track at the title screen that lets you know you are in for something special. I’ve experienced it with Chrono Trigger, CrossCode, Actraiser, Final Fantasy Tactics, and Super Mario World. Tokyo Xanadu eX+’s X.R.C. track is no exception. Music is one of the key ingredients in any game, but it is especially important in RPGs. It helps to create the mood and atmosphere of the game while being key to developing the story and characters.
I went into Tokyo Xanadu eX+ not knowing much else than the premise was about some high school students fighting against otherworldly creatures similar to the Persona games. Of course, that description could be oversimplifying things a bit. Also similar to Persona was the ability to develop bonds with your companions in the game. This was also present in The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel series. Yet Tokyo Xanadu eX+ is nowhere near being a Persona clone. It did a great job of drawing me into its world to the point that I don’t want to compare it to anything else. I would feel like I would be doing the game a disservice by doing so.
The best way to describe Tokyo Xanadu eX+ is half exploration/half dungeon crawling. Both are equally fun as there is a substantial amount of conversations to strike up with other characters and places to see. Yet, the free-flowing action that comprises the battles in the dungeons did not feel as much of a grind as I’ve experienced with other games. The combat was fun and I loved switching the characters at will while creating combos. All the while, the music was banging out track after track of melodious goodness along the way. Seriously, I believe that soundtrack of Tokyo Xanadu eX+ may be one of the most underrated in all of gaming.
Tokyo Xanadu eX+’s main character, Kou Tokisaka is a hard-working and thoughtful person though his outward demeanor would sometimes seem to suggest otherwise. You would have to play the game to truly understand why I describe Kou this way. Nihon Falcom has the uncanny ability to pick main characters that resonate with me because I also connect well with Rean Schwarzer from Trails of Cold Steel and Adol from Y’s VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana. That tradition continues seamlessly with Kou as I want to see him and succeed and carry out his mission to the end. I have no doubt Nihon Falcom’s strong main characters play a vital role in the success of their games.
My next favorite character is the first-year martial artist prodigy, Sora Ikushima. She looks up to Kou and trains at the dojo of Kou’s grandfather. Sora has a sweet demeanor and seeks to do right by others. I appreciate her good nature but don’t let that fool you into thinking she’s anything but formidable in battle. Tokyo Xanadu eX+’s other main protagonist, Asuka Hiragi, is the type of character that will grow on you over time. While she comes off as being standoffish and dismissive, I can tell there is more there than meets the eye. I’m looking forward to learning more about her as the story progresses. And there is much more story yet to come for me.
If you’re looking for a new RPG to play, check out Tokyo Xanadu eX+. Definitely do so if you are a fan of Nihon Falcom games. Be aware that there is only Japanese voice acting in the game but you can accompany it with English subtitles. For me, it doesn’t take away from the experience at all because I’m used to watching anime that way. But I thought it should be mentioned just in case you were expecting an English voiceover option. There are also a few Easter eggs in the game that you will appreciate right away if you are familiar with The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel series. It certainly took me by surprise and it made me chuckle while saying in mind, “Well played.” Tokyo Xanadu eX+ gets an easy thumbs up from me and should be getting much more recognition.
What are games that you’ve played that you feel deserve more recognition?