Penny-Punching Princess (Switch) Review

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Title: Penny-Punching Princess
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher: Nippon Ichi Software America
Release Date: April 3rd, 2018 (NA)

Review copy provided by Nippon Ichi Software America

This is the second game by NIS/NISA that I’ve reviewed! Anyway, this is a pretty different game than The Longest 5 Minutes. While the former is a more traditional JRPG, this game is more of a beat-em-up with RPG elements, and is ALL about money. So does this game check out? Does this game offer a nice change of pace? Let’s find out!

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The main menu

This game stars a princess named, well, Princess, and her sidekick/butler stag beetle named Sebastian (I know you’re thinking of THAT song right now aren’t you? :P). Your goal is to rebuild your castle and recruit as many monsters and relics as possible. We’ll get to how in a bit.

In the game, you go through levels in a somewhat linear fashion, and your job is to beat the hell out of monsters that you come across. A key thing is the BREAK mechanic. This occurs when you hit an enemy enough times and the enemy becomes immobilized with the word BREAK above their heads. You then quickly rotate the right stick to spawn lots of coins out of the enemies for you to collect. Coins are everything in this game as they enable another key element; the bribing system.

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A cutscene

Bribing involves you using your handy calculator. When the calculator gauge is full (it auto fills on its own), you then hold ZL to bring up the calculator, and you’ll see bribe costs above enemies and relics. For example, an enemy will have a cost of 100 G, and if you hold ZR when that character is highlighted (you can choose which to highlight via the d-pad while holding ZL), your calculator will automatically have that amount entered in. Then you press the A button and if you have the needed cash, the enemy becomes yours.

Bribed objects have two uses. First, they can be used against the opponents in various ways by tapping the X button. Some attack while others heal you such as the walking heart named Life Man. Second is that once you beat a level, your bribed enemies and relics are added to your collection and are needed to buy Zenigami statues and armor. Relics by the way are in-level obstacles, such as dragon statues that shoot out a beam of fire, or gates that when bribed allow you to enter and find some extra goodies. Bribed relics can be used against the opponents also!

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Fighting in the first level

Zenigami statues require you to find Zenigami coins in golden treasure chests found in levels. The main goal for these are the skill points that they award. You use these to buff your character, such as gaining higher HP, more ATK, and even new benefits such as having your calculator fill up 20% faster. Armor has pros and cons such as giving you more attack but may cut back on defense, or make your wallet smaller (you have a limited amount of coins you can hold at max in levels). Also, you’ll want to collect as many enemies as possible, not just for the requirements to buy things, but you also get skill point bonuses for a certain amount you bribe (including duplicates).

Each armor also gives you a different special attack/ability. You start out with one that shoots a ball of energy in a straight line hitting multiple enemies. Later on one such armor gives you the ability to heal a bit of HP. Each special ability has a limited amount of uses (usually 2) which is triggered by hitting ZR during normal combat. In some red treasure chests, you’ll find a blue orb that restores your special ability gauge, as well as sometimes a green battery to give you a full calculator gauge also.

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The bribe mechanic in action

Combat is quite satisfying, especially when you get into a sort of rhythm with causing BREAKs in opponents and you then start rotating your right stick to get all of that money. Most of the time you’ll just spam the Y button, but there are some other attacks, but I find the standard punches work fine. You can either just tap the Y button on its own to unleash a flurry of punches, some enemies like the Bloom Onioon are really weak and will get KO’ed easily with the punches used while holding the left stick. You can use small punches to get them into BREAK mode for easy coins. Enemies naturally only enter BREAK mode when they have health left, so at times you have to be careful to not hit them to hard if you want more money for bribing.

Visually it’s a FAR better looking game than The Longest 5 Minutes. The sprite work is much more interesting and animated (even the way they tilt and bop has a nice charm to them!). The backgrounds are quite nice and have a more hand-painted look to them. I liked one effect where when you’re behind trees, they go slightly transparent so you can see what’s behind it, very nice touch there. Also the game runs in a generally smooth 60fps and looks crisp to me, though you’ll get some occasional stutter I’ve noticed, but nothing big.

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The first level in the second chapter

Audio-wise, it’s interesting. Characters generally speak in a gibberish manner with text being spoken in a western style. I quite like this as it gives the characters a unique flavor. Some of the words however can be a tad difficult to read (like “you” as “yer”), but like I said, it’s a cool direction! Funny enough, the narrator is fully voiced and with a more English accent, which is interesting. I wish there was some 4th wall breaking between the narrator and the characters for some added comedy (Winnie the Pooh anyone?). Music is also decent. I actually quite liked the theme of the second world that’s in a forest, but otherwise I didn’t find it terribly memorable. But who cares, you’re after money, not listening to cool tunes!

Overall I really enjoyed the game. It gets difficult at times, especially when relics are everywhere and you get surrounded by enemies and such from all sides. I at times just end up waiting out the calculator refills to bribe enemies one by one. It’s a decent tactic, but yeah it can get tough at times. Otherwise I actually really recommend this. Where as I found The Longest 5 Minutes to be bland, this has much more personality and variety of stuff to do and with more flash to boot. Very impressed.

You’ll Love:
+ The game looks quite nice. it’s got a good balance of pixel art and hand-drawn backgrounds. And it’s uses modern touches to give the sprites life.
+ Combat is fun, especially the BREAK mechanic which is very addicting. Just try not to stress your right stick, this ain’t Mario Party 1!
+ Nice incentives to replay levels to bribe needed monsters and relics to get new armor and skill points to buff your character.
+ Decent music, particularly the forest track. Not amazing, but it gets its job done!
+ The characters are so full of personality, from Sebastian to the enemies in cutscenes. Hell the narrator can say a few humorous lines here and there!

You’ll Hate:
– It gets difficult at times, thankfully you only need to beat certain fights to beat the levels.
– A minor nitpick, but I’d prefer if your wallet size was much larger, but that just encourages you to spend money to bribe monsters and relics, so… a “meh” point I guess?
– It needs another coat of polish. Some stuttering and oddities in the sound occasionally (like it pops sort of? Not like speaker pops, but just odd bits, nothing really bad or anything).

Score: 8/10

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