Steal Princess Hands-On

No pretty dresses and tea parties for this princess; we use our womanly wiles to get ahead in this puzzling platformer.

Atlus is hard at work bringing over games that we normally wouldn't see in North America. The publisher's latest addition to the Nintendo DS library is an action puzzle platformer game that is intended to put your mushy brain to the test. An endless stream of increasingly complex levels requires some basic platforming skills as well as your keen problem-solving abilities to reach the end goal. You play as the young thief Anise, a sassy girl with long tresses and an eye patch, who is mistaken for the next up-and-coming legendary hero and must traverse through intricate and often dangerous areas to save a kidnapped prince. There are more than 150 stages, and we've only been able to skim the surface. The game is preset with ample tricky obstacles to overcome, but you can also create your own levels and share them with other players over Nintendo Wi-Fi or local wireless.

It looks easy, once you know what to do.

After a bizarre but stylish and flashy opening sequence, you watch as Anise sneaks around a dungeon only to spring an Indiana Jones rolling-boulder trap by accident, fall off a ledge, and get swept away by a strong current. She then wakes up at the king's castle, where she meets Kukri, a buglike fairy who at first thinks the girl is dead but then insists that Anise is the "great hero" who is supposed to defeat the demon lord with Kukri's infinite wisdom and guidance. Insisting that this is a case of mistaken identity, Anise--who is actually a master thief--does eventually agree to help the king find his kidnapped son (who is supposed to be a descendent of the last legendary hero), if only to avoid punishment because of her dubious history.

The game is broken down into several areas with multiple levels within. The first few levels introduce the different elements of the game, which is a nice way of easing you into the puzzles because the difficulty will ramp up as you go. The victory condition must be met in order to continue, which generally involves getting rid of all the enemies so that they drop a key for you to unlock the door to the next stage. You'll pick up color-coded weapons and explosive items, and you'll use Anise's trusty whip to hit switches, but as you make your way through the levels, finding that key becomes tricky. Hazards in the area will hinder your progress, and you'll need to figure out how to dispose of your enemies in a specific order or make use of your limited items carefully to meet the goals that are set. Your accomplishments are tracked, and depending on how long it took you to complete the stage, you'll earn a gold, silver, or bronze medal. The levels don't take more than a minute or two once you figure out what you're supposed to be doing, and restarting is quick and painless. The option to replay the levels is always there for those who have the competitive drive, and if that doesn't motivate you, knowing that your performance will also affect the ending might encourage you to perfect your skills. The ability to save after each map makes this an easy game to take on the go, especially given that each level is so short.

There's a map maker available from the start, which allows you to create your own custom levels to share with friends via Wi-Fi or local wireless. More map templates, enemies, objects, and items become available as you make your way through the game, or you can purchase them with gems that you pick up. Since you choose a template when you create your own level, most of your customization involves placing hazards and other goodies around the map instead of building a level entirely from scratch. Being able to share your devious stages is a great way for people with a thirst for puzzles to have access to a never-ending amount of content.

Solve puzzles and platform your way to the finish line.

This 3D action puzzle platformer is by developer Climax, as well as Marvelous, the maker of Rune Factory, so you'll find that the quality of the visuals is similar, from the animated opening to the in-game graphics. The dialogue is funny too, although Kukri the purple fairy can be a little long-winded and you might find yourself skipping through the text to get on with the puzzles. While at times Steal Princess might feel like a role-playing game, its progression is linear as you move from level to level with storyline and dialogue peppered in along the way.

Steal Princess looks to be another solid entry in Atlus' lengthy 2009 lineup, with goofy humor and challenging puzzles for anyone to enjoy. There are gameplay videos to check out, so be sure to take a look. Put your thieving skills to the test when Steal Princess is released on April 21.

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18 comments
Itakel
Itakel

It looks so beautiful. Can't wait for this game

KathR
KathR

The more I hear about this game, the more I want it.. can't wait!

-Oath
-Oath

To those saying LANDSTALKER, its made by the same team. Anywho, really looking forward to it.

CamiKitten
CamiKitten

Well mebbie this will come out interesting. Gonna keep an eye on this.

Malama83
Malama83

Looks interesting. I also got the feel of landstalker when i saw this =)

Zelgon
Zelgon

Oh Atlus you did it again :) I must Say at least has a great record for awesome games I cant wait to get this one ^.^

Delpheno
Delpheno

Killer7 was made by Capcom, not Atlus.

MatzeEdend
MatzeEdend

Looks pretty cool. Atlus has had a good track record, though I wasn't really impressed with Killer 7... I'll give this one a shot.

bybeach
bybeach

Something impresses me about Atlus, even though they do not do anything near my kind of gaming. Killer 7 was my shallow dive into anything Japanese, much less Personea, this, or previous games. But I have to admit, I like their female(women..not little girls) presentation. Between being attracted to that, and the good graphics, Atllus does art with maturity rather then the many times wierd (often underrage?) soft sex sell. The fact this may be geared to someone else then me..i donno, I may at one time found it as an excellent break from super Mario etc.

-starman-
-starman-

this looks fantastic. i might buy this one without renting it first.

kavadias1981
kavadias1981

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

soulless4now
soulless4now

Sounds interesting. I might pick up in the future depending on reviews.

Kuroi_Ryu
Kuroi_Ryu

Looks interesting. Plus it's always nice to see a female lead.