Early Maken X Impressions

Maken X INLAY

I was talking with a friend recently and coincidentally discovered that I never knew Atlus’s Katsura Hoshino, as well as Kaneko and Shoji Meguro all worked on a first-person-slasher for the Dreamcast in 99′. Being quite the surprise and hearing that it was only 12 dollars everywhere on Ebay I promptly picked it up. Oh, and it was also released in the states. Seriously wow. Anyway, I just thought I’d jot down a few thoughts I had about the first two hours I’ve played of the game so far.

Addressing the fact that this game is indeed a first person sword swinging action game for the Dreamcast let me mention that the controls are definitely weird. The only directional input is used with the control stick, meaning to turn you have to basically stop and turn left or right. Not the most convenient when enemies sometimes approach you from all sides, making simply turning around to face your opponent even the most tedious thing. Not only that but because of this you can be overwhelmed by just three enemies quite quickly. Although as an upside to movement there is a strafe feature when holding down the right trigger, as well as when locked on to enemies. This movement didn’t take me long to get used to, but managing enemies is still a major pain. Continuing in the vein of movement you can do short hops as a defensive maneuver or jump over locked on enemies to attack for more damage from behind. Blocking is preformed by holding back, and there is no chip damage but some attacks cannot be blocked.

To make keeping track of enemies easier there is a lock on button (Y), that helps a ton when one on one, but otherwise it’s basically useless when managing other enemies. Everything is kinda useless when that happens as I’ve mentioned. Maybe I just haven’t found a strategy yet who knows, this game is weird.

Before I go into attacking let me mention a really cool feature called “Brainjacking.” This is when the sword, spirit, thing you control can essentially posses another being to use as a host for attacking. This occurs sometimes within levels, or during cutscenes, or possibly even on the overworld map. Since you are able to switch bodies the type of weapon Maken X becomes always changes along with your fighting style. Not only that but your Attack, Speed, etc change as well. At one point I made the decision of being an injured flight attendant with a taser baton. That couldn’t have been a worse decision. If this game had difficulty levels flight attendant man would be the hardest difficulty.

So yeah you mash X to attack/combo, and most of the time the character will have a useless special move you can use to attack with by holding it down. If you hold back and press X you get a slightly different attack. That’s pretty much it. Dodge stuff, jump over the enemy for their weak point, mash. It seems kinda boring but it’s actually really fun.

I should mention that this game has seven endings. There are dialogue and level choices, and I don’t know if who you Brainjack with matters but it probably does.

The English voice acting is awful but at least it gives me a good laugh.

The story is pretty ehhhhhhhhhh so far.

The graphics are nice.

The levels are a good length and the difficulty is pretty balanced too. Just gotta get good at it’s odd mechanics and you’re set.

The music is pretty sweet.

And for a game by mostly RPG Atlus staff as well as the team around it, damn is it solid. I wasn’t expecting it to feel like a full game or something I dunno. If you like Atlus, Hashino’s stuff, and weird first person games please get this. The English copy is like 12 bucks everywhere.

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