Dreamcast Mania – 015 – Maken X

Completion time: 10:24:35

Maken X was a game I knew of, but knew very little of. I thought this was a first person slasher where you could enter an enemies mind and control them. I didn’t expect heavy exposition and lots of demonic/alien-type overtones and enemies. In fact, I didn’t even realize that this was an Atlus developed game until I got into it. 30 seconds in and you’ll immediately see their stamp on the experience.

From the heavy first act worth of storyline, to the protagonists, right on through the rogues gallery, Maken X is very much an Atlus title. The story though, does get a bit nonsensical, and I kinda just tuned it out after a while. The actual gameplay was….fascinating. It was indeed a first person slasher, but my ability to brainjack into another body was limited to specific characters you encounter during your journeys.

Here’s the problem with that though – it’s so very specific that, unless you accidentally took a detour (like I did), you would never have discovered any of them. I struggled for hours on one stage because I was a wimpy pilot with garbage health and poor damage output. One section literally drove me mad (though a bulk of that was control quirks that weren’t allowing me to leap behind an enemy, as well as that area being overbearing). By chance I took a detour and discovered the location of someone to brainjack. Unfortunately, I needed to experience grind to be able to get the characters I needed to beat the game, as you had to be a certain level to jack them.

Other than the frustrations of trying to find these characters and get the experienced needed to use them, the two most egregious faults to Maken X involve projectile deflection and the lack of checkpoints. The latter was a crippling decision that artificially inflates playtime due to a few schmuck spots in a stage (deep in a stage might I add), and then dying, and having to do the entire thing again, losing any experience gained on the way. The projectile deflection has to do with the final battle in the game. The timing to reflect the shots back at the final boss is so precise, there’s literally zero room for error. I also had to grind for a stronger character to brainjack, who had a decent enough speed to their melee attack to where deflecting shots was *slightly* easier.

Honestly though, Maken X is a one of a kind game that, for better or worse, is worth trying out. Its issues are severe, and you’ll need the patience of a saint in order to be able to get through many areas, but there’s an odd sense of satisfaction with combat, when it all clicks. Having to do entire stages over and over again because imbecilic situations that really pull you out of the experience though, that really kills the game. I do recommend this if it’s cheap, and you have that patience, because what is here is something unlike anything I’ve played before, and it’s a curiosity worth sating, even if you’ll be spouting off the seven words you can’t say on television throughout the second half of the game.

Rating: 4

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