Maken X is a first-person Hack and Slash game originally released in 1999 for the Sega Dreamcast. It was remade for the PS2, with a prespective change to third-person, and released as Maken Shao in Japan and Maken Shao: Demon Sword in Europe. Although the game shares many of the staff members and design aesthetics from Shin Megami Tensei, it is not considered part of the franchise. There is also a manga adaptation named Maken X Another created by Hayashida Q.
Set in a Crapsack World of aggression between the United States and China, a group of scientists perfect an artificial intelligence known as "Maken," an Empathic Weapon designed for use in psychotherapeutic treatment. Kei Sagami, a young but intelligent high-school girl, is watching the final stages of the experiment when a group of masked men attack the laboratory and kidnap her father, the head scientist of the project. In the commotion, Kei takes hold of Maken and is bound to the weapon's soul, its "Image." Having merged into one consciousness, Kei must now wield the power of Maken to save her father from the wicked Mr. Meteor, a force that is threatening to control the world, running into the warring "Fukenshi" and "Hakke" clans (the "Law" and "Chaos" factions of the game, respectively) along the way.
The main gimmick of the game is the Maken's ability to "Brainjack" other characters: to overwrite their Image and effectively take control of their body. Throughout the narrative, the Maken passes from character to character, changing its shape as a weapon to suit each host, with each bodyjump bringing it one step closer to solving the mystery. With prolonged use, the Maken gains more control over each host and unlocks new attacks, eventually granting its full demonic power at 100% synchronisation. The player also earns "Image Points" by successfully defeating enemies, gaining a multiplier bonus if you defeat successive enemies without taking damage.
Tropes used throughout the various Maken products:
- All There in the Manual: In Maken Shao, additional information about the characters, places and terminology can be found inside of an in-game dictionary.
- An Ice Person: Fukenshi Ramrod specializes in these. His EX Special creates a slow moving column of ice that can freeze enemies.
- Adaptation Distillation: The manga doesn't cover the events of any of the stages between the Taj Mahal and Amazon, effectively reducing the roles of the Hakke not named Andrey or Shaja to a one page cameo in the third volume.
- Adapted Out: Due to Adaptation Distillation, neither Bahlinka or Samuel Smith appear in the manga.
- BFS: Oddly enough wielded by Hakke Daru's dainty (and petrification plague infected) daughter Berlinka while brainjacked by Maken. This makes her attacks quite powerful, but slow, requiring timing to pull some of them off.
- "Blind Idiot" Translation: The translators mistranslated some of the dialogues in the games so horribly that it became incomprehensible, and most of the characters' names were mangled just as badly.
- Bloodier and Gorier: The manga has a lot of bloodshed, which results in an astonishing amount of blood. At one point, the pool of blood surrounding Kei is almost as large as a swimming pool... and she's still able to stand and fight, with few signs of damage.
- Bloodless Carnage: No matter how many times you hit the enemy, there will never be blood. This is possibly due to the fact that the sword is said to affect the mind rather than the body. The manga completely averts this likely due to being written by Hayashida Q.
- Blow You Away: Fukenshi Aquinas, especially her charge attack.
- Breath Weapon: Hakke Daru's petrification-plague-spit attack and Bahlinka's cough EX Special in Shao.
- Cast From HP: Charge Attacks worked this way in the original Maken X. In Maken Shao they have their own separate energy bar, marked "EXTRA".
- Death of Personality: In a few of the game's endings the Maken fully absorbs Kei's image and gains complete control over her body.
- Dies Differently in Adaptation: In the manga Fei Chao Lee survives being stabbed by Hakke Andrey's scalpels due to his Healing Factor, but later on ends up being sliced in half by him while protecting Kei.
- Fate Worse than Death: The petrification plague, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Some victims of it have been staked together, most likely by Hakke Daru, to form the enemy called "Golem", comprised of a tiny man that shoots plague-filled darts staked to the back of a giant man armed with a meat cleaver. One playable character, Hakke Daru's daughter Berlinka, has contracted the disease but seems no worse for wear aside from some bandages on her head. The player themselves can contract it from Golems and certain other enemies, but it's never permanent and goes away after a few moments.
- Grand Theft Me: The Maken takes over the bodies of those unfortunate (or fortunate?) enough to encounter it. When it uses this ability to brainjack anyone other than the main character Kei, her mind comes along for the ride as well.
- Improbable Weapon User: Many characters fit this trope, such as Fukenshi trainee Fei Shan Lee (sharp-edged metal fans), Fukenshi Aquinas (a motorized spinning extending double-helix lance), Hakke Andrey (a giant scalpel, as well as smaller ones that he shoots out of his tongue), Hakke Sharja (a Maken-ized katar and four shoulder-mounted dagger-wielding robotic arms) and Hakke Daru (A Maken-ized metal stake and a syringe filled with a mysterious green substance, most likely the petrification plague).
- Lethal Joke Character: The addition of the Synchro meter and EX Special attacks for every character in Shao makes Gou Inaba and Samuel Smith a little more viable than what they were in X.
- Get Gou Inaba's Synchro rate up high enough and you unlock a move that lets you call down lightning on enemies from afar and can be used endlessly with no penalty. His 100% Synchro Charge Attack lets you call down lightning on every enemy in your field of vision.
- Maxing out Samuel Smith's Synchro meter upgrades his power rank to 9 (the highest in the game outside of Kei's awakened form) and brings his life rank to an average 5. He also gains an EX Special that allows him to temporarily boost his attack power even further.
- Multiple Endings: The game has seven different endings, depending on who you align yourself with.
- Mutually Exclusive Party Members: Hakke Andrey and Gou Inaba. At the end of the Rhincodon stage you have the option of either brainjacking Inaba or finishing the stage as Andrey. Choosing to brainjack Inaba gets you to your planned destination, Hong Kong, but causes you to lose Andrey as he dies when the Rhincodon crashes.
- Morph Weapon: The Maken's default form is a sword, but it can change its form to better suit whoever it brainjacks.
- Named After Somebody Famous:
- Hakke Andrey is named after the Russian serial killer Andrei Chikatilo.
- Hakke William is named after William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton.
- Nintendo Hard: Both versions of the game embody this trope.
- No-Sell: Hakke Daru and his daughter Bahlinka are immune to projectile attacks due to the Urad virus. This ability was removed in Maken Shao, although they are still immune to petrification from attacks such as the Golem enemy's dart attack.
- No Swastikas: The Swastikas adorning the uniforms of Hakke Margaret and the European Union were replaced with the chinese character for "mu" in the American and European releases of Maken X. Unlike many changes made to the western releases of Maken X, this change was retained for Maken Shao. The Nazi salute that Hakke Margaret performs when firing her arm cannon remains unchanged in all versions.
- President Evil: Literally, with Hakke Brown, a.k.a. Hakke Billy in the Japanese release.
- Shameful Strip: In the manga, a Maken-possessed Kei ends up being cornered by Hakke Andrey and has most of her clothing shredded off by him.
- Shock and Awe: Fukenshi Baldelaire and Gou Inaba (in Shao) can summon lightning at will to strike down every enemy on the screen with their EX Specials.
- Synchronization: In Maken Shao, every playable character has a Synchro rating that gradually goes up as you kill enemies and absorb their Image. At certain percentages (which differ for each character) you learn a new move. At 100% Synchro you gain their Charge Attack as well as a boost to their stats, and can re-brainjack them for free (characters with less than 100% Synchro cost Image to brainjack)
- Updated Re-release: Maken Shao, which used a third-person camera instead of the first-person camera of Maken X, added an in-game encyclopedia, added an option that shows you a list of all brainjackable characters and lets you brainjack whichever of them you want from the map screen, and introduced an upgrade system for all playable characters that granted them new moves, gave Charge Attacks to all characters (even ones that didn't have them in Maken X) once they were fully upgraded, and turned certain characters used only for utility purposes (Gou Inaba, Samuel Smith) into powerhouses given enough time is spent upgrading them.