Developer: Studio Saizensen
Release Date: July 31st 2018
Price as of Article: $39.99 USD, £35.99 GBP
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Game code provided by Nicalis for review
In Code of Princess EX you play as Solange Blanchefleur de Lux, a scandalously attired Princess whose armour is literally the least protective armour possible that wields an enormous, oversized sword known as DeLuxcalibur. Yes this game pokes fun at game troupes and invites us to do the same.
Solange is the Princess of Deluxia, her home is attacked by monsters and is forced to run away, she embarks on an epic journey picking up a random cast of companions along the way. The story is quite light hearted and it has a bunch of humour – some of it hits whilst some of it fell a bit flat.
This game was originally released in 2012 on the 3DS as Code of Princess, itself a spiritual successor to Guardian Heroes with a number of the original Treasure team involved in its production. For the Switch a number of gameplay elements have been refined from the levelling up system to enemies AI and the graphics as well as the introduction of co-op play.
Code of Princess EX is a hack and slash side scrolling game that implements RPG levelling, skills and more. Its a clever mix of gameplay elements that was first introduced by Guardian Heroes, this game is directly influenced by it and is certainly aimed at its many fans.
You have three planes to fight on and you and the enemies can only hit each other whilst on the same plane. Though Code is a hack and slash style game the buttons play out more like a beat em up, you have a light and a heavy attack in B and A and your skills consist of Down, Down B or Down, Right A for example. You can string together some very nice combos and the controls are easy to pick up. The pace is not as fast as I expected and just button mashing won’t get you past the first few levels.
As you progress through the games 50 odd campaign levels you will be joined by 8 companions over time, you can play as any of these characters, each with their own unique skill set. Solange does big physical damage by swiping and swinging her sword around whilst Zozo her necromancer companion slings spells. Your motley crew are varied and each character will thankfully level up regardless of who you choose to play as, the character you choose for a level will receive double the experience of the others so I chose to vary my play across a few favourites.
During battle you might come across chests containing additional armour or weapons, there are a lot of them to collect and the addition of these is very welcome as you can build out a character as you see fit though its worth pointing our that these changes won’t make you drastically change a characters play style, its more a case of tweaking and strengthening them. As well as your combos and skills across your characters each character also has a number of bursts that can be triggered by pressing X, this will temporarily increase your damage output and restore your MP, you can also lock on to an enemy to increase the damage dealt to them.
Battles are a simple affair of hack and slash, combo, burst, lock on and cut down a bunch of enemies before facing a boss, completing the level and getting a bit of story progression before moving onto the next stage. The campaign does ramp up with some spikey levels that will lead you to inevitably grind previous levels in order to get strong enough to progress.
You can also play a campaign with a friend locally, they can pick a character as well and are effectively dropped into the campaign. If you do have a friend join though your progress is not separate so starting with them from the beginning will mean a very easy experience.
Outside of the campaign you also have free play where you can play from a much larger cast of characters, over 50 in fact and each one can be levelled. The stages are the same as those from the campaign but the experience from playing here carries over to your campaign and vice versa. We also have Bonus Quests which are standalone levels that in truth play out the same as in the other modes.
There is a fair amount of depth considering the games simple systems, battles cab become a little repetitive and the pace is a little slow. AI has been improved but its still not great, sometimes enemies will stand around for ages without getting involved.
The opening theme song is fantastic, it really hits that adventurous and arcade like spirit of the game. When battling there are a few different song on offer and each of them is good. Battle sounds are a little bit on the tinny side – perhaps again because they were created for a smaller console, there is nice variety here though with a bunch of different spells, slashes and enemy grunts to please your ears. In battle your characters noises are laid on quite thick and in the heat of battle it can be pretty intense on the ears as you have the background music, sound effects and your character screaming at enemies all at once. The games voice acting is in Japanese and to my ear sounded very good, you can tell the sarcasm is delivered well through the games jokes. It is strange however that the 3DS version was entirely dubbed in English, whilst I did like having the original Japanese voice acting I don’t see why we were not given a choice – the English dub will be missed by some people.
Visuals & Performance
The character design is great, ex Capcom artist Kinu Nishimura did a great job in creating 50 odd characters that are drawn well and have a humorous element to them along with a nice array of enemies and solid backgrounds throughout.
Unfortunately past the design I found the execution to be poor, on a TV the character sprites stand out very clearly from the background and the merging of these two layers does not look good. I found them to be janky with horrible outlines, perhaps this is a problem with porting a game that was intended for the smaller, different ratio Nintendo 3DS.
Being honest the graphics on display would not look great on previous generation consoles and for me are not what I expect of a game at this cost on the Switch.
On the move things do look better as you cannot notice these issues as much.
The couple of cutscenes in the game are hand drawn, anime style scenes that look great – these have been upgraded to HD and the colours are vibrant.
Performance wise the game runs well, the original version had some laggy play but this time around its spot on – I didn’t experience any of this issues I’m pleased to say and the game runs at an impressive 60FPS without any hiccups.
Code of Princess EX is a comprehensive game, there are 50 characters to play with across a number of modes as well as co-op play, items to collect and a fairly lengthy campaign. The omission of the English Dub as an option feels strange for a reboot, you expect more options not less and the graphics are still poor. It is hard to justify £35.99 or $39.99 for someone who didn’t invest in the 3DS version let alone for someone who did.
No performance issues
Guardian Heroes nostalgia hit