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Code of Princess EX Review

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On 08/08/2018 at 10:20 PM by Nick DiMola

I probably liked this a little less than Angelo.

Only for die hard fans of the original, Guardian Heroes, or 2D brawlers.

For those familiar with the 3DS release, originally published by Atlus, Code of Princess EX is a technically and visually upgraded version of the game. Outside of the nicer coat of paint and a crisp 60 frames per second, a variety of other changes were made that have a fairly significant impact on the progression of the main quest. Regardless of the evident love poured into this HD upgrade, Code of Princess EX can be a bit of a slog that will likely only appeal to the most dedicated of brawler fans.

With a total of 30 quests, each averaging only a few minutes to complete, the main quest of Code of Princess doesn’t provide all that much content. Of course, you won’t complete every quest on your first try, and especially with the end game quests, you’ll be making many attempts to get through, sometimes even resorting to grinding earlier quests to boost your level and hopefully score some new gear that’ll assist you.

While progressing through the story, you’ll encounter a variety of different characters who will join your crew and will become playable. Each offers a different playstyle that can be complemented with the gear you equip to them. This also represents one of the biggest changes to the experience. Upon leveling, rather than allocating stat points, it’s done automatically and instead, you must equip five different pieces of gear to boost certain stats or apply certain effects.

New gear is encountered as you progress through the quest via chest drops from enemies and any given piece of gear may or may not be useful. While this change certainly streamlines the level up process and levels characters based on what their class should be, it also makes it harder to boost your character in ways that accentuate your play style because you’re at the whim of what gear happens to drop throughout your travels. Eventually you’ll earn the ability to buy gear, but what shows up in the shop is also random and may or may not be useful.

I suspect part of the reason for the change was to make it harder to become overpowered by stacking your experience points solely into strength, defense, and vitality. This certainly makes the experience harder and can necessitate a bit of grinding or playing of bonus missions just to make it over the hump; an unfortunate side effect of the change.

Regardless of this, there’s a certain tedium to the gameplay that often makes the experience pretty boring. Even though the game features a unique three-plane play field to fight enemies (just like its inspiration, Guardian Heroes), it doesn't ever feel like its presence added much to the experience, other than an extra defensive maneuver.

The real issue is that the combat itself is fairly shallow and slow. Rather than flowing and smooth, it’s a very rigid brawler that expects you to play with a given cadence. With only light and heavy attacks, burst mode, and a few special moves, there's not a lot to draw from to best your foes. It’s not a game that expects you to deftly chain attacks, because it’s just too slow and hefty to allow it.

For most missions you can just jam the light attack button until you kill everything. The final missions really ramp the difficulty and require well-timed blocking, plane switching, and pattern recognition to find the gaps that will allow you to successfully attack without being bombarded with hard hitting attacks and combos.

Perhaps it’s the Dark Souls fan in me, but I persistently wished there was an ability to counter, especially when fighting these end game bosses. Such an addition would've spiced up the combat and made it less about nonstop guarding and quick chip damage to eventually deplete their health. As it stands, these final bosses are a frustrating grind that I was glad to be past.

Issues with the targeting system didn’t help these frustrations. When attacking with the Y Button you’ll target a given enemy, thus increasing the amount of damage dealt upon landing an attack. For whatever reason, the targeting would (seemingly) randomly cease and I wouldn't notice until after landing a good combo in burst mode for very little damage.

For those totally enthralled by what Code of Princess EX offers, you can play through much of the main campaign as a wide variety of key support characters. This does add some variety and offers a different challenge depending on the quest/character combo. As you play through the quest, you’ll also unlock the ability to play as literally any character or enemy you encounter in the other modes of the game.

Bonus mode, which basically doubles the number of quests, is one such mode where you can leverage this plethora of unlocked characters. It’s a neat extra, but frankly, the gameplay wasn’t engaging enough for me to be very excited about playing more of the same.

The co-op and competitive modes are worth a look though, especially since you can engage in them locally with a single cartridge now. Brawlers are always more fun this way and it holds true for Code of Princess EX as well. You can always hop online too, for those without friends or family to play with locally.

While I’d love to recommend Code of Princess EX to everyone, specifically because I love the work that Nicalis does, it’s a game that will have extremely niche appeal. It’s often tedious and boring, which made the 4-5 hour main quest feel like double that. If you loved the original, the new coat of paint and shake up of the leveling system might be enough for you to give it another shot. Otherwise, unless you pray at the altar of Guardian Heroes (which I think is better than this), you can safely skip Code of Princess EX.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.




08/10/2018 at 11:12 AM

I have the 3DS version because I thought I'd like it. After half an hour I realized I was wrong.

Nick DiMola Director

08/10/2018 at 02:47 PM

I really thought I was going to like it more than I did too. I beat the game and played a good chunk of the bonus missions, but I have no interest in ever returning to this one.

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