(3DS eShop)

Demon King Box (3DS eShop)

Game Review

Demon King Box Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Morgan Sleeper

Put a lid on it

Prolific publisher CIRCLE Entertainment’s latest eShop effort takes players down into the world of demons, where the once mighty Demon Lord now sits boxed up and bodiless. Unable to reconquer his kingdom alone, he enlists the help of several of the underworld’s finest fighting spirits; that’s where you come in. While it’s billed as an RPG with real-time strategy elements, in reality Demon King Box has little in common with either of those genres — and though that’s not why it’s ultimately disappointing, in the end, it doesn’t quite live up to either premise or promise.

When the curtain lifts on Demon King Box, players find themselves in control of the demonic pig Poohdark, the first of many generals tasked with helping the recently transmogrified Demon Lord take back his kingdom. Told through talking-heads dialogue exchanges before and after each battle, Demon King Box’s story is over the top and odd, and while it doesn’t make a great deal of sense it does feature some interesting characters, providing plenty of context for the linear action ahead.

More than anything, that action feels like a streamlined tower defense game, where you field moderately mobile units instead of static sentries. Battles — the sole substantive part of the gameplay — take place on a course composed of three parallel lines, with your general on the left side of the playing field and the enemy on the right. A deck of cards representing your available unit types sits on the bottom of the touchscreen, and by selecting a unit and then tapping one of the three tracks you can summon one of the corresponding creatures to fight for you. As soon as they appear (always at the extreme left end of the line) they’ll march automatically to the right, engaging any enemies they meet along the way. If they make it to the other side, they’ll start attacking the enemy general — or teleport back into your reserves if there’s no big bad to beat.

You’ll begin with only a few humble hell-hogs at your side, but each new mission brings new troop types to send into battle, from undine archers and milk maids to rogue cats, monsters, and dozens of demonesses in various states of undress. There’s a good variety of units, and fresh faces join your stable at a steady pace, though we wish the differences between them were explained more in-game — aside from some unexplained statistics and a vaguely descriptive bio, there’s very little indication of what each character actually does once you let them loose, so trial and error is key.

It’s not just your infantry that can change either — you’ll be able to field several different commanders throughout the course of the game, and each officer has a special power that can help turn the tide in battle. Poohdark’s ability, for instance, helps power-up any porcine commandos on screen, while another early recruit’s Jetting Assault skill sends your units into turbo mode, letting you rush down your foes with ease. These abilities can be used over and over — after a brief cool-down period — and each general learns several powers as they grow, helping to make playing with each one feel like a different experience.

Along with selecting your units and commanders, part of the strategy portion of the game comes in the form of resource management: each unit requires a certain amount of ‘spirit’ to spawn, and while the meter refills on its own it does so slowly enough that you won’t be able to simply spam soldiers into the trenches willy nilly. Victory isn’t necessarily a matter of having the stronger army, but rather of getting the right troops on the right tracks at the right time — that said, with so little time to plan, it can often feel like a bit of a crapshoot.

If you do manage to eke out a win, Demon King Box’s spoils of war are delectable dishes — from sushi platters to puddings — that can be used to upgrade your units individually. This calorie-based system works a bit like experience points in a typical RPG, except that you’ll need to level everyone up manually — a process that quickly becomes tedious. While it does let you focus your force-feeding on only the fighters you really like, it’s slow and poorly balanced; rarer eats make a significant difference, but more common consumables give only a few XP per bite — and when levelling up requires thousands of points even early on, mealtime becomes a bit of a buzzkill.

Demon King Box’s basic hook of recruiting and placing units is fun for a little while, but unfortunately gets repetitive very quickly. Whether your objective is to wipe out a certain number of enemies, defeat a boss or recruit a new ally, it all boils down to the same routine: tap, tap, repeat. With so little control over individual units — choosing which of the three lines they occupy as they spawn is the only direct action you get — most of the strategy comes from picking the right set of warriors ahead of time, and though there’s plenty of visual variety among the units many of them feel remarkably similar in battle. Worse, the high-speed onslaught of most stages leaves so little time to think or react that thoughtful strategizing is almost never as effective as simply tapping away as fast as you can, hoping you’ve managed to bang out a higher grunt-per-minute rate than your AI adversary. The sheer physicality of it all makes winning immensely satisfying, but perhaps not in the way you’d hope — it’s a game of lucky breaks, rather than carefully considered strategies.

While it might not be the most engrossing game around, to its credit Demon King Box is certainly nice to look at — beautiful, distinctive character art kept us excited for the friends and foes we’d meet next, and the battleground backgrounds are awash with colour. The music is also a pleasant part of the package, with the menu screen’s music box melody a particular highlight.

Elsewhere, the presentation shows a bit less polish; there’s no 3D effect whatsoever, for instance, and as appealing as the artwork may be the nature of the gameplay means you’ll spend very little time actually looking at it. Aside from quick checks to see what kind of units our enemies were fielding, we spent the overwhelming majority of each battle staring solely at the touchscreen, where all the tapping takes place, and where the action is reduced to a simple — and far less interesting — schematic representation.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that Demon King Box is one of a worrying number of recent eShop releases to feature a seriously subpar translation. While the script doesn’t reach the laudable lows of Collavier’s Mysterious Stars trilogy, there are plenty of unnatural sentences, internal inconsistencies, and incoherent head-scratchers on display here. Dialogue exchanges often disintegrate into surreal strings of successive non-sequiturs, and in some chapters, it makes the plot genuinely difficult to follow — if it’s within your reach, the game’s Traditional Chinese language option may clear things up a bit.

Conclusion

A mediocre, modified tower defense game dressed up in a gorgeous art style, Demon King Box is tough to recommend. While plenty of unit types and different commanders give the illusion of depth, the shallow, repetitive gameplay loop at the heart of it all holds the experience back considerably, and careful strategy takes a distant backseat to furious, random tapping. Players with a fondness for the genre — and patience for poor translation — will get some enjoyment out of wading into the world and fielding the diverse set of characters, but for most this box is best kept on the shelf.

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User Comments (47)

Iggly

#1

Iggly said:

The art style looked pretty appealing to me for a purchase, but yet again the Eshop prevented me from buying it due to the M rating. I know I only gotta wait 2 more years before I can buy M rated games, but this is ridiculous.

Kaze_Memaryu

#2

Kaze_Memaryu said:

Damn, I was hoping it would turn out better for you guys. Well, still gonna get it (if it ever reaches europe).

@Iggly That's just awful... especially since the M rating of this game is only because of one or two monsters having big boobs and a bit more skin to show - as if that was enough to justify the rating.

Jahir

#3

Jahir said:

Oh man, the art style looks great, too bad the game isn't half as good. That price though...

And Is it a nipple what I see on the girl in the middle of the banner? Sorry if it isn't but it looks a lot like that.

ekreig

#4

ekreig said:

@Iggly Have patience, child. You know we can't have your young and malleable mind corrupted by giant demon breasts.

Ash_Anne

#7

Ash_Anne said:

@Iggly your profile says you are 16, doesn't that mean you only have to wait one year? Or is it different in Canada?

Iggly

#8

Iggly said:

@Ash_Anne 18 is the legal age you need to be for Mature stuff, didn't know some places allow the age of 17 for M-content.

Ash_Anne

#9

Ash_Anne said:

@Iggly Oh, I didn't know that. I live in Missouri and you just have to be 17 to buy rated M games and to watch rated R movies. A lot of places here won't actually card you unless you look really young.

Rezalack

#10

Rezalack said:

I think this game deserves better than a 5. I was pretty happy with my purchase of it..

DracioKoi

#13

DracioKoi said:

I saw it getting good user ratings on the eshop so I thought it'll be good, and the artwork really makes you think it's got to be good game too. If I wasn't one for checking reviews (and had cash to spend) I would have probably been suckered by the artwork lol

Aquilalex

#14

Aquilalex said:

And have a glitch it says when you finish the game in some random points it freezes the game!

Windy

#15

Windy said:

I have actually never played a tower Defense game. I downloaded this because I saw a lot of people were downloading it and rating it a 5 star in the Eshop. After Putting in 4 or so Hours I really like this game. I definitely think its worthy of a 4 star Eshop rating which would probably put that at a 7 or 8 rating if your using a 10 scale. It has a cool little storyline and you can even take your Demons and mix them for more powerful Demons. This is my first Tower Defense game which in my opinion your more on the offense than the defense. I would rate it a 7 out of 10 and a 4 out of 5 star rating for the Eshop. Heck its Cheap and its fun

**notice** when the game loads it says it has nudity. I haven't seen any other than that picture up top there showing half a boob.

warvad

#16

warvad said:

As having purchased this game, I can tell you that the artwork and music is phenomenal, and what drew me in. Sadly, the game-play seemed very shallow, and didn't hold my attention long enough to progress past the first half dozen stages.

There is a "music box" that lets you play the tracks at will under the "Food" menu. Maybe one day I'll find the energy to finish the game and rip the soundtrack.

Also, the dialogue being half-broken English is definitely a plus. It's very cute and funny, and I found it more entertaining than the actual game-play.

NImH

#18

NImH said:

And I thought you only reviewed good games @zipmon! Haha! I'll trust your judgement, as you haven't steered me wrong yet.

Zodiak13

#19

Zodiak13 said:

I love this game and have had a blast with it. Like it better than many other much higher rated games on this site. 8/10 in my book, 13 hours in so far.

Undead_terror

#20

Undead_terror said:

I thought the game was a good game as well, I gave it a 8/10 myself but then again that was my opinion.

treeofmana

#23

treeofmana said:

So I saw the price, the art style and the ratings given on the eShop and took the plunge before your review was up. I enjoyed it start to finish. The poor translation is troublesome and one of my personal pet peeves. However, in this case, that is my biggest complaint as otherwise, it is a short romp that is a fun experience. For a couple bucks, I'm glad I picked it up.

treeofmana

#24

treeofmana said:

Oh. And as for the M rating, there is no clear nudity. There is one throw away scene of one of the characters bathing but more skin is covered by opaque steam than even a bathing suit would. There are, however, scantily clad demons and more than a few sexual innuendos and overt scenes involving a lustful henchman hitting on one of the demons unless I just misunderstood the poor translation.

Zodiak13

#27

Zodiak13 said:

@Undead_terror I guess game related. I did not have to grind hardly at all. In fact I used the "big" monster and 4 others from early in the game all the way through my first run. Now I am trying everyone else and getting them all max leveled including heroes. Possibly disagree with control, but maybe just the interface. Pressing certain buttons backed me out that I felt should have gone to another screen. Minor detail really.

Your review is informative, although I would say each paragraph seems to lack flow. More of a style issue, since when I write I flourish a bit much. Hope that is not offensive, because I don't think its bad by any means. Just hard to keep people interested unless you create your own voice, especially if its not a game someone is interested in. I read all the reviews here even if I don't care about the game, because the reviews have a good voice, mixed with humor from time to time.

Zodiak13

#29

Zodiak13 said:

@Undead_terror Cool. Just don't try to write as someone your not, than it will sound fake. Just add a bit of your real personality and put it into the review. Not everyone one may like it, but more people will in the end. Heck there is a reviewer here I almost never agree with, but his style engages me, so I read them anyway.

Weedy

#34

Weedy said:

@Captain-Falcon
Ha ha, Nintendo and their nipples!
Surely the innoccent reviewer Morgan hasn't noticed that he's posted cartoon demon nipples up on the homepage reel!

SetupDisk

#35

SetupDisk said:

Yeah I Iiked it and I usually get tired of tower defense pretty quick. I haven't gotten far enough in the game where you don't have time to plan your attacks though.

SetupDisk

#36

SetupDisk said:

The nipple isn't exposed as it looks more likely that the skin type clothes are at least covering most of it. Maybe she has nipples the same color as the rest of skin for craps and giggles. Demons!

SCAR392

#37

SCAR392 said:

I traded @Undead_Terror a Mario Golf(GBC) code for it. I honestly have no clue what's going on half of the time, and I haven't seen any naked characters like the rating suggests.

Windy

#39

Windy said:

@Zodiak13 put me in with you guys. I think the game is well worth a review of a 7 at least. The poor translation to me gives a good laugh. The gameplay is very exciting and does require some skill and knowledge. All the way around a fun cheaply.

Spoony_Tech

#40

Spoony_Tech said:

@Spuratis @Windy Thanks for your opinions of it. If I had not been thumbing through Miiverse I would've dismissed this and didn't even look in here. I'm going to have to check this out for sure as it does look interesting enough to entertain me. Don't care about fan service just want a nice game.

Oh and Windy, I think you would like the tower defense genre a lot more then you realize. Most have an rpg feel to them.

zipmonStaff

#41

zipmon said:

@NImH Haha! I do consider myself lucky most of the time! :) And thanks mate! (^_-)b Though judging by the comments I might be the odd one out on this one, ha!

@Windy @Zodiak13 @Undead_Terror I feel like our tastes tend to align, so I'm surprised this one didn't click with me in the same way! But I'm really glad you guys are enjoying it! :)

Undead_terror

#42

Undead_terror said:

@zipmon opinions are opinions so there shouldn't be nothing bad about what one thinks ;) ...unless we are dealing with a big conflict...

Tops

#44

Tops said:

I've been enjoying it so far but I definitely understand the low score and can't argue with it too much. The review does a good job of letting people know what they're potentially getting into and the score reflects that caution.

For what it's worth I would give it a 6 :)

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