Title: Code of Princess
Release Date: October 9, 2012
Publisher (Developer): Atlus (Agatsuma Entertainment)
ESRB Rating: “Teen” for Fantasy Violence and Partial Nudity
What do you get when you give a princess in a bikini a sword that’s bigger than she is (and is apparently magic) and send her off on a quest to destroy an evil queen bringing monsters into the world? The answer isn’t “almost every fantasy anime ever made.” It’s Code of Princess, Agatsuma Entertainment and Atlus’ side-scrolling 3DS brawler. Don’t worry about how ridiculous the premise is – everyone in the cast pretty much realizes they’re part of a game filled with tropes and rolls with it. Besides, the action is so good, you won’t even notice one of the heroines is half-naked.
Code of Princess #1: Never let the Sacred Blade DeLuxcalibur fall into evil hands.
Monsters have invaded the world. They’re everywhere, attacking innocents. The culprit behind their appearance is unknown, but a rumor has been spread that the rulers of DeLuxia are behind it. At least, that’s what Queen Distiny claims as she sends the Distron army into the Kingdom of Deluxia to murder the royal family and steal the Sacred Blade DeLuxcalibur.
Naturally, it isn’t true. The king suspects Queen Distiny of wrongdoings and sends his daughter, Princess Solange, to get DeLuxcalibur from its resting place and flee the kingdom to keep it from Queen Distiny’s grasp. Solange escapes just as the Distron army and a monster attack hits DeLuxia, and after grabbing DeLuxcalibur realizes she’s able to use it.
Solange then joins forces with a thief named Ali Baba, a necromancer (don’t call her a zombie) named Zozo and an elf bard/sage named Allegro. The four all realize Queen Distiny is the one truly in the wrong and set off to save their world.
Code of Princess #2: Never stop beating up anything in your path.
Code of Princess is a Guardian Heroes style, 2D brawler. Here’s how it works. Players pick one of the characters, for the sake of this review I’ll say Solange. When Solange appears in the level, a goal will appear that directs players to do something like protect certain characters, defeat all enemies or defeat a boss. Though this is a 2D game, Solange and her opponents can move between the foreground, middleground and background. Attacking like crazy, either through button mashing or strategic inputs, can trigger combos that deal massive damage. Locking on to a specific enemy allows a character to do double damage to that enemy. Also, characters have a mana bar for special attacks and bursts. If a character unleashes a burst, he or she will deal double damage. If Solange were to lock on to an enemy and burst, then she would do four times as much damage as usual. After a level has been completed, experience is doled out and often a piece of equipment is obtained as a reward. If a character levels up, his or her stats can be increased to make him or her more formidable.
People will have plenty of opportunity to fight, as Code of Princess has plenty to offer players. There’s the basic Story mode, in which players find out what happens to Solange and company, unlock new characters, unlock more challenges and earn money to spend in Marco Neko’s shop on equipment. There are also Free Play and Bonus Quest modes, where more characters are available to play offline, single player challenges. Then there’s the Multiplayer, where people can go online to work with or against one another.
Still, having that many modes has its issues as well. It seems Agatsuma Entertainment expected everyone to play every level and challenge between four and eight times, not only as Solange, but as Ali, Zozo, Allegro, Tsukikage, Drakkhen, Sister Hel and Marco Neko. Once I hit the Baku Juppongi boss fight with a level 28 Allegro and lost, I realized the developer had expected me to be grinding even more than I already had. Code of Princess gets difficult fast and before you know it, you can hit a difficulty wall in the story mode that can only be overcome if you spend an additional hour or two replaying previous levels to boost your favorite character’s stats.
Code of Princess does have a multiplayer problem though, and I’m not talking about how hard it is to actually find other people to play with online due to the game’s rarity. See, if someone were to say, play with the 3D on and go online, the game would slow to a crawl and become nigh unplayable. Just playing with the 3D on or with another player also slows it down, but not to a point where the game is ruined. I found it least laggy if I was playing with a friend with adhoc multiplayer, since we were both in the same room. Not to mention you aren’t missing out if you play with the 3D off – I thought it looked better that way.
It’s a disappointment to be sure, since the multiplayer is a Code of Princess highlight. Pretty much every major hero, villain, NPC and monster becomes a playable character in the competitive and cooperative multiplayer, providing tons of replay value. While I admit I wouldn’t consider using a minor minion frequently, there’s an undeniable joy that stems from having over 50 playable characters available if you decide to play with friends. I only wish that kind of freedom extended to the every mode. While Tsukikage, Master T Drakkhen, Suster Hel and Marco Neko all join Solange’s party, only Solange, Ali, Zozo and Allegro are playable in the story mode and only the party of eight are playable in the Free Play mode.
Code of Princess #3: Always enjoy the ride.
Even though my thumbs will never be the same from all the button mashing, I genuinely enjoyed Code of Princess. It’s always wonderful to find an action game with a true challenge, fantastically funny script and robust single and multiplayer modes. I was disappointed that the action slows when playing online or in the 3D mode and wish I hadn’t had to grind so much to beat certain bosses and challenges, but overall I was quite satisfied with this beat’em up. Agatsuma and Atlus have created a truly entertaining game with staying power, even if it does have a few quirks.
Site [Code of Princess]