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Makai Kingdom
Introduction:

Makai Kingdom: Chronicles of the Sacred Tome is an in-depth strategy RPG that tries to separate itself from other titles in this genre, and is surprisingly successful in doing so. Working for the Lord Zetta, you must complete a series of battles involving Netherworlds, Overlords, parallel universes and a lot of character development throughout this thought provoking role-playing game available for the PS2.

Contacts: Reviewer: Andy "Vesper" Levine
Editor: Alex Di Domenico // Designer: Allan "Zardon" Campbell

 

What is Makai Kingdom?

The storyline behind Makai Kingdom may take a while to become familiar with, but as the story develops throughout the game, you will find that successful mission completion can be quite rewarding. In Maki Kingdom, there are parallel universes and each of these universes also has a parallel Netherworld. The main character is Lord Zetta and he is the ruler of one of said Netherworlds. When a wise prophet tells him that he will foolishly destroy his land, Lord Zetta consults the Sacred Tome to determine how he can save his people from destruction. The Sacred Tome mocks Lord Zetta’s style of ruling, so he throws it into a fire. Much to his dismay, torching the book also torches his Netherworld, and after much turmoil, Lord Zetta is actually turned into the Sacred Tome. In Makai Kingdom, the overlord friends of Lord Zetta help him to rebuild his world and turn back into his human form.

 

 

Visual Style

As you can see from the provided screenshots, Makai Kingdom isn’t exactly pushing the PS2 to its hardware limitations. Maintaining a visual appearance comparable to that of Final Fantasy Tactics, Maki Kingdom possesses a homely, cartoon-like feel. The character models may be small, but each warrior feels like a member of the family with their welcoming looks. During battle, special attacks have a very powerful feel despite the fact that they are completely 2-Dimensional. The overall artistic style of Makai Kingdom is accompanied with vibrant colors and this uncommon visual style is particularly pleasing.
Nice Voiceovers

Most of the sound effects in Maki Kingdom have been used in previous titles from NIS America, but nonetheless, the battles still have a heavily dramatic feel thanks to the intense background music and appropriate warrior chants. The greatest feature in the sound department involves the storyline narration; players have the option of listening to the authentic Japanese voice actors, but the English actors also portray their parts nicely. Still, having the ability to hear authentic Japanese voice actors in action is a very pleasant treat.

 

 

Time for Battle

Makai Kingdom revolves around turned based battles on hundreds of randomly generated battlefields. Starting off with only Lord Zetta, you must use him to invite other characters on to the battlefield. The characters can then be placed anywhere within a certain range of Lord Zetta and they will be ready to commence battle. The game isn’t turn based though, and no character is “more important” than any other, so the flow of battle moves quickly. Any character on the battlefield can easily be moved into attack position, shoot off a quick spell and then retreat before being heavily damaged. The battlefield offers for free movement, so you won’t be constricted to a grid-like system that most other turn-based RPG titles offer. The computer A.I. has improved a lot since previous releases from NIS America, so you can expect your opponents to utilize the openness of the battlefield as much as you can. When forming your attacks, it is quite possible that your characters will group together and wind up stacking up on top of one another. When this occurs, it is difficult to discern one character from the group and as a result, throwing off a quick series of attacks will leave you struggling afterwards. Even with the freedom that you have, the battlefield still feels like it should have a grid system. Sharp angles and rigid slopes take the place of what should be smooth terrain, making movement across certain areas difficult. As in previous titles, two characters can work cooperatively to toss someone over large gaps. Each character will have to remove all of their weapons for this feat to be performed, so such transportation can be daunting on your crew.

The overall flow of battle is similar to previous NIS titles, so gamers familiar with previous titles in the series will feel right at home. Several new gameplay elements have been added, one of which is the new facility system: before being invited, characters can be loaded up into a facility. Once the facility is invited, the characters will be deployed with a special battle bonus. Facilities can offer increased defense, increased attack speed and anything else beneficial to the warriors. However, there are still drawbacks to having facilities constructed. In the event that one is destroyed, the special bonuses will be lost by any character that originated from it and characters that were still in the facility will die. Likewise, taking out an enemy facility is sure to change the flow of battle for the better because your opponents will face the same penalties.

Vehicles are also an interesting touch to the Maki series. They can be invited to the battle like characters. When a character becomes a pilot, he can equip the vehicle with various accessories and weapons. They will take damage before the pilot and once it is destroyed, the pilot will still be able to partake in battle. Spending time to modify vehicles will surely give your side an upper hand in battle, but it will also take away a lot of your precious attack time. Vehicles range from floating demon heads to motor cycles and even some heavy artillery robots, so using them effectively will clearly ensure success for Lord Zetta.

While the initial battlefields aren’t overflowing with space, hidden areas are scattered throughout the maps containing surprises. These areas can have unoccupied facilities, new enemies or even deadly traps. The traps have effects, such as paralyzing everyone, taking X amount of HP from every character, or lowering attack power, so it is possible for shocking turnarounds to occur at any moment. After completing just a few objectives in one battle, the battlefield can almost become too large. It will take several turns just to get to a certain location on the map. The flow of battle will be slowed down and the overall intensity will be lost somewhere amongst the never-ending battlefield. For the dedicated gamers, staying until every enemy has been obliterated will result in extra experience bonuses, as well as the potential for new weapons and unlockable characters.

The computer A.I. has significantly improved since previous NIS titles, the latter battles will prove to be quite the challenge, even for veterans of the series. Your opponents will stop at nothing to make sure you meet your demise and with their enhanced knowledge about the battlefield, you should keep your eyes peeled for any trickery. Losing a facility or even having a vehicle destroyed can be very costly to your battle tactics and can even lead to your demise. Only by exploiting your enemy’s weaknesses while protecting your team will you be able to succeed within the harsh world.

The Future of Makai

NIS America has already blessed us with a unique style of gameplay that will definitely be imitated in the future. Hopefully, we can expect for them to raise the bar with their next release. Titles like Makai show that it doesn’t take Hollywood special effects, environments overflowing with detail and a handful of highly paid voice actors for a game to be a success. In the future, all we can hope is that NIS continues to stay away from the mainstream, because what they have now is great.

 

 

Conclusion

Makai Kingdom: Chronicles of the Sacred Tome is an exceptionally well done RPG that doesn’t constrict the gamer with any limitations as to how the flow of battle should go. Whether you prefer to pilot robots, utilize hit-and-run tactics or build up characters with dreadful spell casting capabilities, there is only one thing that is necessary for every RPG gamer out there: to get this game!

 

Gameplay 19/20
Graphics 18/20
Sound 17/20
Value 18/20
Preference 18/20
Overall 90/100



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