Nippon Ichi have been showing us a lot of lately, following up their string of classic re-releases with Prinny Presents NIS Classics Volume 2. This compilation takes two not-so-known RPGs from yore and brings them to the Switch with some minor adjustments and additions. Sure, everyone loves a good port, but do these two titles warrant a look? Let’s find out.
There are two games to unpack here, with the first being the more familiar Makai Kingdom: Reclaimed and Rebound (formally Chronicles of the Sacred Tome), which was released on the PlayStation 2 and later the PSP years back. This game puts players in the role of Zetta, an overlord whose soul is tied to a tome due to the events of a demon named Raiden. It is up to you to reclaim the Netherworld and return your body to form while battling through some tough foes along the way. There is a lot of tongue and cheek dialogue written in, and out of the two – this title may have the most rewarding story, albeit if players don’t mind being subjected to a lot of the text and backstory that assist in painting quite a vivid picture.
ZHP: Unlosing Ranger vs. Darkdeath Evilman is a lot more tongue and cheek. Being basically a parody of tokusatsu, players are thrust into the role of a mute hero who happens to get swept up in this adventure after Pirohiko Ichimonji, the Unlosing Ranger, gets hit by a car on his way to do battle with Darkdeath Evilman. The morph belt is passed onto you, and the player must train up and eventually go face to face with the evil foe while exploring a good number of dungeons. Yeah, I think I got that right. The story is all over the place – but in a good way. Laced with humor and campy dialogue, it definitely has a lot of appeal to fans of the likes of Sentai and other tokusatsu programs and is easier to jump into due to the structure of the game itself.
While both isometric top-down adventures, both titles play quite differently from one another. Makai Kingdom is a more traditional strategy RPG, set in the same universe as Disgaea. There are a lot of similarities in that regard, but the contrast sets it apart in other ways – for better or worse. You see, Zetta can create characters to do battle from inanimate objects. Once a set number of characters is selected, the player can then move in to battle, gather funds, get gear and currency, and continue their trek upward. I make it sound easy, but there is a steep learning curve for newcomers, as the lack of a grid makes things feel loose and busy, making tasks such as simple selection a bit of a chore. Sure, there is a deep system here that is basic by today’s standards, but one that requires a lot of attention and patience to master.
ZHP I felt right at home with. This romp is mostly a rogue-like dungeon explorer, with an emphasis on costumes and armor. Die and you can lose all your collected items, but with your stats still intact – allowing for you to continue onward a little wiser. Fans of the Mystery Dungeon flavoring from Pokémon and Shiren the Wanderer will find a lot to love and feel at home amongst the zany comedy that is fed to the player throughout, but the difficulty spikes will be sure to wear down even the most seasoned explorer.
Other than some updated menus and other fare, there isn’t a whole lot new to this re-packaging. Sure, we get the bonus mode from the PSP version of Makai Kingdom, and both titles have some updated menu layouts to fit the platform, but don’t go in expecting too much different if you have tenure with either title as they are mostly solid ports of two classics. That said, there are a ton of hours that one will soak into each, which greatly adds value to the already lower price-tag entry point offered at launch.
The graphics here are a bit hit or miss. I get that Makai Kingdom and ZHP were primarily from over two to three generations ago, but the art has a bit of a blur that may detract those using that shiny OLED (or standard) screen. The menus also are a bit much at times and general input and interaction from Makai Kingdom suffers a bit due to the angles and overlay distributed on the field during the battle portions of the game. It’s not too bad, but there is a wonder we didn’t see a slight visual upgrade or at list polish for these two dated ports that at least would bring them up to speed with current selections on the same platform.
The audio is fine. Both titles have stellar soundtracks (I particularly enjoyed ZHP), and the voice acting can be swapped between both English and Japanese as both tracks are featured. Even though both have aged, they both have retained their quality and charm, with the voice actors contributing a lot to keep both games humorous and light – despite their sometimes treacherous difficulty.
Prinny Presents NIS Classics Volume 2 is another winner from Nippon Ichi as it delivers two solid and forgotten ports to the Switch that most need to check out. There are issues such as grueling spikes in difficulty and grainy visuals at times, but fans of either title or anyone who loves that classic library will be joyous to finally see each play out on their modern platform. I am enjoying this NIS Classics library thus far, and if the second volume is any indication, there are sure to be even more great niches to discover right around the corner.
Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.