By Josh Speer / March 25th, 2019
I want to preface this by saying I’m a big fan of Nippon Ichi Software. They’ve been around for a long time, publishing niche and challenging games that cater to a variety of tastes. So I went into The Princess Guide hopeful that this would be yet another success story for them. Sure, I’m not amazing at any game with RTS elements, which are present here, but I was cautiously optimistic. Furthermore, I usually love games with date sim elements, such as Stella Glow. Unfortunately, in the case of The Princess Guide, the optimism didn’t win out.
I’ll start by pointing out that this is one of the few games I have played where I got stuck in the tutorial. Now that’s not entirely the fault of the developer, but it was a very avoidable misunderstanding. When the tutorial told me to use the directional buttons, it didn’t clarify it was referring to the left Joy-Con at one point. As a result, I skipped the tutorial and jumped into the game, wholly unprepared for anything other than the basic hack and slash. I was woefully ignorant of the Strategies or special techniques. To be fair, I did finally get through the tutorial after trying again a couple hours later, but unfortunately I was still getting pummeled by the game.
The primary reason I was still getting pummeled is that the game is a strange mix of RTS and hack and slash. You can initiate combat fast and effortlessly, but that same speed can be used against you. It takes mere seconds for you to get surrounded by foes and annihilated. Granted, you have a dash move to avoid that sort of trap, but this requires spot on reflexes. Another complicating factor is that when you use special techniques, you pause briefly, and that short window proved my untimely demise more than once. I was also frustrated that the game doesn’t pause while you select Strategies for your troops. I like not feeling rushed and anxious in games, and this sort of design only contributes to that issue.
While the combat isn’t horrible, it suffers from another problem – a lack of explanation. Frankly, this issue permeates the entire game. More than once I was completely at a loss as what to do, and things that should be intuitive rarely were. For example, it took me way to long to realize there’s a difference between Dispatching a team and moving them on the map. Not helping is that the map itself is a huge connection of nodes that can be hard to understand at times. I also couldn’t figure out how to upgrade my Princess. Yes, there was a tutorial, but after watching it I was unable to tweak my Dragon princess from my home base.
One of the things I was most looking forward to in The Princess Guide was bonding with and helping my chosen princess, Alpana, but I wasn’t even able to do much of that. Perhaps more opportunities open later in the game, but it’s no exaggeration I got stuck only a few missions in. The particular mission I was on involved keeping several bands of mercenaries from attacking a specific outpost, and I just got overwhelmed by hordes of foes that seemed far more powerful than I was. To be fair, I probably could have spent far more time grinding on optional maps, but given how little satisfaction I was having, I decided to opt not to.
Much as I hate to pile on, there’s a couple more things I feel obligated to mention. First off, though the art design is wonderful, full of personality and color, there is an odd quirk. During dialogue, the 2D portraits move incredibly quickly. This isn’t normally the sort of thing I would complain about, but it really took me out of the game every time. I’ve played tons of games with lots of dialogue and moving portraits, and none has ever seemed this out of place. A little bouncing is fine, but they all looked like they were on speed. And while the dialogue in the game itself isn’t bad, it’s also nothing amazing. It all seemed a bit stream of consciousness for my tastes.
I had high hopes for The Princess Guide, but I came away pretty disappointed after about 3 hours. I should say that perhaps these issues are more due to my own tastes in games than necessarily the game itself being inherently bad. But given that my job was filtering my experiences through this lens, I have to share them. I do hope that the next project I cover from NISA is a bit more well balanced. Just a bit more time in development refining things would have easily fixed many of my problems here, and I’m hopeful this sort of experience is the exception, and not the norm.
eShopImpressionsNISAoprainfallSwitchThe Princess Guide