By: Matthew Striplen
Welcome to the mystical realm of Demon King Box, a land where the powerful Demon King has been sealed into the aforementioned box. This premise sets the stage for the truly bizarre and often nonsensical adventure as the Demon King seeks to reclaim his former glory. Level up and conquer in real-time!
I’m happy to say the controls are the most polished aspect of the game. Players will use the touchpad almost exclusively for a very simple and intuitive experience. When in combat, one need only drag their troop of choice directly onto the desired lane on the battlefield.
Outside battle, however, the experience gets a little more awkward. The level selection screen, in addition to being poorly laid out, navigates clumsily. Also, troop upgrading feels a little strange. In order to give food to a troop, you must keep the stylus pressed on the desired item. I frequently found myself scrolling the page instead of feeding. Although this may be a small issue, little technical problems like get under my skin after a while.
Demon King Box doesn’t stand out visually, but that is not to say it looks bad. Characters and environments are depicted in typical Japanese anime style. The quality of the character designs is overall very good, though the depictions of female characters tend to be a little over the top bust-wise. Take the thumbnail for the 3DS menu for example. It features a very scantily clad demon, who has no special significance in-game, other than breast size. Oh well…
The soundtrack provides plenty of excitement throughout the game. No complaints here. Very little voice acting is present and is exclusively in Japanese. This usually occurs when a commander uses an ability, but no subtitles are present. Though the spoken lines are minimal, knowing what’s being said would be nice.
Despite its intense WTF Japan-inducing exterior (more on that later), Demon King Box is a pretty standard real-time/RPG strategy game. Battles consist of deploying troops and watching the chaos ensue, but be careful, because you can only bring five different troop types with you. Each troop can be sent into one of three lanes, or if you’re sending a large troop, one of two lanes. Large troops can consequently deal and receive damage from the two small lanes they overlap, as seen above.
Food plays an integral role in Demon King Box, and its uses are twofold: leveling up troops and creating new troop types. Each enemy troop drops a specific type of food, and thankfully, the enemy troop list is visible from the level select screen. Additionally, each food type is worth a different amount of experience points but does not have any other differences.
To create a new troop, a certain number of two specific foods must be combined. While the multiple uses for food is an interesting concept, I was hoping for a wider array of effects to provide an additional layer of gameplay.
Deploying troops requires Spirit Points, which is the iteration of mana for this title. This accrues slowly over time, but additional Spirit can be gained by defeating enemies. This creates an unusual gameplay snowball effect.
If the player gains the upper hand in battle, they will get a surplus of Spirit, which ensures continuation of success. Conversely, if the player gets outnumbered, especially early on, defeat is inevitable due to the insufficient Spirit to deploy anything. If, by some chance, you survive long enough to gain sufficient Spirit you’ll likely be completely swarmed by that point and any deployments will be immediately destroyed.
And now, the part you’ve been waiting for: the WTF Japan-ery. The majority of the story problems stem from very poor translations — hopefully the Japanese version has fewer mistakes. These usually take the form of awkward wording, but they can sometimes render a sentence unintelligible. My favorite mistranslation has to be the description of the Milk M (Certified) food: “Only the milk produced by Milk Mum is delicious and nutritious. Drinking it every day can enhance breast.” … because Japan. Not only is the sentence hilarious on its own, but it is completely out of context for the rest of the story.
The only two mission varieties are “All Enemies Dead!” and “Enemy Hero Routed!” If you’re a little unclear on what those mean, I don’t blame you. In the first variety, all you have to do is destroy the enemy army, simple as that. For the second, the army spawns infinitely, so the enemy hero, which serves as commander, has to be destroyed.
You also have a choice of several heroes, unlocking more as the game progresses. The hero choice determines your HP and special abilities, both of which can be improved via food leveling. These abilities range from temporarily buffing troops to dealing direct damage to the enemy hero.
For a Nintendo eShop exclusive, Demon King Box has a decent length to it. Throw in a bit of level grinding and you’ve got yourself a 6-8 hour adventure.
Demon King Box is a good, entry-level RTS title. The mechanics are easy to learn, and the difficulty is never too great. While the faults, notably the mistranslations and awkward menu layouts, are not too numerous, the game doesn’t go the extra mile. That being said, the current price ($3.99) is reasonable considering the length, and Demon King Box provides a comfortable learning environment for newcomers to the genre.