Jikandia: The Timeless Land - Staff Review  

It's Pure Jikandian Magic
by Sam "Nyx" Marchello

Less than 20 Hours
+ Accessible to those of all skill levels.
+ Hilarious localization.
+ Encourages experimentation.
- Short with little replay value.
- Text layout is atrocious.
- Dungeon layouts can get repetitive.
Click here for scoring definitions 

   Have you ever dreamed about going to a land of pure magic? How about a carefree land where there are no worries? Well, the world of Jikandia: The Timeless Land is no Disney locale. Charming, silly, and a touch over the top, Jikandia is a game that will test your patience constantly, while simultaneously providing a button mashing experience, complete with enough humor to keep you smiling throughout.

   The story of Jikandia begins like pure Disney magic. The idyllic world of Jikandia has had no concept of time for years, and its people lived in complete bliss. However, the King of Time marks his grand entrance by restoring time to Jikandia, causing hordes of demons to appear and terrorize the happy people throughout the land. A spirit named Temtem enlists the help of nine heroes who are destined to save Jikandia, even if it means having them be late for school.

   Jikandia's plot is charming and simplistic. There's just enough silly, adorable, and even profane banter to have players bursting into gigglefits without feeling bombarded by inane details. One issue within the game is how its dialogue is presented. The text boxes are so small that only a small fragment of a sentence is visible, forcing players to rapidly push the X button to move it along. Be careful not to press Start, as that will fast-forward through the humorous text. During the side-scrolling portions, the party will banter back and forth, but it's not possible to entirely read what they are saying while in dungeons. It's disappointing that the hilarious dialogue is frustrating to read, especially since Aksys' localization is fabulous and fresh.

   Combat in Jikandia continues the game's trend toward simplicity, sporting a hack-and-slash, side-scrolling experience. Of the three concurrent party members, only Hall can actually die, which is fitting as he is the protagonist. Death has no real penalty other than in the player's final score upon completing the dungeon, so once Hall dies, players merely start the floor over again.

Man! Am I glad to see you too! Man! Am I glad to see you too!

   In terms of gameplay, Jikandia's gameplay is very accessible for both newcomers and RPG veterans. Since the time limit is set manually, traversing through dungeons can take anywhere between three to thirty minutes. The benefits of a longer time limit come from the randomized loot and the chance to acquire better weapons and items. In fact, other than the time limit and boss battles, just about everything is randomized in Jikandia. Although an occasional layout will be repeated, the goals within the dungeon are always changing. Each time Hall enters a dungeon, he or she will be presented with a task to complete in order to obtain a star for that floor.

   Starring a floor allows Hall to use an ability to make the next floor easier, and when five stars have been collected, players can unleash temporary invincibility, which makes progress through the dungeons a breeze. How to get these stars isn't always easy: it ranges from collecting a specific treasure box to destroying all foes on that floor, or it could just be completing a special objective called the "Just in Timer." Often players will see timers on chests, enemies and doors, and the "Just In Timer" effect is applied to chests if players collect that item before the timer runs out. If players collect that item before the timer runs out, they will net better items as a reward. Goals for each floor are completely random, so it's important to pay close attention to what that key task is before progressing to the next. If the door's timer is red and hits zero, Hall and her (or his) crew will automatically be warped to the next floor, meaning that stars will be lost because the task wasn't completed in time. For the most part this is completely fair, though often the "Just in Timer" tasks can be tricky to complete when dealing with a huge influx of enemies.

   While Jikandia is mostly an easy game, its boss battles do become progressively more difficult. These fights occur when the timer hits the 1:30 mark in a dungeon and often requires pattern memorization. Later in the game, bosses become even harder to avoid as they constantly spam damaging attacks. Boss fights can get frustrating, and the desire to button mash will become eminent, but players can always fail in order to try again with a different party, or to seek better random rewards as assistance. In fact, Jikandia encourages its players to try various methods when it comes to completing dungeons, as there's no specific way to beat a boss. If a sword doesn't work on a particular boss, then try using bombs. Mixing and matching weapons and party members is important to figuring out how to defeat bosses. If the first method doesn't work, a little experimentation is all that is needed. To further encourage this, if players defeat the boss in enough time they will obtain access to a bonus area that allows Hall to collect more loot to boost the dungeon score.

Up! Up! Up and awaaaaaaaaaaaaay! Up! Up! Up and awaaaaaaaaaaaaay!

   Another aspect that requires a bit of experimentation comes from magic quartz that is dropped throughout dungeons. The quartz can boost stats, add status effects, and even provide bonuses for loot drops. Much like the equipment, playing around with the quartz allows for a lot of variety, and requires constant adjustment. For those who wish to rush through the game, it's doable, but sticking with the same party, weapon, and quartz combination is an impossibility. It is great that Jikandia encourages such experimentation, as it means combat isn't a complete cakewalk.

   For a PlayStation Portable title, Jikandia audio and video presentation isn't mind-blowing. Much like its story, the graphics have a nice retro aesthetic that focuses on simplicity while sporting a cheerfully colourful design, much like the dialogue. The only real knock against the visuals is that the randomized dungeon layouts do get repetitive and the enemies aren't exactly imaginative. The music is catchy, providing a soundtrack reminiscent of old MIDI tracks. It fits the game's overall atmosphere, but at times it will be on the borderline of annoying.

   Having an adjustable timer will allow players to set the pace of their overall experience with Jikandia, although it may be difficult to get twenty plus hours out of the game. Even if the longest time limits are used, it is still pretty short and there's not a lot of replayability once it's complete. This game is best played in small chunks and is great for commuting, as the time limit can be set accordingly. Jikandia is a very casual RPG experience in terms of presentation, but its frantic, fast-paced button mashing means it's not a game with which players can simply relax. It's an an old-school hack-n-slash on crack. The fact that it's not too deep is probably for the better. What we get is a game that doesn't take itself too seriously and demands patience be destroyed in button mashing fury. Sometimes, a nice button mashing experience is exactly what you need after a tough day, and Jikandia delivers this in spades.

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