The Princess of Platforming
It certainly has been awhile since we have had a good platforming game. Sure, titles this year like Klonoa and Monsters vs. Aliens have featured some fun platform-style gameplay, but these titles were aimed more towards the younger sect, and as a result, have been fairly simple. However, if you are a fan of this genre, and don’t mind a serious challenge, then Steal Princess may be for you!
Steal Princess is a puzzle-platformer that features over 100 playable micro-levels. Each level has a key and a door, and you will have to find items and gather weapons in the various levels in order to find the key and unlock the door to the next level.
Although this sounds relatively simple, do not be deceived. Steal Princess is a game designed for the hardcore platformer. If you find Mario games to be relatively easy, then Steal Princess will probably still be a little difficult for you. The puzzle-platforming combines timing, strategy, and innovation, and definitely takes some serious skills to get through.
For instance, one level immediately following the tutorial requires you to kill enemies in a certain order to get special elemental weapons. The game gives you a few hints as to the correct order, but you’ll have to figure out all the intricacies yourself, and if you make one wrong step, you’ll have to restart.
Although I was intrigued by the challenging gameplay at first, I have to say that I frequently found myself putting the game down in frustration. This is definitely not a title you can power through in a weekend, and it is best played in between other games. The difficulty level of the game really is intense, and the format of the levels, which are all separated into zones, make it easy to just take it a few levels at a time.
In addition to the challenging level design, you are also asked to solve each level within a certain amount of time to receive medals. These medals allow you to unlock more stages, so while it may not seem that important at first to collect medals, you’ll find yourself going back to previously beaten levels and trying to beat the clock to unlock new content. You also need to gather treasures and gems in every level to unlock even more content, so replays in this title are basically a given.
As far as story is concerned, this is one area where Steal Princess is a little lightweight. You play as a common treasure hunter who is charged by the King of the land to find his son-in-law, who has been kidnapped by a mysterious evil force. Although your character is a former outlaw, a small fairy seems to think she is destined to be a great hero, and while your character is a little reluctant, the fact that her criminal record could be expunged is certainly a driving factor.
Though the game gives you a solid twenty minutes or so of plot in the beginning, after that you only get a few snippets of witty dialogue following the successful completion of each level. The fizzling plot is a real shame as there is a lot that could have been done with the story, but unfortunately, it just ends up being a real missed opportunity.
If you need a reprieve from the linear game (as I often did out of sheer frustration), there is also a relatively deep level editor. This tool allows you to take puzzle room templates and add your own monsters, weapons, and items. You can make each level as easy or hard as you want, and once you are finished, you can share it with friends over the Nintendo WFC. The only drawback to this, however, is that you will need a friend code in order to share it with someone specific, as there is no open sharing in Steal Princess. This is another missed opportunity for the game, and I would have really appreciated the ability to browse through other peoples’ levels.
Visually, this game is not as impressive as it could have been. Though the levels are very small, they don’t include much detail, and aside from the different platform variations and obstacles, there really isn’t much detail in the various landscapes. Your character’s model onscreen is also very bland-looking, and the different action animations look blocky and undefined.
As far as the audio is concerned, there are also some issues that hamper this title. Though the level music is inoffensive and varies through each zone, there is no voiceover during plot scenes, and the in-game sounds are all in Japanese. Although hearing the main character say “Yay!” and “Too Bad” many times in English is not absolutely necessary, the option might have been nice, as the Japanese dialogue (which is never subtitled) may alienate some players.
Steal Princess is a fun game that will certainly appeal to hardcore platforming fans. Although each level is short, its punishing difficulty makes this a game you will frequently pick up, and then put back down again. Though its more technical aspects hamper its overall value, if you really want a challenge, Steal Princess is worth a look. Just make sure you are ready to rise to the challenge, because this Princess is one tough cookie!
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 2.3 Graphics
Graphics lack detail and are very blocky. Levels are very blandly designed. 3.8 Control
The game emphasizes stylus control, which is strange because the stylus controls lack the precision needed for many of the puzzles. Button control works just fine, though. 3.6 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Level music is generic but inoffensive. Lack of a voiceover, however, is mildly annoying. 4.0
Sure, the levels may be insanely hard and somewhat repetitive, but it seems there’s always something bringing you back to the world of Steal Princess. The level editor is also a great reason to return to this game.
3.5 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.