Prinny Presents NIS Classics Volume 2: Makai Kingdom: Reclaimed and Rebound by developer Nippon Ichi Software and publisher NIS America Inc.—Nintendo Switch review written by Pierre-Yves with a copy provided by the publisher.
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Prinny Presents NIS Classics Volume 2: Makai Kingdom: Reclaimed and Rebound / ZHP: Unlosing Ranger vs. Darkdeath Evilman is the second of the two volumes to bring back PS2 and PSP era titles to the Nintendo Switch. Starting off with Makai Kingdom, welcome back to one of the craziest titles to come out of the Netherworld.
The first half of this collection, Makai Kingdom: Reclaimed and Rebound, contains previously unreleased Japanese-only content from the 2011 PSP port that followed six years after the initial release of the PS2 edition in 2005. Containing both the original version where we follow along Lord Zetta, the biggest and baddest overlord that you’ll ever piss off, the alternate mode similar to the Etna (Disgaea 1), Axel (Disgaea 2), and Beryl (Disgaea 3) modes contains the Petta Mode titled “Papa is the Strongest Overlord in the Universe” starring Zetta’s daughter Petta who apparently comes from the future.
Starting with the core mode, Makai Kingdom: Chronicles of the Sacred Tome, Zetta starts the ball rolling for what could only be the biggest mistake that he could have ever made. Torching the Sacred Tome after it called him stupid, Zetta would bind his soul to the tome in order to try to prevent both his and his Netherworld’s destruction complete destruction. While binding his soul to the Sacred Tome worked, the rest of the plan didn’t and his netherworld was wiped from existence. Queue the ensuing shenanigans!
Both body and netherworld-less, Zetta is found floating in space by the Oracle Pram who doesn’t take long to start making literary jokes. Telling Zetta that she would help him out however, Pram sends out a call for aid to some of the other overlords who are basically frenemies to write in a wish to the Sacred Tome along with their own power to create new lands filled with enemies to defeat in order to restore Zetta to his former glory.
From this point forward, while Zetta creates the first member of his new army to be his arms and legs as he no longer has any, the rest is up to you. Given a new castle to rule in the form of a dog house, this small, yet robust, “facility” will serve as part of your base of operations in the field alongside a shop and a hospital. Once your first few minions have been created, Makai Kingdom plays out like a lot of other Nippon Ichi titles. Broken down between chapters and stages, each stage will have enemies that you need to tactically defeat in order to move on. What’s different with Makai Kingdom however is how you move onto the next stage.
Unlike the core Disgaea Series, or other of Nippon Ichi’s SRPG entries, Makai Kingdom followed up on another unique spin to the turned-based Strategy RPG style. Staying in a more 3D environment like its predecessor Phantom Brave, instead of binding phantoms to objects on a map, here, you could either summon a unit or a facility that you’ve assigned them to in order to deploy them for combat. Bonus? If your enemies are close enough to Zetta’s starting location you could summon the facility right on top of them mwahahahaha.
From this point the rest plays out in a “your turn their turn” approach. Always starting off on your turn, you’ll sometimes have the chance to eliminate the enemy from the board. This all depends however on the size of the maps that you’ll be fighting on which is another feature unique to Makai Kingdom. Instead of set maps that you could essentially build strategies around, here they are procedurally generated so you’re never quite sure what you’re in for.
Another aspect that makes Makak Kingdom unpredictable is that in order to complete a stage you either need to decimate absolutely everyone, or, reach a score of 1,000. Sometimes hitting the 1k mark is super easy as enemy units could be worth a few hundred each, other times though, there’ll be a horde of enemies and they are worth next to nothing as they wipe your forces from the map. You basically always have to be ready for anything.
The rest though is pretty standard for the netherworld craziness where you can level up your characters to obscene levels all while accumulating Mana that can be used for wishes (new facilities, dungeons, Prinnies) and re-incarnation. Another twist on this is that unlike Disgaea where you simply go for re-incarnation, in Makai Kingdom a character has to be sacrificed first by spending their mana on something and only then could their soul be re-bound into a worldly object to bring them back. The better the item, the better the stat bonus! You just have to hope that you do find something good to bring back while out on the field of battle.
Now that’s the core mode and while these aspects all apply to the Petta Mode titled “Papa is the Strongest Overlord in the Universe”, the story like the Axel, Etna and Beryl Modes is a whole new adventure in which if you’ve never played, like me, you’re in for a brand new experience. Starting at the same point as the core game, things take a whole different turn as Zetta bites his tongue and fails to properly bind himself to the tome costing him a thousand years to recover. As a lot can change in a thousand years, the playing field has changed and Zetta is going to have to really step up his game if he’s going to return to the title as the strongest freakin overlord.
This new content should also, unless you’re really, really, REALLY good at what you do, should not be attempted until after you’ve finished the core game at least once as the starting levels of the enemies is just under where the end levels of the main story leave off. Just be warned that once a story is started, it has to be finished and the clear data saved in order to switch back.
If there are some elements to Makai Kingdom that I wish were a bit better it would be in some of the smaller details. The pathfinding at times can be pretty bad making you wonder just what the hell the AI is thinking as it’s generally easier to move your characters on your own and then perform a move than hope that it’ll be taken care of on its own. The other element is a toss up.
Like Phantom Brave, weapons are items that can be carried by your units and thrown around if need be. If the item is tossed off the map though it’s gone and you won’t be getting it back. Early game this is BAD, late game is manageable but oftentimes a map won’t have any items to throw off in order to expand to where you need to go so the only thing left are your shiny awesome gear… unless you throw your own units overboard.
The very last thing applies to both Makai Kingdom and ZHP, but the issue I had with how out of place the sprites felt in Phantom Brave wasn’t as much of an issue here. They blended together a lot better and felt like they belonged instead of having rich textured backgrounds and then very pixelated sprites. It helped the adventures along!
Overall though, I was very pleased with Prinny Presents NIS Classics Volume 2: Makai Kingdom: Reclaimed and Rebound. Like with Vol 1, these titles have been ported forward and run very well on the Switch. While I do still wish there had been some work done to touch up the quality of the sprites, the gameplay speaks for itself and Makai Kingdom is still as much fun as it used to be.Score: 8 / 10