At first glance, Code of Princess on the Nintendo 3DS looks a lot like Guardian Heroes, which was developed by the same team. It’s a side-scrolling brawler with three planes to jump in and out of (a lovely effect in 3D, by the way), and the way that it structures its story scenes are quite reminiscent of the Sega Saturn classic. However, the combat sets it apart.
Unlike Guardian Heroes, Code of Princess doesn’t use any fighting game-style inputs for special attacks. Instead, combat is based around combining directions with Light (B), Heavy (A), and Target (Y) attack buttons. Despite the lack of special attacks, the game’s combat was pretty flexible in my experience playing it on the E3 show floor this week.
Solange (the main character) carries a giant sword that is incredibly handy for juggling multiple enemies at once. The first enemies I encountered were a number of sentient, hopping turnips and an angry tree. Hopping into the front plane (the one with the most turnips), I cornered my foes, chaining a few light attacks into a heavy for a launcher. That’s about the time the tree hopped into my plane. Curious to see what it would do, I tried a target attack. A lock-on indicator appeared on the tree Solange lunged forward at it, knocking it back into a group of turnips, who all exploded.
I didn’t expect that the adorable forest creatures would be so combustible.
Knocking one enemy into another causes an explosion. Knocking an enemy into a group of enemies, as I’d done, blew up half of the screen. Solange was standing too close, and so, she took damage as well. As soon as I understood how this worked, I started trying to smash enemies into each other as much as I could, just for the spectacle of the ensuing carnage.
As more powerful enemies began showing up, I was forced to get a bit more tactical. While Code of Princess has two block buttons (L or R) that can be held to dodge back-and-forth between planes as well, I’ve always been a fan of more aggressive gameplay. So, when I noticed that Solange could parry any enemy attack (including projectiles and boss attacks) by hitting them at the right time, I decided that parries were much more fun than blocks, and began trying to match enemy attacks whenever I saw them coming. While Solange’s sword has a bit of a startup time that made projectiles hard to judge, timing-wise, a proper parry would knock the projectile back at its user.
Despite the parry and explosive knockbacks, there were so many enemies in the level I played that I started to get overwhelmed. Fortunately, X button is Burst, an ability that drains your character’s MP but doubles their attack power. Considering that Solange didn’t have any other abilities that cost MP (that I could find), this became my equalizer. The burst duration is pretty brief (possibly due to the fact that Solange currently had very few skill points invested in additional MP), but when it’s used properly, it can clear an entire screen. Considering that MP is constantly being regained, it was a handy desperation move.
Code of Princess will be released in North America by Atlus sometime this fall.
Food for Thought:
While most of my time was spent playing as Solange, I played a little bit as the thief Ali and the zombie/necromancer Zozo. While Ali was familiar aside from having bombs mapped to the heavy attack button, Zozo felt entirely different than Solange did, able to float in the air and fire projectiles everywhere. I didn’t really get a feel for her play-style, but I’m interested to see what it’s like in the future.