NIS America is tapping into its catalog again. NIS Classics Volume 2 is about to appear and give Nintendo Switch and PC owners a chance to play Makai Kingdom and Z.H.P. Unlosing Ranger vs. Darkdeath Evilman. They’re two older games, though in the case of Makai Kingdom, there are also new-to-people-outside-Japan elements. What do you need to know? Let’s go over everything to do with the collection.
What’s Makai Kingdom about?
Overlord Zetta is an idiot. To keep himself from destroying his Netherworld, he decides to get rid of the prophetic Sacred Tome that foretold the disaster. In so doing? He set the events in motion. Which means he has to confine himself to the book to restore it. Zetta goes off on a quest to restore his Netherworld and himself, and in so doing basically does a lot of growing up.
Like many of the early NIS games, this is a tactical RPG. However, it doesn’t play out on a grid like other titles. Instead, characters have a sphere of movement. Once Zetta summons them, they can move about the field. They can then fight foes, collect items to send to the hub to make new characters, or ride around in vehicles to travel farther and do more damage.
Facilities are also an important part of building up your party. In addition to serving functions on the map, like letting you buy items, they can do things like boost your characters’ attack or earned experience. Also, reincarnation is a big deal, and a means of building up your party members so they can dish out the big-number-damage NIS strategy games are known for.
What’s Z.H.P. about?
The world is about to end because Darkdeath Evilman, a major villain, is going to kidnap and destroy the super-powered Super Baby. The only person who can stop him is Unlosing Ranger. However, he got run over by a car while racing to make the final battle. In his final moments, he passed on his powers and role to an unassuming bystander that showed up to the duel. Darkdeath Evilman curb-stomps the new Unlosing Ranger. Instead of dying, the new hero is taken to a Hero Training Facility above the alternate reality Bizarro Earth. There, the player goes through randomized roguelike dungeons to become strong enough to save the day.
Like other Mystery Dungeon roguelikes, players follow the new Unlosing Ranger into various random labyrinths. Each one allows folks to increase their power through Body Modifications, facilities, and Total Level Count. Body Modifications let you get items and place them on a grid to build up the Unlosing Ranger’s power. This also will change how your avatar looks.
The facilities you build, which are unlocked by accomplishing certain goals and dying, can unlock new abilities. So if you die three times, you unlock a Delivery ability that lets you send items to storage while in a dungeon, to preserve items you’d otherwise lose by dying. Getting a Caravan by getting to level three will let you access other facilities in the hub or save. The Total Level is an overall stat building system that takes into account levels you earned before dying or finishing a dungeon and adding them to the Unlosing Ranger’s “level 1” foundation. So even though you may die or finish an area and be at level 1 next time, your new level 1 will be stronger as a result.
Why is this a collection?
To be honest, I’m surprised Makai Kingdom got bundled together with Z.H.P., rather than Phantom Brave, for NIS Classics Volume 2. That’s because both Makai Kingdom and Phantom Brave have a lot in common. Both feature a system in which characters move in a certain range, rather than on a grid. Each one involves a sort of “confining” mechanic. Except here, you are taking items in the hub area and making a character based on that.
Which means it is extraordinarily weird to package it with the roguelike Z.H.P.! It isn’t like the two originally released within the same time period. Makai Kingdom first appeared on the PS2 in 2005. Z.H.P. showed up on the PSP in 2010. Though, Makai Kingdom Portable — which this release is based on as it has the Petta storyline — did show up on the PSP in Japan in 2011. Maybe that’s why? Both games do feature facilities as a gameplay element. So that could be part of it? I don’t really know!
What makes these new versions special?
This is the first time both games appeared on platforms other than their original ones worldwide. Makai Kingdom only appeared on the PS2 everywhere. Its PSP port didn’t get a localization. As for Z.H.P., it previously only released on PSP. So in both instances, NIS Classics Vol. 2 is bringing NISA games that didn’t get ported to death to both the Nintendo Switch and PC. That’s a pretty big deal!
But it’s Makai Kingdom that is the real selling point here. When it appeared on the PSP in Japan, it included a new storyline called Petta Mode. Think of it as an alternate telling of what might have been. We’ve met her in localized games before! She showed up in Disgaea 4, Disgaea 5, and Disgaea D2. Now, we’re finally seeing her origin story. That’s pretty exciting! Especially since NISA went all out with not only an English localization, but English voice acting true to the original game.
What could we see in a NIS Classics Vol. 4?
NISA already established that this is going to be a regular series. NIS Classics Vol. 1 featured Phantom Brave and Soul Nomad. We’ve spent this whole article talking about the second volume. NIS Classics Vol. 3 will include La Pucelle: Ragnarok and Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure. So, what could we see in an NIS Classics Vol. 4?
Well, NISA’s already whittled down its PS2 and PSP game library. None of the collections so far featured Disgaea games or titles that were never localized before. They also all only involve NIS-developed games. Unless we start getting into PS3 titles, I don’t think we’ll see an NIS Classics Vol. 4.
Prinny Presents NIS Classics Volume 2, which includes Makai Kingdom and Z.H.P. Unlosing Ranger vs. Darkdeath Evilman, will come to the Nintendo Switch on May 10, 2022 in North America and May 13, 2022 in Australia and Europe. Both games will be available separately on PC on May 10, 2022.