Makai Kingdom: Chronicles of the Sacred Tome - Review
Developer Nippon Ichi may not be a game company many of you have ever heard of. This is not because they are not good at what they do, itís just that most of the companies great work doesnít make its way to Australia. Over the last few years they have built a great reputation for producing stunningly deep turn based strategy RPGís. Makai Kingdom however has arrived down under and it is an original game, but it does borrow ideas from Nippon Ichiís previous games Disgaea and Phantom Brave? Was the long wait worth it? Letís find out.
|Taking off on the bike.|
The story in Makai Kingdom is one of the zaniest most bizarre and humorous that I have come across in a very long time. The game starts out with the player getting introduced to Lord Zetta who in his own opinion is the most powerful overlord in any netherworld. Lord Zetta is then reading a book known as the sacred tome, a magical book that tells the future and reads that his arrogance dooms his Netherworld. This angers Zetta so he sets the book on fire, which does destroy his Netherworld and the only way he can survive the destruction caused is to fuse himself to the book. The sacred tome can be written in and whatever is written the book will make happen. Seeing as Lord Zetta is the book he has to get other people to write in it to help him get his body, kingdom and his power back. That is easier said than done though, as the characters that meet Zetta donít like him all that much and quite enjoy tormenting him. For instance Zetta asks the oracle Pram to write up a new castle, what he ends up with is a dog kennel instead. Some of the other characters you meet are the Dark Lord Valgora which is actually three people in one. Micky the upper body is a bit of a softy and likes Vetta. The middle is Ophelia is sinister and enjoys picking on both Vetta and Micky. While the lower half if Dryzen a guy that just wants to get drunk and chase chicks. The characters in this game are all fantastic and really help propel the story along.
|Ohh it's getting hot...|
Of course there is not much point in having a great story if you donít have good game play to back it up. Luckily Makai Kingdom delivers the goods in a big way. The game consists of turn based strategy battles over dozens of different maps. Each map has various enemies and items to deal with. Of course Lord Vetta is a book so he canít fight in battle so he has to build of an army of helpers to do it for him. You create characters in this game by finding items that lie around Lord Vettas new kingdom. For example rocks, trees, weeds etc can all be turned into characters. You can create characters from many different classes like healers, wizards, soldiers, thieves and many more. The items you use to create your character also effects their stats, a rock for example helps build a character with high defense stats etc. You will need to build quite a diverse army to combat the games many maps and enemies.
|Well this is a dull screen.|
It is really rare to play a turn based strategy game on a console these days and I found it to be a pleasant change of pace. This game requires plenty of thought to advance through the rapidly more difficult stages. A big strong character that has large weapons and armor can not move as far around the map with each turn, while a lighter character that can move further will probably have low armor. It all adds up to quite a frustrating experience at first, but once you get the hang of it becomes very addicting. There are nine different worlds with over half a dozen stages each to get through the story part of the game. There are quite a few bonus levels and dungeons though that provide many extra hours of gameplay time. Doing these extra missions is pretty much essential as it is a great way to level up your characters and also it is often the only place to find great weapons and items. Seeing everything this game has to offer would take months and months to achieve.
|Some sections look nice.|
I only have a couple of niggles with Makai Kingdom that prevent the game from getting a score in the 90ís and they are pretty much unavoidable for the genre. One is that the game does take a hell of a lot of patience to play through. Once you get through the first few missions, you start fights that can last for up to an hour at a time and you canít save during a battle which can lead to some frustrating moments. Also the controls are quite complex, you must press the X button to select your character, then move your character, then select your action, then your target, then press the triangle button to bring up a menu to actually perform your action. It takes a lot of getting used to and will turn of many players before they get to grips with it. Also it is a slow burning affair, leveling up your characters is a slow process, as is finding powerful weapons and learning new spells. The only other gripe I have is with the camera; even though you can control it you still have difficulty spotting enemies and your own men on occasions.
|What the hell...|
The graphics to Makai Kingdom are less than impressive; in fact they look more like a Mega Drive game than a Playstation 2 game. For me though I didnít mind the look of the game at all. It is quite bright and colorful and it is a nice reminder that you donít need stunning visuals to make a good game.
The sound to this game is fantastic. The voice acting really brings it to life with some very funny lines right throughout to keep you amused. Every voice for every character is different and done to perfection. The sound effects and music are pretty limited, but the awesome voice work, humor and story telling more than make up for it.
Right from the word go I enjoyed Makai Kingdom. The story made me laugh out loud on many different occasions and I found the game very addictive overall. I can see how this game would not impress some people and downright infuriate less patient players as the game is quite complex to learn. I think those players are really missing out though, this game is one of the most unique titles around for the Playstation 2 and I would recommend it to any player looking for both something different and challenging. Also by supporting titles like this it increases the chance for other diverse and unusual games to make it to Australia. Great stuff.
Review By: Graham Darko
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|GRAPHICS||The graphics are not great, but the retro vibe is good enough for me.||69%|
|SOUND||Some of the best voice acting in a game in a very long time. One of the funniest games around.||90%|
|GAMEPLAY||A very complex game to get to grips with, but once learnt it is a great experience. ||85%|
|VALUE||Nine massive worlds to conquer will keep you going for weeks. Finding everything will take you months upon months.||94%|
|OVERALL||Turn based strategy games are rare for consoles, so it was a great surprise to find out how good Makai Kingdom was. A unique and challenging game well worth checking out.||89%|