Makai Kingdom Review

I picked up Makai Kingdom yesterday. To give you a general idea of how I liked it, I had five waking hours after I got home yesterday. I've clocked 4 hours and 38 minutes in Makai Kingdom.

The gameplay is immediately accessible to those that played Phantom Brave, though combat is much smoother and more enjoyable with the real-time movement (that is, you move your character around the battlefield directly instead of picking a destination). Some of the dynamics are still a little fuzzy, like I'm not entirely sure what constitutes claiming or losing an item yet. Items aren't very important anyway; they're not even customizable. It's the characters that count. The Invite system, particularly as it pertains to facilities, is rather complex but isn't too hard to pick up with a little practice. I haven't gotten to the point where I can make buildings yet, which is apparently the main way of transmigrating characters (I don't know if there's a way to transmigrate without making a building). I have noticed that money is a little scarce but it's extremely easy to get maximum bonuses on a map, compared to earlier games. As long as there's at least one enemy left, you can build your score up as far beyond the minimum needed to advance as you'd like. You can increase your score by defeating enemies, destroying items, etc. Gone is the frustration of Disgaea where you just can't quite chain high enough to get that one prized item. However, if Zetta (a harmless, stationary book that acts as your base panel) is hit, half the bonus items vanish. You can pick up and throw Zetta as you would any other item though, so it's not hard to move him out of harm's way or even hold him above the battle.

Though the sprites are about Phantom Brave quality, they're much better animated, particularly the attacks. There are a lot of detailed animations in the game, yet they play so quickly and smoothly they don't slow down the action. Most of the cutscenes take place in a star-filled void and using in-game sprites but I haven't found this to be distracting. The little sprites can be hard to see but they're wonderfully expressive. The voice acting is, as always, exceptional.

The writing is wonderful and funny. It's much darker and more serious than Disgaea, and trades parodies for ironies. For instance, one of the first characters you meet, Dark Lord Valvolga, is composed of three separate monsters. The bottom monster is a loud and rowdy dragon that's always laughing maniacally and shouting. The middle monster is a vicious fallen angel that likes to piss people off and play tricks. And the top monster is an extremely effeminate, spineless demon named Micky. Micky's pinky-extended animations are particularly funny and well-done. The two main characters, Pram and Zetta, have clear personalities from the first time you meet them.

I had to play the first level a few times to gain a couple levels on some of my characters but after that it's been smooth sailing. It's challenging and I need to think strategy but I haven't gotten stuck or had to go back to do levelling yet. Since the maps can actually expand mid-battle, each level seems a bit longer than the ones in previous games. The point system lets you end the fight as soon as you've met its requirements so most of the extensions are optional and used to get better equipment and more experience.

I haven't yet gotten to the vehicles yet, which seem to be a major part of the game (those are customizable).

So far though, I could easily recommend this to fans of the genre. It's a funny, challenging, and stylish game that is both accessible and complex.

Sounds awesome. I'm still in La Pucelle right now. I may skip Disgaea and go to Makai, since it should be easier to find.

Disgaea is still great.

I may skip Disgaea and go to Makai, since it should be easier to find.

Bah on that. Play Disgaea - it's awesome.

I'll probably pick up Makai sooner or later. At the very least, I'll wait til it drops in price some.

Ack, another Nippon Ichi title. Once I get remotely close to finishing Atelier Iris I might pick this one up. I personally couldn't get into Phantom Brave, despite loving the characters and story. Love Disgaea to an unhealthy extent though, so I definitely recommend it over anything else as a starting point.

I would if i had the time! I'm down to one night of gaming a week most of the time.

If one was to purchase ONLY ONE of these tactics/crack titles, had played some tactics style games on the GBA Advance before, but but never an Nippon Ichi title, which would you recommend?

JimmDogg wrote:

If one was to purchase ONLY ONE of these tactics/crack titles, had played some tactics style games on the GBA Advance before, but but never an Nippon Ichi title, which would you recommend?

I'd have to say Disgaea. I haven't played enough of Makai Kingdom to say it's better/worse.

I second Disgaea.
I'm currently in the Phantom Brave Post-Game (Trying to level a Bottlemail up enough to steal a lvl 470ish sword from a very nice lady!)
I was thinking about picking Makai Kingdom up yesterday, but then I took off my pants, flopped into my beanbag couch and took on another 86lvl dungeon. (Fishes and Starfish!)
I don't know if I'll obsess about finishing all the outside missions, as it seems to be merely an excuse to grind levels with no 'real' payoff storywise. And unlike Disgaea you don't seem to get the option to restart the storyline to unlock different endings... oh well. I'll browse a Walkthrough and make my decision after work, but so far: Makai Kingdom purchase = Hell yes!

EDIT: A Walkthrough for Phantom Brave! To make sure I'm not missing out on some hidden content if I just grind a few more levels or something. If not, then I think I'm ready for a new game!

Thanks for the nudge LobsterMobster!

*counts endorsement money* No problem, Rez.

Hihihihi!
This is fun!
The color scheme is taking a little to get used to. The stat screens are laid out differently enough that I 'feel' like I'm not seeing all the pertinent information. I'm sure it's just a matter of getting used to where to look for what. I'm a couple of hours into the game and having a blast!

"I'm gonna Overlord your face off!"

While I havent played any NIS games, i'm going to be picking this up this weekend. NIS America is a great company, and their products are fun and cool!
Ms. Ganguro will be pleased to hear that Makai Kingdom came out already.
(has actually be sponsored by NIS-A)

Sacred Tome: Lord Zetta is stupid. His foolishness has doomed the Netherworld to extinction.
Zetta: "Sacred Tome? Ha! More like "… Sucky "… Dumb "… thing!"

Oh, and the dialogue contains the word "Asshat."

And they use the term 'freakin' a lot! Freakin censors! Leave our freakin profanity alone, asshats!

Couple things: has anyone figured out if there is any punishment for death, other than the Hell cost? Some of my characters seem to die ALOT. Namely my thief and healer... Normal flow of combat: deploy friendlies, combat in front, thief makes an attempt to steal and then retreats behind line of warriors. Warriors put the smack down on enemies generally (infuriatingly) leaving one or two health points... enemies will jump line of warriors and kill thief with an attack that does maybe one or two points of damage more than the thief has, just to emphasize WHICH side controls the goddamn damage rolls, bitch.

Items... Phantom Brave has really tainted my perception of items. It seems like MaKing just throws them at you! I guess the main point is: do the items gain stats or are they static? I'm so used to staying 'loyal' to one weapon to build it up, but this game so far seems to not care if you swap things in and out, so long as the character is proficient with them. Has anyone spotted evidence to the contrary?

Rezzy wrote:

And they use the term 'freakin' a lot! Freakin censors! Leave our freakin profanity alone, asshats!

I think they're going for a Jack Nicholson Psycho effect.

Rezzy wrote:

Couple things: has anyone figured out if there is any punishment for death, other than the Hell cost? Some of my characters seem to die ALOT. Namely my thief and healer... Normal flow of combat: deploy friendlies, combat in front, thief makes an attempt to steal and then retreats behind line of warriors. Warriors put the smack down on enemies generally (infuriatingly) leaving one or two health points... enemies will jump line of warriors and kill thief with an attack that does maybe one or two points of damage more than the thief has, just to emphasize WHICH side controls the goddamn damage rolls, bitch.

There are penalties for killing your own characters but I won't spoil it. Characters that die before the end of the round don't keep any items they've picked up, and that includes if they're inside a facility when it gets destroyed. They also don't get experience bonuses at the end of a round (note that characters inside facilities do, so you can give an end-of-round EXP bonus to up to 32 characters). I'd recommend you get a rapier and/or a rifle. They target kind of like spells, where you select a target within a radius and they've got nice range. That'll help you pick off some enemies, though I've found firearms to be extremely powerful (and expensive). I've got a female enlistee with a flamethrower, a male enlistee with a gatling gun, and a medic with a rifle.

Rezzy wrote:

Items... Phantom Brave has really tainted my perception of items. It seems like MaKing just throws them at you! I guess the main point is: do the items gain stats or are they static? I'm so used to staying 'loyal' to one weapon to build it up, but this game so far seems to not care if you swap things in and out, so long as the character is proficient with them. Has anyone spotted evidence to the contrary?

Whereas Phantom Kingdom was largely about items, Makai Kingdom is largely about characters. Equipment can and does make a big difference and characters do gain experience by using a single type of weapon, which unlocks new attacks with that weapon (like in Disgaea). Items cannot be altered in any way. So now you can't give a level 1 character super-duper equipment and have them gain 400 levels in one hit (though giving high-grade equipment to a low-level character does help them out a lot).

Equipment can have stars, which indicate a higher level of quality. Star items are harder to steal off enemies (with the thief and a UFO) but have higher stats and much higher selling prices. Most importantly, if you incarnate or reincarnate a character into a starred item, they retain that star, which helps boost their stats. Star characters can also reincarnate (transmigrate) into a new form without being formed into a building first, and the stars accumulate. Characters can reincarnate into a fifth-rank version of any character you can create for free, though they need 150 mana and a star in order to do it (I don't think the star is expended in the process). Higher ranks cost mana. Characters also have a 100% skill retention rate when reincarnating, so no more paying obscene prices to preserve spells like in Disgaea. But there's also no mentor system.

To reincarnate a character that doesn't have stars, you need to form them into a building, which costs mana. The building will take on whatever level they are, and the higher the level, the higher the cost. If a character is hit by a hammer they permanently lose a level so if you need to lower a character's level for building purposes there are maps that help you with that. Once a character is sacrificed to make a building you can select them from a list next time you make a character from an item in your kingdom.

They also say you can keep items you throw into a facility during battle but I'm not sure if that's so. I seem to recall throwing some stuff into a building and not receiving it at the end of the battle.

It's me again. Where can I get Disgaea without paying $100,000? And don't say EBay. What is the SECOND best game?

Well, I'm pretty far into Makai Kingdom now and I feel I can say with some comfort that it is the second best game. La Pucelle and Phantom Brave are more accessible but in many ways Makai Kingdom is less frustrating. The combat animations are really freaking cool, too. I particularly like the katana attacks.

You can get Disgaea for under $60 at...

Gamestop ($45, backordered)
eBay (here)

Disgaea is my favorite strategy-rpg on PS2 and maybe favorite ever so I will definately be picking up Makai. Didn't really get into Phantom Brave or LaPucelle as much as Disgaea tho.

Well, I'm 20+ hours in and having a blast! I'm not sure that I'm willing to say that it is better than Disgaea just yet. And looking at the random dungeon system I'm not sure I ever will. Invite restrictions? WTF? Yes, I read the warning about summoning restrictions. Yes, I understood the warning about the summoning restrictions. Did I care? No! Random means: It might not happen! I didn't give it a lot of thought. Cleared a couple of levels and left. Later on I decide to finish the dungeon to see if it gave me anything nifty. So what happens? After a few levels a map loads. A small island. 2 enemies. The 1000 points split between them. I wipe the saliva from my lip and click Invite. That buzzing noise isn't good. I click again. Nothing. NooooOOOOoooOOO! All my characters had been stuffed into buildings for some quick communal experience whoring and I had forgotten to set a couple aside for the eventuality of not being able to summon buildings. I end the turn. At least I'd get the pleasure of watching a couple of demons pound Lord Zetta into dust! The demons ignore Zetta, end their turn... and I'm back staring at the useless 'Invite.' NooOOOooooOO!

*grin*

I have a vehicle. 3rd level variation of all my currently available classes unlocked, and most of the combat classes switched (going to have to figure out how to mana whore for my healers or teach them combat).

Most confusing aspect: Choosing the Overlord for the levels at the beginning of the chapter. I'm not quite sure what that accomplishes, or what that influences. Favorite feature so far: Keeping abilities after reincarnation. That makes me very happy.

Most annoying thing so far? Other than the invite restrictions? Okay, so I was putting my support staff into the hospital so that when they get roughed up they slowly leak back health and they can spend their time supporting the combat troops instead of keeping themselves alive. The hospital is a given building and starts at level 1. Invariably this makes it target numbero uno on the opportunistic demons hit-list. After finally getting some decent mana amounts in some of my demons I decided to heed my troops advice: "Your buildings start off weak but you can make them stronger by rebuilding!" I was a little worried because I hadn't seen the hospital on my buildings list. I rationalized that maybe the game only allowed you ONE hospital at a time, because I certainly didn't see a shop either! Long story short... I now don't have ANY hospitals.

Favorite level so far: Pram's Offering (I think)...It ended up being a real small island with a castle of some sort filled with 4 enemies @ around lvl 12 and each worth 250pts. Drop your buildings in the space between Zetta and the castle, invade the building with 4 of your grunts, select 'exectute.' Level complete with full bonuses. A newbie character can gain 5 levels just hanging out, or 7 if you feel they can take part in the charge. Great place to harvest cash moneys and win the odd item lottery with some middling to high rares for that level. *grin* Still not sure if the levels are ALL random or follow some guidelines or what, but I've harvested that one for all that it's worth!

I'm having great fun with it, but I still get the feeling that I'm not getting the full story. I'd love to be able to see the equip percentages ON the equip screen for one.

Great fun!

Rezzy wrote:

NooooOOOOoooOOO!

Always keep one "team" (some strong attackers, a mage, a healer, etc.) out of buildings for just such an occasion. I keep a single character equipped with a Gency's Tonic out of buildings so I can always just summon him and escape (I also keep a backup Gency's in one of my buildings in case I reach an invite limit). You'll want to use free dungeons a lot. Not only are they great for experience, but you'll find rare items on the ground. I found a beam saber, a syringe, a fan, and a pie!

They say that if you make a dungeon with a chef that's equipped with a pie, it'll make a really good levelling dungeon. Haven't tried that yet since I don't have any more Gency's Tonics.

Rezzy wrote:

Most confusing aspect: Choosing the Overlord for the levels at the beginning of the chapter. I'm not quite sure what that accomplishes, or what that influences. Favorite feature so far: Keeping abilities after reincarnation. That makes me very happy.

This determines the name of the stages (for instance, you say you like Pram's Offering but it's only called that if you select Pram for episode 3) and the types of enemies you'll encounter. It has no effect on the storyline. You'll want to pick each Overlord at least once to make sure you get to encounter all the units (so you can pound them into submission and make your own!). Try to pick new Overlords immediately as in the final few episodes they'll join and leave pretty often. And reincarnation is the name of the game. Make use of those star items! I generally turn a crappy but starred weapon into a Carrot Man (for the EXP bonus, which is carried over to his next class), level him to 30, then reincarnate him as something useful.

Rezzy wrote:

I was a little worried because I hadn't seen the hospital on my buildings list. I rationalized that maybe the game only allowed you ONE hospital at a time, because I certainly didn't see a shop either! Long story short... I now don't have ANY hospitals.

Try building a hospital with a cleric or medic, and a shop with the merchant. Some of the more useful buildings can only be built by certain classes. You can make some really powerful ones with Swordmasters (like ones that give +40% to attack). Also remember that the higher level the building, the more damage it does upon invite. A high level building is kind of like a weak area effect spell. Splat.

Rezzy wrote:

Favorite level so far: Pram's Offering (I think)...It ended up being a real small island with a castle of some sort filled with 4 enemies @ around lvl 12 and each worth 250pts.

Yeah, there are a couple great levelling areas, and that's the first one.

The thing that I'm getting annoyed with is there appear to be object limitations on each map. If there are too many objects, your thief can't steal, you can't equip characters with new items, and sometimes you can't even invite anymore. Killing enemies, putting allies in buildings and destroying map items will remedy it, but it's still obnoxious.

Try building a hospital with a cleric or medic, and a shop with the merchant. Some of the more useful buildings can only be built by certain classes.

It is like a veil has been lifted from my eyes!

Gaaah! I knew I should have called in today! Six more hours! I need to figure out how to integrate my PS2 into my laptop... stealthy-like.

dammit...you guys made me order this game... and break out my dusty PS2.

Well, I beat it. Got the Good Ending. I was a little underwhelmed with it... I guess I just didn't feel for the characters very much by the end. I won't give any spoilers, but it didn't feel as fleshed-out as the story in Disgaea. There were some very interesting twists that I didn't see coming and I'm glad they didn't resort to distractions like Gordon & Co.. There was one character I felt for by the end, but I won't name him/her for those of you still trying to get there. And the final boss fight was a little disappointing. By far the most powerful character I'd fought yet, but between chaining and my best characters I could've finished it off in a single turn.

I'm also kind of bitter that I got my ass kicked on a map where the 1000-point prize was a Helldam (a bipedal mech armed with machine guns). I totally wanted that for my commander, but now I've got to settle on one of my extra CX-1 Hellphas. Soon, though. Soon.

I haven't seen an option to make the enemies more difficult like in Disgaea so now I'm feeling a little bit at a loss. I'm going to play through to unlock the secret characters of course, but now it feels like all there's left to do is go through free dungeons. Not that there's really any problem with that. It just makes the kind of power-levelling required for some of the extra bosses more difficult, particularly considering the rarity of Gency's Tonics (items that let you escape dungeons, an absolute must).

particularly considering the rarity of Gency's Tonics (items that let you escape dungeons, an absolute must).

Not sure if this would work since I have limited experience with free dungeons (most of my):
Couldn't you harvest low level dungeons? From what I saw, every ten levels there's a boss map where the first bonus item is a Gencys Tonic. It COULD be that it just HAPPENED like that for me the three times I was paying attention, but wouldn't it be possible to demote a manna-laden friendly to lvl 10 and just create a bunch of 10th lvl dungeons to clear out for the tonic? Just a thought.

I'm actually a little frustrated with the game at the moment. Since I'm working 10 hour days through the rest of this week I don't get a lot of time to sit down and play. I spent a good hour last night just wandering around on the Headquarters map, trying to do some Item inventory and vehicle maintenance/upgrades and tagging my next likely suspect for weapon upgrade and sacrificing. Most of my characters are hovering around lvl 20, which is horrible for generating dungeons. A 20+ map dungeon is a little more than I want to take on at the moment, timewise. And so far the game hasn't let me re-enter a dungeon after leaving. Booooo! And I don't want to forge too far ahead in the storyline without building up some of my characters first! I ran into that in Disgaea on my first time through... discovering abilities and attacks that would have saved my bacon many times over AFTER struggling through the tedium of beating the levels and nearly abandoning the game at one point.

Damn. My sentence forming skills are still asleep. That is a convoluted mess.

Erm, oh yeah! Can I do anything with vehicles I don't want other than Dismissing (Or whatever the Destroy command is) them? On one of the maps I scored three vehicles... one of which I already own. I can't seem to sell it, salvage it, or anything. It seems like such a waste!

Rezzy wrote:

Not sure if this would work since I have limited experience with free dungeons (most of my):
Couldn't you harvest low level dungeons?

You can, and that's what I do usually. I don't get Gency's every boss level though.

Rezzy wrote:

And so far the game hasn't let me re-enter a dungeon after leaving. Booooo! And I don't want to forge too far ahead in the storyline without building up some of my characters first!

That's intentional. This time around they want free dungeons to be a much greater undertaking. You cannot re-enter a dungeon, but you can use Divers to go 30 levels ahead if you want to skip to higher level stuff. That's also why dungeons are so expensive to make. When you enter a dungeon, you're rewarded for sticking with it.

Rezzy wrote:

Erm, oh yeah! Can I do anything with vehicles I don't want other than Dismissing (Or whatever the Destroy command is) them? On one of the maps I scored three vehicles... one of which I already own. I can't seem to sell it, salvage it, or anything. It seems like such a waste!

Load it up with Engine parts, leave one slot and the cockpit open, and don't put it in any buildings. Then in a fix you can invite it and use it to transport two troops quickly. Some vehicles like the DarkRunner have more slots for more movement or more carrying capacity.

Vehicles can be tricky. The mana they earn from kills is useless; they can't spend it on anything and you don't get it back when you destroy them. The drivers do seem to earn XP to some extent, and some drivers have the T.EXP+ skill that helps their vehicles level faster. Vehicles will store levels but you can't upgrade them until your professor earns a little EXP (though that's not so bad since they make good pilots). It's often a good idea to keep some unarmed, "useless" charcters in buildings. They can grab items off the map to keep or they can jump out, get into an abandoned/damaged vehicle, and drive it back to the building in a single turn. If you have a vehicle on the field it counts as 1 toward your invite limit, whether it's occupied or not.

Also keep in mind that thieves can pluck drivers out of enemy vehicles.

How is Fire Emblem: The Scared Stones on the GBA?

JimmDogg wrote:

How is Fire Emblem: The Scared Stones on the GBA?

It's not bad, if you like hijacking threads.

OK. How does FE:TSS compare with Makai Kingdom and Disgaea?

And speaking of Forum etiquette, check out this little number from earlier in the thread.

JimmDogg wrote:

Where can I get Disgaea without paying $100,000? And don't say EBay.

Mr. Rude wrote:

You can get Disgaea for under $60 at...

Gamestop ($45, backordered)
eBay (here)

So you gave me a place where I couldn't get the game, and a place that I specifically mentioned as unviable. Then you make fun of my for "derailing" your thread that has fallen to the second page?

FOR SHAME!!!

Well gee, Jimm, sorry to help.

And Fire Emblem doesn't really compare to Disgaea or Makai Kingdom. They're the same genre but they're extremely different. Disgaea and Makai Kingdom are almost entirely based on characters you create yourself. Fire Emblem is the exact opposite where you only get story characters and if they die they're gone forever. It sounds like a minor difference but it changes the whole play experience. Fire Emblem isn't bad, but it's worse than Disgaea or Makai Kingdom in just about every way.

Using my "super shopper" skills +5, I got both Disgaea and Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones used. Of the two, I like FE better. Disgaea seems a bit overwhelming and restricted in scope at the same time. Is Disgaea really totally set in the castle with your only outside contact being the portals? Lame. I also don't like the openess of the game. I know that sounds Gayzor, but I like to have a little direction in my character development. I always feel like I am going to advance a broken character. I would get the guide, but it's out of print and selling used for $70.

I will admit the in the beginning, when your girlfriend mentions that you can toss the penguin dudes and they will explode and one of them goes, "d00d, are you kidding me?" I nearly wet myself. Best localization ever.

FE, on the other hand, is more my style. I don't like the "dead forever" thing, it's been a real pain keeping some guys alive in the early game. The fog of war maps are especially brutal, because enemies will appear from nowhere and chop your little punks down. I played one mission about 6 times before I could get through it without dying.

How is Final Fantasy Tactics Advance?

Most people loved FFTA, but if you don't like the open-ended thing, you may not like it. Personally I didn't much care for it just because I thought it was kind of boring-- didn't feel like there was much in the way of tactics. That said, most people loved it.