Review by UndomielElelome
"Come for the DeLuxian royal dress, stay for the fun beating up dragons!"
So a princess, a thief, and a necromancer walk into a bar why yes, it will be one of those humorous action games with light RPG elements. Code of Princess is a delightful sugary treat to enjoy when your more serious side craves an eclair. Expect fun, frantic action, bad jokes and outfits of incredibly impossible protection values.
In Code of Princess you'll be playing the part of a rag tag band of adventurers. You'll be playing through the first part assembling the party and then the rest will be accomplishing the mission of nearly every fantasy RPG out there. Saving the world! I'm sure you didn't see that coming. In addition to single player there is also a variety of multiplayer modes available as well. Let's take a deeper dive into this charming package.
The gameplay is definitely what you come to this game for. All of the prerelease hype has been touting it as being the spiritual success to Guardian Heroes from the Sega Saturn. Myself, I unfortunately did not own a Sega Saturn so I only got a few glimpses of Guardian Heroes so I won't be able to make a fair comparison to that. But from the couple times I played it, it definitely holds some similarities. Instead of a free range field such as more traditional beat'em'ups like Final Fight or D&D Shadows over Mystara, Code of Princess has three rails for you to move on. You can hop between the background, middleground and foreground to fight enemies on all three. This makes hit detection easier to work out so you won't have to constantly nudge up or down to get enemies within the hit radius of your character.
Combat works out with you have a weak strike and a strong strike. You'll use both of those to rain combos down upon your enemies. But you'll need more than weak and strong attacks to take down the array of creatures this game throws at you. You'll have a number of special moves that you can pull off with the usual button combinations for games like this. A handy feature is that in the touch screen you can swap to see a list of moves for the character you are using.
You also have a lock on strike available. The enemy that you hit with this strike will display his status bar at the bottom of the screen. That's not all you get though! Your attacks will inflict double damage on the poor beasty. In addition, special attacks and ranged attacks will aim for this enemy, even if you're on different rails or facing the opposite direction. This can work out well strategically, as you can put together some effective attacks where you can be beating up a guy on the rail above while still hitting your target on one of the lower rails.
For even more fun there is also burst mode that you can activate. It will drain down your MP pretty fast so you have to keep that in mind, but it will also let you inflict double damage. Ooooh yes it does stack with the aforementioned lock on as well. So you can be unleashing quadruple damage on these foes.
There's still more to come in the controls though. The shoulder buttons will let you block attacks and are also used for jumping between rails or hopping in front of or behind an enemy. You also have your pick of the circle pad or control pad for comfortable navigating.
Now that you understand how to control your character let's look at what you have available. In the single player mode you have a story mode campaign that you can play through with one of four characters. At the beginning of each mission you pick which character you wish to play. When you first start off you only have the warrior princess available, but as you progress you quickly pick up the thief, the necromancer, and the spoony bard. Nearly all missions can be played through with all the characters, but there are a few side quests where the characters' stories diverge.
As you unlock them in campaign mode you'll get the missions available in free play mode as well. This is good for building up your character's stats as well as being able to skip all of the story dialogue and get straight to the action. Additionally you'll be able to play as any of the other characters that you unlock as you play through campaign mode. This ranges from some of the added companions to bosses to minor monsters and NPCs such as the children and villagers. This is where you can get an additional challenge as some of these characters are pretty difficult to play with. The housewife for instance can't run, jump, has no special attacks and is pretty weak. Also there are bonus quests that get unlocked as you play through the campaign mode.
All of the characters you get start out at level 1, but as you complete missions they'll gain levels swiftly and you'll be able to customize their stats to your preferred play style. The stats available are Vitality, Piety, Attack, Defense, Mind and Speed. Some characters have an obvious affinity to a stat such as the necromancer's attacks benefit greatly from Mind. You'll want to plan carefully though, since special attacks can drain your MP and of course there is always burst mode to consider. You'll want to familiarize yourself with the characters pretty well before skewing the statistics in one direction or another.
You also have five equipment slots available to equip stat boosting gear. They also have some special effects such as slowing down MP drain during burst mode, no knockbacks or something else. Not all equipment boosts a stat though, they may drain a stat so you definitely need to keep your strategy in mind before equipping that +20 Mind -6 everything else piece of gear.
Bored of single player mode? Wait, there's more! You can play locally with your friends in co-op or versus modes. Unfortunately I don't have any friends so I could not test out that method of play. But you can also play across the internet! That works out well for you fellow cave dwelling types. All the same modes are available and you can search for rooms to join up with groups for playing through a mission or playing against each other. I can't comment too much on that though. My attempts to find anyone to play with only came up with a few co-op games. The versus arenas were completely barren. The co-op is fun though so I would definitely recommend playing in there once you make it through the campaign mode.
There are some complaints though. You can't really play through the campaign mode multi-player. You have to unlock the missions in campaign mode before you can play in co-op with people. I also would have liked to see more missions available to each character specifically as well as more characters to play through in campaign mode. I was very interested in playing as the cat and the nun after all.
Speaking of campaign mode, this game does actually come with a story. Don't expect anything fantastic and original though. It really is all about just saving the world, as usual. The fun comes in the telling. The developers did a pretty good jump of keeping you interested in the characters and villains in this one. And I'm sure you'll be ready to pitch that bard over the nearest cliff by the end as well. If the voice acting doesn't drive you over the cliff with him then you'll find that they tell the story pretty well. No real surprises or fancy twists, but you'll enjoy the characters that they build out. Unfortunately that end does come rather swiftly. If you're good, build your character wisely and minimize the grinding for leveling up to beat a boss; you can be over with this game in just a few hours. I definitely wouldn't have minded a bit more depth to the story.
Now as to the graphics those can be praised fairly highly. Not a full 10 stars but they definitely look pretty nice. The character designs are very nice though some of the girls could use a bit more clothing. In game you don't have any problems with losing characters in the background, except for a few status effects that make it harder to see your character. The backgrounds are pretty as well, though you may get sick of seeing the forest stage over and over. I wouldn't have minded a bit more variety in the stages. There's also a few graphical glitches in the texture mapping if you are paying attention.
Fans of 3D on the 3DS may be disappointed by this title though. It is designed as a 2D game being projected into a 3D realm, and it doesn't translate too well. The 3D comes across as being pretty flat so you may find yourself switching off the 3D to save on battery life and headaches since you won't find yourself losing much.
The sound though is a mixed bag. The voice acting ranges from pretty accurate to wanting a speedy rusty nail to the ear drum. For instance, the voice actor for Marco Neko, the cat, does an excellent job and summons up memories of Cheshire cats. The sound effects during combat are effective though not necessarily memorable. But you will get fed up with the repetition of the characters' voice acting during special moves though. There is not much variety there and since you will be unleashing a large number of special moves it gets to be a bit much. I would have liked to see a bit more work put into the voice acting.
Finally there is the music. The music is pretty typical for a fantasy RPG with some high notes such as the boss music and a few of the characters' themes. If you pre-ordered the game you would have gotten a small artbook and a music CD as well, so you'll be able to take the themes that you enjoy with you. No complaints here about the music, just not much to single out as fantastic either.
Here we hit my biggest complaint about the game. The single player is just way too short. As mentioned earlier you can beat the game in a few dedicated hours. The replayability is in how much of a completionist you are. In campaign mode you have four characters to play through with stats and levels to max out. And then there is the free play mode and the bonus quests that you can play through with the additional characters. There definitely is something to be said for the variety of characters as you can get a definite challenge from trying to play the missions as characters that have very little moves available.
There's also the online play which I hope will pick up as more people hop online after purchasing the game and finishing the campaign modes. If not, well hope you have some friends to get together with then.
Overall I would give this game a 8/10. It is some good light fun to be had in between more serious games. Hopefully they will follow this up with a sequel. I would recommend it for people that enjoy beat'em'up action RPGs. People that prefer a more serious story or more involved RPG mechanics will probably want to look elsewhere.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 10/23/12
Game Release: Code of Princess (US, 10/09/12)
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