By Steve Baltimore / August 28th, 2018
|Title||Code of Princess EX|
|Release Date||July 31st, 2018|
It’s been quite a few years since I first played Code of Princess on 3DS. This title is a spiritual successor to Guardian Heroes that first appeared on the Sega Saturn back in 1996. I felt this was a decent beat-em-up with RPG elements, but it just simply was not as good as Guardian Heroes. Nicalis has given the game a fresh coat of paint and many other enhancements. This new version has released on the Nintendo Switch and is called Code of Princess EX. Let’s see if these improvements bring it up a level.
The story follows Princess Solange of DeLuxia as she is exiled from her kingdom after it is attacked by monsters. The royal family is blamed for this attack. Solange finds herself armed with the legendary DeLuxcalibur as she sets out on a journey to stop the monsters and clear her family’s name. This quest will not be easy, but she will not be alone as she runs into some trusty companions along the way. These include thief Ali Baba, necromancer Lady Zozo, bard Allegro and more.
While this a very basic tale that doesn’t mean it’s bad. The characters all have a lot of personality and the great writing helps this along nicely. The scenes of them bantering back and forth can be quite funny at times. The story does have a few serious moments and you will have to make a choice that will have a great effect on the ending. I wouldn’t go into this one expecting anything mind blowing, but if you want something basic and entertaining, this will fit that bill nicely.
This version has been enhanced from its 3DS counterpart. All of the character sprites have been re-drawn and some of the backgrounds have been touched up as well. While everything looks better, it would be pointless if the framerate wasn’t improved. Thankfully, that is the case here as this version greatly bumps up the framerate even if there are a crazy amount of enemies on the screen. This makes the action feel much faster and fluid. Honestly, it almost feels like a completely different game at times.
Code of Princess EX retains the great soundtrack of the previous version. There are plenty of upbeat fantasy tunes to beat your enemies senseless to as well as some more dramatic tracks for those tense moments. The physical release comes with a sweet mini OST that highlights some of the game’s best tracks. There is partial voice acting and the voice actors here still sound a bit cheesy, but in the the best way possible. There are plenty of voiced grunts and groans for your party members, enemies and various other characters.
Gameplay is your typical side-scrolling beat-em-up affair. You will move across each mission beating up any baddies that get in your way. The gameplay is spiced up a bit by having three different combat planes. There is the back, middle and foreground in which you can do battle in. You can switch between the three at any time with a simple button press. My feelings on this mechanic really haven’t changed much over the years, changing planes with a button press feels unnecessary. There are much better ways to do this rather than holding a top trigger and pressing up and down. It doesn’t really break this game, but I never felt this really added anything to it either.
Every character has their own set of special moves. These moves are really simple to pull off and consist of tapping in a couple directions and pressing an attack button. This really makes each character feel a bit unique and really adds to the overall experience. These moves will consume mana however, so you will want to be leery of how much you are expending. If you find yourself in a bind, you can always use Burst Mode. This is basically like an overdrive mode where all your mana is drained at once but you will get a nice buff. Equipping certain items can change what kind of buff you receive, such as filling up all of your HP or giving you even more attack power.
There are a few different modes found in the game. Campaign mode lets you experience the game’s story. Your character selection will be limited to those in Solange’s party. This has been expanded from the 3DS release to include Tsukikage, Master T and Marco Neko as playable party members in the campaign. Just like last time around, completing missions will not only progress the story. They will unlock characters for use in the other modes, some EXP, equipment and pay out some some cold, hard cash. You can use this money to purchase items to upgrade your party from the story. You will only need to purchase an item once to use it on every party member and new items will come up for sale as you complete missions. There is, however, one big difference in this version in the way your characters level up. You will gain skill points with each level you gain, but they will automatically be distributed in this version. This was done to make each character feel unique and made the game feel more balanced in my opinion.
One of the other gameplay modes is Free Play, which allows you to replay any mission you’ve completed. Replaying missions will grant you additional items and EXP to power up your party. Any character you have unlocked playing campaign mode can be used here as well. You wanna take on the enemy hordes with a troll or a villager? Here’s your chance to do just that. Every character can be equipped with items to power them up and they will gain EXP and level up just like your normal party members. If you don’t want to replay the campaign quests, there is a Bonus Quest mode that will give you some freshly baked quests to complete. These quests will unlock as you complete story missions, and just like in Free Play, any character can be used. You will gain the same kinds of spoils as in the other gameplay modes. These modes can be played with local multiplayer for up to two players. There are some online modes as well including versus and co-op, but I was unable to test these due to not being able to find a lobby.
All in all, I felt Code of Princess EX was a big improvement over the 3DS game of years ago. The improved graphics and framerate really make this feel like a different game and there is plenty of content there to keep you bashing enemies for hours. I think my biggest problem with this title is still the same though. The combat just feels really stiff at times and the CPU controlled opponents always seem to have an edge in hitting you before you can strike them. Some may think this one is a bit overpriced at the $49.99 for the physical edition, but I have to tell you, Nicalis put a lot of love into it. It comes with reversible cover art, full color manual and a mini OST, so I feel like it is well worth the price. This game is by no means a bad game, but I still feel like it could use more polish. I really hope Nicalis decides to make a full on sequel to this. Based on how much better this is than the original, that would be something to behold. It took about 6 hours to complete the main quest and I spent a ton of time messing around with the characters I unlocked in the other modes. If you didn’t like the original release, there is nothing here that will change your mind. However, If you loved this on the 3DS or are a hard core fan of beat-em-ups, then it would be well worth picking up.
Review copy provided by the publisher for review purposes.
beat-’em-upCode of Princess EXNicalisStudio SaizensenSwitch