Demon King Box 3DS Review
I’m going to admit something up front. I don’t like anime. Something about the style, the humor, and the general aesthetic puts me off. I tried not to let that color my judgement of Demon King Box (being the super ethical video game journalist I am), especially since the premise and gameplay mechanics were so intriguing. I expected to find the game a little annoying, but it was my hope that I could look past that.
What I didn’t expect is that the text would be so badly translated that half the time I could barely follow what was going on. The first character you encounter – a cowardly demon pig – appeared to have two names. There were frequent grammar errors, random punctuation typos, and many sentences that were downright incomprehensible. Plus, it was the most uncreative writing I’ve ever seen in a video game. The story is that the leader of Demon World, called Demon Lord, was sealed away after a war with humankind into a Demon Lord Box. Now the seals have weakened (although he still appears to be mostly in the box) and he needs to retake control of Demon World starting from Demon Lord City.
So why is it called Demon King Box and not Demon Lord Box? I don’t know!
It took me three tries to start this game. On the first try, I started it up, read through the intro, went “nope” and put the game aside. A half hour later, I picked it back up, read through some dialogue, went “nope” and put it aside again. It was so painful to read that I was certain the entire game would be just as terrible, and I was completely regretting my decision to purchase it for review, no matter how cheap it was.
Then I finally got into it. After a short tutorial, you begin your journey through the Demon World one location at a time, Final Fantasy Tactics style. In each location you trudge through some weird dialogue to get to the battle. You play as a General, commanding your troops – by which I mean choosing which of the three paths each unit goes on and when. You have unlimited units of each type and unlock more as you progress through the game. Enemies come at you from the right on the top, middle, and bottom paths, and after a cooldown period, you can drag a unit onto one of the paths to march into battle. You can have up to five unit types at your disposal.
Each unit of each type also costs a certain amount of “spirit energy” to summon. Your spirit energy automatically increases over time and every time an enemy is defeated.
As the story progresses, you meet new characters which become new Generals you can use in battle, each with their own special abilities. Many of them work well with certain unit types. For example, I mainly used the ruler of the slimes because I liked using the quick, overwhelming slime units and her abilities boosted their strength and numbers.
During each battle, vanquished enemy units drop food which you can later use to upgrade either a unit type or a General. It seems like a pretty pointless gimick, but later you find that food can also be used in “research” mode, wherein you can combine unit types and food to make extra powerful minions that cover two paths at once.
Here’s the thing: Despite making faces every few minutes at the awful translations of dialogue that was probably stilted to begin with, I became addicted to this game. I played it for hours, unable to put it down. Many of the battles were fairly easy, but a good number presented unique challenges that required experimenting with different Generals and unit types and combinations of each. The upgrading process was oddly satisfying in between.
It took me about five hours to power through the main plot. After you’re finished, a good number of new areas open up where you can find even more new generals and unit types to try out. I’m sure this would draw it out to at least two more hours. And I’m pretty sure that once I’ve done that, I’ll be playing the game a second time to try out new strategies.
The Bottom Line: If you have some time to kill and enjoy LoL, I recommend Demon King Box. As a writer, if I can enjoy the game despite ridiculous translation problems, then so can you. Demon King Box would be perfect for the 3DS gamer who’s going on an eight-hour flight in which they’ll be stuck in the middle seat between a toddler and Sergeant Elbows of the Armrest Hog Division. It’s $3 and will keep you engrossed and happy for a day. You might even get a good laugh or two out of it.