Its been a while, but we’re finally getting our hands on Prinny Presents NIS Classics Volume 2, another compilation of classic NIS titles bundled together and prettied up for a modern audience. The last collection brings together Soul Nomad and Phantom Brave, two decent fantasy strategy titles, but this time we’re getting Makai Kingdom: Reclaimed and Rebound, and ZHP: Unlosing Ranger vs Darkdeath Evilman, two games with more unique premises and diverse gameplay. Does that mean that this volume is even better than the last? Let’s find out.
Makai Kingdom: Reclaimed and Rebound
The first title in the collection, Makai Kingdom: Reclaimed and Rebound is very similar to both games from the last collection in many ways. A grid-based strategy game where you control various units to take on enemies across various landscapes. Between missions, you can recruit, upgrade, and re-equip your soldiers as you fight your way through the numerous campaign missions.
What really sets this one apart, however, is the overall tone and style of the storyline, which makes it a much more exciting proposition over a generic fantasy setting once again. During the course of the game, you’ll control Overlord Zetta, an evil end-game boss type, who finds himself stripped of his power and domain. You battle to regain your powers as you contend with rival Overlords trying to increase their own power and your supposed ally overlords who give you advice and aid you in your quest.
It’s really the writing of the dialogue and the various comedic situations that make the game. In particular the character of Mickey, a floating, buff demon with a dragon head for a butt and a woman’s head for a crotch. While his other two faces are aggressive and twisted, Mickey himself is a complete pushover and is constantly the butt of other characters’ jokes, including his own extraneous heads. It’s a treat just getting to come back between missions to hear the banter between the characters, especially as more incredibly powerful villains join the party and act completely out of character for bad guys.
Of course, the benefit of playing from the villain's perspective doesn’t do all that much in terms of affecting the gameplay. As in the games in the last compilation, you take turns moving and attacking with your units which are all created from various items which affect the stats they spawn with. There’s also the same items system where you can pick up random bits of rock and grass from the field and throw it around, or even keep it to make more soldiers for yourself. You can even pick up units and throw them off of the board, but you have to be careful since doing so could reveal even more ground to cover filled with even more enemies.
If I had to make a complaint about Makai Kingdom: Reclaimed and Rebound, it would be that the item system is a little clunky, but is usually also integral to success. You need to bring back items regularly to keep your stock of units up, as well as make good use of them to attack enemies. The issue is that you have 4 item slots, which also include your equipment and accessories, and the way the menus work makes it easy to accidentally throw your sword off of a cliff and have to buy a new one.
On that note, there’s also the old difficulty problem. If you’re into strategy games there’s nothing insurmountable going on here, but if you grew up in a time after autosaves became widespread, you might end up having to start the entire game again. You need money to heal your units between battles, and if you mess up a mission it can result in you not having enough money to heal your damaged or destroyed units. You should make sure you’re saving pretty much all the time, and you’ll also want to keep spare saves floating around in case you soft-lock yourself.
Having said that there are some more interesting things to like about Makai Kingdom: Reclaimed and Rebound in the gameplay. There’s a system where you can deploy buildings you own onto the battlefield, each stuffed with characters. When deployed this way not only can you deploy more characters at once, but they also gain various benefits, such as extra attack or healing damage each turn. It adds a little more depth to the gameplay that is very welcome, but the bag of tricks will run out eventually, so you’ll definitely have to already like this sort of game to remain invested.
ZHP: Unlosing Ranger Vs Darkdeath Evilman
The other game in this collection, ZHP: Unlosing Ranger Vs Darkdeath Evilman, is another exciting beast, but this time in terms of both gameplay and storyline. You control an ordinary man who is forced to step into the shoes of a superhero who is doing battle with a world-ending evil monster. Obviously, this goes about as well as you might expect, and you end up dead…sort of. Awaking in a mysterious realm, you must repeatedly train to become strong enough to defeat your enemy in a re-match, all while a super-baby is defending the Earth. Yeah, it’s a bit of a weird one.
Storyline aside, there’s also an exciting twist to the gameplay. Essentially you keep going through different missions, gaining experience and power as you do so. However, when you die or fail a mission, you’re booted back to the central hub at level 1. Luckily, as you keep repeating this your base stats will increase, making you stronger overall as you make your way through the campaign. The result is that you become powerful enough to take on the final boss who creamed you at the start of the game.
In many ways, the moment-to-moment gameplay is very similar to other NIS grid-based strategy games. You take it in turns moving around a grid, picking up and lobbing items and enemies, and using various weapons and attacks to clear the screen of enemies and obstacles. The key difference here is that you get quite a variety of different arena types to fight in and that the focus is on your one powerful main character, rather than on building a team of progressively more powerful units.
Because ZHP: Unlosing Ranger vs Darkdeath Evilman keeps expecting you to start back at square 1 (ish) repeatedly, there’s not so much of a difficulty problem here. You can just keep running your head up against something until it works if you like, but you can obviously still engage in a bit of save-scumming if that’s what you’re into.
The gameplay will undoubtedly be appealing to anyone who grew up watching Super Sentai shows and adaptations, as it’s effectively a parody of the genre itself. You’re constantly having news reports cut in between missions to show what’s happening on Earth between the super-baby and the evil monster, and there’s an unmistakable sense of satire and humor in most of the dialogue. While none of the characters stand out as much as those in Makai Kingdom did, this title has some insanely funny moments assuming that your humor aligns with what the writers were going for. That said, not every joke lands, so if you’re more a fan of serious tone then you’ll probably be turned off pretty quickly.
Prinny Presents NIS Classics Volume 2
Overall, Prinny Presents NIS Classics Volume 2 blows the last one out of the water, at least in terms of games with interesting concepts that experiment a bit in the gameplay department. Both of these games aren’t terribly well heard of, and it’s cool that we’re finally getting to see some of the more unique games that we might have missed out on the first time around. On top of that, both of these games look great and are presented in a single, easy-to-use package for anyone longing for some classic strategy gaming with an edge to it.
TechRaptor covered Prinny Presents NIS Classics Volume 2 on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by the publisher.
- Consistent humour tone throughout both game is a nice change of pace
- Varied gameplay across both games, while retaining the core of a NIS strategy title
- Challenging gameplay across both games, without bombarding the player
- Possible to soft-lock yourself
- Still the same bones that most NIS strategy titles have