Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom

A crucial decision that should always be made prior to a game's release is: will this be a game a game for kids? It's not to say there aren't games that can span the age gap. There are titles that weave subtle humour into the action to ensure multiple age groups are maintained, for example. However, there are also games involving features that will completely alienate one age group or another. For instance, the violence of God of War might not attract politicians, while childish puzzles will, quite frankly, annoy everyone. Continuing with a line of sweeping statements, for a game aimed at children to succeed, there are a few quick boxes that will need to be ticked. Firstly, linking in with a popular film or show seems fairly standard. Failing that, the second approach is to go all out on making things look fun, family-friendly, and specifically aimed at the target audience, otherwise parents and kids are unlikely to make the purchase. Bearing in mind these somewhat-unjustified (but surely true) statements, Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom is a game that is clearly not aimed solely at children. There are some adult themes, no film tie-ins, and the game world itself has certainly been designed for anyone to enjoy, with details that are certain to please most adults. The whole game, from the cover to the end credits, seems geared at providing a magical, fantasy experience with adults in mind. Why, then, does the game have a main character, the Majin, with voicework that is cripplingly stupid, undoubtedly inspired by the sort of speech a child might attempt when attempting to impersonate a caveperson?

Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom

If you've managed to read beyond the stereotyping and critical insult, it should immediately be pointed out that Majin is actually a very decent game. It blends platforming elements with exploration, simple puzzle solving and combat, all involving a good measure of teamwork between main heroes Tepeu and Majin. The story is a fairly standard good versus evil affair, with darkness spreading across the world, and only our heroes around to stop it. Tepeu, a human with the ability to speak to animals, seeks out the Majin, Teotl, and together they must confront the darkness. Along the way, exploring a large world comprised of a series of open areas, connected by tunnels, paths or bridges, the pair gather collectibles that improve the power of the Majin and prepare you for the final fight. During this adventure, likely to last around 15 hours, aside from the occasional platforming mishap, there'll be only one thing that truly holds the game back: the irritating voicework. In every other respect, Majin is a solid game, enjoyable for a great number of reasons.

Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom

After being introduced to the evil darkness and basic cooperative techniques with the Majin, the game unfolds in a similar way to Metroid games, with new puzzles becoming accessible as you unlock powers. Learning elemental spells allows Teotl to influence or alter aspects of the level, allowing you access to hidden areas. It's not as cleverly and intricately woven, with linear level design that cannot rival Metroid, but it adds to the game's replay value without ever becoming too irritating. Transport rooms, with quite a nice hands-on mechanism, allow you to re-visit earlier areas without having to backtrack, but most will attempt to seek out all treasures within a level before progressing, which is possible in the majority of areas. For the most part, treasure chests contain gems to upgrade Tepeu's level, giving a boost to the usual experience gained in combat. There are also costumes to find, often with additional benefits, but the main attraction will be the various fruits that you can give to Teotl, upgrading his powers and making the combat easier.

The levels are quite beautiful on the whole, with a distinctive, glittering style that sets it apart from most other games. There's not a colossal amount of variation, but it's nice to see levels transitioning from green open areas through to sandy dungeons, crystal caves and majestic castles. Meanwhile the character animations aren't anything extraordinary, but the tufty green growths on the Majin are quite impressive, particularly since they appear to flourish towards the end of the game as Teotl is given more upgrades. What's left is to team up and hack the enemy to pieces in a variety of imaginative ways. At its most simple, you waltz up to an enemy and bash it in the face with your big stick-key thing. Super awesome as that is, you're certain to lose at some point. Thankfully, Teotl has massive fists, and will lumber into battle and start swatting most enemies like flies, or start a titanic clash with larger enemies. When enough damage is done, a handy combo button pops up, and the pair swing into action, with improved combos and moves unlocked as you progress through the experience levels. Things get even better when the Majin's powers are available, with handy combinations becoming possible. For instance, Teotl can use a lighning attack to stun enemies, while Tepeu sprints in and bashes them with the "hit with stick" button. That button alone might be boring, but it allows you to unleash a new combo attack. Perform enough combos within a short time period and you'll be able to initiate a finishing move, with a spectacular elemental attack that takes out most enemies instantly.

Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom

The other half of the gameplay coin is dominated by exploration, with some basic puzzles to solve before reaching certain treasure items. They won't tax most gamers, but at least a couple might make you pause for a moment before the crucial moment of realization. Since the overall difficulty of the game is quite low, it all leads to a relatively comfortable, relaxing experience. With sedate, careful pacing, gentle puzzles and combat that usually stays in the comfort zone, it'd be possible to reach the end of the game with not an ounce of tension in sight. That is, were it not for the moment when you hear Teotl say "Tepeu, you did great!" for the 5000th time, causing an involuntary "fack off" word vomit back at the screen. Ah, but he's such a big cuddly, well-meaning monkey. Yes, yes he is, and he's stupidly annoying. The pacing of his speech is tolerable, his tone and expressions are all fine, but why the childlike simplenglish? Without that, this good game could have been a great one.

Game details

Game logo

Publisher:

Namco Bandai

Developer:

Game Republic

Players:

1

Online:

None

Release:

2010-11-26

Trophies:

42

Review summary

Gameplay:

Pleasant and enjoyable, if not groundbreaking

Graphics:

Actually very pretty and imaginative, but not varied

Sound:

Possibly the most annoying voicework. Ever.

Lastability:

A reasonable adventure length with plenty to do

8.2

Pulsar

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Garrus Vakarian

A hospital. Not a good place to have a fight.

Mordin Solus

What IS a good place to have a fight?

Garrus Vakarian

Garden... Electronics store... Antique shop, if it's classy.