Are you sick and tired of that same old RPG story? A party of knights and wizards that have to fight dragons, bring down evil empires, rescue princesses, and save kingdoms... You won't find any of those here. And yet, this game still describes itself as an RPG.
This is definitely not your typical RPG. It is part of a series known as "Makeruna Makendou". You may have played the first installment, which was released as "Kendo Rage" on the Super NES. This time the Makendou team is out for RPG-style adventure on the PC-FX.
You have three main characters. First, there are Mai and Hikari, two sisters from previous Makendou games. And in this game they are joined by their cousin, Saya, and they are also accompanied by their trusty dog, Sabi. All of these characters transform (yes, even Sabi) into a strange-looking team of elite fighters known as "Makendou" who combat weirdos from other dimensions. Kind of a strange premise for an RPG, isn't it? Take a look at the characters! This should give you an idea of some of the weird enemies and locales you will be confronted with in this game.
The game itself plays mostly like a regular RPG. You have various labyrinths to explore, and you will be attacked by enemies which you will need to fight in traditional RPG style. You will also gain experience and learn spells. The battle system is probably most similar to that of the Dragon Quest games.
However, the gameplay lacks much of the depth that you would expect from an RPG. There's no equipment to buy, sell, and equip. Also, the continuity is rather linear - you are always restricted to a small area of the game, almost as if the game is divided into stages. This helps to focus the player on what needs to be done next, but definitely feels a bit limiting. Furthermore, the game constantly returns you to the school, the area where you begin the game. New portions of this area will open every time you return there so that you can complete a short mission or find a warp hole to the next area. You will most likely grow tired of this area, especially the ever-present BGM which accompanies it.
All of the music in the game is computer-generated PSG. This adds to the slightly cheap, PC Engine-esque feel of the game. Some of it is kind of catchy, but it sounds pretty cheap, even for PC-FX/PCE PSG music. The graphics won't blow you away either. The detail and color are a bit lacking, and there aren't any special effects to surprise you, but the graphics still do their job nevertheless, and could be described as slightly above PC Engine quality.
The most impressive part of the game, as in many PC-FX games, would have to be the anime FMV sequences. The intro sequence features an amusing theme song accompanied by well-choreographed animation. The effect is really hilarious, and doesn't get old, even after several viewings. The rest of the game is tastefully peppered with delightful short sequences to enhance the plot.
All in all, I'd say it makes for a decent gaming experience. Not spectacular, but still worthwhile for the avid PC-FX player. If nothing else, you should be amused by the zany cast of characters. If you're anxious to play another pretty good PC-FX title, then add Makeruna! Makendou Z to your collection. - Kaze Kiri FX (Jake)