Penny-Punching Princess is not just a game that is big on bashing opponents and building up a bank account. It also takes its time developing characters between fights. While the cast is rather small, there are some big personalities here. Their dispositions can make the adventure a little more interesting, especially with the way conversations are presented.
In Penny-Punching Princess, we see brief discussions between characters before and after each mission. The introduction usually sets the stage, with Sebastian, Princess’s butler and caretaker, being the voice for the duo and letting us know why we are participating in this particular fight. Princess is usually the quiet one, though occasionally we have an opportunity to dictate her actions in the moment or hear her offer a brief interjection. Opponents often have one “leader” character who is carrying out their side of the conversation and talking big, with one to two smaller characters offering interjections as flavor text.
While this exposition is usually never too enlightening, it does provide a sense of atmosphere. Everyone is obsessed with money, and we see how people are willing to use one another to make themselves richer and more powerful. We also see a sense of disbelief that Princess is as strong as she is. Smaller minions injecting themselves in the conversation help makes these occasionally meaningless mooks seem a bit more intimidating, even when they will be easily thrashed on the field, and it adds the sense that we are in a world where insubordination is common. It also helps us appreciate how far Princess’ family had fallen and what a betrayal it was when Dragoloan convinced the king to make such poor financial decision. We get this balance between silliness and gravity.
The makeup of Princess’ court also helps maintain a sense of balance. Princess is this hardened individual. The whole second chapter of the game focuses on how she went from having a beautiful and miraculous smile to developing a constantly growing forehead wrinkle from her furrowed brow. She does not shy away from battling through opponents. Sebastian talks a big game, but is quick to hide behind Princess and let her do all the work. He is a bit of a blusterer, but is well intentioned. Then, there is Isabella. Isabella balances out both of them by being this largely positive person. She is still there for Princess and ready to help out, but she is actually enjoying this journey for revenge and the opportunities it affords.
But what I really appreciate is how we see the impact money has had on everyone in Penny-Punching Princess. It completely transformed Princess, making her stronger and altering her personality. It has impacted all sorts of enemies, making it so no one is really loyal to anyone. Even when we see executives and higher members of the Dragoloan family, it seems like having this money is not really making anyone happy. It is played up for silliness and laughs, but there are times when it can make you think too.
Penny-Punching Princess has more personality to it than people might expect. Princess, despite being a silent protagonist, makes quite an impression. Sebastian acts as a good mouthpiece for her, while Isabella offers a sense of happiness even in a desperate situation. And when it comes to enemies, we get to see how money does not guarantee loyalty, strength or happiness. All of these story elements play off of one another to make things more interesting to read.
Penny-Punching Hero is available for the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation Vita.