The lights are on
Code of Princess is one of those games that seemed like it had no chance coming over in the west. It's flamboyant characters and anime inspired action seems like it would have no place here. However, thanks to Atlus, you can now experience Code of Princess for yourself. But, is it worth your time or should simply skip over it?
When you start the game up, you'll be greeted to a great anime-esque opening cutsecene that, more or less, tells you what you're getting yourself into. Once that's done you get into the main menu with three main options to choose from, solo play, local play, and online play (I'll get to each one later).
In solo play, you'll be greeted to the game's campaign, or story mode, where you'll spend a couple hours playing through the game's four main characters. Although there's four different characters, the story is exactly the same, despite a few different missions. The story focuses on Solange, a princess whose kingdom has fallen to the attack of monsters. After fleeing the kingdom with the DeLuxcalibur, a powerful sword, Solange sets out to find the truth behind the monster's attack on the kingdom. Along the way, Solange meets up with several people including female thief Ali, Necromancer Lady Zozo, bard/sage Allegro, martial artist Master T, blind samurai Tsukikage, a cat named
Marco Neko, and a nun named Sister Helga who help Solange on her quest. It's not long after when Solange and co. learn the truth behind the monsters and learn they're the only people who can save the world from destruction. Despite, having a clever script and wacky, but interesting characters, the story quickly becomes stale. With the exception of the ending, you won't find too much to love.
Where the game really shines is in the gameplay. Taking cues from games like Guardian Heroes, Code of Princess takes place in a 2D plane split between three planes: a foreplane, a middle plane, and a back plane
with the player and enemy able to switch between the three at will. Gameplay is very close to other side scrolling brawlers, but simplifies several things to make the game very accessible and easy to learn. You have two buttons, A and B, for melee attacks which can be linked together for quick combos. Special attacks, which every character has, is used with a simple combination of buttons. Each character doesn't have several attacks or special combos instead just a small amount that can be linked together to create devastating effects.
Where the gameplay gets unique is with two features, lock-on and burst. Code of Princess brings the lock-on feature in this genre in a very unique way. By pressing Y, you can lock-on to an enemy and see their current health while also doing two times even while on a different plane. By pressing the X button your character begins to burst and deals much more damage to enemies. Combining burst and lock-on allows you to deal 4 times the normal amount of damage you would do, becoming a very important strategy in the game.
And strategy is something you'll need to overcome the game challenges. Although the game starts up fairly easy, the enemy AI quickly become a formidable force as you go through the missions. Your regular enemy mobs will begin to team up moves against you, surround you in one plane, use special moves in succession and more. Bosses become an even worse threat with many of them using the lock-on, burst strategy on you.
Fortunately, there's some helpful rpg elements to help you out. After each battle, your character will gain experience and eventually level up, where you can spend skill points how ever you want. Put some points into the the attack skill and you'll be shredding through monsters in no time. Want you're character to be a speed demon? Put some points into speed and you're character will be able out run anything. Along with level ups, you'll also have access to armor and a shop to buy new accessories to equip on your character. There's over 50 characters for you to unlock, play as and level up. Although there is only about 15 or so characters that are worth using, it's nice to have the variety.
As stated earlier, Code of Princess does feature multiplayer modes, and for the most part, it's actually worth your time to spend in it. Both local and online multiplayer feature four player cooperative and versus modes. Although versus mode is a fun little time sinker, the real heart of multiplayer mode comes in cooperative mode. There's several quests to complete and some require you and your partners to be high levels to complete. Just be prepared to set up play times, since online lobbies are practically deserted.
As far as sound goes, the story is fully voiced, however the quality varies between characters. The music is great, but you'll be hearing the same tracks about a thousand times before you finish the game. The in game character models are detailed and look great. The environments are nice too, but like the music variety, is repetitive.
Conclusion: Despite having a lackluster story and some major repetitiveness in the game, there's a lot of fun to be found here. There's several quests to be done and with the solid gameplay you won't have a problem doing them. Those looking for a great brawler on the 3DS should definitely consider Code of Princess.
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