Ready for Prinny-time!
December 29, 2008 – Spin-off games based on recurring characters are nothing new. Franchises like Mario and Final Fantasy have long been in the business of making spin-off titles with characters like Yoshi and the ever-present Chocobo that feature in everything from baseball to dungeon crawling. Although the Disgaea series is not as prominent as these two examples, it is nonetheless getting the mascot spin-off treatment with Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero?, a title based on one of the cutest gaming mascots in history.
Although Disgaea fans will already be familiar with these little creatures, if you haven’t experienced the Disgaea series, here is a quick Prinny primer. The Prinny are little penguin-like creatures that carry the soul of a human who has led a poor life attached to them. They have a reputation for being quite weak and exploding very easily. They also tend to say “Dood” a lot. Throughout the Disgaea series, these little penguins have played a fairly minor role, and they have generally been relegated to a common, small-scale enemy encountered while grinding through random battle sequences. However, the Prinny have gained a cult-like following, mostly because of their cute shape, and like the Chocobo in the Final Fantasy series, the Prinny have become a fixture in every Disgaea title ever made.
In Prinny: Can I really Be the Hero?, which is coming exclusively to the PSP, you will finally have the chance to play as one of these fabled characters from the Disgaea universe. The story in the game is very lighthearted and involves several servant Prinny who are sent on an outrageous errand by the demon Etna to fetch ingredients from the Netherworld for an ultimate dessert. Although the premise of the game does sound a lot like 2006’s Kirby Squeak Squad, the story will probably serve as a vehicle to incorporate much of the dark humor that has permeated the Disgaea series.
Even though this game may take some of its story elements from the larger Disgaea series, Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? will be very different from the series that inspired it. Most importantly, it will be the first game from the Disgaea universe that will not feature a tactical role-playing style of gameplay. Instead, this title will have a side-scrolling action-platforming style of gameplay. As a Prinny, you will have a limited amount of movements and attacks you can use to get through various 3D settings. Since the Prinny are naturally very weak creatures, the attacks only consist of a hip-pound and projectile-based weapon attacks that must be used strategically for success in battle. However, as your Prinnies gain more experience and collect different items, their attack powers and available items will increase. There are also vehicles that can be used in battle that range from cannon-firing mechs to more eccentric animal-shaped vehicles.
Power-ups are facilitated via a central Prinny HQ area. This area serves primarily as a base of operations from which you can get to the different regions in the netherworlds. This space is also an area where you can store different items, as well as apply different power-ups. The hub system works similarly to other titles like those in the LEGO series of games, and it will certainly feel very familiar to most gamers.
However, this game has an old-school twist that fans of vintage games will definitely appreciate. Instead of having a save system where your character has infinite tries to finish a game from a certain save spot, there will be a limit on the amount of times your character can be defeated in battle. You will start the game off with 1000 Prinnies, and each one can take two hits of damage. After they take a fixed amount of damage, the Prinny will disappear forever, and you’ll have to move on to the next available Prinny in your cache. This fixed amount of lives will certainly make this title very challenging, which may put off some who are drawn in by its overly-cute looks. Hopefully there is some sort of Prinny reconnaissance mechanic that will allow you to earn back lost Prinnies, because restarting the game after losing 1000 lives sounds quite harsh.
Although the limited respawn system definitely is a throwback to old games, there is plenty of modern aspects as well. One interesting thing about this title is the way it uses its 3D setting. Although the action is displayed using a tried and true side-scrolling format, there are 3D elements in each stage that add an extra exploration element to the gameplay. Although all of the characters are rendered in 2D sprite format, interacting with the 3D stages is very fluid and natural, which results in a nice blended format.
This old-school style of the game will definitely please hardcore gamers, and this title definitely looks like it is shaping up to be one of the most unique games coming out for the PSP this year. If nothing else, Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? looks like it will be an interesting title for the PSP. It will certainly provide fans of platforming as well as the Disgaea series a unique experience, especially if you are the type of gamer who can appreciate evil little penguins.