Title: Prinny Presents NIS Classics Vol. 2
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Reviewed On: PC
As an older gamer, I’m happy to see NIS dipping into their catalog of games to release them on modern platforms from this generation. Prinny Presents NIS Classics Vol. 2 gives us two more games, Makai Kingdom: Reclaimed and Rebound and Zettai Hero Project: Unlosing Ranger Vs. Darkdeath Evilman, to replay or experience for the first time. However, similar to the previous volume, the publisher is wise to not advertise these games as Remakes or Remasters because, well, they didn’t really do anything to them.
There are two games in this collection so let’s begin with Makai Kingdom: Reclaimed and Rebound. Initially released as a PS2 title, this version of the game is actually based on the Japanese exclusive PSP version. Many of the updated systems and features are present, but the new Petta Mode is now present, which has not been released in English.
This mode can be played from the first time you boot up the game but requires an understanding of the base story before jumping in. It’s a highly challenging version of the game that follows Zetta’s daughter, Petta, through an original story. However, it’s a fun way to spend more time with the zany cast that I enjoyed, given that I had previously played this game on PS2.
Makai Kingdom is a relatively digestible Disgaea-like tactical RPG that offers a few unique systems to differentiate it from other titles. However, it is very similar to other Disgaea games, which was a lot for me to get through, given I had just replayed Phantom Brave in the previous Volume.
Players create units out of items, which can affect the unit’s stats. Zetta will expand his domain throughout the game as he gains access to more power. Sadly, Zetta is incapable of actually doing anything after being turned into a book, but he still manages to get by. Across each episode, players can take on various maps, level up units, unlock new abilities, and micromanage units to their heart’s content.
This game becomes highly addicting as it’s a bit faster-paced compared to other Disgaea games, and the units aren’t tied to a grid. The unit class determines their skills, which has an area of effect indicator that highlights which units will be affected. I wouldn’t say I liked the implementation of the pick-up and throw option in this game. While throwing an enemy off the board is fun, it’s far too easy to accidentally throw your weapon and give it to an enemy if you aren’t paying attention.
However, the action is also tied to picking up objects on the field, which have specific use cases, so the feature is used for other actions too. I would have preferred an autosave feature be added because there’s no way to reset a mission if you screw up; you simply have to remember to save before the mission because resetting will send you back to the title screen.
Zettai Hero Project: Unlosing Ranger Vs. Darkdeath Evilman was released on PSP in the west and holds a soft spot in my heart. Absolutely no one talks about this game, but I enjoyed it for being something different. ZHP is essentially a roguelike dungeon crawler utilizing the same design direction as Disgaea. The story follows an ordinary person who has just been given the power of the Unlosing Ranger and dies at the hands of Darkdeath Evilman. Thankfully, he wakes up to begin his training while a Super Baby defends Earth. Yes, this game is insane.
I love the humor and writing of this adventure. It has many stylish characters who are charming and expressive during every scene. There are also flashy cut-ins during the dialog that add to the hero appeal of the narrative. However, during cutscenes, the Switch version lists A and X as buttons to press to progress; that said, it doesn’t say that X simply skips the scene entirely with no warning.
The dungeon crawling elements are pretty addictive in this entry as each mission is meant to level up your base. Although you begin at Level 1 each time you enter, your base will constantly be upgraded, allowing access to new systems as the game goes on. You’re meant to die in this game, and it will happen, but utilizing the base customization feature allows you to create powerful new weapons to take on the boss encounters.
Here’s the problem with these games: Nothing was really done to them. No modern features are added to make them more accessible, such as a speed-up option, difficulty tiers, or an auto-save feature. In fact, ZHP says it has an auto-save feature, but after suffering a random game crash hours into my playthrough, I booted it up again and was forced to start over, so I’m not sure how that works. My point is that what you remember is what is here. The assets are essentially the same, and although the text has been updated, the screen is mostly a blurry mess of what I believed to once be beautiful pixel designs.
Still, I should mention that the sound design and the voiced audio are really well done. The levels seemed balanced, and the voice actors really sell the humor that both of these games provide. Each title features a lot of dialogue, but these scenes are so enjoyable that you’ll be hard-pressed to skip them.
Prinny Presents NIS Classics Vol. 2 features two overlooked titles from this developer’s catalog. They are insanely fun games with deep systems, whether you’re in the mood for a tactical RPG or dungeon crawler. However, they lack modern options, limiting the appeal to a new generation of gamers accustomed to a higher level of development put towards these re-releases. For better or worse, these titles are exactly how I remember, but I still had a blast replaying them.
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