Code of Princess: Like A JRPG On Fast-Forward

By Kris . October 30, 2012 . 1:01pm

Code of Princess feels like a niche Sega Saturn or N64 game that was accidentally released on 3DS. It’s the kind of game that isn’t afraid to make a shopkeeper out of a cat dressed like a pharaoh or have its ludicrously underdressed protagonist justify her outfit with claims that it’s a “designer gown”. It’s lighthearted without being parodic like Mugen Souls or Disgaea, instead reminding me of the tone of games I played back in grade school, like Mystical Ninja 64 or Mischief Makers.

 

Code of Princess is one of the few brawler/RPG hybrids I’ve played in which allocating skill points feels significant. Unfortunately, part of the way it draws attention to this is by starting you out incredibly slow and underpowered. On the plus side, his gives you a bit of time to get a hold on the basics.

 

Somewhat like Super Smash Bros,, your normal attacks are dependent upon the direction you’re holding as you attack. Main character Solange Blanchefleur De Luxe, for instance, has a four-hit combo you can do with neutral B, but press down and B and she’ll launch an enemy skyward with her sword. However, in the case of another character, Ali Baba, neutral A will throw a bomb into the air above her, but forward and A will have her whistle and freeze enemies for a second.

 

Add specials into the mix (generally performed with quarter circles forward or down twice) and character specific abilities (Ali can infinitely air-dash, for instance), and you’ve got yourself some very differently playing characters. However, a character’s set of attacks is simply a base that you can adjust to your liking through skill point allocation as you level up.

 

With Solange, I wanted to take advantage of the length of her sword (the hilariously-named DeLuxcalibur), so I put my first few points into upgrading her attack. While this worked for a little while, she was still painfully slow. As I continued to level up, I started putting points into a balance of speed and strength. Making Solange move faster and hit harder than her opponents meant that I could lure enemies into a group in a single plane by dashing around the area and from plane to plane. Once I’d done this, I could knock enemies into each other and cause chain-explosions with QCF+A, which caused Solange to knock an enemy away and blow them (and any enemy unfortunate enough to be nearby) up.

 

While this sounds like a foolproof plan, Code of Princess has a tendency to get a little bit out of control. A single explosion will trigger many more, as each enemy touched by an explosion causes its own… and unfortunately your character can  get caught up in all of this. However, when I don’t get caught up in an explosion, I can usually start juggling enemies with Solange’s forward-B in the air, an attack that moves her forward and scoops enemies off of the ground and seems to be infinitely repeatable if an enemy doesn’t break out and attack. I’d often have five or six enemies caught like this, so when I had a good rhythm going, I’d activate Burst mode (basically an attack boost that drains your MP) to finish them off.

 

One element I’m not particularly fond of is the lock-on system. Pressing Y will cause your character to attack with a slightly modified version of one of their normals, but whichever enemy you hit will be locked onto. Locked enemies will take twice as much damage as regular enemies, and while this can be combined with Burst to take out enemies quickly, considering how many enemies the game likes to throw at you at once, it’s a bit pointless of a mechanic since it rewards focusing on a single one.

 

Equipment also makes a surprising difference in terms of play-style. For instance, I quickly found weapons that would allow me to recover health while bursting, and I stopped investing as many of my points into vitality. Perhaps it’s because I’ve always liked attack boosts that increase your health (I’m a Devil May Cry fan, after all), but after I had my burst the way I wanted it, I never changed to any other modifiers. I also found myself equipping accessories that would allow me to kill armored enemies more quickly as the main story started tossing more soldiers at me.

 

To be frank, there’s no real difference between the different types of items you can equip (a shield, for instance, can increase your attack), nor is there any sort of visual change from having things equipped, but the stat boost and attributes they provide do significantly alter the way you play each character.

 

Although the combat is pretty fun and surprisingly modifiable, I found myself more drawn in by the game’s world than how it plays. Code of Princess’s story feels like a JRPG on fast-forward. It presents the fall of a kingdom, the formation of a party, betrayals, secret identities, and choices that impact the fate of the entire world over the course of a couple of hours. However, this wouldn’t account for anything if it weren’t for the fact that the characters are a lot of fun.

 

Solange is naive, but wants to do right by the people her family once ruled. Ali is cynical after  her flamboyantly bombastic second-in-command/ex-boyfriend backstabbed her and took over her group of bandits, but she’s also one of the most level-headed members of the group. Zozo’s got a surprising knack for deadpan humor (perhaps due to a life spent devoted to necromancy), and Allegro is a lying, self-serving idiot obsessed with looking cool… but there’s a certain charm to that. Given how few lines of dialogue everyone has, their personalities are very well-established. Even as more (non-main) characters are added to the party, everyone seemed to have just enough dialogue to keep them interesting as the story progressed.

 

For instance, one of my favorite characters was Marcopolis (Marco) Neko, the pharaoh/cat shopkeeper that I mentioned earlier. Aside from having one of the greatest shop themes I’ve ever heard, his indignation over the party ignoring his infinitesimal discounts never failed to make me laugh even though he only appears a few times throughout the game.

 

I think that it’s the way that Code of Princess establishes and commits to its world that makes me so fond of it. It’s a short ride through story mode, and the story hardly changes from character to character, but there’s so much love and conviction poured into it that it’s a ride worth taking.

 

Food for Thought:

 

1. While I didn’t think the game was particularly challenging as Solange, I had quite a bit more trouble as the more fragile characters, needing to grind levels by replaying story missions and taking stabs at some of the tougher bonus missions. Leveling up was typically pretty quick though, especially when bringing the right equipment into a mission.

 

2. I wish the game had an ability to simply reallocate skill points. You can reset any character to level one, but when you have hundreds of skill points that you want to change around, it’s not a terribly exciting prospect to restart things completely.


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  • http://www.segalization.com/ Kuronoa

    Love this game!  I completed with the story mode but I’m leveling the others in other modes.
    This is actually my first online experience, I like the Co-op.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/SplashdownTiger STiger

    I had a difficult time playing Zozo until I leveled her a bit in free play then raised her defense stat to 60.  Nothing could hurt her.  She tends to become terrible when she has no MP though.

    • Quinton Cunningham

      It’s about combos with her. Get a bunch of enemies together, do a punch combo and then blast away with her forward facing beam or a similar wide-area attack.

  • ShawnOtakuSomething

     Lady Zozo my my fave <3.It is kinda hard to play online since theres hardly people playing at times, anyways Co-op is great and the story is funny 

    • Brimfyre

      Also she is topless.

      • ShawnOtakuSomething

        Here’s a curse!! Milk

        • http://www.facebook.com/jefriputra Jeff

           every man need milk, it’s healthy

          • ShawnOtakuSomething

            not Zombie opps I mean Necromancer Milk

  • Spirit Macardi

    I’m curious, do you HAVE to play as the princess character or can you go through the story as whoever you want? The game looks fun, but I’d rather not play it as her since I really don’t like her wardrobe (or lack thereof).

    • https://twitter.com/kcgst Karu

      First stages you play as the princess, but later you can choose any of your battle comrades :x

      • http://www.segalization.com/ Kuronoa

         To be specific, story mode has 4 main characters then the rest of the party for free play and bonus.  Eventually (like 100 quests done) you can play as ANY of the NPCs and enemies in free play and bonus.

        I would still play as her to unlock stuff however.

  • https://twitter.com/kcgst Karu

    It cost a lot to find it over here, but it was so worthy :) !

  • http://twitter.com/atmey Atmey

    I beat it few days ago, it was kinda short, I didn’t the mini mission based playthrough with some speech between.

  • Quinton Cunningham

    Maining Zozo. About the only problem i have is the incredibly inconsisitent framerate and the fact that 3d brings the framerate to a crawl in populated areas.

  • superdry

    Good read on a really fun game.

    I assume the author of the article hasn’t played Guardian Heroes before as Code of Princess is practically a spiritual successor?

  • Jirin

    I feel the opposite, I like the combat and feel the story is super-cheesy.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/HAEBCODVH3BGFIHE47BKNDXD2I Jonathan

    I kind of found the game to be really boring. . . I mean, the way it plays is alright, really floaty (somehow even more than the Bleach games o ,o), but the way it’s set up is just baffling. It just feels. . . unfinished; like they built this engine, and just threw on a bunch of RPG-like mechanics and concepts to sort of make it a full game. . . kind of.

  • http://epiclyamazing.wordpress.com/ AzureNova

    I’m currently playing Code Of Princess myself, and the game is quite wonderful. Solange and crew all the way! =^_^=

  • z_merquise

    I really like this game. I find the gameplay simple but fun and characters are charming and entertaining.

    Though I mostly play Solange for now, Lady Zozo is my favorite of the bunch. And Master T. 

    U-M-A! U-M-A! U-M-A!

    • ShawnOtakuSomething

      Here’s a curse

  • Göran Isacson

    DeLuxCalibur. Well, I guess that if you want your sword to be memorable, you can’t go wrong with naming it something REALLY long! Also, ‘designer gown’? Like your father wears a ‘designer cape’ and no shirt, perhaps?

    Nice to know the game is fun though, if a bit too grindysounding for my tastes. Will consider it when it eventually drops in Europe… if it ever does…

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/J3HRENYREVQWM2HB4RS5NG7N5U Josh Strange

    i beat the  game in 5 hours, after that i was bored.
    i would rent if you were thinking about getting this.
    The game is fun for what it is but it’s still feels slow and stiff.

  • Mizu D

    Fun beathemup fighting game, it is not for everyone. If you are big fans of Guardians Heroes and the Treasure Bleach GH style game and love beat them up with 2D combo like in Fighting Game, this is for you!

    The combo system is fun to explore and find different exploitable infinite combo for each character, yes it might be broken for online but I doubt they will patch it.

    But i really enjoy the cutscene and voice over and they did a terrific job on the localization.

  • Elvick

    Been playing this, and it’s hard to get used to the combat for me. Feels weird sometimes.

    And so far, I don’t understand why it’s on the 3DS exclusively. I haven’t seen the bottom screen used at all. I would have loved to play this on my Vita instead.

    Not a fan of 3D, since it causes jaggies. Which drive me insane.

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