Sunday, 6 July 2014

Otaku Review: Makai Kingdom

Makai Kingdom: Chronicles of the Sacred Tome, released in Japan as Phantom Kingdom and literally mean's Demon Kingdom in English.This is a JRPG/strategy game where you use tactical decisions to win battles as well as use brute force. Developed and published by Nippon Ichi Software (creators of Phantom Brave, Disgaea) this under rated gem of a game rocked my world on the  PlayStation 2 console.

It was released in 2005, I encountered the game abroad and got a pirate version with amazing cover art. I liked the game so much and realised the connection to Disgaea I bought the UK edition. The art was more boring but there was a satisfaction of tracking this game down - it was not widely available, let me tell you as hard to track down as Phantom Brave!

Sadly Japan only had an enhanced port of the game for PSP titled Phantom Kingdom Portable in 2011, it didn't make it to the USA or EU market. It included a new scenario called "Papa is the Strongest Overlord in the Universe" which makes want to table flip - as it eludes to Zetta having a daughter  and actually include extra battles with characters you would have seen in Disgaea 4, Valvatorez and Fenrich.

Now the story follow's Zetta the self-proclaimed most "Bad-ass Freakin' Overlord" (he really is that good, don't believe me? DLC in Disgaea D2). He is on the way to stop destruction of his netherworld, why? Because it's his overworld of course. All of this is prophecised by Pram the Oracle (a child like demon with a lot of power) she sends Zetta to dispose of the problem and protect the Sacred Tome.
Nothing is that simple, Zetta read's the Sacred Tome foretelling of his impending stupidity being the  downfall of his Netherworld. This pisses him off to another level and he proceeds to destroy the Sacred Tome in anger. Big Mistake. It all backfires trapping his soul into the actual Tome. So that macho Bad ass we saw at the beginning? We don't actually get to play him. Instead the whole story is rewritten in the Sacred Tome. He is now barking orders as minions who do his bidding's - that's YOU. Irony is the other Overlords of Netherworlds write wishes within his pages to change the future too.

This game is one of the funniest games I have played, it is crude at times but enough to make it an 18 and honestly you get so attached to Zetta it's hard to take any of his curses seriously, after all he is literally a Dictionary now. It is really interesting to see this sort of game-play, we are literally confined to a square which begins as your dog kennel and later morphs in your massive headquarters.

Apart from the HQ you don't move around, you don't go to new areas. the story does that for you. Zetta is that helpless, you have other Overlords coming by for friendly battle fire. As evil as they seem, each overlord has their own charm. Like General Baal - he's hench and could destroy you with a blink of hi eyelid but he's getting on a bit so tends to fall asleep mid sentence and comes across as more of a grumpy granddad than a threat.

Making the characters is always the best part and even though it's all in the same dimension as Disgaea, Makai Kingdom has some of their own signature characters like Gourmet Olga, Lesser Demon, Lucky Doll, Scrap Metal (Metal Titan). Also any character use from Disgaea series have minor differences. Prinnies are the same because well they are Prinnies.

Speaking of Prinnies amongst the many possible ending and character unlocks how about Overlord Prinny rules the universe? Lose to Battleship Yoshitsuna (Baal) in his event battle. DOOD ?!

One integral difference to this and Disgaea is, as long as you kill the 'General' on any level you can go to the next level, you are not force to throw people around to get the flying slime in the corner where no one can reach. However this does mean you will skip on item bonuses and I do love useless junk. The point of items half the time is reading the amusing descriptions. So much effort and wit has gone into this game that people may not notice.

The cut-scenes are key to making you feel like movement is happening in this world, the voices I stuck to English and NIS have always had top standards for VO's so I thoroughly enjoyed the talents of Crispin Freeman really embodying Zetta even as a pitiful eyebrow expressive book. Amanda Winn-Lee who is another top talent who voices Pram, both are established anime and game voice actors.

This game can easily be played in 10 hours but half the fun is getting all possibly endings, unlocking secret characters and over grinding. I'm not one to get put off hard work so for me grinding was something I did as protocol not as a chore. The animation, voice acting really brought a limited world into something on a larger scale with lots of big bubbly characters to love or hate. If you are into JRPG it is a blasphemy not to own this game or at least play it.


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