Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom is the kind of game you want to love. It has a winning premise, made all the more charming by the immediately likable Majin -- a towering beast that forges a strange friendship with a thief, Tepeu. The two characters balance each other surprisingly well, with Tepeu's cunning and speed matched by the Majin's adorable dimwittedness and hulking force. Namco Bandai calls it "partnership gaming," and it's seemingly the latest trend in games -- if Enslaved and The Last Guardian are any indication. Coupled with some beautiful art, and some interesting gameplay mechanics, Majin should be a winner.
But perhaps developer Game Republic isn't up to the task. While Majin is unlikely to be the train wreck that was their last project, Clash of the Titans, it's likely to find a similar fate as its (arguably) greatest hit so far -- Folklore. Like Majin, Folklore also had a rather original and intriguing concept. Yet, in spite of great art and some fun gameplay, it didn't have the polish expected of a genuine blockbuster title. Like its predecessor, Majin stumbles around greatness, but doesn't always hit the mark.
I loved the various implementations of "partnership gaming" in my preview demo. You control Tepeu, but never the beast. Tepeu is a rather capable bloke, able to reach places the beast (obviously) can't. He's quite skilled with his staff, but the enemies they face have a power that renders Tepeu powerless: seeming immortality. Outside of a few stealth attacks, only the beast has the force to finish off the inky creatures, meaning Tepeu will have to use his wit to lure enemies into traps, and gain the upper hand on his foes.