Makai Kingdom

Review

posted 10/18/2005 by Matt Mirkovich
other articles by Matt Mirkovich
One Page Platforms: PS2

Nippon Ichi Software seems to have some bizarre fixation on the underworld, demons, and all the things that usually come after a not so righteous life. All of their titles have something to do with this strangely interesting yet disturbing place. Makai Kingdom is no different a title, with its entertaining cast of well acted characters, and delightfully twisted yet charming story about the place at lot of people dread to go when it’s their time, it does everything that a Nippon Ichi title is supposed to do, and that is entertain to the best of its ability. It does this even with the dated graphic style that a lot of people use as ammunition as to why these titles are not viable for the current generation.

At the heart of Makai Kingdom is an excellent story about the most freakin’ bad-ass overlord to ever rule a netherworld, the powerful, almighty, and downright cocky Zetta. His whole netherworld that he was perfectly happy gaining power in has suddenly been prophesized to be destroyed, of course when you’re a ‘bad-ass’ you don’t stand for this kind of nonsense so what does he do? Goes to find the source of this insurgency and put an end to it. Unfortunately his oracle, Pram, and her prediction could not be thwarted as Zetta’s netherworld is returned to its base form, the Sacred Tome, and Zetta himself being the sole survivor of this whole calamity is now reduced to the very thing he tried to protect, literally. With Zetta reduced to the Sacred Tome the only thing that can be done is slowly rebuild and start anew, with hilarious results as his former apprentice/lover makes an appearance along with his long time rival and a few other overlords who are happy to see Zetta get what he deserves.

This game follows the same principles of previous NIS titles; give the player as much freedom as possible on what is routinely a constrained battlefield. If you have played through some of NIS’ catalog then you’ve gotten the hang of what’s to come here already, but for the uninitiated I will give you a quick rundown. With Makai Kingdom you are given a lead character, this character will act as your liaison since Zetta is kind of going nowhere thanks to being the Sacred Tome. With this character you will navigate the non-battle segments of the game, this means going through your netherworld to go shopping, place buildings, recruit troops, and then some. Battle and storyline bits are a hop, skip, and a jump through the Makai Portal. This will take you to your menu selection screen where you can choose the battles you will be fighting.

Fighting and all its wonderful little nuances is what makes this game so much fun, like past NIS strategy titles, it has been a formula that is always being refined and always improving. Makai Kingdom is a perfect example of this. Those out there put off by the confinement system of Phantom Brave will find a sweet bliss in knowing that your characters aren’t on the battlefield with borrowed time. Makai Kingdom does things a little differently. When you are creating your characters and building your army, you are confining them into things found in the midst of battle. A lot of the times you will see weapons and or plants or other objects lying around and these are the building blocks of your army. Each item you find has a different confining ability, some items may raise intelligence making for an excellent mage, others may raise hit points and defense making for a massive tank. Another very interesting twist is the way the battlefield itself is shaped, no longer confined to just one section the battlefield will continue to grow until you have accumulated enough “points” to clear a stage, this is done by destroying the ‘key’ that keeps each area hidden, or you can just throw an enemy into the new zone and it will be built. The more points you accumulate the better your prizes will be at the end, so sometimes you will have to gauge the severity of the situation, do you keep pushing your luck trying to find a more powerful item or do you suck it up and take the W? It’s a very deep system that if I took the time out to explain it all you would want to find me and kill me for posting it all for you to read, but as they say trial and error are the best experience so give it a shot and you’ll be pleasantly surprised, especially when you find, a box.

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