Name: Maken X (100.00% in 1 votes)
Release date: 2000
Reviewed by: KurenaiJiku
After putting off writing this review for this Dreamcast game, I have finally decided to get my keester off the fryer and write it. I usually write reviews right away after I play the game partially or entirely, because I'm excited to tell others about the game. However, Maken X as by reading my mood already, isn't a game too get all too excited about. It has it's good points but it has it's very, very low points as well.
First off, it has an incredible storyline written in classical indepth Anime style, with a very well written screenplay which unfolds the plot very nicely. However, the English dubbing did not help the game's idium very much as the voice acting practically smashed the game's plot into the ground. In fact, the rewritten dialogue and voice acting together is enough to want to just refund the game. The game funnily has subtitles; great, English voices for an English subtitled game. What's worse is that some of the actual voice audio isn't even what's displayed in the subtitles. Sorry Sega, but your porting job so far looks pretty bad.
The gameplay on the other hand is mildly entertaining. A classical first person brawler; but unlike many others, it uses a "lock-on" feature which enables players to lock their vision onto enemies with a simple press of a button. This keeps gameplay less cumbersome due to the control limitation of a controller for player movement and view. However, because the game still has multiple enemies in some areas at many times, it is difficult to fight multiple enemies and can lead players to panic when they're getting hit by something they can't see. Though this can be easily overcome by strategically bunching up enemies so I can see them all at the same time. Or when you have an enemy locked on, you can jump over them; the ultimate dodge and counterattack move. It can get you out of trapped areas or when you're cornered.
Be wary, that this game is not based on projectile weapons of any sort unlike Quake or Doom. Instead, you're all close combat with swords, lances, or basically whatever your character has. You don't pick up weapons and use them, your character has a given weapon which he/she can use generously; there isn't any ammo so it's free slashing. A majority of the characters also have special moves which can be performed by holding down on the attack button which would charge the "EX" bar. Letting go of the button would unlease whatever special attack the character has. Also there's a "PSI" or power up bar which almost gives no beneficial effect to the player, other than the fact that "it's just there". By collecting glowing orbs (their souls) which enemies drop when they die, you can increase the amount of PSI you have. The more PSI you have; the higher the rank you have. The higher the rank you have, the more powerful you are in terms of speed, power, jump, and life (HP). The other power ups during the game are a floating "X" which allows you increased power and speed which doesn't seem to really make a difference at all. And two types of life capsules; one which fills a partial amount, and the other which fills the maximum amount. Pretty simple stuff, and although not too complex or a Virtual On-like splendor; the game is definitely entertaining.
When thinking about the wobbly play control, I wondered if it would be beneficial to have the game much like Berserk where the characters would roam in the 3rd perspective. This would allow more baddies and a much better and equally effective control scheme. The experience would definitely be there, and I somewhat feel the "hitting switches, opening doors, fighting guys" sort of deal is rather inappropriate for the game. Perhaps an open world version of Berserk would have been more fitting as the actual battle and fighting experience of Maken X is very linear. You are practically taken by hand through the events during battle. There are certain battles which require some strategy, but after you "get it down", it's pretty much just wondering when the game is going to end.
The graphics are astounding on the other hand. The actual graphics for the characters during first person view are done pretty well. That's including backgrounds and all. They even have a city in rain (well more like street or alley), with puddles of water scattered up and down the pavement. In those puddles you can see the reflection of the buildings and surroundings. However I think it was done through standard textures as I don't think the enemies when running over the puddles didn't cast a reflection; I'll have to double check. Very good graphics overall though.
For the cinematic sequences I'll have to debate otherwise. Some scenes were done brilliantly with very interesting and dramatic camera shots. But others were just plain boring, long, and poorly animated. The music which accompanied some scenes were pretty bad as well. Other parts of the game the music was blended extremely well and was worthy of a soundtrack; others were not. What bugs me is that some scenes were done by picture slide shows, while others were fully animated. Black and white pictures no more; those scenes in particular did the job by carrying the story, but lowered the game's consistency down several notches. As for the actual pace of the game, it's very down to earth. Not too fast, not too slow. However, if you just finished a couple of games with Marvel VS Capcom 2, or Virtual On Oratorio Tangram; then playing Maken X will probably have your snoozoh meter jump up like a rocket. The pace is comparably slow to other games; but if you just picked up the game individually to play, then it'll do you some good.
As for story, it's basically about a girl called Kay Sagami who is the daughter of a scientist in an internationally-based project to create an organic weapon called Maken, which has the ability to "brain jack" people. Brain jacking is basically the process of transferring a person's psi or soul into Maken so that it can control whatever's psi is in the sword. During the game, you'll have numerous opportunities to brain jack other characters so you can use their abilities. So far, I haven't found any benefit that this feature has brought the game due to the fact that I haven't played all the way through. However, things are looking pretty dim for this feature. Anyways, right after Maken is awakened, the labratory which Maken is at is attacked and Kay's father and gang are killed. Kay must follow the "blood vengence" tradition among more Asian culture, and avenge her family. However, something goes wrong and she becomes a primary part of Maken and can't de-bind her psi from the sword. As the story unfolds, you'll learn that Maken isn't some ordinary weapon (pretty obvious, how many weapons can steal other people's souls), and that Maken is part of a complex, intricately layered international conspiracy.
Maken X is a very slow paced game compared to more popular and trendy games like Marvel VS Capcom or Power Stone 2. Though it seems to boast a very well plotted storyline, a simple game system, nice graphics, a spotty soundtrack, terrible English voice acting and irritating dialogue. Overall, if you have money to burn and aren't really doing anything, you probably want to get this game. It's a nice collector's item as it's style is Anime-based. However, don't buy this game expecting a lot otherwise you'll be extremely disappointed.
Graphics (technical) - 4/5
Graphics (creative) - 3.5/5
Sound (technical) - 2.5/5
Sound (creative) - 2.5/5
Technical Gameplay - 3.5/5
Fun Factor - 3.5/5
Diversity of Features - 3/5
Story - 4.5/5
Overall Value - 3.5/5
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