I will use the name Fuki when referring to the player character throughout the review.
You are assuming the role of a Hero of battle who sets off in aid of the four princesses who have requested your help. After deciding which of the princesses Fuki will help first, it is then up to her to train and cultivate the princess how she sees fit with the use of Knowledge Matira to help them achieve their goal. Once the princess is at a point where Fuki can leave, she will train another princess.
Meet The Princesses
Liliaretie: Captain of the king’s guard and the princess of the Alixon Kingdom. Liliaretie is only good at eating and fighting, and eating the things she kills. She is outgoing with a smile and is admired by all.
Wielding a giant axe, she carves her way to victory for her nation.
Veronica: A child prodigy in magic, Veronica is the strongest witch in her guild. She is a tyrant; arrogant, and cold with charisma. She wants to rule the world by exploiting the technology of the ancient civilisation.
Propelling powerful spells to dispose of any who stand in her way towards world domination.
Monomaria: A fallen duchess of the once renowned Yudaria family of the Mercantile Trade Coalition. No money and with her reputation in tatters, she has to become a Mercenary to survive, believing personal growth being the answer to save her family name.
With her custom Gatling Gun, she will restore her family’s name.
Alpana: The 64th descendant of dragon priest of the North Karmara Faith. Being a philanthropist who believes in harmony for all races of the world, she sets off to achieve this goal.
With flight and twin daggers, she will dispatch those who mean her harm.
When starting a new game, the player will need to customise their Instructors: gender, appearance, name, voice, and personality. It is a very simple customisation, and with all the voices being in Japanese, personality and voice are irrelevant unless the player understands Japanese. I, for one, have a minimal vocabulary, so I don’t understand everything said.
The Princess Guide is an Action-Role-Playing-Game (ARPG), with Visual Novel style cutscenes. This means lots of talking and lots of hacking enemies to death while improving the statistics of the princesses and Fuki. As an instructor, there are times where Fuki will get to give guidance on how the princess will act, Scolding or Praising her. Doing so will change the way said princess would act. Also, this can be done while fighting, allowing more effective cultivation the princess.
Knowledge Matira And Guidance
Knowledge Matira is the game’s leveling up system. Knowledge is gained by performing actions, for example killing enemies, stunning enemies, and capturing relics to name a few. Once the knowledge is unlocked, the Princess will need to learn it. It is done in two ways:
- Through guidance
- Meeting the knowledge requirements. e.g. stun ten enemies
Guidance is by far the most crucial aspect of this game; it allows the princesses to get stronger as well as influence their actions. It also leads to improving Fuki’s statistics. Guidance can be issued at any time during battle but is more effective at certain points. Once the Princesses has met the requirement or enough guidance is given so the knowledge can be learnt. The knowledge has different improvements, as well as requirements to learn it. The knowledge will add to the improvement of one or more of the five statistics(stats) of a princess. These are Strength, Wisdom, Spirit, Moral, and Faith. Leveling up certain ones will unlock new perks and units. Each Knowledge Materia has a different requirement to learn.
This is in the form of heart segments. With guidance and killing enemies, the princess will gain hearts segments, and four segments make one heart. The Knowledge will depend on the number of segments it will need. The more the Knowledge levels up the stats, the more segments are needed. This, in turn, gives Fuki stat points to improve herself. Fuki has a number of improvements, from HP increase and Strength increase, to passives such as extra defense for soldiers. The higher the level of growth, the more points are needed, so the more Fuki will need to teach the princesses.
More About Battles
Battles are conducted on an isometric fixed camera plain on a linear path. There are monsters to slay and items to find, and also ambushes to be had. Ambushes are in a fixed area where the character must survive an X amount of waves of enemies to progress. This, for me, was loads of fun, running about then the screen flashes and you have to kill EVERYTHING! When entering a battle, there will be a commander (Fuki, princess, or mercenary) and soldiers. The commander is the controlled character, whereas the soldiers follow and attack on there own. The commander can also issue orders to soldiers and make them attack where it is needed. They have two attacks: a normal weapon attack and a more powerful EX attack. EX attacks are limited per battle; these differ depending on the type. Soldiers will gain levels while in the party that will increase their effectiveness.
Unlocking new units require certain knowledge levels to be met. Each unlocked unit has its own stats which is represented by five stars for attack and defense. There are three groups of two soldiers with each captain, these soldiers can be killed, and after a set amount of time, will respawn.
Lastly, as more of the map is cleared and dominance is enforced, the commander will gain access to tactics. Once a tactic has been issued, it will last for a set amount of time – these will make battles easier. An example would increase the defense of soldiers.
While fighting to the end of each battle, the commander will come across Relics. These ancient objects are invaluable in battle, as they can rain down arrows from the sky or heal everyone. The increase in dominance allows for the commander tactics to be used. Capturing a relic requires soldiers – the more there are, the quicker the capture as until captured, the Relic will affect the party and ignore the enemy.
World Map And Missions
The world map is set up with nodes (these represent places) that a commander must pass on a set line to move to the next one. Moving takes time and Action Points(AP), there is a segmented clock, each segment is one hour. Why is this important? I shall tell you. While on the World Map, missions will pop up at times for the commander to attempt to clear. Most missions, except main missions, can be timed. Meaning that after a set amount of hours, the mission will fail. Unfortunately, there was never a significant problem as the game gave ample time for a commander to initiate the mission. AP is depleted with each passing hour and is the accumulation of the parties AP, so the higher the AP, the longer the commander can be on the map. It is possible to withdraw at any time, but there will be a waiting period until the commander can be used again.
There can be up to four commanders on the world map at one time all going to different places. There is knowledge to be found on the map, enemies roaming around, treasures to find, and missions to complete. This can make the map look busy. Luckily the maps are large enough that it does not get too congested. While planning the commander’s move, time will stand still, allowing you to plan a move. It is a nice addition, so time is not wasted.
It, at first, might seem like a lot to get your head around all the different systems and things going on, but the game is straightforward. After the first hour, I had most of the systems down. For me, this was a nice change of pace for more demanding ARPGs.
The Princess Guide has that typical lively, bouncy music we have all come to love when playing a NIS America game. The music choice is excellent; each princess has her own theme that reflects their nature. Not to mention that the battle music changes the feel – still lively, but in a more aggressive way.
The characters are all voice acted in Japanese, again, to a very high standard, conveying the emotions as well as the nature of each character.
Sound effects are right. In cutscenes, the noise of characters appearing in armour or the sound of magic and eating sound good. In-game sound effects are decent; the Gatling Gun was the most noticeable out of the princesses’ weapons, along with the beep that happens when a princess is down to 25% health.
Overall a decent audio track.
Visuals & Performance
I love the look of The Princess Guide, there are four distinct aspects within the game, and they all work so well with each other.
- The anime style drawing of the cutscenes and menus showing the princesses in their full awe. These are all bright and colourful and beautiful animated.
- The world map is wonderfully hand-drawn, with a toned down colour pallet. Each of the four kingdoms is a different biome: sandy deserts, lush greenery, snowy terrain, and the ruins of an ancient civilisation.
- Finally, the chibi (short and small style) art style of the battle maps, everything is just cute. Well, except for the giant flame-spewing dragon… that’s scary.
- Within the battle maps, if there is any text to read, it is displayed on the floor. This is most noticeable in the tutorial, as well as the big, bold stylised images that appear when scolding or praising a princess.
These four elements make up a beautifully crafted world. They do not seem like they would fit together, but they do. I love the chibi art style. I love all of the art styles that are on display here as it makes for a strange complementary blend of forms.
The performance was not a problem, in both handheld and docked, there were no slow downs or frame rate drops. I can not fault it.
The Princess Guide comes in at USD $39.99, £34.99 GBP, for a NIS America title, this is a reasonable price. With the customisation and the fact that the game needs to be replayed, this price is perfect. I can find no reason to complain.
Physical Edition – Yes!
Interested in more outstanding games by NIS America check out my review of The Caligula Effect
The different art styles
Tons of weapons to find and make
A different take on leveling
It is too easy
Need to reply the game