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'Majin' pure magic

Jan 27, 2011

By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada

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Majin'Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom', developed by Game Republic, Inc., is many things. It's part platformer, part puzzle adventure, part co-operative action game. Above all, though, it is the ultimate bromance game.

As strong as the gameplay is in 'Majin', it's the bond between gentle giant the Majin (Teotl) and young thief Tepeu that drives this experience forward. One minute they're joining forces to take on massive foes, the next they're sitting under a giant tree, peacefully talking about their lives and sympathizing about each others' plight.

Put the two of them in a packed nightclub, and you can bet any money Tepeu would be the ultimate wingman.

The game itself takes place in a kingdom where a darkness is infecting everything, from lakes and forests, to the very humans who inhabit the land. Few people remain unaffected by the darkness which takes the form of a sticky black sludge. One of those humans is the brave, bold and athletic Tepeu. He takes it upon himself to infiltrate the castle where the darkness originated, and where the evil king currently resides, to try and save his people. It's here that he meets the lumbering Majin, who has been imprisoned in the castle for a century.

Though we don't know much about the mysterious Majin when he first breaks his chains, it's clear that he has some very special gifts, the most important one being that he can absord the darkness and destroy enemies who are taken over by it. It's for this reason he has been imprisoned for so long.

It takes mere moments for Tepeu and the Majin to become best friends, fighting together toward ending the evil king's reign over the kingdom (though each character has his own reasons for this, as you'll come to find out).

Destroying the source of the darkness won't come easy though. As strong and brave as the Majin is, he has lost many of the powers he once possessed. The two are quickly chased out of the castle by a massive creature, and the adventure truly begins.

Majin'Majin' truly is a mix of several different game types, but the biggest focus is on solving environmental puzzles, and busting out some old-school combat. Though you run around as Tepeu, you still have a lot of control over Teotl. He'll follow basic commands such as 'wait' and 'follow', but he gains a slew of more advanced manouvres as the game progresses.

You'll need to employ all of these commands throughout your journey. Whether Teotl is inhaling a raging fire, storing water in his giant mouth in order to power a turbine, or crouching down to let Tepeu jump up to a ledge from his back, he is a fundamental tool for progressing through the game.

When it comes to combat, Teotl is just as important. He is a fierce fighter who will put his life at risk without a moment's hesitation in order to protect his friend. Though Tepeu can pull off some sneak attacks and take on single smaller enemies, he will quickly get overwhelmed if he's outnumbered by even one.

Together, Tepeu and Teotl are a force to be reckoned with. The powers that the Majin gains throughout the campaign can be used on enemies, and those powers can also be transferred to Tepeu's weapon of choice, his staff. For instance, Teotl may shoot electricity at a group of enemies, and if Tepeu is close enough, his staff will absorb those sparks momentarily, making quick work of any baddies that are close by.

There are also some cool ways to take advantage of the environments in order to take out a lot of enemies at once. For instance, you can order Teotl to stand behind a giant boulder on top of a hill and wait there. Tepeu can then lure a group of enemies underneath the boulder and give Teotl the order to drop it, taking out several at once.

MajinBoss fights are few and far between, but they're surprisingly well designed. If you've ever played a Zelda game, you'll be instantly familiar with what to do. At first, these terrifying behemoths will seem downright impossible to overcome, but it's a matter of using not just surrounding objects, but whatever recent power Teotl has acquired.

Now, it's important to remember that while a lot is going on at any given time, and the developers did a great job at constantly driving the player toward the next goal, there is a heartbreaking story that is unraveling the whole time. This backstory is interspersed in a cool 2D storybook style throughout the campaign.

See, Teotl has been around for a very long time, and there's a reason he's known as 'The Guardian'. Though we don't want to give too much away, there's a lot more to his story than what we first realize. He suffers from amnesia, but the more powers he gains and the more of the land he traverses, the more he remembers about his past. Again, like so many adventure games of its ilk, a princess is involved. Like the beast in Beauty and the Beast, the Majin is misunderstood by almost everyone but Tepeu.

'Majin' isn't all roses though. It has a few problems that keep it from truly being an adventure game for the ages. Though most of the controls are fairly solid, some platforming elements can be downright frustrating. Simply pulling off jumps from ledges can sometimes be an issue, and it's never fun dropping down dozens of feet and having to climb back up and try it all over again.

As likable as the Majin is, his voice makes him sound ... well, like a dunce. The developers likely wanted to show him as being softhearted and vulnerable despite his enormous size, but they went a little overboard. Seeing (and hearing) him do silly things like trip and fall can become very grating after 15 hours of gameplay.

MajinTraversing the land itself can be a little tedious, too. Transport rooms are slowly unlocked as you progress through the game, but there's only five of them, and with the way they're placed, they're really not all that helpful.

In addition to this, there are a lot of bonus items to acquire for those gamers who would consider themselves 'completionists'. Problem is, the game has a basic day/night cycle, and both days and nights take an inordinate amount of time to complete. There are special memory orbs that can only be found at night, so if all you have left to collect are memory orbs, you could be waiting a long time for the sun to set.

When you have a story and characters that are as interesting as the ones found in 'Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom', it's much easier to forgive the problems.

In a video game world full of forgettable characters and conservative stories wrapped around sequels and existing IPs, it's endlessly refreshing to play through 'Majin' and get caught up in a fantastic world teeming with personality.

 

Majin & The Forsaken Kingdom
Format: Playstation 3
Publisher: Namco Bandai Games, Inc.
Developer: Game Republic, Inc.
ESRB Rating: T for Teen
Official Site: http://majin.namcobandaigames.com/

Rating: 9 / 10

 
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