Code of Princess was first released on the 3DS six years ago. It’s a side scrolling beat em up with some RPG elements blended into it. Upon its original release it was met with mixed reviews, scoring a 67 on Metacritic. Some scored in 80+ whilst others scored it as low as 30. Let’s dive in and see if this revised version shakes off the issues of its original release and is something worth buying.
Trouble has befallen the land as monsters roam the hills. Our main protagonist, Princess Solange, is a lady whose outfit would make a stripper blush. Armed with little clothing, a sacred sword, and gaining new members along the way, Solange sets off on a quest to find the source of this evil and stop the Distron army.
Code of Princess EX as mentioned above is a side scrolling beat em up with some RPG elements. The majority of game time will be spent in a 2D field with three lanes for you to jump between and a fairly generous selection of attacks to use against foes. On top of that you can also shield and use a burst attack, which will heal you from damage taken.
Code of Princess EX certainly doesn’t compare to the likes of Viewtiful Joe, but certainly is a step up above some classic beat em ups. Racking up a combo and making use of all your tools feels rewarding. Then taking down the end of stage boss feels satisfying. There’s a wide selection of characters to choose from who all play fairly differently and the selection of enemies keeps things fresh. In fact the majority of enemies are playable in Free Play/Bonus Quests which adds up to 50+ fighters to choose from.
Not all is perfect, though. Whilst it is a step up from some classic beat em ups it still does feel outdated at times when compared to big names released in recent years. On top of that the combat can be wonky at times and some enemies aren’t difficult, but more frustrating to fight. For example, the Mandrake can get you caught in a ridiculous string of attacks that will do over half damage to you. Needless to say it can be annoying, for the most part the core gameplay is good, but there is one major issue with Code of Princess EX…
Too Many Genres!
The RPG element of Code of Princess EX is what really drags the game down and I can see why the reviews were mixed after playing it. The RPG elements don’t add much to Code of Princess EX apart from frustration. Just like many RPGs this title has stats dedicated to physical strength and magic attack and here is where things got bad. With some enemies having different resistances it means that a character proficient in magic might be too weak to clear the level that they are needed for and you have to grind out levels to get them ready. It isn’t too much of an issue in the main game as characters share EXP, but in Free play and Bonus Quests they don’t. Meaning the 40+ characters you can play as in these modes need to be leveled up individually… Which is totally ridiculous. It slows everything down as you may want to mix things up and play as another character to keep things feeling fresh, but they are just too weak to tackle the stage you are on.
The game does offer local and online multiplayer in the form of 2 player local and 4 player online. The is certainly far more fun when playing with someone else and it also negates the issue of tackling enemies weaknesses. There is a great deal of quests to take on, but for the most part they all boil down to kill every enemy. Unfortunately I never got a chance to try the 4 player online, but I can assume playing with that many people in coop would be fairly amusing.
Whilst playing in handheld Code of Princess EX does looks nice, but dock in and playing on a TV you will remember it was originally a 3DS game. Character models and animations, backgrounds are aesthetically pleasing, but these aren’t the best from a technical standpoint. The VA is all in Japanese so rating the delivery can be difficult, but for those who swear by Japanese dub only you will be pleased. Then finally the soundtrack fits the setting of a fantasy land besieged by monsters.
There isn’t really a great deal to say about the story of Code of Princess EX. It is pretty generic stuff and I feel like many Japanese games seem to fall into the trope of: If they are mocking the genre they can be generic. It all boils down to the bad people must be stopped and the rag tag band of heroes are quite different but get along.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for Code of Princess EX was provided by Nicalis.