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Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom: Challenge Pack
Score: 70%
Publisher: NAMCO BANDAI Games America
Developer: NAMCO BANDAI Games America
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/Stealth/Puzzle

Introduction:

I enjoyed last year's Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom, but I also had several reservations with the game. With the release of Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom: Challenge Pack, those concerns have been justified. If you absolutely loved the game and are looking for any possible reason to return to it, this certainly won't put a dent in your wallet. And rightly so; charging any more than 160 Microsoft Points ($2) for material that can hardly be called fresh would be reprehensible. If you're a sucker for new costumes, go ahead and pick it up. A fair word of warning, though: the actual gameplay content is quite weak.

Disparity:

Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom left me with the opinion that it was more than the sum of its parts. The Challenge Pack confirmed this. When I think about the original release, I think about a game that didn't do much particularly well, but managed to be memorable when considering the package as a whole. With the story elements and other facets stripped out of the equation, there's not much to smile about. The Challenge Pack takes the Mafia II approach to downloadable content -- and that's not a good thing.

I'm referencing Mafia II's approach to DLC because it's a great example of how to betray what makes a game great. It also happens to be another of those games that is more than the sum of its parts. When those parts are separated and distilled down into a more raw form, it's a surefire recipe for frustration.


Fundamentals:

Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom was a game built on three somewhat unstable pillars: action, stealth, and puzzle. So, the Challenge Pack offers gameplay sequences that are based solely on those three types of play. For example, Battle Challenge puts Tepeu and Teotl in a room and has them deal with wave after wave of progressively stronger enemies. Tepeu's kind of a weakling, but Teotl is... well, a beast. It's standard button-mashing combat with a little bit of artificial intelligence brutality thrown in, but if the both of you are taken out of commission, you'll have to restart the entire challenge. Fighting for eight minutes straight loses its appeal when the combat mechanics are so simple, and even more so when you die and have to go all the way back. The frustration carries over into Sneak Challenge, which punishes you with an instant game over if you're so much as seen. Puzzle Challenge has Tepeu and Teotl completing environmental puzzles in order to progress to the next challenge level.

Each of these Challenges pits you against the clock, and if you're good enough, you'll eventually unlock costumes for Tepeu and Teotl. The costumes added some welcome longevity to the original game, and it's nice to have the option to acquire more, but I liked how they became available as part of the natural progression of the game. This just feels like a way of rewarding the player for forking over an extra two dollars and slogging through some tedium.


Final Words/Value:

A word of warning: this piece of downloadable content can only be accessed from save points. Also, it uses your in-game statistics. That means if Teotl hasn't yet acquired a certain kind of magic in the game, he won't be able to use it in the Battle Challenge levels.

If Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom: Challenge Pack had been priced similarly to most other downloadable content releases, it would be a resounding failure. However, the amount of content is about right for 160 Microsoft Points. The quality of said content, however, is somewhat questionable.


-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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