Not Just Disgaea, Dood!
Prinnies have long been one of the best set of characters found in Nippon Ichi’s Disgaea series. Paying for the evil deeds they committed during human life, prinnies have found their souls stitched into a new form. As adversaries, the little penguin-like, pegged-legged, hippie-pouch toting slaves strike a nice balance between being annoying, expendable, challenging, funny, and endearing. From stuffed plush toys to stickers and keychains, players in the know have fallen in love with the blue-bird-baddies. This led NIS to bring prinnies to their own game: Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero?
Playing as 1000 prinnies named Prinny, players will have to negotiate level after level of deadly evil in the Netherworld, collecting ingredients to make the Ultra Dessert for a fickle demon with a sweet tooth. To make matters worse, prinnies have the unfortunate characteristic of exploding on contact when thrown or slammed into. That means players will be challenged to platform their way through the world, carefully jumping, dodging, and slicing up enemies, picking up goodies and sweets, and wresting away the key ingredients being hoarded over by several unique bosses. While this formula found its peak in the late ’80s and early ’90s, Prinny keeps things fun and/or fresh through challenging difficulty, great and varied boss battles, multiple endings, and beautiful graphics.
Prinny is a classic platformer in the ilk of Ghosts ‘n Goblins. In fact, it would not surprise me if NIS referred to that IP as a model for their title, because gameplay in Prinny is very similar. However, unlike Ghosts ‘n Goblins, Prinny is substantially easier. For starters, players will have access to 1000 lives, checkpoint gates, and an inter-level save hub. What’s more, inexperienced gamers can Nerf the title even more by allowing their prinnies to survive multiple touches in Standard difficulty. That said, most contemporary gamers will find Prinny to be quite challenging, especially the trying boss battles. I really enjoyed this old-school platform feel – despite the fact I found my skills to be rather rusty.
Prinny is structured in a classic format: run through the level as quickly as you can, dodging enemy attacks, dealing out some steely pain, perfecting jump timing, collecting point-awarding delicacies, and uncovering secrets before getting to a level-ending boss battle. The quicker and more smoothly you are able to best the level, the better your final stat rating will be. While the levels will mildly challenge your platforming abilities, the final bosses really amp up the game’s difficulty (and fun) by requiring you to quickly learn multiple patterns. These bosses get increasingly more complex as you advance, and their art design and attack styles are wonderfully distinct and quirky. I love a good boss battle, and Prinny has them in spades. The only drawback to them is that they tend to outclass and outshine the platform sections. In fact, I found myself drudging through the levels with the sole purpose of discovering what laid in wait for me at the end.
One thing you’ll notice is that Prinny is very short. Experienced gamers should have no problem getting through the title in less than five hours. Thankfully, the devs at Nippon Ichi included different endings for you to uncover. The secret nature of each ending really helps to give the title legs. Moreover, there are a lot of secret goodies to be found that will unlock unique content. Also, players will be challenged by going through levels multiple times. Depending on what in-game time of day you play, enemies will become more difficult. Going back through levels at night can be downright unfair! Wading through all this extra stuff is a nice way to extend the play value, though it is somewhat cryptic – many will not find all the game has to offer.
Controls are tight but also distinctly old-school in their implementation. This is most evident in the inability to change jump trajectory once the button has been pressed. Players unaccustomed to such jump mechanics will die constantly. I did like the way button sensitivity was implemented, though. In other words, it is natural to meter out the strength of your jumps by subtly or forcefully depressing the face buttons. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if more than a couple PSPs end up in a pile of parts due to frustration.
Prinny features a presentation that is first-rate! The visuals and sounds really add to the overall feel. In fact, the PSP has never looked better. I absolutely loved the character design and crisp sprites implemented. Furthermore, the backgrounds are varied and beautiful. The sound effects are just standard, but the large amount of voice over work is not only very well-executed, but also hilarious. Hearing “Dood!” all the time can get nerve-racking after a time, however.
If you are cruisin’ for a bruisin’ or fancy yourself a gaming star, Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? may just be the masochistic title you’re looking for. On the other hand, if you’re into deep stories, don’t particularly enjoy platforming, or simply can’t control your temper, then Prinny would be a bad choice.
Still, the pretty graphics, fun bosses, great character design, loads of unlockables, and challenging difficulty set this title apart from the jumble of PSP shovelware. All in all, this is a great game – just make sure you don’t explode, dood!
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.8 Graphics
The visuals are absolutely beautiful in every regard! The character designs are perfect! 4.0 Control
The old-school mechanics are tight yet frustrating. 4.2 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The musical themes are whimsical and the voice over work is quite funny. 4.2 Play Value
The game is short if you’re only into a single run-through, but all the unlockables and multiple endings give this game serious legs. 4.1 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.