Game Review: Jikandia- The Timeless Land
Release: March 15, 2011
Genre: Action Adventure
Developer: Idea Factory
Available Platforms: PlayStation Portable
ESRB Rating: T
Nine children are whisked away from their bus ride home to the mysterious land of Jikandia, a world in which time is a new concept. In a race to find your friends and save your new world, you’ll tackle dungeons at your own leisure. With a unique system of setting a time limit on the dungeon, you have anywhere from three minutes to a half-hour to challenge the monstrous forces within. Players will jump, slash, and reward themselves in these dungeons to save their friends… can they also save time itself?
On it’s surface, Jikandia looks like a platformer. In fact, the core elements of gameplay are running, jumping, and attacking. Eventually, you will control three characters all at once, bounding from brick to brick in these somewhat randomized dungeons. The secondary characters on your journey will automatically follow you, and they can either attack independently with their own buttons, or follow your command with an easy mode having them all attack when you attack. Charging attacks produce longer throws, stronger hits, and the like. Throughout the levels that make up the dungeons, you’ll find treasure chests, destroy blocks to reveal power-ups, and tackle enemies on your way to the exit door. There is an ad-hoc multiplayer mode, but we did not get a chance to take this challenge.
That part of the game is the standard element, and while it’s acceptable and fun, it’s nowhere near groundbreaking. To improve upon it, the game offers almost a “time trial”-esque feature to all elements. You get to chose how long you’ll travel in the dungeon (with the last minute and a half dedicated to the boss battle), sure, but many of the treasure chests and monsters feature a timer overhead, showing that, when they’re defeated in that last second, they’ll yield superior item drops. The sooner you defeat the boss at the end of the stage, you’ll be able to stay in the bonus area longer (and start racking up points and prizes). If you don’t make it to the door at the end of each section in time, you’ll automatically be whisked away to the next section, but take a hit in your score. While you can’t die, you can be sent back to the beginning of the level, lose any items you had, and take a point hit as well.
Finally, the game adds many RPG elements to the platforming world. Players can equip their weapon (but not the weapons of their party members, meaning that you need to be smart in who you ally yourself with), sell off others, and try to balance out speed, strength, and other factors. The team will be affected by Magic Quartz, a series of jewels found in the game that, when equipped, will improve health, strength, and other bonuses. A hub village allow you to talk to any and all people, alongside the constant in-battle dialogue of the heroes, leading to a story-focused gameplay even when you’re jumping and slashing.
Jikandia is a great balance of platforming and RPG elements. It might take you a while to realize why you just can’t seem to advance, and that’s because the game requires grinding, like any J-RPG. Thankfully, do to the randomized nature of the dungeons, you’ll not run into a problem you just can’t solve; take a step back, train a little more, and tackle a different challenge when you re-enter the dungeon. The gameplay is fun and simplistic, but offers enough challenges and troubles to make it worth continuing. The graphics and dialogue are entertaining, offering an odd combination of almost storybook stylization, but Tarintino-esque dialogue.
Undoubtedly, the time factor can both help and hurt. If you’re just having trouble with the boss of a level, it’ll take you at least a minute and a half to get to him, only to fail again. The concept of the characters constantly talking during their adventures is novel and fun, until you realize you’re missing half of it because you’re actually focused on the combat. The fact that the levels are randomized mean that you’ll never get bored much, but you also never see any truly genuine level design. In fact, the game appears to be so simplistic, a level editor would be a bonus.
Jikandia offers a unique challenge to the platform world, turning a few standard tropes on their side, by either adding RPG elements to an action game or adding action game elements to an RPG. The game is solidly built and fun, but it might not be for everyone. If you find yourself with tons of free time, check it out.
- RPG elements enhance the basic platformer
- Random dungeons can be fun but generic
- Constant dialogue can both be entertaining and forgettable
7 out of 10