Tokyo Xanadu eX+ Review
To give a little bit of history, Tokyo Xanadu eX+ is Falcom’s first venture into the PS4 market. While Ys VIII might have been the first PS4 port to appear on western shores, Tokyo Xanadu eX+ was actually the first PS4 title Falcom developed - an enhanced port based off of a title originally released on PlayStation Vita. I previously reviewed the Tokyo Xanadu on Vita when it was released last summer and while I found it to be a bit rough around the edges, it's still worthwhile in many regards. For further inquiries about the Vita version of the game, my original review can be found here.
If you expected a carbon copy port, then you'll be in for a surprise. The PS4 version offers plenty of new features, creating a completely fresh experience. Even returning players will find something new to enjoy.
Most of the improvements in eX+ are Quality of Life features. Falcom clearly took advantage of the PS4's stronger hardware when developing this game. Performance wise, the game now runs at a stable 60 FPS, making the combat feel smoother and easier to control. These improvements are especially noticeable when exploring dungeons.
I found the original game was rather easy compared to other Falcom titles, and in eX+, several adjustments have been made to the core game. Several new difficulty options have been added, and even the regular difficulty has been adjusted to make the overall game a much tighter experience. In the Vita version of Tokyo Xanadu, you never quite felt you were in any danger due to how overpowered your party members were, and healing items were more than plentiful; death was never a real worry. The new difficulty options can easily rival Ys in terms of challenge, and in the case of Calamity Difficulty, potentially surpass it.
Despite these improvements, you still can cheese through some of the end game content with Soul Device grid adjustments (Tokyo Xanadu's weapon customization mechanic). Regardless, you will be in for some grueling challenges under the new harder difficulties. Some mechanics have also been adjusted, such as the X-Drive function. Instead of gaining a temporary stat boost, your partner will also come in unleashing a barrage of attacks; this was probably the original intention but was held back due to the hardware limitations of the Vita. A new battle mechanic is the ability to use EX Skills, which function as a powerful burst skills that can only be used sparingly.
It seems Falcom anticipated that many players have already completed the Vita version, and as such provided a variety of fast-forward options in the game. These include an instant turbo mode and the ability to skip story segments entirely.
The other major addition to eX+ is the inclusion of new side story chapters. When you clear each main chapter, you will play a side story episode. Each side story episode consists of a short dungeon without the main protagonist being involved. The side story provides some insight into other character's thoughts towards the protagonist. It shows some of the needed character development that was lacking in the previous version. Because of the new story additions, you are also given the ability to play characters that were unplayable in the original game. If you manage to beat the game, there is also the new After Story episode which takes place after the main story. The core aspect of the story hasn’t changed much but the new additional stories fill in gaps that were missing before.
A key aspect of Falcom games is the amount of world-building that is present. Tokyo Xanadu eX+ has even expanded on this, with additional NPC friend pages to collect. Some NPCs now have more story, for players who wish to explore their daily lives. In retrospect, I found the original storyline of Tokyo Xanadu to be generic and filled with a lot of anime tropes, but the excellent world building and character interactions help alleviate this issue. The game's translation has also been polished since the Vita release, but if you still want an English dub, you won't find it here.
With all the improvements made to this enhanced re-release, it almost feels as if the Vita version of Tokyo Xanadu can be considered a beta version. Even if you have already played the Vita version, all the new additions and readjusted gameplay provide a completely fresh and definitive experience for the game. If this is your first time playing Tokyo Xanadu, I would recommend picking up the PlayStation 4 version. However, Vita players must ask themselves if the battle tweaks and story additions are worth a second purchase.
Versions tested: PlayStation 4