As a gamer of a certain age, I have to say it warms my heart seeing collections of games becoming more and more popular. All the games in the collection might not be the best, but having options on one disc or cart is always a solid idea. NIS has continued to release classics from their library with two more unique RPGs in Prinny Presents NIS Classics Volume 2. The first is Makai Kingdom: Reclaimed and Rebound. This is an upgraded version of Makai Kingdom that includes new modes of play and other extras. The second is Z.H.P. Unlosing Ranger VS Darkdeath Evilman. Originally on the PSP, Z.H.P. being available on a modern console makes Prinny Presents NIS Classics Volume 2 worth the price.
Makai Kingdom stars the “bad-ass freakin’ Overlord” Zetta. After being informed by Pram the Oracle (also an Overlord) that a book called the Sacred Tome predicts the destruction of Zetta’s Netherworld, Zetta journeys to find the manuscript himself. Sadly, the book absorbs him and now Zetta is half “bad-ass freakin’ Overlord” and half book. He needs the help from other Overlords to reclaim his Netherworld. In Z.H.P., players take control of an unlikely hero destined to save a Super Baby from the clutches of Darkdeath Evilman. This ultimate final boss has taken the Super Baby hostage so he can realize his ambitions for world domination. Citizens around the world watch helplessly, but there’s still hope. You play a nobody of a main character guided by the former Unlosing Ranger’s spirit and Etranger, the instructor of the Hero Training Facility. You need to gather your strength, courage, and heroics to put a stop to Darkdeath Evilman and save that Super Baby. Both stories feature NIS levels of humor and narrative to the letter. If you’re looking for fun stories with the quirkiest of casts, then this collection will serve you well.
As expected, both games look lovely. I have to give extra kudos to the presentation in Z.H.P. The game already looked good on PSP; now it looks even better. You have your standard stuff in both games: expressive, big-eyed, highly-animated anime sprits. The special attack animations are extra spicy. Whether you’re steamrolling enemies in a tank in Makai Kingdom or unleashing a flurry of fists with cat paws in Z.H.P., the games are pure fun and joy to watch. And of course, major shocker, but the two games feature somewhat forgettable music, and allow the option for either English or Japanese voices.
While both games have a similar vibe with their zaniness and presentation, the two are pretty different in how they play. I wrote reviews on both titles if you want more information – I’ll try to be brief yet thorough in this review. The majority of your time in Makai Kingdom will be spent in Zetta’s miniature Netherworld. Battles are still important, but readying your troops, facilities and vehicles for battle are where the meat of Makai Kingdom lies. After the opening segments, you’ll confine a character to an object. This character will serve as your leader. You can confine units to anything ranging from flowers to rocks to omelets to shoes. This may sound similar to the confining system from Phantom Brave, but the good news is that units aren’t on a time limit. Combat takes place in gridless battlefields where you can move your units in 360 degrees. This provides a lot of strategic opportunity. And best of all, the terrain isn’t nearly as bouncy as it was in Phantom Brave. Makai Kingdom’s gameplay can get very deep, but it never felt overwhelming.
Z.H.P. is a rogue-like. I know that sounds unappealing to some because of the genre’s infamous difficulty, but Z.H.P. is forgiving. Whenever you complete a dungeon or die mid-voyage, your character will gain permanent boosts to his base stats and overall level. In other words, you’ll enter and exit a dungeon at level one, but you’ll still gain boosts to every stat at the end. Another helpful feature is being able to double your stats after you kill enough enemies during the dungeon treks. There’s also the ability to throw enemies or bait them into traps. Of course, you’ll still want to avoid an untimely death since you’ll lose your equipment. It can be a challenge trying to get back to where you initially perished without your favorite pieces of gear. The thing that caused most of my deaths was hunger. Alongside your health meter, there’s an endurance (EN) meter. When it’s above zero, you’ll slowly regain lost health. If it’s below zero, then you lose health. You need to eat food items to refill it. Limited inventory space coupled with random item distribution can make keeping up with the endurance meter stressful. The good news is that nine times out of ten there were food items lying around the dungeon floors. Things can often feel hopeless in Z.H.P. but there’s an addictive high that comes with overcoming each dungeon and the boss that lies within it.
The two games require grinding in order to overcome the final challenges, it’s not as heavy as other NIS titles. In fact, I can confidently say that both games in this collection are worth a playthrough at least once. You’re ultimately looking at a good 70 hours in total just for finishing both game’s main campaigns. Preparing for all the extras will, naturally, tack on hundreds of hours a piece. The Prinny Presents NIS Classics Volume 2’s combination of games cannot be beat for its asking price. Seeing as Z.H.P. is now an expensive investment, its inclusion in the collection alone is worth the price. And, after you get done playing the hero, you can play as the most bad-ass freakin’ overlord of all time in the updated version of Makai Kingdom.
Overall, 8/10: Choosing between playing as an overlord or a wimpy hero might seem like a tough choice. Luckily, you don’t have to since the option to play as both is available in Prinny Presents NIS Classics Volume 2.