Prinny Presents NIS Classics Volume 2 – Review
Follow Genre: RPG
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software, Codeglue
Publisher: NIS America
Platform: Switch
Tested on: Switch

Prinny Presents NIS Classics Volume 2 – Review

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Good: Grindy gameplay is redeemed by excellent writing and great characters
Bad: Lacks QoL features that would make the games feel more modern
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Back in September, we took a look at Prinny Presents NIS Classics Volume 1, which brought back 2 PS2 era games for a modern-day audience. While we weren’t especially impressed with the quality of Volume 1, we did express hope for better ports in a follow-up classics bundle. Lo and behold, Prinny Presents NIS Classics Volume 2 has arrived. Comprising Makai Kingdom: Reclaimed and Rebound and Z.H.P. Unlosing Ranger VS Darkdeath Evilman, can Volume 2 outperform Volume 1 or does it make the same mistakes as its predecessor?


Both titles included in Volume 2 are heavily driven by their respective narratives, although the tone is definitely more lighthearted and tongue in cheek than it was with the titles present in Volume 1. In Makai Kingdom: Reclaimed and Rebound, we meet the self-declared “badass freakin’ overlord” Zetta, an egotistical on a quest to obtain a sacred tome. Although a prophecy predicts he is doomed to fail, Zetta is driven by his desire for power and he attacks the forbidden library anyway. Before anyone can say “I told you so”, however, things go wrong and Zetta ends up imprisoned inside the sacred tome itself. This is of course the beginning of an over-the-top adventure that sees Zetta attempt to return to his body. Accompanying him on this quest is a wonderfully written cast of otherworldly beings including Raiden, Pram the Oracle, and Dark Lord Valvoga, to name a few.

Our second story, featured in Z.H.P. Unlosing Ranger VS Darkdeath Evilman takes heavy inspiration from tokusatsu stories, a genre that Western audiences are mostly familiar with thanks to shows like Power Rangers. Our protagonist here is the Unlosing Ranger, a tokusatsu superhero who -as his name implies- has never lost a battle… until now, that is. You see, the real Unlosing Ranger dies near the beginning of the story as he accidentally gets hit by a car. A random passerby is unwillingly named the new Unlosing Ranger… which happens to be right around the time that the subtly named Darkdeath Evilman is about to kill Super Baby, a magical infant that was prophesied to bring peace to the world. As you’d expect, the new Unlosing Ranger is swiftly defeated by Darkdeath Evilman and now has to start training for a rematch, in order to become the greatest hero ever. It’s a paper-thin plot, but the over-the-top characterization of the cast and the genuinely funny moments make up for the fact that Z.H.P’s story is silly and nonsensical.


Unfortunately, the two games included here suffer the same fate as what we’ve seen in Volume 1, and that is that the character sprites look muddy and blurry, with the default settings at least. Fortunately, this time around we were able to find the right settings to make things look crisp, although this option was very poorly described in the game’s settings. We highly recommend turning the UI filter and character filter off before you even start playing, as it makes the experience a lot more enjoyable. We’ve deliberately included two screenshots of the same scene from Z.H.P. so you can see the difference -click on them to see the full versions. The screenshot on the left above showcases the default settings, whereas the one on the right gives you an idea of what the game looks like with the filters turned off. That said, the overall art direction is fantastic, with great character designs and beautiful environments. Keep in mind that one is a PS2 and the other one is a PSP title, and you’ve got a pair of titles with impressive visuals.


The soundscapes for both games are fantastic as well, not in the least thanks to the voice acting. Both games feature deliberately hammy and over-the-top performances that are very fitting for the silly atmosphere that the narratives are attempting to convey. The music is solid as well for both titles, with a slight preference on our side for the score in Makai Kingdom as it sounded a bit more cinematic.


While Volume 1 brought together two PS2 titles, this time we’re getting a PS2 title and a PSP title. Both games in Volume 2 are solid RPGs with ridiculously long full titles. Makai Kingdom focuses on isometric combat first and foremost, and in this regard, the game feels very similar to the Disgaea series. The game originally debuted on PS2 and unfortunately, it didn’t age very well in terms of gameplay. Don’t get us wrong, it’s a great game when keeping in mind that it debuted back in 2005, but it’s simply been outpaced by other titles in the genre. In Makai Kingdom, players must aid Zetta in reclaiming his former kingdom, with the aid of summoned troops. Thankfully, although the gameplay formula feels simplistic by today’s standards, Makai Kingdom’s saving grace comes from the excellent writing and the colorful and varied cast.

The game doesn’t take itself very seriously, and it’s hard not to crack a smile at the dialogue that gets flung back and forth. Given that the game does feel like a bona fide grindfest with unfair difficulty spikes at times, it’s a good thing that there is a timeless quality to the fictional world that Makai Kingdom is set in. Before we get ahead of ourselves, we should mention that despite the gameplay not really standing the test of time, Makai Kingdom’s turn-based combat, set on an isometric grid, is still fun and the game functions as it should. The issues here are mainly with the pacing and the fact that you’ll need to replay certain missions over and over again as you grind out money and EXP in order to be able to make progress in the main story. There is no option to speed things up –something Square Enix does implement in their re-releases of older titles– which does hurt the appeal of the port. We also have to mention the inclusion of Petta Mode, which makes its debut appearance in the West. This mode provides players with a different story altogether, focusing on Zetta’s daughter, and this should be a reason to double-dip if you’re a diehard fan of Makai Kingdom.

Z.H.P. Unlosing Ranger feels like a very different experience altogether. While it shares a lot of its gameplay DNA with Makai Kingdom -and by extension, the rest of the NIS back catalog- the game doesn’t play like a turn-based tactical RPG but more like a roguelike dungeon crawler. Instead of having several willing (and unwilling) subjects at your disposal in the way that Zetta does, here our self-named hero must take on a series of enemies by himself. The dungeons that our unwilling hero finds himself in are randomly generated and each time a new dungeon is tackled, our hero’s level is reset to 1, although any base stat increases are carried over. This means that dungeons get gradually easier over time although you never quite reach the point where you’re simply breezing through them. That said, Z.H.P. is the more accessible title included in Volume 2, even if it can’t avoid the same major issue that Makai Kingdom has and that is that you’ll need to spend a large amount of your time grinding dungeons over and over again to obtain those all-important stat increases and better gear.

Playing both games included here through to the end will eat up a significant chunk of your time due to the amount of grinding needed. Unfortunately, just like last time, NIS didn’t add any QoL improvements to alleviate that grind. The fact that both Makai Kingdom and Z.H.P. ended up feeling more fun than the ports included in Volume 1 has more to do with the quality of the games themselves, rather than how much care was put into porting them. Both games have obvious flaws, many of which are simply the result of aging poorly but there are enough redeeming features present to consider picking up Prinny Presents NIS Classics Volume 2. Here’s hoping that if and when Volume 3 releases, we’ll be looking at a re-release that has a little more care put into it.


While Prinny Presents NIS Classics Volume 2 definitely is a more enjoyable collection than Volume 1 was, that is something that can be attributed to the quality of the actual games themselves rather than to the efforts put into bringing the games to a modern platform. An option to speed up the grind would have gone a long way. Still, the excellent writing and lighthearted nature of the games present here makes for an easier recommendation.

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  1. […] seems like only yesterday since we took a look at Prinny Presents NIS Classics Vol. 2, and we can already look forward to the arrival of the next entry in the series! Prinny Presents […]

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