PRINNY PRESENTS NIS CLASSICS VOL. 2 (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Eric Ace 28.05.2022

Review for PRINNY PRESENTS NIS CLASSICS VOL. 2 on Nintendo Switch

There was a magical time in the '00s where the PlayStation 2 was still dominating as an absolute beast of a system, and there were Gamestops everywhere where one could find great used titles for low prices. There was one company, NIS (or NISA) that had a typical offering of anime-styled JRPGs, most notably the Disgaea series, which were generally liked by everyone that played them. One game specifically, ZHP was a weird, fairly unknown title that achieved an incredible cult following for how good it actually was (since it was only on the PSP its exposure was limited). That being said, it is one of the best JRPGs you are likely to play, and the Switch release is a great way to get this, as well as the bonus Makai Kingdom.

Continuing the previous trend of releasing its classics from the late '00s (has the time gone that quick that those are now classics?), NIS has put out its second batch of older games. Previously reviewed here the first set was largely pretty positive, with the only major complaint that there were zero upgrades at all. This time, the two available titles are Makai Kingdom and Zettai Hero Project: Unlosing Ranger vs Darkdeath Evilman - the last one is a mouthful, but is actually one of the best, if completely unknown, JRPGs someone is liable to play.

ZHP is a whacky, crazy experience that at first glance looks utterly unremarkable, but there is a reason this garnered a deep cult following from the small number of people that played it: all its pieces came together in such a way that leaves many others in the cold. Makai Kingdom is a more typical SRPG; it is a more experimental flavour off the standard Disgaea formula, blending its gameplay along with the free roam aspect of Phantom Brave.

Screenshot for PRINNY PRESENTS NIS CLASSICS VOL. 2 on Nintendo Switch

Like the former NIS Classics collection, this is really nothing more than an emulator of sorts that is a direct port of the two previous games, meaning every issue present with those is still here. Unfortunately, that means no modern sprites, no quality-of-life improvements, no modern conveniences like text logs or anything players expect in most modern JRPGs. This is especially an issue when playing on a big TV, with how rough these look given ZHP was a PSP-only title.

Time to talk about the worse of the two, before getting into ZHP, which is worth the purchase price alone. Makai Kingdom plays like a slightly more serious version of Disgaea. The story revolves around the overlord Zetta being trapped as a book and trying to change this. While it has some differences, such as deploying units from buildings, or riding in vehicles, if you have played any of these games, especially Phantom Brave you know what to expect here.

While the ability to put units into vehicles is kind of fun, the few gimmicks in play don't really distinguish this that much. Furthermore, the story and characters are largely forgettable - neither that funny or that dark of a story to stick with players at all. Remember, at the time this represented a departure for NIS, and their other games have clear overlaps, but overall, this is more of the same. If the other games are fun and engaging, this one will be to, but does not stand out at all.

Screenshot for PRINNY PRESENTS NIS CLASSICS VOL. 2 on Nintendo Switch

Now, with that out of the way, a totally different game for NIS at the time (and largely very original) was Zettai Hero Project; a type of rogue-like (before the term was everywhere like it is now) of having the player go through random dungeons to try to survive, and any death wiping you back to Level 1 and with no gear. Even though 'rogue-like' seems to be a very popular term right now, 10 or more years ago these were very rare, so for NIS, this was a big gamble.

The story is very interesting in how comical and non-serious it is, yet it ends up being a fairly serious deal in its themes. Starting off with the evil General Darkdeath Evilman preparing to destroy the world and its prophesied savior 'Superbaby,' with only the Unlosing Ranger to stand up to him. Yes it sounds crazy, corny, and not serious, but this is where some of the genius lies. The story picks up where the player, an innocent bystander, witnesses the accidental death of the former 'Unlosing Ranger.' Without much choice in the matter, is given the belt that represents the Unlosing Ranger.

Screenshot for PRINNY PRESENTS NIS CLASSICS VOL. 2 on Nintendo Switch

From here, the player nervously walks out to fight the final boss and… is destroyed in an instant. The world watches in horror and contempt about the pitiful show. The player is sent to a 'bizzaro Earth' to train like other heroes. The majority of the plot revolves around everyone thinking you are a complete loser, and getting beat down over and over. The only one believing in the main character is the former Unlosing Ranger.

…But here is where some of the story actually gets really good. How could the main character really be a loser if he never gives up, or never chose this in the first place, but was merely handed it and doing the best he could? The story ties into the gameplay where every time you die, you start over, but this time slightly stronger. Yes, you lose everything, but the way this works is that gained levels during a run are translated into very minor stat modifies for level ups next time. Essentially it works out that every time the player is a little stronger.

One of its virtues, largely unrivalled by most other RPGs, is that, as the player, you actually feel stronger by the end of the journey. Playing something like Final Fantasy, sure the story can be good, but no one is going to feel a connection to Cloud - that there were in that situation. In ZHP it was 'you' who was that loser everyone looked down on, and struggled one death after another to eventually be strong enough to win. It's a rare feeling in a game, and why it is so commendable. Having played over a thousand games, and reviewed hundreds, it was a surprise to finally see ZHP come up again over 10 years later, as it was held up as one of the best games this reviewer has ever experienced.

Screenshot for PRINNY PRESENTS NIS CLASSICS VOL. 2 on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Zettai Hero Project is one of the best JRPGs you are likely to play if given the chance. Its unassuming nature belies an incredible plot of growth the player actually feels, unlike nearly every other RPG. Makai Kingdom is simply a bonus for how good ZHP is. While NIS missed a little of the mark with zero actual updates, upgrades, or anything similar, this itself still stands largely on its own as one of the best games one can ever play.

Developer

Nippon Ichi

Publisher

Nippon Ichi Software

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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