Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Majin & the Forsaken Kingdom: It's Crap, But It's My Kind Of Crap

One of many games that I received as a gift for Christmas, and which you will be reading subsequent reviews of. Majin is an adventure/puzzle game, where you play a guy raised by animals in the forest, with the rare ability of actually being able to talk to animals. He sets out on a quest to rescue the kingdom from a dark gooey plague that's slowly taking everything over and transforming it. The secret to achieving this goal is to find the legendary Majin, who ate all of the darkness in the past.

Really, the Majin is the star of the game here, but you don't directly control him, you control the animal talker, which is coincidentally an ability you need to have in order to understand the Majin. The Majin is slow-witted, innocent, and powerful. After freeing him, he will follow you around like a lost puppy, and happily smack on any enemies that trouble you. You can also issue commands to him, ranging from telling him to wait in a particular spot, to lifting a gate, or using one of his special powers on an enemy. Working with the Majin is just fun, there are plenty of puzzles to solve, blending your small form, with his hulking power, and after successfully bypassing an obstacle, he will often exclaim "Yay! I did great!" or "Yay! You did great!" sometimes, you and he even perform a little dance together, it's surprisingly cute and touching.

Like any good game, you don't start off at full strength, the Majin's abilities were drained away by the "servants of Darkness" and you must find them throughout the kingdom in the form of various fruits. Some increase his strength, others his life bar, and others give him special abilites like lightning and fire breath. The entire kingdom is open for you to explore, and traverse back and forth as you gain new abilities, allowing you access to more areas.

There's nothing particularly interesting about combat, but it's satisfying to be smacking enemies with your stick, only to have the Majin's bulk come in over your shoulder and knock an enemy across the screen. Then he'll throw you in the air to drop down upon felled enemies to deliver a finishing blow.

So, what's so crap about the game? First, the graphics, the scenery is as lush, green and epic, as you could expect from any fairy tale, but the actual models all seem fairly unrefined, like it's a game from 5 years ago. It's a silly complaint, but it managed to pull me out of the feel of the game world a number of times. Oddly the Majin looks just fine, I don't know if they put that much more detail into him, or if he's simply more fitting of being done in broad strokes, your character on the other hand, almost looks like a Playstation 1 model.

The other, and far more important critique I have is for the voice acting. Which is just godawful. The Majin is fine, and the hero is passable, but all of the myriad creatures that you can speak to along the way? It's painful to hear, I got to the point where everytime I saw an animal around, I would just ignore it and hope that it wouldn't automatically talk to me. To further make the matters worse, is that none of the animals actually saying anything useful. Occasionally I would come to an area and be lost for what to do, I would attempt to talk to an animal I saw only to have something unhelpfully inane like "that ship is supposed to be powered by a great fire at it's core, I wonder what the Majin will be able to do once he's recovered his fire powers?". Seriously, I'm no expert in mythical biology, but I've already got the wind and lightning powers, which allow him to summon wind and lighnting respectively, I'm fairly certain that the power of fire will let him set things on fire. I couldn't help but feel the game could have been much better if they'd taken more than just the idea of a partner system from Team Ico, and had made the game almost entirely mute.

Bottom line, it's still a fun game, running around in a fantasy world with a big stupid friend is no end of fun. If you liked Ico and Zelda games, then this is probably the game for you.

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