Nippon Ichi Software has released oodles of incredible RPGs over the decades and here's a collection of 2 that are undeniably top-notch.
Makai Kingdom: Reclaimed and Rebound
The featured game in Prinny Presents NIS Classics Volume 2 is an enhanced version of Makai Kingdom: Chronicles of the Sacred Tome called Reclaimed and Rebound. Originally released in 2005 for PlayStation 2, this SRPG gem follows the formula that Phantom Brave established a year prior while also incorporating elements from the Disgaea games. It's a fantastic blend that makes it a blast to play. v1d30chumz 34-231-247-88
Makai Kingdom tells the story of Overlord Zetta whose Netherworld is in peril and upon snagging the Sacred Tome, he learns that he's the one who will cause his kingdom's doom. So, he fuses himself with the tome in the hopes of rebuilding his empire and returning his physical form. From then on, hilarity ensues due to Zetta's haphazard personality and there are multiple endings; many of which merely result in his failure. Although it's hilarious watching this goofball fail, do you have what it takes to actually help him in his mission? Oh, and in this release, you can play as Zetta's daughter Petta in an additional campaign for even more misadventures.
As I mentioned, Makai Kingdom: Reclaimed and Rebound combines elements of Phantom Brave and Disgaea. The core gameplay has you create a party by inhabiting physical objects then selecting a class. After setting everyone up with optimized gear, you head to battle where you command your party by freely moving each character around and choosing attacks in order to thin out enemy forces. There are so many elements to battle that it's ridiculous so whether you're throwing enemies around, expanding the battle map by discovering new areas, or unleashing a devastating combo on a close-together cluster of monsters; you're bound to have a great time. 😊
Major glitch warning
Makai Kingdom: Reclaimed and Rebound currently has a bug that prevents progress past chapter 5's opening cutscene. Although this will hopefully be patched soon, please keep it in mind before taking the plunge. I'll remove this warning once a patch is out.
Update: I've reached out to NIS America and they've assured me that they're aware of the issue and are currently working on it.
Makai Kingdom: Reclaimed and Rebound looks great with charming character sprites, distinct environments, and a widescreen presentation. However, some aspects of its visuals can be ambiguous such as when it's hard to spot exactly where enemies are unless you rotate and zoom the camera around. This also makes trying to select specific things with the cursor problematic. Besides these minor issues, this is a wonderful game that's easy to pick-up-and-play whether you want to enjoy a couple of battles or laze around for hours while grinding to deck your party out in powerful gear. For this reason, it's a supremely well-balanced experience.
ZHP: Unlosing Ranger vs. Darkdeath Evilman
Finally, we have ZHP: Unlosing Ranger vs. Darkdeath Evilman which is a port of a 2010 game for PSP. Although I never played Makai Kingdom back when it first released, I still have ZHP and it's a great game. For starters, I'm a huge fan of Mystery Dungeon games and ZHP essentially plays like one albeit with some unexpected elements. For example, battles with Darkdeath Evilman commence between chapters and they play like the original Dragon Quest games; black background and everything.
As you can probably already guess, ZHP: Unlosing Ranger vs. Darkdeath Evilman is another humour-filled adventure. Its premise is that the Unlosing Ranger perishes on his way to fight Darkdeath Evilman but before he does, he passes the torch to a random passerby who is ZHP's hero that you can name whatever you wish. Upon immediately losing to Darkdeath Evilman, this new hero is recruited by the World Hero Society and then proceeds to train in order to stand a chance. You'll meet a lot of hilarious characters throughout such as your prinny wife and it all comes together to make a memorably silly world. With that being said, the stories in both this and Makai Kingdom are quite simplistic so if you don't find them funny then there isn't much to sink your teeth into. I think they're hilarious, though. 😅
I'm very happy that Prinny Presents NIS Classics Volume 2 includes ZHP: Unlosing Ranger vs. Darkdeath Evilman as it's one of those games that balances its mechanics perfectly so that you'll want to keep playing in order to become more powerful, devise clever tactics, and see what sort of scenarios you'll face next. The procedurally generated dungeons where you move at the same time as your opponents are a ton of fun to master and unlocking permanent upgrades and discovering stronger gear makes each dungeon trip rewarding.
Another aspect of ZHP that I enjoy is the fact that you're helping folks as you train and meeting new faces as you watch the hub area expand with customizable facilities makes for a satisfying campaign. I also like the fact that your character sprite changes according to which items you equip which is a nice touch that I always appreciate, especially when you wear silly gear like tank legs.
On the downside, the visuals can be ambiguous just like in Makai Kingdom with confusing clusters of varying verticality that can easily cause confusion. These moments don't happen often but when they do, it can be annoying to take an unexpected hit from an enemy that you assumed was too far away to attack. Anyway, one element that I wish Prinny Presents NIS Classics Volume 2 featured is some kind of museum-style content. There is an in-game artwork gallery but I would have loved to see even more such as scanned instruction manuals, etc. Things like that would have gone a long way to make the overall package feel more comprehensive.
To my surprise and delight, I enjoyed Prinny Presents NIS Classics Volume 2 even more than the first collection so if you're looking for some classic SRPG or Mystery Dungeon fun, it's a definite must-play compilation, dood.
- + Makai Kingdom is an excellent follow-up to the already great Phantom Brave
- + ZHP has fantastic Mystery Dungeon gameplay
- + Great characters and sense of humour
- - Could use some museum-style content
- - Visuals can be ambiguous in both games
- - Stories are rather simple