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Veteran Member - Level 12
Apparently the Code of Princess is code for "let's show off the most skin we can get away with without being considered a hentai game."
When I first heard about Code of Princess for the 3DS, I thought that it sounded strange, even for a JRPG. As a fan of various JRPG titles, it seemed to be a very rare title- one that didn't have an established American fan base (a la Fire Emblem, Final Fantasy, Tales Series, etc). Unfortunately, by the time I had been made aware of the game, it had already been released, so I missed out on the preorder bonus (which, true to Atlus form, included an art book and CD). Still, I can remember my very first experiences playing beat-em-up games like the good old Simpsons brawler from the 90's (every pizza place back in the day used to have one of these machines, and while they ate quarters like nobody's business, they were still incredibly addictive.) Side scrolling brawlers are kind of a lost art- ever since we switched to the "3D world" style of overworld exploration, most RPGs lost the linear "here's the stage and you play through that stage". Beyond the last few side scrolling Mario games, you just don't see that anymore- so if you're a fan of those sorts of games, you're in for a treat.
"Your name is....um, whatever......I was too busy staring at your HUGE TRACTS OF LAND."
There are various modes, including an online mode that I haven't explored, but I played the main campaign mode because I wanted to start out from the beginning. Apparently, you can play as the other characters, which pads the gameplay, but I started out playing as the princess herself, because, well, that's how I roll. The game combines a lot of various other RPG elements beyond the average brawler. First of all, you can equip items that you've picked up in game play (you can play "stages" over individually as many times as you want). If you pick something up during a stage and beat the stage to completion, you can equip the item next time with various benefits for upgrades. Similarly to many other beat-em-up games, you have allies during your fights that are controlled by the CPU. Unfortunately, they're not super smart, so you have to be fairly good at holding your own.
Yeah, right, you can just GLOMP them to death. She doesn't get out much, does she?
One thing that was somewhat surprising was the voice acting. Apparently, there is an English voice acting track in the game. It's not horrible, but it's not super amazing, either. As someone who personally prefers hearing the original voice actors with English text, it is annoying that I don't have the option to hear the Japanese voice acting, but it's a minor annoyance. Whoever they hired to do the English voice acting at least seems to fit the characters, but it's basically on par with the average dub in anime or video games from Japan, so it's not going to win auditory awards anytime soon. What *IS* fairly good is the contents of the actual dialogue. There's a lot of funny stuff in there, a lot of which pokes at JRPG traditions, among other things. This game is pretty meta.
Even though your characters on screen are pretty small, there's quite a lot of good animation involved here. It feels kind of like the characters are cel-shaded- you get a very good 3D effect without it being too "pop out and hit you in the eye". Plus, there are obvious "jiggle physics" in play when it comes to the Princess's large upper body. The one thing I was somewhat impressed with in regards to Princess Solange's outfit is the fact that even though she is wearing an incredibly revealing battle bikini, she is also wearing these huge formidable metal gauntlets on her hands/arms. So even though there's a lot to be desired in the "realistic battle garb" area, it's not exactly a problem because ALL of the characters are dressed ridiculously.
Even necromancers know the importance of wearing clean underwear all the time.
I have to hand it to the Code of Princess development staff- they really outdid themselves with some of the characters. Obviously they have a couple of the stereotypes, but the necromancer Zozo is pretty weird, even for a JRPG character. She's basically a walking corpse (there's a funny scene near the beginning, when you meet her where guards are giving her trouble because "it's ilegal to be a zombie.") and she talks through one of the skulls in her hair. The most interesting thing about her character, though, is that she's not really the body she's walking around in (the necromancer is somewhere else, but just walking around and inhabiting the shell). The body (which is basically like a scantily clad Frankenstein wearing panties) is blue, and she has giant pink hair, but she's also kind of cute in her demeanor, well, as cute as a walking corpse can be.
It's a JRPG. How can we forget the cute loli characters who dress their scary bony monsters with cute pink bows?
The villains are interesting so far- I've mostly been battling mini-bosses and haven't gotten to the first "big boss" but there are several cut scenes that introduce you to your rogues gallery of baddies, from the masked bishonen dude to the pink witch looking kid character who is probably not a kid at all. Obviously, there's political intrigue going on regarding your sword, so it's probably a safe bet that you're going to be fighting these characters at least once. One of the interesting quirks about JRPG games is the inclusion of cute characters that are also scarily powerful. Most of the time, you only see big dudes with big pulsing muscles running around and killing things in American made games, so it's kind of fun to see characters who look a bit silly or weak but who will likely be a formidable foe in a fight.
At least there are no space marines in this game.
So what are my main thoughts about playing? It's fun to just hack and slash through a game- although somewhat mindless. If you're looking for intense strategy, you may have to wait for a different sort of game (Etrian Odyssey comes to mind), but this is a fun game nonetheless. Obviously as I get further along in the game, I will probably need to become more strategic just to avoid dying, but the nice thing is that you can go back and play easier levels over again and level up/allocate points to your various strengths, so it's not like you're ONLY allowed to play linearly.
Final verdict: if you're going to play a game that involves smacking people and monsters with a giant sword, watching attractive and scantily clad ladies run around in eye-googly sorts of ways and enjoy a bit of self-aware JRPG mocking in the dialogue, Code of Princess is going to satisfy your needs.
If you live outside the US, I hear that the eShop has a version for download, so you do not necessarily have to purchase the physical box/cartridge. However, I feel kind of old-fashioned when I get a game, so I opted for the physical copy option.
So, have you played Code of Princess?
Are you planning on picking up the game?
Or have you already beaten the game? If so, what was your favorite character?
As always, I look forward to your thoughts!
I've always enjoyed side scrolling beat-em-ups. Castle Crashers was the first XBLA game I bought, and I also own Scott Pilgrim. This game, though...I think I'm going to pass on. I would feel weird playing it, and I'm sure my wife would look over and ask, "what...on earth?...are you playing?" Nice blog.
Surprisingly CoP is actually alright, but yes- you're right: it's like playing a JRPG and then going from combat to... BOOOOOBBBIES. And that's pretty much that.
I love beat-em-ups, but my issue with the game was that it was like a beat-em-up with all the actual levels removed. It was as if the people who made it were like "I love beat-em-ups, but don't you hate all that fluff that leads up to encountering the level boss?" So each level is just the level boss fight, then another level boss fight. It doesn't feel like I'm exploring worlds, it feels like I'm skipping right to the encounters.
Also, I was not a fan of the character design. The sprite animations are amazing, and the concept art is fantastic...but the actual character designs are just yuck. You suggested that it was okay because everyone was dressed ridiculously, but I disagree...I'd only consider it okay if the majority of the male characters were dressed as scantily as the women. It's when women are dressed scantily while men are full clothed that things become kind of gross. Was there even a single scantily clad male in this? I don't even remember.
Great review! And... I think this is a perfect example of why the 3DS is still going strong. When has something like this appeared on the PS Vita? Sony should be taking a hint.