I recently beat the game Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom on the PS3. It was good game! I thoroughly enjoyed the puzzles and found the combat fun and not very invasive. Arguably the game is “too easy,” since there weren’t many parts I had to retry and there’s very little pressure throughout (as opposed to, say, Catherine where the nature of the puzzles can be very stressful and result in a lot of retries to even pass the game, let alone master it.) The developer of Majin, Game Republic, also made Folklore–a PS3 exclusive–that went relatively unnoticed (which is to say these two games bombed in terms of sales, resulting in the studio being closed last year.) While I’ve railed against the idea of a game being “good” when its gaming aspects were relegated to the backseat in favor of everything else (e.g., the story and cinematics) I can’t deny they can certainly enhance a game experience (and even pick up a lot of the slack, such as in Brütal Legend.) Game Republic, I have to say, were exceptional in this regard. Both Folklore and Majin had extraordinary atmosphere. Despite some relatively grim proceedings (primarily in Folklore) there was an ever-present fanciful quality (made especially apparent in the film grain infused, storybook-like flashbacks in Majin.) These guys screwed up by making games on the PS3 and XBOX 360; I think they would have found a much more accepting audience on the Wii and DS systems. Although a lot of stellar third party software struggles on Nintendo’s consoles so they might have failed even there.
I think it’s a shame; the studio had a lot of promise.
Just one thing, though …
The final boss in Majin left me scratching my head. You see, throughout the game you’ve had to use the Majin’s elemental powers (electricity, breath/air, fire) to solve puzzles. Often these puzzles were solved using certain items from the environment, such as portable electrical charge relays and bombs that he could light. In the next to last fight of the game, when you face the king, he’s in a room strewn with electrical relays like you’ve used earlier in the game and even some bombs. Unfortunately, at this point the Majin has become possessed and is attacking you. However he’s using his powers to attack you, and the electrical power especially gets used in a predictable way. Of course I assumed there was some clever trick I was supposed to do by placing the electrodes at key places in the room to accomplish something when he tried to zap me. So I tried that and died. I tried again and died. I looked for some clues on the floors and walls and ceilings that could indicate where the damned things were supposed to go. I just kept getting killed. So I turned to a FAQ and found out … the electrodes and the bombs weren’t used in this final battle. There was no clever trick to beating the possessed Majin; you simply had to hit him with your stick a dozen or so times. That was it.
So why the hell were those objects in the room?!
Beats me. Did I just get trolled by the developers? Was there supposed to be a more elaborate way to dispatch the evil king but it got abandoned during development and the programmers just didn’t bother taking the objects out of the room?
What amazed me was my Pavlovian response to the objects. I saw them and immediately set about trying to employ them as I would have any other puzzle in the game. Even after failing multiple times I couldn’t accept there being a simpler solution because, dammit, why would those objects be there if they weren’t going to be used?