A scantly clad princess, a tomboy thief, and a female necromancer (usually mistaken for a zombie) set out to destroy an evil queen in Code of Princess, Atlus’ latest RPG-lite brawler for the 3DS.
With a reliance on humor and sex appeal to set the game apart from the crowd, developer Agashima created a fun handheld game that makes for a good distraction but might not keep you glued to the screen for very long.
Code of Princess
Systems: Nintendo 3DS [Reviewed]
Release: October 9, 2012
If you are at all interested in Code of Princess then I’m sure by now you’ve read other reviews comparing it to Guardian Heroes, the classic “2D side-scrolling beat ’em up and hack & slash action RPG” game (thanks Wikipedia). I’ve never played Guardian Heroes so that’s the perspective I’m bringing to the table with this not-so-timely review.
In Code of Princess you play as Solange Blanchefleur de Lux, the busty princess with the huge sword (aka the Deluxcalibur – get it?) you see on the cover of the game box, but you can play and re-play levels with various characters you meet along the way. Combat is easy to pick up, but takes some time to master and each fighter feels familiar yet different. Most combos for each character are executed the same way, but have vastly different results depending on their fighting style. Ali, the thief, is lighting fast but her attacks have very limited range, while Zozo, the necromancer, is almost totally a distance fighter that relies on magic lasers and poison spells to keep her enemies at bay.
No matter which character you decide to use, the various levels all play out the same way – walk left or right and kill every enemy on the screen in order to progress. While fighting, you can jump back and forth between multiple planes thus allowing you to dodge attacks, line enemies up for combos, or break open crates for secret items. These planes work well with the 3DS and add some stereoscopic depth to the battle field when the 3D is cranked all the way up.
The first few levels are a breeze, but as you progress through the game you quickly find out that Code of Princess is no button-masher. Those of you who play without blocking are in for a world of hurt. Enemies will gang up on you and use team tactics (one freezes you while another attacks you). You will see a “game over” screen at some point.
The good news is you can go back to any level you have previously beaten and re-play it to gain more experience points to upgrade your character with. Call it grinding or call it game-time-padding, but re-playing levels for XP is absolutely necessary in Code of Princess. Each character has six stats you can upgrade – Vitality, Piety, Attack, Defense, Mind, and Speed – and it’s up to you to distribute the points where you see fit.
The one place Code of Princess really stands out is the humor and voice acting. Atlus did a phenomenal job translating the dialogue and hiring great voice actors. Almost every character has some sort of tongue-in-cheek joke or sarcastic piece of dialogue that constantly reminds the player that Code of Princess’ story is not to be taken seriously, which is good because the story itself is the least compelling aspect of the game.
Once you’ve played through the campaign you can replay quests in “Free Play” mode or play the “Bonus Quests” and use characters that you have unlocked. Code of Princess also offers co-op via local play or internet so even though the main story is rather short you can still squeeze a few more hours out out of the game if you are so inclined.
Code of Princess is fun in small doses, something Agashima seems to understand since each stage should only take you about 5-10 minutes to complete, but if you are looking for something a bit beefier, you might want to look elsewhere. With its funny dialogue, memorable characters, and easy-to-pick-up-but-hard-to-master gameplay, Atlus’ latest brawler is perfect for the plane ride home for the holidays, but won’t keep you away from Black Ops 2 or Assassin’s Creed 3 for very long.
The picture above of Solange was the main reason I wanted to play Code of Princess. Her character design is awesome! Unfortunately, that’s the best pic of her you are going to see in the whole game. Sure her character model looks the same, and is appropriately bouncy in the chest area, but is unfortunately too small on the 3DS screen to really make out the finer details. I wish the action was zoomed in a little tighter so I could see all the beautiful animation, but most of the time the camera is pulled back to give the player a better view of the battle field. I get why the developers did this, but having a manual zoom would have been nice too.
Sadly, the rest of the cast is one missed sexy opportunity after another. Ali is practically topless but has no chest and looks boy-ish, Zozo is colorful but her character design is cluttered, and while Sister Helga (the nun with the huge shield and mace) does flash a lot of leg the rest of her is completely covered. I can only assume based on the Solange design that the developers were trying to give Code of Princess some fanservice, but then why not go all the way and make every character just as hot? Go big or go home.
Code of Princess is a fun brawler, but if you want a little sex appeal in your games then you should look elsewhere. It’s an odd thing to say considering how hot the main character is but you would be better off just doing a Google search for Solange instead of paying $40.