Title: Shachibato Maju Wars
Developer: Preapp Partners
Release Date: March 30, 2021
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Preapp Partners
Genre: RPG Rouge-Like
Shachibato! President, It’s Time for Battle! Maju Wars is a rogue-like with RPG elements. The story abruptly begins as your company’s building is obliterated by the unforeseen appearance of a magical gate in the middle of town.
Being the optimistic president of their company, the nameable main character decides to see this as an opportunity to find treasure galore. You’ll gain money by exploring dungeons, invest in your employee’s stats, and find your previous employees while saving the world from the threat of Maju that appears from the gate.
Shachibato Maju Wars’ gameplay revolves around a gate that opens every ten days, and as such, is your limiting factor to grinding for resources. Your action economy is tight, as fighting in dungeons requires three days’ worth of time, and is quite a risky venture.
If any of your allies faint, you must spend an additional day healing them. Nonetheless, it is your only way to obtain gold to buy items and improve your employee’s stats, which also takes a day to complete. The stat and item ceiling being tied to a story element is a unique mechanic that is necessary for rogue-like games.
Shachibato Maju Wars’ world-building is interesting in that way, but also hard to follow. In the opening scenes, both a passerby and the player character seem shocked by the arrival of the gate. One of your employees informs you of the rumors regarding the gate, and later on, it is revealed other companies and adventurers make a living off of similar occurrences. The story doesn’t score any points for sophistication, barely functioning to deliver the reason for your journey.
The cyclic rogue-like aspect is that when you fail to take a gate by getting a game over, you start back from the beginning of the game. This “New Game+” will give you access to new characters, and a portion of your previous run’s gold. Because of this, the early game is a large component of the gameplay loop.
The first ten days are, mildly put, uneventful. It will likely consist of two or three dungeon trips, along with a few investments in your employees. It is standard in rogue-likes to breeze through the beginning once you have enough experience, but Shachibato instead decides to push that effort along by providing resources in New Game+.
This is antithetical to the structure of the genre since the main draw to playing rogue-likes is to experiment with different builds and playstyles, not necessarily to beat the game as efficiently as possible. In that regard, it feels as if Sachibato is constantly pushing you forward to completing a run successfully, albeit not in a way that rewards ingenuity, but rather multiple attempts.
The only way to continue onwards is the boons of New Game+, not your own ingenuity.
Enemy designs are a typical mix of skeletal monsters and spell-casting creatures. When hovered over, they provide useful information that may not be intuitive, such as being invulnerable from the front. On the other hand, their movement AI acts strangely, only moving when you move into attack range.
This makes it easy to weave in and out of range of non-threatening enemies, dispatch them, and heal. There are unbeatable enemies that appear if you take too long to ascend to the next stage, but they move so slowly that you should be able to run away even after it spawns. The only relevance this mechanic has is to speed up your defeat if you are dancing around a particularly difficult enemy, which limits the way you can play the game. These mechanics are also contradictory to a “play how you want” feel that rogue-likes should strive for.
In terms of combat, Shachibato Maju Wars does add a few interesting tweaks to the tile-based RPG formula. Both ally and enemy units do not retaliate after an opposing attack. This prevents player units from standing at a chokepoint to inflict two sequential attacks and healing. Where you attack in relation to your opponents, such as the sides or the back, will deal additional damage. These two factors make up the main strategic elements that need to be considered when moving in aggressively.
Alas, the battle UI is inadequate in living up to those features. The main flaw is the inability to continually show the movement and range of attack from enemies. It is important to be able to plan where you’re going to end up in tile-based RPGs. Without this feature, players will find themselves testing the movement arrow constantly to make sure they aren’t going to be victims of a surprise attack. While there are indicators as to if an enemy can reach you when you are going to move, it is an unnecessarily tedious way to handle placement planning.
These problems are accentuated by the limitation that once you move your character, that act cannot be retracted. This is a bizarre restriction that arbitrarily increases the game’s difficulty. Unless your employee is already within attack distance of its target, you cannot check how much damage you will deal. This may have been a purposeful condition, but this kind of limitation does not make a game over feel deserved.
Shachibato Maju Wars strives to be a hybrid RPG rogue-like but fails to understand what makes the genre addictive. Neither its shallow story nor strange mechanic choices provide a satisfying gameplay loop.
Rather than relying on innovative builds or player experience to slowly crawl towards the game’s conclusion, it pushes you along by providing more resources for each consecutive run, making advancements feel unearned and boring. By using the shortness of procedurally created dungeons without any positive unique skills or mechanics, Shachibato just ends up feeling like an RPG that ends way too quickly, without any reason to continuously play it.
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