Every Demon Pig Has His Day
Lately, indie games and non-major developers have been receiving recognition for wonderful creations that may never had been distributed, let alone created, a few years ago. With the emergence of Nintendo’s eShop, Microsoft’s Xbox Marketplace, and Sony’s PlayStation Network, gamers are quickly loving the change of pace. Demon King Box is one of those games that may never had been created, but boy am I glad it has.
Circle Entertainment is a fairly new developer and publisher that was founded in 2006 and is located located in China. The company prides itself by utilizing the latest technology while keeping pace with the videogame industry. In addition, Circle Entertainment boasts that the average age for the company is 24.5. Some of Circle Entertainment’s recent games include Theological July, Bridal June, Knytt Underground, and The Legend of Dark Witch.
The story for Demon King Box is pretty straightforward: the evil Demon King was trapped in a box (hence the name) for all eternity. After many years, his box prison loosened and he was able to escape by possessing a Demon Pig. The storyline progresses as the Demon King (played by you) fights enemies, builds his army, and tries to overtake the world once again. Though the premise of the storyline isn’t revolutionary, the dialogue and actual progression is witty, funny, and mildly inappropriate (in a good way). This might be the right time to mention that this game is rated M for Mature (ages 17+) for Nudity and Sexual Content – so you can use your imagination when I say “mildly inappropriate”.
I loved the creative direction of the game which features a JRPG-esque layout, bold colors, and expressive character reactions. The various locations of the fictional world (incuding an oasis-like area, evil-mountains location, volcano-like region) were distinctly different. Each environment showcased different characters, beautiful backgrounds, diverse music, and more.
With this, the music and sounds effects are spot on. The music enhances the experience with clear and deliberate tones that are purposeful for each situation. For example, the Main Menu and Map screens offer simple beats and tones that aren’t rapid nor makes the player feel rushed. However, during the battles, you can clearly hear the difference. Even as you progress in the game, the music in the battles are more intense and rapid, further ramping up the excitement as well as the experience. The voice actors sound energetic, but there’s one minute problem; they aren’t speaking English. A small point, but if everything else was translated, I feel like the game would be further enhanced with actually knowing what the characters are saying in battle. Though most small JRPGs don’t get english due to cost, this isn’t too much of a trouble spot.
The actual gameplay, like the storyline, seems simple enough, but is quickly more than just surface level. You start off as the “Hero” Poodark, a demon pig, who can only control two creatures (in the game known as Demon Pets): Devil Pig and Devil Maid. As the game progresses, you are able to gain more Demon Pets, and more “Heroes” to join your ranks. Each Hero has various special abilities that you can unlock and use in battle to aid you towards victory. Poodark, for example starts with the skill “Pig Leader”- when used, it increases all Devil Pigs’ attacks for a small amount of time.
Leveling up is a bit different than typical action/RPG games. Usually when creatures are involved in a battle, they gain experience directly from it. However, in Demon King Box, each Demon Pet you beat in the battle scene drops specific food that you collect at the end, but only if you win the battle. With the collected food, you can then allocate them to specific Heroes or Demon Pets to increase their stars, similar to levels. To no big surprise, as your Demon Pets increase in level, the more potent they are in battle. This type of leveling up was awesome to me. If you wanted, you can grind for one or two battles, collect a ton of food, and quickly increase the amount of stars one of your Demon Pets had without having to lose a battle. Then, once you’re happy with where that Demon Pet is, you can swap them out and use them in battle.
Before a battle, you have to pick a Hero that can command your Demon Pets, along with up to five Demon Pets. In the game, you start off with only two Demon Pets, but you’ll quickly have more than twenty at your disposal. Once the battle begins, Blue Spirit will start to accumulate. The Blue Spirit is used to summon the various Demon Pets at your disposal. Once you accrue enough Blue Spirit, you can then select a Demon Pet and place them on a battle line. These battle lines are linear from your starting point is to your enemy’s starting point is. Very important note: once you place a Demon Pet into a battle line, they can only attack enemies on that same line. So you must be thinking, “I’ll just summon my strongest Demon Pet 100 times” – not quite. Each Demon Pet requires a certain amount of Blue Spirit to summon, with a waiting period to summon another. The careful strategy of picking your five Demon Pets paired with a Hero, begins to form numerous strategies and tactics for players.
There is also a very cool feature called Research. There, you are able to merge two Demon Pets together, along with certain food, to create a new Demon Pet in battle. These fusions are pre-designed, but add another layer to this already multi-layered gameplay. I won’t give anything away, but instead let you try and figure out who merges with whom.
Coming from a pretty big RPG fan, I really liked the battle sequences. They make you think, figure out your Demon Pets’ strengths, all while exploiting your enemies’ weaknesses. You’re also encouraged to try a bunch of different combinations of Demon Pets and heroes to see what works best for the type of player you want. If you like long-distance attackers, there are Demon Pets for you. If you like magical attacks, there are Demon Pets for you. If you like the funky-ability creatures, there are Demon Pets for you. In other words, there are enough Demon Pets and versatility to fit any type of playing style.
The Verdict: 9.1 out of 10
Demon King Box is a wonderful JRPG that literally translates well for any Western gamer. The simple storyline allows for the battles to take center stage. With the plethora of Demon Pets, Heroes, strategies, levels, and more, the value of this game is phenomenal. In addition, the game also has several achievements that you can, well, achieve, further emphasizing the replay-ability of this game. And for only $3.99 on the Nintendo 3DS eShop, you would be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t snatch it up.
For more information about what the score means, check out our official review scale.