Code of Princess is a real-time action JRPG developed by Agatsuma Entertainment and Bones and was published by Atlus.
The story is pretty straightforward. You start out as Princess Solange who humbly wears the least humble princess outfit I’ve ever seen (the game pokes fun at this at times). She is forced to flee her kingdom when it is attacked and taken under siege by an evil queen and Solange finds help in an Aladdin-inspired character named Ali Baba, a Necromancer named Zozo and an annoying sage in training named Allegro, who fights and expresses himself with an electric heavy guitar. As previously mentioned, the story is really silly and is often, enough to drive the player forward. It’s not unimaginably new or creative, but it’s enough to not especially harm the game’s value. The silly voice work makes it especially difficult to take seriously, but then the humor in this game seems intentional. You’ll either enjoy it or be able to ignore it in the end.
The gameplay in Code of Princess reminded me very much of the combat engine in the “Tales of” series. It is played on a 2D plane and your character is given a set of combos and and other special abilities to use to fight off enemies. You an also play as different characters with different combos and abilities from the primary protagonist AND to top it off, there is local and online co-operative gameplay. The only thing missing is exploration.
The combat is the primary focus and is therefore, fluid and fun. Attacks that deal heavy damage often make you feel the impact by shaking the camera or providing a satisfying sound effect for the impact. The combat simply feels great. Some may find it repetitive, but in my experience with the game, it simply has not stopped being fun each time I take out an enemy, weak or strong. Adding to the combat is a guard button which can also double as your dodge ability, a magic burst that helps deal extra damage at the expense of all of your magic. Speaking of which, your characters also typically come with a very useful magic attack or two that, while not as damage effective as your burst ability, are far less taxing on your magic meter.
Each character plays differently and therefore possesses a different battle strategy. This adds replay value as you can tackle either the main story or bonus quests to boost all of your character’s level. Playing with friends is recommended but not essential.
The game has a lot of replay value in my opinion. While there are times where level grinding feels necessary, the game makes it worth your while and makes it easy for when you’re on the go. You gain experience from later challenges and chapters very easily. Because there is no exploring and the game only consists of combat, you can skip past any cutscenes in your way and get right into the action. Most challenges are only a few minutes long and can be beaten very quickly depending on your character’s level and what strategies you choose to apply. The Bonus Quests also add an additional level of challenge, expands the combat somewhat and gives you more to do. Basically, you will not be able to finish this game in a matter of days or even a week. This is a lengthy and lovable game. It may seem strange for me to list off imperfections in the gameplay and give it a perfect score, but it’s just that much fun for me. It’s as if those imperfections don’t matter because the gameplay was just that addicting.
The graphical look of Code of Princess is pretty standard for many JRPGs. It has a cute anime style with colorful character designs and comes out looking pretty nice in 2D or 3D. The cutscenes are told with anime stills with some movements generated in the game engine which is rendered in a cel-shaded style that looks very much like an anime on the screen. The only major downside is that the frame rate is not always smooth and occasionally dips, sometimes in large increments. This is mostly during heavy duty battles with many on-screen enemes. Otherwise, if you dig well animated anime intros, this will tickle your fancy.
The sound effects on this game are amazing. Each impact is loud and forceful. Combine this with a killer soundtrack (which comes with the game in a disc for anyone who buys it brand new) and you have for an amazing soundtrack. Unfortunately, the english voice acting is all over the place. A lot of the time though it’s intentional and self-aware as the game itself is very silly and does not take itself very seriously. However, a lot of the side characters sound a little too ridiculous and voice clips get reused often in combat. This is a minor issue though, as this has been a staple in JRPGs for years. If you can ignore (or even enjoy) the voice work, there’s next to nothing that will harm your experience with this game.
Overall Score: 18/20 = 8.5 out of 10
To any 3DS owner who is seeking a good JRPG experience, pick this game up. It hits many chords on just the right notes. It’s not necessarily perfect, but it’s a very fun experience that any owner of a 3DS (or an Atlus or “Tales of” fan) should pick up. You most certainly won’t regret it.
+ Ridiculously fun combat system
+ Strong soundtrack
+ Lots of replay value
+ Local/Online co-op with up to four players
+ Colorful graphical style
- Wonky voice acting
- Frame rate significantly dips occasionally
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