E3 2012: Code of Princess hands-on
It was only late last year that the Sega Saturn game Guardian Heroes found new life on XBLA. It was a strange sort of beat’em up, veering off the path of previous games in the genre by changing the way you move around the level. You still moved from left to right, beating up all sorts of monsters towards the inevitable end boss, but there was limited freedom of movement in regards to depth. You could only move along three 2D planes, a move that gave the combat within the game a feel closer to that of a fighting game.
Though Code of Princess isn’t being developed by Treasure, it isn’t just an attempt at a nostalgic throwback to a classic title. It’s being developed by Agatsuma Entertainment, a developing company comprised of several former employees of Treasure. It’s a spiritual successor in a fashion, much like how Bioshock was to System Shock 2, but without any noticable simplification to its mechanics.
It all begins with a new, colorful cast of characters to lead into battle. Each one comes with their own unique look and play style. Solange Blanchefleur de Luxe forgets the majority of her clothes in exchange for a gigantic, almost unwieldy sword that’s slow to use, but damaging when it hits. Allegro Nantabile Cantabile wields a guitar, capable of doing plenty of close range area damage. On top of the already unique individuals is a leveling system, allowing for greater character growth and custimization.
The 3D technolgy of the 3DS isn’t always perfect. Every game that gets released can be asked whether or not the tech works, and how well. Princess does right with the tech due to the design of the levels. The fractured method of moving through the level becomes a strength in 3D, allowing depth to stand out between each individual plane. Fighting along the three rows feels more like a design decision specifically made to use the tech, rather than something that existed long before the handheld was conceived.
There is one major concern: how repetitive will the game be in its final release? The question exists not because it’s a beat’em up, but because it’s a beat’em up with RPG elements. Castle Crashers and Scott Pilgrim Versus the World were both highly entertaining, but each gamed required levels to be replayed, several times, in order to decently upgrade your fighters. Will Code of Princess suffer from that same repetition? Here’s hoping the answer is no.