Makai Kingdom PS2 Review

Makai Kingdom is what can only be described as a tactical RPG. Elements are heavily reminiscent of Advance Wars and Final Fantasy Tactics. As Lord Zetta, you are the most powerful overlord of the universe, and it’s time to kick some arse. According to legend, a book will destroy Zetta and his kingdom. In his valiant efforts, Zetta sets out in search for it, and ultimately, the salvation of his kingdom. That’s pretty much the whole story line summarised into two sentences.

There are vast numbers of non-playable characters that are both amusing and embarrassing. With shrewd comments and remarks about Zetta and other characters, these all help to enlighten gamers on their quest, and lighten up the story as you progress. Character design is quite basic; each character is quite shallow, with little meaning. What they really do well is combine to form what is important in the storyline, which is done well, with little snaps of information that come together like a puzzle of sorts.

In battle, however, the opponents come to life, and aren’t always easy to beat. Each stage is set up in a non-grid form, unlike Final Fantasy Tactics, and there are little titbits within each of these stages that can be used to an advantage, or, if you have no idea what you are doing, a disadvantage. Absence of such a grid can make it difficult, especially when focusing on enemies and you miss the mark. Obviously, the AI is no walk in the park and so it requires a decent amount of skill to overcome each of the hardships that are met in battle. Nonetheless, an experienced gamer will have no problem gripping the reigns.

Your actions in battle can come from a variety of attacks, both special and physical. Items can be acquired along the way to aid you, and rather than traditional RPGs that have vast level up systems, the emphasis is more on item use, similar in fashion to items in action/adventure style games. However, completing special events in levels can create dungeons outside of battle, which can be entered in order to level up your character and acquire new found powers. It is very important to strategise, especially as you are usually restricted to having eight playable characters on the map at a given time. Also unlike FFT, your turn order isn’t necessarily in a single order. You can control your team mates in any order you please. Removing the highest risk enemies is priority. Otherwise you may find yourself throwing the controller to the other side of the room.

A special ‘Invite’ system allows the gamer to create new combatants in battle out of various objects within the terrain, and their advantages can be based on the qualities of those items. For example, gaining control of an item with motive power, and you can travel further during your turn. Combatants can take control of battle vehicles, which prove quite useful in larger terrains, and the added power doesn’t go astray either.

Graphically the game is suited to its presentation. The game features very low resolution 2D sprites in a similar resolute 3D world. Images look quite grainy and animation appears quite blocky. World backgrounds appear lacklustre and the game suffers because of it. Gamers will be finding themselves hard pressed to have the motivation to get through the game. This is unfortunate, because the storyline can be quite compelling when you get into it.

The soundtrack is quite basic, with various battle themes and other sound effects for particular events. This is in stark contrast to the exceptional voice work. As said earlier, characters are quite entertaining, but many can be embarrassing. However, the representations of these characters’ vocals are quite good. Surprisingly good actually, in comparison to big budgeted titles such as Resident Evil, for example.

Overall, Makai Kingdom is a great strategy RPG for hardcore gamers. People with strong connections with the aforementioned strategy RPGs and others like them will adore Makai Kingdom, if you can get over the poor graphical effects. However, if you’re a casual gamer just wanting to pick up a game for a quick play, I advise against this title. Makai Kingdom is more suited to the hardcore strategists.

6.9 out of 10

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