Title: The Princess Guide
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher: Nippon Ichi Software America
Release Date: March 26th, 2019 (NA)
ROM File Size: 1.5GB
Amazon retail purchase pages: US/UK/JP
eShop purchase and info pages: US/UK/JP
Review copy provided by Nippon Ichi Software America
Today’s NISA game comes from the same team that created Penny-Punching Princess (here’s my review of that) and evidently so. You can see from screenshots alone that the visual style is very similar, but with less pixelated sprites. Does this game guide you to fun, or will it be so bad that it’s INCONCEIVABLE! Let’s find out!
The princess selection screen.
This game is more or less an RPG that plays like a brawler. Very similar to Penny-Punching Princess. The game begins with a very unusual tutorial sequence where you play as a knight with a few followers, and you get adjusted to the combat and basic controls. But the odd thing is that story text is on the actual floor, which from my experience is only seen here. Once this bit ends, you pick from one of four princesses to start with and you become their instructor. They are; the Warrior Princess
Xena Liliartie, the Witch Princess Veronica, the Rose Princess Monomaria, and finally the Dragon Princess Alpana.
The beginning of the game showing text on the floor and your knight.
Seemingly it doesn’t matter who you chose first, but because of the order they showed them, I went with Liliartie first. I’ve actually played as all four princesses so I will actually summarize how they play and the gist of their story the best I can without spoilers. Gameplay-wise they’re basically all the same. The game takes place on a map with numerous spots. Your main playable party is your knight (who you can decide on gender, appearance (on a basic level), and voice), and your chosen princess. Missions will appear on spots on the map and you need to proceed to them to move the story.
A look at a map screen (Monomaria’s story).
Once you reach a mission spot, a cutscene featuring “animated” character portraits will occur. The dialogue is all fully-voiced in Japanese, and the animation is… interesting. The characters don’t just emote (via swapping portraits) and move their mouths, but also… bounce as they talk. It’s something else to be sure, but it kind of grows on you. Anyway, you’ll have some kind of occurrence or just really any excuse to begin a combat phase. When this happens, enemies will appear on the map. In this case, enemies will appear as red knight helmets. once you reach one, the fight begins.
A look at how to perform Direct Guidance (Liliarte’s story).
In these specific scenarios, you’re placed in a dungeon. The layout of the dungeon appears to be based on the particular spot your on from my observation. You move in a generally linear path and beat the hell out of whatever is in your way. Combat is a brawler with your basic attack being the Y button. Each of the princesses have their own style of attacks. Another element are relics. these are objects in dungeons that can be claimed (one at a time) with the A button when close to one. After a second or two, the relic is yours to use on enemies by also hitting A near them when needed. There are also healing statue relics that emit a green circle when claimed that heal you and your followers. Followers add a sort of Pikmin-like style since they always follow you and can attack opponents when you press A when not in range of a relic.
A look at a dungeon level and your followers (Monomaria’s story).
Also in dungeons you’ll bump into some treasure chests (some also fall out of enemies when defeated). These are opened by attacking them (what else) and will yield money and sometimes items. Items include power-ups and health recovery, but sometimes also useful items you can use outside dungeons. Dungeons have multiple sections where you reach one point marked “Next” and then you teleport into the next area (but you can’t go back). Dungeons end once you beat the enemies in the final section of the dungeon.
A look at combat (Veronica’s story).
A key mechanic is the Praise and Scold function, also called Direct Guidance. When you’re playing as a princess, you can hold down L and R which will freeze time and give you an option to either Scold the princess or Praise her. You do these for a couple of reasons. Most importantly is to acquire Knowledge Materia, which are essentially enhancements that help your princess grow stronger outside of dungeons. Other times is to get power-ups on the spot, including full health recovery in a pinch.
Teaching your princess your earned Knowledge Materia (Liliarte’s story).
From what I’ve observed, you gain two different kinds of Knowledge Materia. Ones you get by simply doing things like beating an onion monster five times and it’s just given to you then. The other is given to you when Praising or Scolding the princess after accomplishing something. This seemingly is done when beating an enemy, or simply moving, and maybe other ways, but I just beat enemies just to be safe and then use it. Note you can only Praise and Scold three times in a dungeon. I’ve not found how to restore them, so choose when to use them wisely.
Monomaria being taught a Knowledge Materia (and talking about edible grass!).
Scolding seems to work if you get hit by an enemy, so you scold when they get hit and praise when they accomplish something, that seems to be the idea.If you do it the wrong way, they just get confused. Also worth noting is at times during the story you can praise or scold at points as well, but nothing seems to change that I can tell other than a slight bit of dialogue, but I recall some Materia becoming available then, but it may be context based as said before. Basically if one required you to praise or scold at that point… maybe, it’s hard to be certain.
A cutscene in the game (Veronica’s story).
Once dungeons and missions are done, you’re free to move to the next mission, or you can withdraw. Doing the latter is needed to train your princess. These include giving her the acquired Knowledge Materia (which gives her buffs and enhanced abilities), or maybe play a bit of a virtual game (if unlocked). These little things are 8-bit games which each have an objective of increasing difficulty. One princess collects coins under a time limit, one has you catching falling macarons under a time limit (Victini looks on from outside, hungry…), another has to destroy an object under a time limit, etc. You seem to earn Knowledge Materia, items, and coins, but not much apparently. Seemingly you’re done with this thing after beating all three challenges. It’s there for a distraction I guess.
The instructions for Veronica’s mini-game mode.
To go back to the princesses, here’s the gist of them. Liliartie is a sword user who’s your more typical hack and slasher, a good one for beginners. Veronica specializes in projectiles with her staff. Monomaria’s GOT A GUN! She’s sort of a blend of the two and can both slash (so it’s a gunblade?), and also fire bullets or big blasts. Alpana has dual blades and is notably the fastest at attacking and dashes the farthest and quickest, but she thrusts forward when she attacks so it’s a bit annoying when trying to hit enemies and opens treasure chests. As far as the princesses themselves; Liliarte is a massive glutton who just wants to feed her people. Veronica wants power and will turn her followers into a frog if she’s not satisfied with them (watch out). Monomaria has a massive issue with self confidence and will literally punish herself (in one case she wanted you to punish her with a crowbar, WHAT!?) thinking she’s letting her people down, since somehow they’re rather poor. Alpana is a very religious person who’s always speaking about her god and seemingly wants to pass her god’s wisdom around? She’s speaks very softly and seems very kind, but seems to show otherwise at times (she says some fairly unpleasant things to enemies in combat if you’re playing as the knight).
Your knight’s upgrade screen.
Visually it’s not too shabby. It’s a definite step-up from Penny-Punching Princess‘ more sprite-based visual style, even if it’s VERY identical otherwise. It’s more sort of hand-drawn. It runs well enough, though there are very brief pauses at times which is odd. Nothing game-breaking or anything. Audio-wise I dig it. Music’s good with some cool tracks throughout, but seemingly are the same throughout all four stories. The voice-acting as mentioned is all in Japanese and I actually like the voice-acting. My fav has to be Liliartie who’s got the cutest squeakiness in her voice, particularly when she beats a dungeon, I swear she really is a knight who says “NI”!
The base menu (Alpana’s story).
Overall I enjoyed the game. It’s not the most varied game, since all princesses play out the same mostly, and you more or less move from one mission to the next with little variation. Clearly it’s meant to be more of a bite-sized adventure. The game does flow with lots of charm though. You may find at least one of the princesses’ personalities to be your liking. I really like the effort here to make them all standout from each other, plus the voice-acting, while Japanese-only, is very plentiful. Overall I found this preferable to Penny-Punching Princess in some ways but it falters in other ways. You certainly don’t have to worry about reliving those painful memories of Mario Party 1 trying to rotate the right stick all the time at least…
+ Four princesses to choose from. Each have very different personalities.
+ The high-res 2D art looks really nice. Both the backgrounds as well as the characters.
+ Fully-voiced in Japanese, and I really dig the voices each princess has, especially Liliarte.
+ Music was nice to listen to. One track has some vocals in it and sounded nice and pleasant.
+ Resolution seems good and runs mostly well at 60fps.
+ The benefits you get from praising or scolding come in a pinch like full health recovery.
+ Earning Knowledge Materia is very satisfying once you know how the system works.
+ You can also get new weapons by fulfilling requirements like having the right Materia and items, which is neat.
+ Has screenshot and video capture support.
– There’s this odd issue with the text of Knowledge Materia when you earn it and it’s literally splashed on the screen, like it’s not scaled properly and looks… off.
– There wasn’t a whole lot of music and is seemingly repeated in each story.
– While it runs smoothly most of the time, it is a bit iffy at times, and worse, it pauses at random times for a split second, very strange.
– Honestly a lot of the systems and how they work isn’t very clear. A lot didn’t click with me until the fourth story…
– Video capture has a very odd glitch. It always sort of borks itself where it won’t finish until you take a snapshot. No other NIS/NISA game did this, even Penny-Punching Princess IIRC.
– A big issue is the lack of going back to a prior princess. You’re stuck with your current one if you finish the stories and move on. So make sure you unlock as much as possible. This includes equipping weapons, where if your prior princess has a weapon, it cannot be equipped by your current princess, it’s stuck.
Small note: You may remember I scored Penny-Punching Princess an 8/10. I think I might’ve scored it a bit too high. I’d say it’s more of a 7 or a 7.5 tops. I do prefer The Princess Guide overall. Just sort of a retrospective thing. 😛