Makai Kingdom: Chronicles of the Sacred Tome Review

Nippon Ichi has done it once again with a new strategy game. Unlike itspredecessor Phantom Brave, this game is light hearted, funny, and is ablast to play. In fact it’s a combination of the mechanics of inertobjects of Phantom Brave and the humor of Disgaea.

The basic premise of the story follows Lord Zetta. He’s told byPram, a prophetess, that a powerful tome is going to destroy him andhis dimension. Rather than wait around for his existence to end, Zettafinds the tome instead and tries to destroy it. Needless to say hisscheme doesn’t go as planned and he finds his dimension destroyed withhim almost going down with it. In a last-ditch effort he binds his soulto the tome. The rest of the story is him trying to rebuild his empireand to become once again, the most frickin’ powerful overlord in theuniverse. On the way you meet other overlords including Valvoga, threedifferent overlords in one, headed by the weak and somewhat effeminateMicky along with a whole slew of other hilarious characters.

Game Play:
Like I stated previously, this game is an amalgam of Phantom Braveand Disgaea. There is the character creation of Disgaea where you havedifferent classes and monsters that you can choose from once you fightagainst them. From Phantom Brave we get the usage of inert objects likerocks and flowers that can boost your stats but also you need them tocreate your new characters. There is also a lack of grid like movement,much like Phantom Brave. Instead you just move your character towhatever space you want, and poof, they just relocate over there ratherthan just walking over. This makes strategy even more important asmisplacing your character can be the difference between a safe distancefrom the enemy to instant death. Trust me, I’ve gone through manylevels where I placed my character in the wrong position. Besides thisthe game plays more like a normal RPG and leans more towards thetraditional turn-based option rather than the Phase Battle turn ofDisgaea. Weapons and equipment also do not need to be leveled up andretain the same usage as when you first buy it from a merchant (thoughbe mindful of the stars on your weapons, they give an extra boost).This means that hardcore grinding of the sort you would do in Disgaeais not encouraged. In fact, it’s damn hard to make your characterssuper powerful. The rules are much stricter to create user-spawnedlevels to easily level your characters. Reaching level 100 takes a lotlonger than Disgaea. In fact you need a lot of Mana (money) to createanother dungeon. So if you were a fan of creating those mini-gods inDisgaea, you will have a much harder time in Makai Kingdom.

Thisdoes not mean that Makai kingdom is lacking. In fact there are somepretty cool additions, like the Invite command. You can obviouslyinvite your characters into the battle, but the invite really shineswith the use of vehicles. Yes, I said it, there are vehicles in thisgame. With these vehicles you can cover more land, have morehigher-powered attacks, and take advantage of the land coverage bygetting an extra attack in before your characters run out of moves.Besides this you can also create facilities during battle like adoghouse, hospital or what not. This allows you to heal yourself duringbattle by going into one of these structures. Naturally the enemy hasthe same capability, but here’s the cool part. If there is someoneinside the opposing sides structure you can destroy the structure, thuseffectively killing those enemies inside of it.

Themain problem in the game is the targeting. With multiple characters inyour group targeting is a huge difficulty. The 3-D effect radius isdependent on where you place your character, which can lead to a lot ofrepositioning. Another thing is that often times enemies might occupy asame place or just end up on top of each other. This again makes thetargeting difficult since you cannot attack one of the enemies. You canonly attack the enemy on the bottom. This may have been forgivable inthe other games, but after a couple games under their belt, one wouldexpect Nippon Ichi to realize their faults and change it. Again, themenu options are kind of clumsy, there’s one menu for the character andanother for the overall battle. The character allows you to move orattack and the other allows you to end your turn. It just doesn’t seemvery intuitive to me. This again has been the case in all their games.What they got rid of that made Disgaea so great was the geopanels,which made you think of placement as well as how to get bonus points.There is lack of variety here that makes it a little tired. Come inNippon Ichi, get with the program and make some improvements! Maybe inthe next game.

Like its predecessors, there are a lot of hidden dungeons, endings,and a ton of different characters to choose from. The replay value ispretty high, so you'll be getting your money's worth for sure.

The voice acting is a lot of fun and really brings out the qualityof the game. The soundtrack is also pretty decent, though it is prettyrepetitive. It’s not overly impressive, much like its predecessors.

Much in the vein of Disgaea, the characters are little 2D sprites,which I am a big fan of. I just wish that they could have donesomething more complicated, made the worlds look a bit interesting, Idon’t know put some more effort into making the game look a bitprettier. The character designs may be interesting and the specialattacks are still cool to look at, but irregardless, Nippon Ichi needsto put a bit more effort into their graphics. It may be fun the firstand second game, but it’s getting a little tired.

This game has faults, but the humor and cast are undoubtedlycharming. Despite my gripes, I still enjoyed playing and trying to findhow to achieve the different endings. Buy the game if you can stillfind it. You’ll have hours upon hours of game play, hands down.

"Makai Kingdom: Chronicles of the Sacred Tome" is on sale July 29, 2005 and is rated . .



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