Invasion of the body snatcher.
The first-person action category is one of the best-selling genres in the video
game world. Ever since the classic Doom was released, gamers just haven’t
been able to get enough of the insane, fragfest action provided by first-person
shoot ’em ups. Titles like Quake, Duke Nukem, and Half-Life
sold better than Krispy Kreme Doughnuts on a Saturday afternoon.
Sadly, these titles have traditionally been developed for the PC, leaving console
gamers out in the cold. With Maken X, Sega has finally taken matters
into their own hands and developed an original first-person title that throws
gamers straight into the head of a new action hero.
Maken, the lead character, is unlike any other hero you’ve ever seen. First
of all, Maken is not a person, but a mutant, sentient spirit that looks like
a pickle (Good on a cheeseburger – Ed.) It has encased itself inside
a mystical sword and has the power to possess those bold enough to wield it.
This power leads to one of Maken X‘s most interesting features: brainjacking,
or mind control.
As the game progresses, Maken will encounter a variety of characters to control
via brainjacking. This ability allows you to control up to thirteen different
characters over the course of the game, which helps keep Maken X fresh.
Bored with your current character? Well, get out of your mind, this is a brainjacking!
Each controllable character has his or her own unique characteristics that definitely
give the game a new look.
Along with the ability to take control of different characters, Sega has found
another way to keep the Maken X experience interesting. Since each playable
character can affect the direction that the game takes, the story can branch
off down numerous paths. This makes it possible for a total of seven different
The basic gameplay strays from the traditional first-person experience by focusing on hand to hand combat. You won’t find any rail guns or rocket launchers whatsoever. By virtue of the different characters, you’ll use an array of melee weapons, from the standard sword to the not-so-standard spiked tongue (really).
The graphics in Maken X are well done and make it easy to get into
the game. The environments are beautiful and fill the screen with color, immersing
players in Maken’s globetrotting adventures. Characters are also well constructed.
No blocky, mishmashes of polygonal enemies here!
Maken X‘s graphics are complemented nicely by good sound effects and
background music that keep the excitement level at its peak.
far, Maken X shapes up to be an awesome game. Too bad it falls short
in some critical gaming areas. First of all, the control scheme is not quite
up to the standard of other first-person action titles. It is impossible to
look around while moving and turning around is pretty slow. This gets to be
a problem when facing fast enemies. If there was an enemy that just ran in circles
around you, it would be nearly impossible to kill.
Another shortcoming of the game is its lack of basic attack options. Since
Maken X is based on handheld weapon use, you would expect a choice of
a horizontal and vertical attacks. These options aren’t here, and attacks come
mostly through random combinations.
Fortunately, you don’t need to worry too much about having various attacks
at your disposal since the AI of the enemies is just horrible. The bad guys
will almost always follow you in a linear fashion until someone dies. I guess
Zombie Duke got to
them before anyone noticed.
Especially funny are the self-destructing canines. Jumping over the dogs causes
them utter confusion, giving you enough time to watch the entire Star Wars
Trilogy before they find you again. The sheer mindlessness of the enemies
is compensated by mass fire tactics, though, so don’t think you’re getting off
Maken X is also plagued by the terrible voice-acting bug. Time and
time again, you’ll find examples of how bad voice acting can ruin a perfectly
good gaming experience. Watching the full motion videos and cut scenes becomes
depressing as you are forced to listen to the producer’s father’s cousin’s neighbor’s
uncle’s former college roommate stumble through the dialogue.
Overall, Maken X is one of those games that could have been great.
It introduces some cool new aspects of game play and is presented pretty well.
However, too many other problems drags it down and make it more of an average
example of a Dreamcast game than a revolutionary one.