Maken X Review

For Dreamcast

By Contributing Writer Jimmy Payne

Rating: Average
   Maken X is a very polished game with great graphics and control, but 
this alone isn't enough to make it worth $50.  The game just isn't that fun 
for a variety of reasons, including its high difficulty level and 
repetitive missions.
   There's no doubt that Maken X has excellent graphics.  The overall look 
of the game is distinctive because it's much more colorful than most action 
games.  Overall, Maken X is more detailed and smooth than the vast majority 
of action games on the market.  Many of the levels are also interactive, 
with simple but welcome things like collapsing bridges.
   The only other major strength of Maken X is its control.  The commands 
are logically laid out on the controller, making it easy to get used to 
pressing the right buttons at the right times.  The control set-up always 
feels natural, even when you're doing some of the game's more complicated 
   The Zelda-like lock-on feature lets you keep enemies in your sight no 
matter how hectic the action is.  This feature is particularly useful for 
people who hate circle-strafing because no matter how much an enemy circle-
strafes, you can't lose sight of it.  It's also cool to be able to lock on
to an enemy, jump over it, and then hit it from behind.
   The main thing that differentiates Maken X from other action games is 
that the typical battle in Maken X consists of you frantically trying to 
kill enemies with your sword rather than shooting at them from a distance.  
This variation on the norm is refreshingly fun at first, it gets old before 
too long because it makes the game more difficult than most action games.
   Half the struggle of any confrontation in Maken X is making it to the 
enemy in one piece.  It can get pretty frustrating to have to run up to 
enemies who are shooting at you with rocket launchers and other long-range 
weapons.  There are quite a lot of health power-ups scattered throughout 
the levels, but there are often long gaps between them.  Your immediate 
goal throughout most of the game will be trying to stay alive long enough 
to reach the next health item.
   Most of Maken X's levels are pretty big, and your actions in certain 
areas affect how you progress through the game.  The large levels would 
have been a welcome addition to the game if it weren't for the fact that 
you have to start over at the beginning of the level every time you die.  
There are no save points or regeneration areas anywhere, and death is often 
just a matter of meeting up with the wrong enemy or not being able to find 
enough health items.
   Just having to constantly start over from the beginning of the level 
would make this a very repetitive game, but it's made even more repetitive 
by the scripted nature of the enemy attacks.  Rather than giving the 
enemies dynamic Artificial Intelligence that reacts differently to 
different situations, the developers of this game programmed the enemies to 
do the same things every time.  Beating the game will test your 
memorization skills a lot more than your gaming skills.  
   The joke of a story line has too many twists for its own good.  There 
are so many moments that are supposed to be climactic that none of them end 
up meaning anything.  Did Vince Russo write this story?  The cut scenes 
themselves are weird and choppy, like something out of a dream.  Finally, 
the sound consists mainly of techno tunes and poorly-translated voice-overs 
that will make you want to mute the volume.
   Good graphics and control don't make a game on their own.  Good gameplay 
is also needed, and Maken X's gameplay is way too unbalanced and repetitive 
to be considered good.

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