Back during the busy Holiday season of 2010, a little known game was released by a little known developer, and was published by a company who was launching it next to two other games. All 3 of those games, Splatterhouse, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, and Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom, all three of these games did less than stellar, but I am only here to talk about the last of the trio. From the now defunct Game Republic, the game had a wide range of reactions, from X-Play’s 2/5, to Destructoid’s Jim Sterling, who gave it a 9.5/10. Me, being a follower of Jim Sterling, took note of this game, but I only got around to playing it recently, after I got it on sale for about $6. But what does my analysis end up stating about the game? Read and find out!
Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom Review
Release Date: 23/11/2010
Platforms: Xbox 360(Reviewed), Playstation 3
Price I Paid: ~$6
The game follows a Tepeu a forest dwelling rouge who finds a large gentle creature made of flowers and bear parts, who has the ability to purge the land of the tyranny of the Darkness that has consumed it for 100 years by punching and eating it. Their journey to cleanse sends them across its perimeters and has them evolve and develop as they go along. It is not a bad plot, certainly cliche, but the characters are appealing enough together to hold it through, although Game Republic decided that an 18-year-old traveling with a big dumb mythical being who is always hungry, would be more appealing that a child in that role. There is something that will always be more interesting about a child and their pet monster, than the story about an adult and their pet monster. I cannot understand why they would decide on this, maybe to prevent people from claiming how it looked like The Last Guardian, but this decision had to be made before the game was even revealed in E3 2009.
The most memorable part of the narrative is undoubtedly the voice work with the animals who give Tepeu hints, they are absolutely amazing in their awfulness, and I would not have it any other way. Meanwhile, the duo actually has decent voice work, although the Majin does actually sound like he is somewhat retarded. I originally was going to harp on the dialog, but it is surprisingly decent, with some philosophical questions being asked by some of the larger, talking monsters spawned off of the Darkness. However, they never really amount to anything, and the game just kind of stops after a final boss that is as consistent with the rest of the game in the same way that milk is with grape juice.
In fact, the entire finale of the story feels very rushed, which in itself is good evidence that this game was rushing to get out of the door. This is evident in things like the gameplay, namely how Tepeu’s jump cancels momentum, and how he only has 7 total forms of attacking by himself, by that I mean there are literally only 7 moves. X, X+X, X+X+X, A+X, A then X, LT+B for a sneak attack, and LB+X to throw rocks. It grants the player all they really need, but most games tend to included a heavy and light attack system for more diverse combat, but instead we have the Majin. You only control the Majin by pointing him to something, feeding him upgrades and health items, telling him to wait and give Tepeu a boost, telling him to follow and occasionally trip over his hairy legs, or make him use one of four abilities. Now, I really like how the four abilities are used, they take down creatures of the Darkness quickly, and your usage of them is replenished by having Tepeu smack the Darkness with his glowing spike thing that he found while rescuing the Majin.
The four abilities are your main objective in this game when you are not fighting some very novel bosses that conveniently use the power that you just got. It is actually has a bit of a Zelda vibe, collecting treasure, finding upgrades, growing stronger and learning new maneuvers to fight the increasingly deadly threat. speaking of deadly, the game is very liberal with Tepeu falling in combat, if he dies, the Majin just brings him back by burping on him. It is also how Tepeu regains health. Also, there are TWO achievements for having Tepeu die. I mean, what? But if the Majin des, you must have rushed into an encounter where you should have used stealth, or just thrown an apple at him to fully restore him, which you will never run out of since they are all over the place and you can carry five.
The system is actually more unique the more I think about it, and the stupid dance done by the Protagonists always makes the sluggishness of the whole thing worth it. Tepeu feels floaty throughout the whole thing, while the Majin controls like a cow, but at least he has good pathfinding, and the areas are made for him to never get stuck on geometry, so the game at least does the escorting well enough to not feel like a chore, well most of the time. I think it is just amplified by the fact that Majin is far more powerful than Tepeu, making you rely on him, and he actually does well as long as he does not miss him belly slam.
The other half of the game is exploration, simple puzzles, platforming, and stealth. The stealth suffers from a personal problem that I have with stealth games, the fact that I need a radar to function. But even after I adapt for that, it is the most barebones approach possible, but stabbing soldiers of the Darkness in the back was still satisfying after the 50th time. Platforming suffers from the awkward vertical based jump that Tepeu has, and the ledge grabbing can feel very flimsy. Puzzles range from “annoying due to item placement”, to I need to use fire to get past here. The most complicated puzzle that I found was early on, because I did not think I was playing Mario & Luigi: Partners In Time, and that Majin could drink and spit out a gallon of water. And there are other mechanics that are only ever used about three times, such as a catapult where you thrown hay balls to destroy walls, bells that attract creatures of Darkness, or multiple costumes that apply buffs. They are not bad mechanics, but they show how little the developer had to work with, placing in random ideas in the hope of granting their game greater depth. But most of the game is just telling you Majin to punch the dudes, doing combo attacks to level up your Friendship, and getting more powerful combo attacks in return.
And in the visual aspect, well, the best that I can say is that the game itself looks great when it is being colorful. Since the game takes place in a destroyed kingdom, there is a lot of brown bricks all over the place, but when the game goes to an ash covered volcanic mine, or a rainy jungle, it really shines out. But there is something off with the actual visuals, it seems as if the developer wanted to use a different graphical engine, maybe one that displayed more cartoonish visuals, but instead we have a semi-realistic looking game, which often looks great in terms of its world, but I cannot help but think that the 2D flashbacks that somehow look more visually appealing despite looking like Outland. Black barely motional silhouettes should not look like a better artstyle, no matter what you are doing. But the Darkness creatures look great with their oily surface, and the Majin needs to have a plushie made after him, no graphical style could remove his adorableness.
And that is why I feel as if I should be nice to this game, it is adorable in a certain way, the small areas. Simple combat, voice actors they got from around the office, and general simplicity of it all makes it something worth seeing through. And while there are annoyances like being unable to listen to the Japanese voice cast, and how a certain collectible in every room is only obtainable about 40% of the time, since this game decided to have a day and night cycle. Or my prettiest gripe, how this game is rated T, even though it is clearly made to appeal to children. If I had to provide a simile, it would be that Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom is like a 12-year-old boy who shines your shoes for a nickel, is fairly messy, but is nice enough to give him a bagel and pat on the head. Strangely endearing despite the many faults and missing teeth. And for a budget title at a discounted price, that is an 8 in my book
An impressive product, won’t always astound due to a fair number of flaws, but is very enjoyable and worth a purchase.