Code of Princess Review
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On 01/06/2013 at 01:25 PM by Angelo Grant
Dear Diary: Today I beat up a tree.
Looking for a re-imagining of Guardian Heroes to play on the go? Then Code of Princess is your game.
From the moment Code of Princess was announced, comparisons between it and Guardian Heroes were inevitable. Videos quickly showed that the gameplay was extremely similar, and quite a few members of the staff that previously worked on Guardian Heroes were on the design team. It's a fair comparison, and a rather impressive one considering Guardian Heroes did a lot for the brawler genre at a time where it was at risk of becoming irrelevant. It’s chief contributions included the inclusion of RPG elements like leveling, stat management, and magic, at a time when this practice wasn’t nearly as mainstream as it is today.
Code of Princess successfully keeps these features intact. It also borrows Guardian Heroes method of solving an age old problem that plagued brawlers with it’s unique “rail” system. Previously, it was often difficult to line yourself up with your opponents in the pseudo 3d space, making delivering attacks at will difficult and accurately using projectiles nearly impossible. These games resolve this by locking the characters onto one of several horizontal rails the player and enemies can hop between, making it much easier to hit what you're actually aiming at.
Code of Princess does take a different approach when it come to progression. While branching storylines and player choices were present in Guardian Heroes, and are quite popular today, Code of Princess elected to take a different approach. Here, every battle is a bite sized chunk of action you pick from a menu, which is perfect for on-the-go gaming. Missions average only a few minutes.
As far as these missions are concerned, there’s plenty to keep you busy. The main campaign isn’t terribly long, but with 4 characters to play as and leveling being a necessity, you can easily find an excuse to play the game multiple times. Progressing through the campaign unlocks other missions for you to play solo using a few more unlockable characters, and a ton of characters you can use online. If you like grinding, Code of Princess is paradise.
Code of Princess also gives you all the tools you need to wage war successfully. Projectiles keep the enemy at bay while attack combos and special techniques help deal more effective damage. Locking on is another useful ability that causes attacks to deal increased damage and projectiles to home in on your target. The game also provides burst attacks for pushing your foes back if you ever become surrounded, and don’t forget to block or dodge roll or you’ll die fairly quickly.
Now all this may sound like an action-packed adventure that may leave you with blistered thumbs, but this isn’t Ninja Gaiden here. Code of Princess has a much more deliberate pace like the isometric brawlers of old, and you’ll have to decide for yourself if that’s something you enjoy. That being said, the game starts to feel repetitive fairly quickly, which is often an issue with these kinds of games. Characters have a more limited number of moves available to them, and you’ll likely end up repeating the same attack patterns quite a lot.
Two major issues keep this game from being a 4 star title that I could easily recommend, First, the title does have some technical issues, including a somewhat broken stat upgrade system. I was able to pile almost all my points into strength and quite easily power through the game with little challenge. AI is also a little on the dumb side, and there’s a couple of tricks I won’t reveal that rendered my character almost untouchable once I figured them out.
Having enemies that are a little more A than I is one thing, but when the game tasked me with protecting NPCs I wanted to borrow one of my children’s protective Nerf cases out of fear of throwing my 3DS. There’s one mission in particular (thankfully not part of the main quest) that has you guarding a villager who can take maybe three or four hits before she goes down, resulting in a mission fail.
Now, one would expect a hapless villager to run in terror at the site of a gigantic one-eyed troll, but not this one. She literally flounces, hands in the air, over to the nearest enemy, pushing past you if necessary, only to stand in front of it and just wait to get smacked into oblivion. Compounding this is the fact that enemies spawn all over the screen, so after pushing one group of foes back and finishing them off, you’ll find that the next group will spawn on the opposite end, and there’s no way for you to reach them before your brilliant villager does.
The second problem is the attire of the main character herself. Solange runs around in less cotton than I’ve found on the heads of Q-tips. While I would be more tolerant of this in a secondary unlockable character, having the lead run around nearly naked causes some problems, primarily as it relates to playing in proximity to or with other people. I’ll refrain from preaching on this point, but it makes the experience awkward, and gamers have enough of a PR problem as it is without artistic choices like this contributing to the problem.
As far as other art assets are concerned, the soundtrack is quite good. Character themes make up the lion's share of the score, and they appropriately match the game's cast. The problem with this approach to the music is that, when working on leveling up a particular character, you tend to hear their theme almost exclusively, which can be fatiguing to the ears.
While the story is a very basic “beat the bad guys and save the world” sort of affair, the dialogue and characters themselves warrant special attention. They are very well written and voiced in an appropriately campy sort of way. Code of Princess is extremely self-aware, and it’s sense of humor shines as a result of it. I don’t want to ruin any of the oddities and jokes, but fans of cheeseball humor and intentionally bad puns like myself will enjoy what Code of Princess has to offer.
As of this writing, a cartridge version of the game exists, and a downloadable version is set to release soon on the eShop. The bite sized play sessions this game provides make it a better fit for the downloadable marketplace, and I could easily see myself pulling out the game and grinding through a couple of quick missions to level up my characters (except Solange) while waiting for the bus or on breaks at work.
Code of Princess will appeal to a particular set of brawler fans. I had quite a bit of fun with the title, but it does have its flaws. In the end, those looking for more Guardian Heroes or a good isometric brawler won’t be disappointed.
Code of Princess make great use of the 3D capabilities of the Nintendo 3DS system. The game plays just fine with it disabled, but turning the slider up creates a great diorama effect. The well animated characters look fantastic moving up and down on the rails, creating an effective illusion that they are moving back and forth between the background and foreground. Using it actually makes it easier to tell where your characters are in relation to their opponents, especially on a few of the missions where there are quite a few rails to choose from.