It’s a little harder than usual to complain about remakes and remasters when we’re talking about games that are hard to come by in the modern age. Sure, if you want to play Skyrim, it’s unlikely you’ve never had the chance to do so…but what about more niche titles? Nippon Ichi Software, NIS to their friends, has been doing their best to resurrect classic entries from their back catalogue in full-featured and modern compilations adorned with their adorable prinny mascot.
The latest, Prinny Presents NIS Classics Volume 2., contains the strategy-RPG Makai Kingdom and the roguelite Zettai Hero Project: Unlosing Ranger vs. Darkdeath Evilman. Both have been fairly difficult to find, and both are definitely worth your time!
In a universe of infinite Netherworlds, one Overlord stands above them all: Lord Zetta, master of all he surveys and supreme demonic badass. When a prophecy comes down the wire that his Netherworld faces destruction, though, Zetta decides he has to do something about it. Long story short, his intentions are great, but his execution is lacking a little, and Zetta’s Netherworld is not only destroyed, but Zetta himself is trapped as the all-knowing Sacred Tome. Without a body, it’s a little tough to exercise Zetta’s badass powers, so if he wants his Netherworld back he’ll have to work via proxy – that means other Overlords and it also means you, controlling an army of characters by proxy.
Though it uses similar gameplay systems to the earlier Phantom Brave, including a radius-based movement and targeting system, Makai Kingdom takes the classic Disgaea formula, an endless strategy-RPG with as much content as you can stomach, and takes it to an extreme that we wouldn’t see again until Disgaea 5 on the PS4. There’s an infinite array of things to do, characters to level, and increasingly more powerful enemies to fight. Your troops come in all shapes and sizes, from nunchaku-wielding merchants to chefs that’d scare Gordon Ramsey, and you can level them to your heart’s content, earning increasingly more powerful abilities and gear as you do so. You can drop dozens of hours of time into this one even after the credits roll and it’ll happily keep you coming back for more.
Zettai Hero Project, or ZHP, meanwhile, follows a nobody who chances upon the role of the Unlosing Ranger. This Sentai hero is a mighty warrior who simply can’t be defeated…quite literally, in fact, as they’re pit against the impossibly powerful villain Darkdeath Evilman. Ol’ DD is way, way, way too powerful for a regular scrub like our nobody hero. Winning against a guy like that is just impossible. Well, it would be if the Unlosing Ranger wasn’t able to spend his time training his superheroic powers between deaths. With enough perseverance and dedication, the impossible just might become possible. We’ll hope so, at least.
ZHP is a turn-based roguelike along the lines of classics like the Chocobo’s Dungeon series. You’re just controlling our hero the Ranger here, exploring dungeons and collecting gear as you slowly but surely become more and more powerful. Eventually, you’re bound to be able to defeat Darkdeath Evilman, right? Sure, let’s go with that! ZHP really leans into the endless-grinding aspect of NIS’s games, encouraging you to become the most powerful Sentai hero you can possibly be. Leveling up is just one way to become stronger, and while you’ll lose your levels if you die, they persist as Total Levels that make you more powerful over time.
That’s not all, though, as you can turn your precious gear into stat-boosting chips via Body Modification. Darkdeath Evilman isn’t the only foe you’ll have to fight, either, as your training coincides with helping others on the same Earth you’re trying to save.
Both games are rock-solid examples of the best of the NIS catalogue. There’s something about watching your numbers go up forever that really scratches all the right itches if you’re in the mood for some grinding. What’s more, they run like a dream on the Switch. All of this combined with the relative rarity of these games in the modern era – Makai Kingdom never left the PS2 in the West, though we get the previously Japan-exclusive PSP content, and ZHP never left the PSP at all – means that Prinny Presents NIS Classics Volume 2 is a must-have compilation both for fans of NIS and newcomers to the company’s work.