Review by redbuck

"Well Designed, But Overlooked - Sounds Like 2010's Cult Classic"

Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom was released at a retail value of $40 for both PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. A trailer for it was displayed at E3 2010, and the instant I saw it, I knew I wanted it. It took me a while to actually get it, but I knew I had to soon. A brand new game for $40? That's already good. The fact that it's better than a lot of games that are coming out and are $60? That's even better! I have nothing against modern day games, but they lack creativity sometimes just to sell more because people complain about games not being 'realistic'. Namco Bandai Games took a chance at being creative, and while it didn't actually get to be the most saught after game on the market, I'm very pleased with it to know that there are still games out there that are more than shooting and racing. So how about it? Let's get on with the review, shall we?

GRAPHICS
First, I'll start with the graphics. I have one problem with it, and that's such a minor thing that I almost feel ashamed to mention it. Every now and then, there's a less-than-a-second lag, which might mess up a jump and you'll have to take a few seconds longer to go back a small distance and redo what you were doing. Like I said, I was almost ashamed to even mention it because it's so slight and so infrequent. The good news is that the landscapes are beautiful and nice to look at while going around exploring. They're lush and green in more forest-like areas, and dry and sandy in desert regions. In some areas where it's raining, the thief and the majin actually get wet from the rain instead of staying seemingly dry the entire time like in a lot of games. The character models look a little cartoony, but I think whether it was intended or not, it really fits the atmosphere. No, it's not full-on animated cartoon straight from Cartoon Network cartoony, but it's not like looking at a real person either.

SOUND EFFECTS AND MUSIC
Next, the sound effects are great. They're right in time with the thief's swings, and sound just like they're going through a dark tar-like substance (you'll understand later on in the story section), or the clanging of metal when you hit an enemiy's shield. The majin's attacks sound very powerful, as they should. Everything's in sync with the actions being made, and they sound the way they should. The only thing that's really wrong is the voice acting. I don't usually just watch characters' mouths to make sure they're in perfect sync with the words being said, but for the sake of this review, I decided to take everything into consideration. The characters' lips don't usually match the words being said, but to make up for it, there's actual feeling behind what's being said. If something is meant to sound sad, it actually sounds like the character is sad and it's not just someone doing it for the money.

The music, although subtle and not very noticeable sometimes, is very beautiful. While exploring, I like the nice relaxing feeling I get when listening to the game's music. It changes up to a nice upbeat in the zone kind of music when an enemy spots you and you need to fight your way through them. When fighting bosses, you get that sense of urgency to live and find a way to beat these otherwise overwhelmingly powerful enemies.

STORY
Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom has a very deep and very good story of friendship and tragedy, even though it's very light on cut-scenes. You start off as the thief going through a castle looking for the majin to save his home (not just a house, but the kingdom he lives in, and others too) from The Darkness, which produced the enemies of the game, who appear in different shapes, forms, sizes, etc. They're made of a tar-like substance, and they can only be harmed by a specific weapon (don't worry; you get it at the beginning of the game, so there's no ridiculously long side-quest in order to get it). After finding the majin, the thief finds out that the majin's power has been taken away and was stored away in fruit (yep, weird, but hey). You find the first piece of fruit just a room or two away, grab it, bring it back, then free him. He's strong enough to do a little damage, but nowhere near what he was the 100 years prior to the start of the game. That's where everything else comes in. Like I said, the game is light in cut-scenes, but what's there truly makes up for it in the form of a masterpiece. For little tidbits of backstory, you can talk to the Majin at almost any time you want. Sometimes they're tips on what you need to do to progress, sometimes they're about what happened 100 years ago, and sometimes they're just funny things the majin wants to say.

GAMEPLAY
Although moderately heavy on combat, it's even heavier on puzzles. The combat is plentiful, but very simple. You attack with square, dodge roll with triangle, and when prompted to do so, use a finishing move or combination attack with circle (which one you do depends on how far away you are from the majin; being closer initiates a combination attack). Jumping can also help in some situations, in which case, you press X. Should you happen to get close enough to an enemy without being noticed, hold L2 and press circle to perform a stealth attack. After gaining more of the majin's powers (electricity and wind for example), he can start using those to your advantage during battle. Wind stuns and electricity... well I'm sure you can imagine. There are a few others, but I won't go into too much detail on that. That's about it for combat. Pretty simple, but for me, it never really got old.

Now puzzles, they can be VERY simple, in which case, makes them pretty hard because most people would try to think of a complex way of doing things when in fact, the obvious answer was overlooked multiple times. Trust me, this game showed me just how stupid I really am. The majin can do all kinds of things, so keep this in mind. To give him an order, you hold down R2 and press whatever button you'd like, for example: triangle is to follow, X is to wait or crouch if he's already waiting, and depending on if you target an enemy or something in the environment, he'll either attack or 'act' which is usually the solution to most puzzles assuming you have everything needed to do it. Sometimes you'll need to come back to an area with another power, sometimes you'll need to find a way to get the majin into otherwise inaccessible areas, and so on. There's really no way to explain everything without typing out a really long review, so I'll just say that you have to experience it first-hand in order to fully grasp the situation.

BOSSES
I decided to make bosses their own category because it's a combination of puzzles and combat. Expect to fight bosses soon after regaining another ability for the majin. You'll have to know what your part is, and you'll have to know what the majin's part is. Sometimes it'll be better for you to set up a trap while the majin draws the enemy away, and sometimes it's a simple matter of having the right timing. The bosses aren't your everyday hack away until it dies kind of bosses, but need to be taken down a certain way in order to progress with the plot.

VERDICT
Pros:
Different from most of today's games
Fun puzzles
Great story
Just enough humor to be funny at times, but doesn't overdo it
Graphical style fits well with the atmosphere

Cons:
EXTREMELY minor occasional lag

Neutral:
Short cut-scenes few and far in-between, but very enjoyable and entertaining when they're there

I bought this game simply because I figure it would be hard to find in a few years and would be an ok game, but once I played it, I realized it probably would be hard to find, but instead of just an ok game, I got an outrageously overlooked game that has and will continue to give me enjoyment. If you like puzzle-heavy games like the Legend of Zelda series, then this is for you. If you're just looking for a game to pass the time, this is for you. If you want something different, this is for you. What I'm saying is try the demo on PSN or XBLA, or rent it and give it a trial. If you like it, give it a purchase. If not, try it again until you do like it.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 01/18/11

Game Release: Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom (US, 11/23/10)


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