Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom was released last month, and it was expected to sell over one million copies.
Bandai expected Majin to sell over a million copies, and even made an announcement about it. The game’s release came and went, at which time Bandai felt it was necessary to revise their expectations.
Now, Majin is expected to sell over 300,000 copies.
Right now, I don’t even think 300,000 people have heard of this game.
How is it that a publisher can be so off in their expectations? They were so sure that they just had to tell everyone. Well, I’d imagine the issue has to do with that announcement being about 20% of the marketing for the game. Another 30% of the marketing was done through videos released at E3, GDC, and online. The remaining 50% was hope.
So, the game was thrown into an ocean of more heavily promoted projects, or put somewhere where to find them you have to already know about the game, or just hope that some third party would find them and take it upon themselves to promote it.
One Million sales? You got it chief.
Most stores didn’t carry the game, from Gamestops to Walmarts, because there just wasn’t any interest.
The moral of the story is simple. Bandai is a terrible publisher.
I just hope they aren’t too confused as to why doing nothing didn’t bring them something.
On to the game.
Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom is a lot like a lot of things. The ai companion will remind many people of ico, while the puzzling and structure is reminiscent of Zelda. Visually, it is quite a bit like Folklore, which makes a lot of sense considering that both Folklore and Majin were developed by Game Republic.
The story has you playing as a thief who has lived his whole life in the wild, where he uses his skills as a thief to steal food for his animal friends, whom he can talk to because of destiny or something. A century before, the Kingdom had fallen to a mysterious darkness, which has been constantly expanding since. Now that it is threatening the forest, the thief must go in search of a way to stop it. Here, he meets the Majin, A big, lumbering, magical beast that has a thing for broken English. Freeing the Majin, the thief forms a bond with him, and gains a way to combat the darkness.
You control the thief, wielding a large magic spike, infused with the Majin’s power. You issue commands to the Majin. Where you go from there is often up to you, as there are quite a few ways to handle situations within the game. You can order the Majin to charge into a group of enemies ahead of you, lure the enemies to a point where the Majin is waiting, or maybe even sneak around on your own, taking the enemies out with stealth. The amount of options that you have in the game is one of the reasons that I really enjoyed it. There are times where you will round a corner and start counting enemies and just think, about how much this isn’t going to happen. Then, you start poking around and you realize that you can take out a few guys on the left with stealth, bring the Majin over, get him set up behind a pillar, lure the biggest enemies in front of it, then have the Majin push it over. You feel pretty clever a few minutes later when it’s all done, and the Majin is eating his latest power up.
During my first few hours of play, I knew that this was similar to Zelda, but different in a way that I couldn’t quite figure out. What was different is that the entire over world is one big Dungeon, rather than a hub for multiple, self contained dungeons. As you wander the overworld, you will see a lot of familiar features of a Zelda dungeon spread across the overworld, like locked doors, self contained “room” puzzles, and things that clearly require some undiscovered powerup to use. If there were a roof over the whole world, it would be instantly recognizable as one massive dungeon. Within this world dungeon, there are many sub-dungeons, with their own bosses. What you accomplish in one sub-dungeon will open doors in another. It all comes together very well, and honestly I’m a little surprised that Nintendo never tried this sort of thing with a Zelda game.
What don’t I like about the game?
I got lost a couple of times, but I do that in a lot of games like this.
The Majin is a little stubborn sometimes. In the middle of combat you might need him to do something other than what he is doing, so you give him the command. Then he stands there. Maybe only for a second, maybe for 5-8 seconds. When combat works as you want it to, it is fantastic. When it stalls, it is frustrating.
Some of the boss fights are a joke. Rather than being challenges, a few of the boss fights are just puzzles with a time limit, sort of. Figure out what makes the creature die, before you do. These boss fights exist to push the story further, but they might put you to sleep.
Haven’t we been here before, twelve or twenty-two times? Being one large dungeon, and some things not being too clear, you will find yourself wandering the world, either through exploration or intentional, determined travel, a lot. Passing through the same areas, a lot. Eventually, you gain access to some rooms that transport you around the world, but there aren’t enough of them to eliminate the need to backtrack.
What did I like about the game?
The feeling of accomplishment. When you finally resolve most problems in this game, you feel like you really accomplished something. Whether it is a minor puzzle or an enemy encounter that requires some advanced planning, you’ll get a kick out of overcoming your challenges.
It doesn’t hold your hand. Welcome to the world. Good luck. You figure out what you need to do for most of the game, with only occasional hinting at your next objective. The solution to puzzles aren’t spelled out for you in sickening detail. The solutions to taking down a large force of enemies is are not handed to you on a silver platter. The game lets you play it.
Rewards for observation. More often than I ever expected I would find, there were situations in which an observant player would be rewarded with a more elegant solution to a problem, where as a hasty player would just storm on through. In backtracking, these just served as options for dealing with repopulated enemies how you want to, rather than just having to fight your way through straight every time.
Detail. Time passes in the game. Day turns to night, bringing different enemies and situations in the overworld. Certain areas have varying weather effects, that changes the appearance of your character and the Majin. I really like things like this.
The Extras. I hate collectathons. I don’t have the patience to go fetch you seventeen crystal coconuts, so I can go find six silver keys so I can open the door to Silly Swamp, so I can complete the seven regular stages to unlock the eight extra stage where I can save Krispy Koala, so I can use him to do more crap. That being said, I have zero problems collecting things in this game. There are alternate costume pieces for your character, that grant you new abilities, and memory shards to find, and they are a treat to find. It always feels like an extra bonus, and not a tedious side quest, like in Darksiders. Leveling up your character and your friendship level with the Majin is a pretty fun reward as well.
Should you buy this game, avoid it, what?
Just buy it. It was $23 on the day of launch on Amazon.com. It is now $36.99. On eBay, you can get it for between $20 to $30 shipped. People don’t want a game they don’t know exists, so people are selling them cheap. You can do a lot worse for under $30 than supporting a developer who got shafted by possibly the dumbest publisher of 2010, and netting yourself a rare and excellent video game.
Buy Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom. It’s an excellent game at a budget price.
It’s pretty sad when it seems like like I’ve done more to promote this game than the publisher.
“hope that some third party would find them and take it upon themselves to promote it.”