Makai Kingdom

On December 2, 2009, in General, by Neil Stevens

Oops. I never did get around to posting my final assessment of this game, despite defeating Yoshitsuna about a week ago.

Though ultimately there’s only so much to say about it. It’s yet another evolution in the La Pucelle – Disgaea – Phantom Brave chain, and was worth a solid 200+ hours of play as I went through the game once, assembled a final party of Castile, Laharl, Etna, Flonne, Prinny God x 2, Zetta, Valvolga, and Babylon.

The Vehicles were an interesting addition and created all sorts of tradeoffs in combat when combined with the limit of 8 characters + vehicles on the map. The buildings were nice, too. I think the combos worked well; I like how they did things like increase the points to end the level. What I didn’t like was the Mana system; it was way too tedious later on accumulating mana to keep creating the free dungeons I needed to level up properly. Same problem as Disgaea had with Mana. Also the usual problem of supporting characters not getting kills, and thus having a hard time getting mana, was still there. They fixed that with experience (support spells gave it now); fix it with mana or get rid of mana!

The complexity went back up all around: On top of vehicles and buildings we saw a return of item slots, the heavy use of items on-map, another huge job list, and a huge weapon type list, including balloons, boxes, magic batons, light sabers swords, and more. That was good stuff.

The only way complexity really went down was in the disappearance of the speed system. Team-based turns came back, which definitely made the game harder later on than Phantom Brave was.

One serious failing was the use of money in the game. I very, very quickly ran out of any use for it. It was even too tedious to level up my shopkeeper with it all. The game could have used the La Pucelle-style “Buy out the shop and get rare, super-expensive stuff,” especially since getting the ultimate equipment was so slow and tiresome from the free dungeons. This was a major shortcoming I think.

Plotwise I think this was the worst of the first four. Zetta is an incredibly uninteresting character, and seems to exist only to let the rest of the cast reflect off of him. This contrasts sharply with Priere, Marone, and even Laharl.

Sadly I know that despite the teaser in the “Defeat the next game’s main character” event dungeon, the next game does not deliver a plot and story-driven overworld adventure as the previous pattern would indicate, but rather goes into full cashing in mode by being Disgaea 2. I hope it delivers better than Makai Kingdom did in terms of plot and character.

At least the game itself and the music were fine. I especially appreciated the return of the La Pucelle dark world music when fighting Baal. That made me smile.

All in all the game was a step down in plot and character, a major polishing and evolutionary improvement over Phantom Brave, and over all worth my time. A-.

Now on to playing Dragon Age: Origins before tackling Disgaea 2. DA:O is playing like a cross between Knights of the Old Republic and Final Fantasy XII, which to me suggests the reports are exaggerated that American and Japanese games are fundamentally different.


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