Code of Princess Review

Code of Princess is a fun and funny fantasy brawler that's unfortunately hampered by technical issues.

Code of Princess has a renowned lineage to live up to. It has been promoted as being from several of the staffers behind the Sega Saturn (and, more recently, XBLA) beat-'em-up classic Guardian Heroes, so fans had high expectations. Code of Princess doesn't quite hit the notes necessary to become a similarly loved genre classic, but it's still a solid brawler with a distinct personality to it.

Only you can protect nuns from emaciated demons.

The game follows scantily dressed Princess Solange and her ragtag team of companions as they rescue the land from a wicked queen. It's a straightforward story, but the dialogue and characters are anything but. The world of Code of Princess is self-aware of its fantasy ridiculousness, and there are some amusing interactions among the cast of playable weirdos. The cast is fairly sizable (though only four characters are playable in the campaign), and they're all distinct in their appearance and demeanor: Lady Zozo is a disinterested necromancer constructed from "spare parts"; Allegro is an axe-wielding elf bard who swears he's just a few experience points from being the world's best sage; and the only thing that stands out more than Solange's skimpy armor (which everyone in-game agrees is ludicrous) is her self-preservation instinct. Ali, the speedy thief, is the most grounded presence in a world populated by masters of Ultimate Manimal Arts and nuns that forgo prayer to beat the sin out of people.

What makes the humorous characters and setting even more appealing is the ease with which you can dive into the game. Code of Princess' side-scrolling brawling action takes a dash of inspiration from traditional action and fighting games without complicating its formula too much. Characters have a set of basic combos and strikes, along with special skills performed with button presses combined with other inputs. Each character has a distinct moveset, but their commands are all quite similar, making it easy to hop from one character to another--you simply need to learn which command corresponds to which skill.

If there are a lot of enemies onscreen, you can lock on to one by hitting it with a Y button strike, which allows homing magic and techniques to target that foe exclusively and regular strikes to deal additional damage. Learning how to use character skills to set up and perform mega-damaging combos on hordes of enemies is one of the most fun aspects of the game.

Magic skills are great at long range for crowd control.

There are a host of defensive maneuvers you can perform as well. You can guard against attacks and take less damage, and double-tapping a controller direction while doing this allows for a quick dodge. As in Guardian Heroes, the stages are made up of multiple side-scrolling combat planes, and you may swap the plane you are currently on. This is handy for getting away from large swarms of foes and sometimes lets you take advantage of objects in the stage for cover. Since enemies can swap planes as well, it's usually only a temporary reprieve from combat, but jumping from plane to plane wisely can help you lure enemies in and set up big-damage strikes. Finally, you may unleash a powerful burst technique that can blow away groups of foes and grant a temporary strength boost in exchange for all of your fighter's current magic power.

While the game takes a lot of inspiration from Guardian Heroes, it's quite different in the way it progresses. Code of Princess doesn't present branching paths through the game. Instead, you play through individual missions that make up the longer, linear story. You can choose to replay completed sections of the game, as well as bonus missions that unlock as you complete parts of the main story. As you complete these quests, you unlock new equipment and playable characters for the game's multiplayer modes, as well as money to buy new items from Marco the feline shopkeeper. You also gain experience points and levels for your characters that permanently increase their capabilities. Once a stage has been unlocked for one character, it's available for all other characters as well, so you can swap between them as you see fit.

However, this feature highlights one of the issues with Code of Princess. There are sudden spikes in difficulty, and if your characters' strength isn't adequate, you'll find yourself outclassed by enemies quickly. It's tempting to swap characters constantly throughout the story, but if you do this, you'll soon find all of them lagging behind in levels when the really tough battles begin. You don't get any consolation experience points if you wipe out during a stage, either, even if you've spent a good amount of time playing through it. If you don't want to play a single character through the whole story mode, you need to grind in the free play modes and missions, which can quickly become annoying and repetitive. (Late-addition story characters like Allegro will likely need to grind anyway.) If you don't feel like gaining levels, you can attempt to exploit the enemy AI with hit-and-run tactics, which isn't any less repetitive.

A candid image of Lady Zozo shopping for a makeover.

A more serious issue, however, is the frame rate. Code of Princess looks nice, with well-animated sprites, appealing character designs, and a good use of the 3D effect with the combat planes. However, once more enemies begin to show up, the frame rate takes a noticeable hit, which is a very distracting problem in an action game with a lot going on at once. The frame rate issues are particularly egregious in the multiplayer modes. The game supports up to four players in local or online multiplayer sessions. Playing with a single buddy competitively or in co-op modes is a lot of fun, but once more than one friend joins the fray, the frame rate starts to collapse to the realm of near unplayability. Turning off the 3D alleviates this issue somewhat, but the need to shut off one of the console's main features to enjoy the game properly is frustrating.

There's a lot to like about Code of Princess: the characters and dialogue are amusing, the combat is fundamentally solid, and there's a lot of replayability in the various missions and side quests. Even though some design and technical hiccups prevent the game from reaching the heights of its inspiration, there's still enjoyment to be had from this goofy fantasy romp.

The Good
Easy-to-learn gameplay
Funny characters and dialogue
Good variety of missions to play, items to collect, and characters to unlock
Great multiplayer with a (single) friend
The Bad
Inconsistent frame rate, especially with more than two players
Repetitive and grindy at times
Sudden difficulty spikes can be frustrating
7
Good
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sasami_adachi
sasami_adachi

I am late to the party and have only begun playing this game a couple of days ago. ^^;;;

 

I absolutely heart the presentation, the artwork and the voice over, but the game leans a bit too far on the easy side. I am anxiously looking forward to the difficulty spike which would hopefully make the game more challenging and interesting to play. On the opposite side of the coin, I am still dreading the frame rate issue which I have yet to encounter or notice. Hopefully, it won't turn out as serious as some players mentioned.

 

As for the princess-ish title and the near-nekid girl on the cover - when has these factors ever stopped someone from purchasing a quality game? Take "Final Fantasy" and "Catherine" for example, both have sold respective numbers over the years, despite their possible "misconception". ^_-

chyng85
chyng85

I like its 2D graphic~

Virdentaucent4
Virdentaucent4

A shame about the frame-rate, that can often be a big pain when playing a good real time brawler, but it sounds like it's not so heavy it kills the game. I'd love to get this sometime for some good old school brawling.

Diogmetes
Diogmetes

There is really only one difficulty spike in the game, around mission 18 I think, where you fight the ninja boss.   I overcame it by playing the two previously levels over which leveled me up sufficiently.  The majority of the game is quite easy.  In fact, the first half is boring because of it's lack of difficulty.  It gets better after you hit and overcome the spike. 

This game is for fans of Nishimaru's art and side scrolling beat ups and that is it.  I wouldn't recommend it to anyone else.  As a fan of both I would rate it a 7.  It's too easy,   And the short levels are sandwiched by gobs of voice acted dialogue. Sometimes you just want the characters to shut up so you can play.  There's a great deal of extra levels past the main game though.

Dogeatr00
Dogeatr00

Got this day one. Love the game! Hilarious, challenging, and it has amazing graphics.

GAME-QUEST-EX
GAME-QUEST-EX

"Code of Princess" looks like a fun parody of RPGs and side-scrolling brawlers games, which does not take itself too seriously, which is cool. I just might give it a try.

 

Nice review!

Wensea10
Wensea10

This game looks pretty great in terms of level quality.

Hurvl
Hurvl

Lol, "Protect the  Nun!"? What, is this "Sister Act" or "Nuns on the Run"? When it comes to protecting nuns against demons I think the Black Knight in Monty Python's Holy Grail said it best: Nun shall pass!

UnwantedSpam
UnwantedSpam

While some people would be embarrassed to walk into a GameStop to buy this game, I will be the brave one to do it. I will wear the manliest manly clothes, grow the manliest manly man beard a 17-year-old can manage to grow, and speak in my manliest manly man man voice. I will walk up to the cashier, demand this game in my booming manliest manly man man voice, then proceed to shove it down my pants as soon as the transaction was complete, leaving the cashier stunned and confused, then shout my war cry as I walk out...no BURST out of the door in the manliest way a man can walk...no, STRIDE, leaving the front of the building in destruction and shambles as I enjoy my new game.

 

Then I may moderately regret my decision after the inevitable lawsuit for the destruction of the store's entrance

Gurzociurlo
Gurzociurlo

I can't believe they localize this stuff but Ni No Kuni for the DS never did it to the West. Don't get me wrong, I know that a lot of you like this game, but it just looks dull, at this point I'd get very mad if Bravely Default, Dragon Quest VII and Shin Megami Tensei IV aren't localized.

WeWerePirates
WeWerePirates

EU release when? Apparently it's coming and the prime suspect is Ghostlight. Come on gamespot, ask them, they'll probably spill the beans in exchange for some coverage but otherwise they aren't saying anything.

nesky
nesky

Difficulty spikes are a good thing, just thought I'd point that out.

IanNottinghamX
IanNottinghamX

This game is basically Guardian heroes 2..if you played the original game then get this game if not then get it if you like side scrolling hack and slash games.

abHS4L88
abHS4L88

I still must have this game in my collection. The negatives aren't bad enough for me as I do not mind grinding if I find the combat fun and I'm probably not going to play multiplayer. As for the difficulty, BRING IT ON!

Bigboi500
Bigboi500

It's about time they reviewed this game, as it came out almost a month ago.

homegirl2180
homegirl2180

 @Bigbomb94 A lot of big, "more important" games have come out recently. I'm surprised they reviewed it at all, considering how generally unknown this game is. Just be glad they reviewed it, not a heck of a lot of many places have.

 

 @megadeth1117 Just my opinion, but you really shouldn't care about that.

megadeth1117
megadeth1117

This actually looks interesting, but no way am I walking into Gamestop and buying a game called "Code of Princess".

Bigbomb94
Bigbomb94

It took them this long to review a game that's been out for 3 weeks now?

meeghoulz
meeghoulz

@sasami_adachi  OK ,Sasami-kun ,here´s a tip from someone who´s playing this game since day one:you don´t have to upgrade all of your characters atributtes!And if you did you can still reset the level for each character individually,without loosing your progress in the game.I was facing no real challenge till I realize that!And this way you will havr to learn to rely on the different atributtes of the itens you have to find or purchase!ENJOY! 

robertwarnes91
robertwarnes91

 @Gurzociurlo

 Ni no Kuni on the DS didn't get localised because the system was nearing it's end and that spell book needed for the game were added on to the price point and taken up lots of shelf space. Something retailers wouldn't be happy about.  I can't speak for the other games, since it's too early to tell. But the reason Code Princess got localised because it was really cheap to licence, that's why something like Corpse Party got localised on the PSP and FF Type-0 never did. Atlus saw something that was cheap and easy to profit from.

ggregd
ggregd

 @nesky Difficulty spikes that require grinding levels to get past indicate faulty design and pacing.

hitman047m4
hitman047m4

 @megadeth1117 lol I wish they still sell Super Princess Peach and I still walk out with a copy of it from any store... and yeah I am a 30 year old guy ;)

 

I think it is all in the mind, but that it is just my opinion ;)

Jaxith
Jaxith

 @megadeth1117

 Out of sheer curiosity, and I really don't mean anything by asking as I am actually curious: What part about it bothers you?  The part about it having the word "Princess" in the title, or the part where there's a half naked girl on the cover?

Ka3DX
Ka3DX

 @megadeth1117 Really? I'm guessing you feel so much less macho buying a game with "princess" in the title. I say man up instead of acting like a kid who might get cooties

vsnake48
vsnake48

 @Bigbomb94 maybe they were too shy to pick it up, like megadeth117 up there xD

nesky
nesky

 @Nexozable

I don't see how it can be done wrong :) Games don't kill people enough anymore. Bosses especially are supposed to cheat, that's why they're bosses. 

Kiori_Hayabusa
Kiori_Hayabusa

 @nesky  @OmegaGear  @Nexozable My favorite game of the last two console generations was Ninja Gaiden Black. I have nothing against difficult games. However, a game pushing my abilities to their limit, then turning around and handing me the next two levels, isn't fun; those next two levels become boring.

 

I think you're misunderstanding: the issue with difficulty spikes in modern game design isn't that they provide too much challenge and an unfair difficulty. They make the following sections, which aren't as difficult, boring by comparison, until you grind through to the next spike. Compare to an ever-escalating difficulty curve, with which the game continues to push you, making each encounter more demanding than the last.

 

So, yes, I like my games ball-bustingly hard. I want them to be consistent in that respect, though.

nesky
nesky

 @Kiori_Hayabusa  @OmegaGear  @Nexozable

I can't/don't care to prove/disprove anything you've said (not meant as an insult or disregard to your response). I will say that perhaps spikes have lost its relevance to you, but there are quite a few people including myself who prefer "ball-busting" difficulty with spikes on top as a sweetener :)

 

It was known as the good old days to some. As for the others, good clean fun I imagine.

Kiori_Hayabusa
Kiori_Hayabusa

 @OmegaGear  @nesky  @Nexozable Old-school difficulty spikes weren't the result of attempting to craft an enjoyable experience. They were the result of the arcade economy. Since lives, or time, costs money, it behooves the developers, from a financial perspective, to create a game that makes things obscenely difficult for the player. This has to be interwoven with moments in which the player is enjoying themselves worry-free, so that they feel compelled to keep playing and get past that "speed bump."

 

In a game that you pay a one-time fee for, though, this sort of tactic comes across as disjointed. Without limited continues there needs to either be a structure that rewards skillful play (and, thus, the tools for one to be evaluated on skill instead of merely on persistence), or a more enjoyable, gradual difficulty curve.

 

The other element is contained in the idea of skillful play. Compare the original, arcade version of Turtles in Time to the SNES release of the same. The arcade version randomizes many of the maneuvers that, in the SNES edition, may be reproduced on command, and which are essential to skillful play. Even the basic response to striking an enemy differs; it feels solid in the SNES version while, on the arcade cabinet, hit detection is intentionally "loose" and uncertain.

 

Games can be ball-bustingly hard and still have a stable, logical difficulty curve. Spikes are things that have long since lost their relevance. 

OmegaGear
OmegaGear

 @nesky  @Nexozable I agree. I don't understand where this idea of fair play and difficulty scaling came from. The worst part is, these reviewers grew up on the old stuff too.

Code of Princess More Info

  • Released
    • 3DS
    Code of Princess is an action RPG brawler for Nintendo 3DS with cooperative and competitive multiplayer.
    7.7
    Average User RatingOut of 51 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Code of Princess
    Developed by:
    Studio Saizensen
    Published by:
    ATLUS, Agatsuma Entertainment
    Genres:
    Role-Playing, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    All Platforms
    Fantasy Violence, Partial Nudity