Screw the Rules, I Have Money
Set in a world where at one time the strong rose to the top, things have changed. Now money is power and capitalism is the way of the world. Our protagonist simply known as “Princess” who also happens to be a princess is embarking on a journey to avenge the death of her father by the hands of the Dragoloans. Aided by her loyal servant Sebastian the Beetle and armed with a calculator it’s time to take back the Kingdom with the power of cash!
Penny Punching Princess is an action RPG with a unique spin on it. Like any game in the genre you will punch foes and raise your stats, but to mix things up a bit you will also be able to bribe your opponents to join your side you just got to make sure you got enough cash. When bribed you’ll be able to summon them to do a specific attack with limited uses. There is a good deal of variety between what bribed opponents can do; healing, debuffs, projectiles, and melee attacks are prime examples. Not only can The Princess bribe living creatures she can also bribe inanimate objects like the traps that are scattered throughout the battle arena. Guillotines, giant fans, fire pits, spiked floors, and many more are found throughout the game. I found having so many options for what to bribe made each encounter quite engaging. Do you bribe a living creature making you have to worry about one less foe? Or do you get one of the traps which tend to be stronger, but also tend to be quite static.
Penny Punching Miser
Of course then the question is, what other options does the Princess have? At first glance her other fighting capabilities are underwhelming. Combo 1, combo 2, heavy attack, push away, stronger push away, and special attack are pretty much all she can do (You can upgrade for 3 more attacks later on). However what I found is that less is more, her offensive arsenal might be underwhelming, but each attack felt like it had a very specific role whereas in other brawlers every attack just blends together. She can do more than just bribe with her calculator though she can also access a move called “Coin Miracle” punch in a a number and spend that much cash to get a selection of random abilities. The more cash you put in the higher chance for a higher level boost you get. Healing, meteor showers, power boost, turning into a giant and more. Then there are the special attacks and these are linked to the armour you have equipped; buffs, healing, projectiles and more can be found here. It’s this combination of mechanics that make each enemy encounter feel satisfying. Nothing is difficult to master, but you’ll constantly be thinking about the best way to approach each situation.
The Princess isn’t the only character you play as. As you progress you will unlock the ability to play as Isabella. The Princess’ Zombie Aunt. She is different enough to make it worth repaying a stage as her, but not so different to make it feel like a completely new experience. Her attacks have longer range, has access to skull bombs and lacks a calculator. She can still bribe though, but she’ll have to be right next to her target.
The World, Stages, and More
The game is split up into chapters and each chapter has five levels. Progression through each level is fairly linear with the odd fork in the road. As you stroll along you will find yourself closed in a specific area and must defeat the enemies that appear. There are a lot of different enemies to fight and only towards the end do they start to get stale. There are a number of chests spread around the world and these contain “Zenigami Statues”. These can be used to upgrade your stats. For the most part each level just requires you to reach the end, one level made it mandatory for you to finish with 10,000G and then other times you’ll have to defeat a boss. The bosses in this game are pretty tricky and I felt that these sometimes crossed other the line of being difficult to just feeling cheap. The tools on offer to avoid and damage them made it feel like the best approach was to just take the easy route. Which is using coin miracle to take them out with meteorites and just run around till the calculator recharges. I must stress that not every boss feels like this, but some are. In particular one that liked to throw bombs.
From a visual standpoint the game looks lovely. I liked the designs of the Princess, Isabella and the enemies. From pictures you’ll see it isn’t a technical powerhouse, but the bright colours were nice on the eyes. The soundtrack fits well with each world, it never stands out as amazing, but it does the job. Storywise? Don’t take it too seriously, cause it doesn’t take itself serious. The writing does have its moments and will get you to chuckle a bit, but the money puns might wear thin towards the end. Also the title does suffer from a bit of a framerate drop when a lot is happening on screen. It isn’t too common and won’t affect your enjoyment too much, but it is there. Also clearly some parts of stages are clearly copy and pasted, but then given a different palette on other levels.
I should mention that in between missions you will be given the option to upgrade each character, craft new armour and craft more zenigami statues. To craft each of these you will have had to of bribed the specific type and number of enemies, traps and have the cash to pay for it. It is a nice little system that means that you’ll want to bribe anything and everything you come across. One thing that shocked me was that Penny Punching Princess is actually quite tricky. It certainly offers a challenge. if you die once in a level you automatically get a D rank and health isn’t that common a thing to find. However as I approached the end I feel like the difficulty might’ve been ramped up to hide the fact that it is quite a short game. You’ll easily sink 10 hours into it, but that number is from deaths and grinding for zenigami statues.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for Penny Punching Princess was provided by NIS America.