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Reviewer Enters a Tiger Pose (this review refers to a DEMO copy of the game)

  • kumada
  • 02/02/2012 04:34 AM
The Review

Princess Princess is a sucker punch. But it's a sucker punch that lands squarely in your expectations, and thus is very worth playing.

Developed over the course of 25 hours, with minimal sleep, and under the severe restrictions imposed by RPG Maker VX Trial Ace, Princess Princess is the thoroughly fey brainchild of Archeia_Nessiah and Rhyme. If it were itself a princess, this game would be the kind that rollerskates and chews bubblegum loudly and occasionally drops acid. It would wear stonewashed jeans and bright colors and be your best friend ever.

Princess Princess seems to subscribe to the notion that it's not so much the destination that matters as it is the journey that takes you there. The plot is straightforward. There are no real branch-points in the scenario. There is extra content, in the form of a hidden character and a bonus boss, but the whole package weighs in at just over an hour in gameplay.

Somewhere in fantasy land, the princess has gone missing. A wacky band of heroes has been dispatched to rescue her. Along the way they encounter jello shots, terrifyingly large snakes, and that sliding ice puzzle from that one pokemon game. Yeah, you know which one I'm talking about. The heroes are the absolute highlight of the experience, with clearly defined personalities and the kind of banter that makes me want to jump up and down and hug someone.

There are several twists in the plot--none so shocking that you couldn't seem them coming, but refreshing nonetheless--and it's a pretty okay yarn, all things considered, but the plot pales in comparison to the NPCs scattered throughout this game. They all have a distinct personality and backstory, and sometimes they ignite massive bickering matches between your mismatched party members. I found myself frequently putting off shopping until I'd had a chat with everyone in a village, just to enjoy the dialog of Signpost Guy #5 or Well Girl #14. Even the shopkeepers had more characterization than your average Ye Olde Merchante Sprite.

As far as mechanics goes, Princess Princess is pretty solid. It uses a random battle system, but the battles are infrequent, offer a pretty good chunk of xp on completion, and finish fast. Characters level quickly, but leveling doesn't do very much to their statline. This discourages grinding while also providing the player with a steady sense of accomplishment--always a powerful motivator. While limited, special abilities are mostly well implemented. There are a few duds (fire, heal,) but they're only poor choices because of how gloriously powerful other key skills are. When you could otherwise be channeling an atomic blast down the tip of your gladius, casting healsies for the rest of the party seems like a waste of time. Princess Princess uses a standard MP system but also works in a TP meter (a rage gauge of sorts, building points every time you hit in combat or take damage,) and the combination of the two adds some nice versatility to combat.

For the most part, the flaws I was able to find in this game were minor. There are a few places where the dialog feels translated. Sentence constructions that would make much more sense in Japanese popped into an otherwise natural sounding dialog, taking me by surprise. The game also has an abrupt difficulty spike around the final boss (I had to defeat the optional bonus boss to unlock the ability to produce the items I needed to defeat him,) and with no clear indication that I might be in for something nasty, I ended up having to restart and replay a fifth of the game. Lastly, the scenario gets a little loose towards the middle, leaving the player directionless until he searches out one particular npc in one particular town without any real hint that he should do this. It's a short game, and thus the number of NPCs is limited, but it was still an interruption of the flow of gameplay.

My biggest complaint with Princess Princess is that it's too short. While it is engaging and fun, it gives up before it really gets going (due to the limitations of the VX Ace demo.) A longer plot would give the characters a chance to grow, the plot a little more room to twist, and the storyline an improved coherency.

Even as a critic, I liked what I played. I'd certainly come back for more if more was offered, and I hope the creative team continues to develop Princess Princess into a feature length project.

You'll Probably Like Princess Princess If...

-You like quirky characters, bickering, and sub-plots

-You like riffing on anime stereotypes

-You like a straightforward game with a moderate amount of challenge

You Probably Won't Like Princess Princess If...

-You hate cliches

-You prefer dark, mature plotlines

-You need a lot of variety in your combat


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That moment when you catch a glaring typo on line three of your posted review.

Auuuugh. I proofed you three times!
Circumstance penalty for being the bard.
What was it? I missed it, too.
...I think it might not have actually been a typo, in hindsight. I took "content" out of "content restrictions."

I did, however, improve on/develop a bunch of other things to make up for my overzealous editing. I'm a little more happy with this now.
I know I haven't commented on this sooner but I just wanted to say I loved this review and thank you so much ;w;
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