Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom can be essentially described as an escort game plus puzzles. More puzzles than escort, but the latter still plays a large part, since you are always fighting alongside a CPU companion whose death means game over.
As an unwritten rule, gamers hate escort missions. Knowing that your success or failure (and thus having to restart from the last save point) depends on the behavior of the computer is not too fun, because for all you know, the CPU could be utterly suicidal or just brain-dead. Unable to know the AI level beforehand, a gamer will just avoid the risk and not buy these titles: in turn, this will make developers unwilling to spend time and resources on something people wouldn't give a chance to anyway, and thus only the titles with bad AI remain, which again only serves to make players even more wary of the genre. This whole process should be similar to what in economics is called "adverse selection".
How does Game Republic avoid the problem then? It pretty much runs around it: while the game ends when the Majin is defeated, said character is a lot stronger than you. In battle you have to help him of course, but the chances of him dying are pretty slim. In fact, you are probably going to die more often than him. When it happens, the Majin can revive you, therefore you actually learn to appreciate the guy. He also moves essentially on rails, and never gets stuck anywhere. At least as far as the escort part goes, Game Republic got it right, though the combat gets repetitive after a while.
The rest of the game is a bit less well-made. The game features many puzzles based on both the Majin's power (which will grow over the course of the game) and your own abilities, but they never get past the "very easy" stage. The playing field is divided in areas, and the map tells you how many items are hidden in each. Therefore getting 100% is not difficult, but still an annoyance: some of the items can only be obtained at night, and there is no way to make the time cycle, so the only thing you can do is come back later (or wait there, but I wouldn't). I completed the game in about 17 hours, but most of it was spent backtracking.
The visual style is kind of impressive, with big ruins and mountains, but the graphics are pretty low budget, especially anything in the distance looks like 320x240. And the textures are all oily. As a member of the Brotherhood of Gritty, and sworn enemy of the Order of the Sacred Oil, I can't accept that. Also the dub is just annoying, and the story is a bunch of clichè and not-very-interesting characters. At least the controls are ok.
I'll admit to enjoying Majin more than I should have. Overall it's more than the sum of its parts: and it has a kind of charm that makes one want to go forward. But the puzzles are too easy, the backtracking is annoying, and the presentation is subpar. Essentially, it relies on its visual style and some cleverly designed areas to impress. That's not enough for me, but together with the decent AI system, I'm willing to rate it positively.
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