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Developer:
Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher: NIS America
Platform: PS2
Release Date: July 26, 2005

by Josh Ferguson




Makai Kingdom: Chronicles of the Sacred Tome is the latest strategy/RPG to be released from the creators of the cult favorite, Disgaea: Hour of Darkness. It has been more than two years since Nippon Ichi released Disgaea, so will Makai Kingdom carry on the torch that Disgaea brought? Read on and find out.


The story of Makai Kingdom revolves around Lord Zetta, the most powerful Overlord in all of the cosmos, and the fall of his netherworld. Pram, the oracle, has foreseen the fall of Zetta and notifies him of the news. Of course, Zetta doesnít like this news, so he travels to the Sacred Tome, a mysterious all-knowing book. As he opens the book, Zetta reads a message about how he is a fool and his actions have doomed the Netherworld. This information doesn't go over too well with Zetta, who then proceeds to torch the book. However, in doing so the prophecy begins to take its toll. Shortly after, Zetta and his netherworld begin to perish. In an attempt to save himself, Zetta transfers his soul into the Sacred Tome. After these events, many of the Overlords from other netherworlds show up in an attempt to help Lord Zetta.


Since the story of Makai Kingdom revolves around Lord Zetta, you might assume that he would be your main character. Well, you'd be wrong. Actually, your main character is someone that you must create. In fact, your entire party is created. The only way to actually have any of the storyline characters in your party is to unlock them, which, if youíre familiar with the Nippon Ichi games, you know can take a while. Anyway, in order to create a character you must find different objects throughout the game, such as a tree, rock, flower, or even a weed. Different objects can raise or lower certain stats of your character.


The gameplay in Makai Kingdom is similar to that of the other strategy/RPGs released from Nippon Ichi, but with a few twists. When the battle begins, you start with only Lord Zetta. Since Zetta is pretty much worthless, you have to use him to invite your created characters out to the battlefield. This is done by clicking on Zetta, going to invite, finding the character that you would like to bring out and then clicking on the location that you would like to invite them to. Your invite range is shown by a circle around Zetta. When you finish with all of that, the character comes launching down from the sky and slams into the ground. That character is now actively in the battle.


When a character is active in the battle, there are a few different commands that can be given, such as Attack, Move, Throw, and Use Item. In order to attack an enemy, you must be at an appropriate distance to do so. For a normal attack, you click on the attack command and then go to the first attack on the list. Each weapon has a different sort of attack name. For example, the regular sword attack is a slash. The attack command is also used to do any of your skills, including attacking and even healing. Why healing skills are under the attack command I'm not exactly sure, but thatís not really a big deal, now is it?


Other than your own characters and enemies, the battlefield also normally holds different items, such as objects used to create characters or weapons and armor. Normally each stage also has a key item, which can be an enemy character or an item. If these key items are destroyed, then the stage will become extended, and more difficult enemies will appear. Normally these enemies aren't much more difficult, but sometimes you may find some challenge with them. There are also times when you must use the throw command and launch a character into the area of where the extension is located. These extension areas can be found by moving the cursor around the map, and if you see some dotted lines outside of the current battlefield then thatís where an extension can be found. The only problem is that the only time a character is able to throw an object is if they are unequipped with a weapon. This can be pretty aggravating, especially since you want all of your characters to be as powerful as possible, so you keep them fully equipped. If you want to throw something, you must throw your weapon down first. You can then throw the object during your next turn.


While any character can equip any type of weapon, each class of characters has expertise with different types of weapons. When a character has a type of weapon equipped, that character will learn the different skills the weapon gives him. However, if you unequip that and use a different type of weapon, then you are unable to use the skills acquired by the first weapon. The skills that a character learns from his weapons will appear as the characterís level with that sort of weapon increases. It is highly recommended that when playing you continue to use one type of weapon class for a character, or else all the time you used acquiring certain skills will be wasted.


Added to the combat in Makai Kingdom are the options to invite vehicles into combat. There are several forms of vehicles characters may use, and each can become very handy. However, when a character is inside of a vehicle, that character is no longer able to use any of his skills. In order to use his skills, the character must be removed from the vehicle. This can happen two ways: 1) you remove them on your own by clicking on the button, or 2) if the vehicle is destroyed. When a vehicle is attacked, the vehicle will take the damage instead of the character that is inside. But once the vehicle is destroyed, the character is exposed and can then be the target of attacks.


Players are also able to use Lord Zetta to invite facilities to the battlefield. Characters can be placed into these different facilities and invited out into the battlefield. Each kind of facility has a character limit that can be placed inside, but the characters inside receive some sort of stat bonus, such as extra strength, healed after every turn and so on. Some facilities, such as shops, will give you an extra amount of money after the battleóthat is if the facility isn't destroyed during battle. If this does occur and there are characters still inside the facility, then those characters will also be killed until you resurrect them after battle.


The sound and graphics of the game haven't changed much from the other Nippon Ichi games. The characters still have that resemblance to the old school Zelda games while in combat, and the battlefields don't look much different either. Sound-wise the game isn't much different than the other games, but that really isn't a bad thing. The voice acting is done well and has a nice variety of character voices.


All in all, Makai Kingdom is a good game, but it all seems far too familiar. The game really hasn't changed since its predecessors, but if you were a fan of the rest of the series and are still loving them to pieces, then definitely pick this one up. If you're all burnt out on the strategy/RPG genre, then you may want to pass this one up.


Final Grade: 77%




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