Code of Princess is a game I’ve had an eye on for a very long time in the Nintendo eShop. I had no idea of its existence and thought it was a download-only game. It had the Atlus name attached to it so I knew it was probably good. It’s named by many as the spiritual successor to Guardian Heroes, one of SEGA Saturn’s best title. It’s a beat em up at its core, but with many RPG elements attached to it. The question is, how does it measure up?
I simply adore the humorous dialogue, and story segments in-between missions. There are many laugh-out loud moments that I never expected to experience in a little RPG like this. Kinds of reminds me of Radiata Stories a bit, in the sense that it doesn’t take itself seriously at all. It’s full of goofy characters, but all are extremely well written. It’s not gonna revolutionize story telling, but it doesn’t try too, it just wants to entertain and marvel you. For me, everything clicked.
+ This is my kind of hack and slash game. The system in place plays just like a 2D fighter, with a few simple combos easily executable from the start, but with hidden moves that require an insane amount of precision and memory. The missions are also pretty short, ranging from a few seconds to about 10 minutes in length each. It helps to prevent the game from feeling repetitive, and also lets you rest your fingers. Sure, you can button mash your way through most of the game, but at some point you’ll hit a wall and have to use actual strategy to defeat your foes. Blocking and parrying becomes crucial during the more difficult stages.
+ Most beat ’em ups become repetitive at some point. Code of Princess has tons of RPG elements to prevent that from happening. Of course, if you can’t stand these kinds of games in the first place, it won’t be enough to make you a believer. For me, grinding and leveling up my characters was so addicting that I couldn’t put the game down. You pretty much gain a level after every story mission in which case you can spend points on many different attributes whether it be your strength, stamina or speed. The level cap is pretty high ( I was level 71 when I took on the final boss, heard that the cap was 150) so you can raise your character the way you see fit, or simply create a well balanced one.
+ Grinding that doesn’t feel like grinding. The game is divided into three sections, the main campaign, free play and online mode. No matter the mode you play, your character earns experience points. Code of Princess really encourages you to try all the different modes and replay previous missions in free play since you’re always earning experience. The stronger the character, the faster you can complete missions and the easier it will be to level up. I ended up grinding a lot as the game became more difficult and it never felt like a chore.
+ A crazy amount of characters you can play as either during the main campaign or in versus modes. Basically anyone you encounter can be unlocked as a playable character. Some are completely useless but funny as heck to use in a battle.
+ Bonus quests that are totally optional will be unlocked as progress. These are extremely hard and give you a reason to keep playing after the end credits roll.
– I wish there were more AI partners during the main story missions. You only have co-op partners for a handful of them, even though you have a full party during the entire game. Would have been sick if you could bring a few with you into battle.
– This is by no means Atlus fault, but there’s absolutely no one online. It’s been almost a year since Code of Princess’ release but still, very sad to see that no one’s playing this. I tried many, many times, but never could find someone to play with. It’s a shame because the mutliplayer features look amazing. Don’t purchase this if you’re planning on spending most of your time online, unless you know a friend or two that will game with you.
– Very short game, I capped it off in just over five hours. For me, that’s the perfect length for a game like this, but some will be disappointed. Lots of replay value though if you enjoyed it.
Code of Princess is one of the 3DS’ many hidden gems. It will feel repetitive for non-genre fans, but I found it absolutely addicting and I don’t run out after beat ’em ups usually so who knows. It has that classic Atlus feel to it and is just full of rich characters and beautiful environments. If you like RPGs and want to experience something a little different, Code of Princess comes highly recommended.
Final Score: 8.7/10