Penny-Punching Princess is a beat’em up where money makes the world go around. Like Freshly Picked: Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland, our avatars are capable of using collected currency to bribe the enemies and traps of the world. But, there is more to it than that. The game uses its coinage to have players continually grow and return to levels to boost characters to new heights.
Each Penny-Punching Princess mission has a similar progression. You will find yourself in an area and need to complete some sort of objective that involves punching many enemies within a certain amount of time. You have a good overhead view, so you have a lay of the land, and a mini-map that indicates points of interest. As an example, Princess has a basic punch, a charged attack, special attacks and the ability to bring up her calculator. As you go from point A to point B, blockades will intermittently pop up and block your progress, forcing you to eliminate all opponents in that space before proceeding onward. Since she will often be overwhelmed, you can use the calculator to bribe non-executive enemies and traps to use as a quick save.
While the calculator feature might seem like it could interrupt gameplay, especially since the action does not pause when you use it, it is integrated rather well into Penny-Punching Princess. There is a quick bribe option, where pressing triggers, highlighting the enemy or trap and pressing the confirm button will automatically turn that opponent or trap to your side. Money flows rather frequently, with break opportunities allowing you to rotate the right analog sticks when enemies are stunned to get more cash, and the calculator gauge refills at a good pace. Once you have a bribed enemy or trap, it is easy to use them with a push of a button. I actually preferred the quick bribe option to the optional touch screen option.
Once you complete a mission, you have a number of reasons to go back. Least of which is the ranking system. You are awarded a score after completing a stage, showing how well you did. Every stage also has Zenigami coins, which are traded for skill points to improve characters’ stats and abilities when you return to the hub. But, more importantly, each stage lets you know exactly which enemies and traps are available there. This is because bribing them actually makes them your followers. Having certain combinations of characters and enough spending money lets you create armor and statues. Making Zenigami statues will give you more much-needed skill points. Sets of armor will increase your stats in different ways and alter your movesets. Not to mention, you eventually get the ability to respec characters after a certain point, in exchange for money.
This means that you pretty much have to return to beaten areas in Penny-Punching Princess. The game encourages it by incentivizing the bribing of certain individuals. It is the only way to get much needed armors that will make it easier to survive more demanding stages. It also provides a way to earn more skill points to make playable characters more potent. Not to mention, it means more money. Heading back to grind gives you access to more things, which means you can advance further to go ahead and repeat the process.
The thing is, Penny-Punching Princess handles the process well. It is a little difficult, so you do feel like repeating the routine is necessary. But, I also felt like I was getting better at the game each time I was forced to repeat a level. Once I knew which enemies to expect in certain waves, I knew when to bribe foes as a quick save and save traps for larger foes. You start to learn strategies as you accumulate coins and get the recruits needed to build yourself up. Which then makes it more satisfying when you can move forward and take on more difficult levels. And, since the actual bribery process can be rather easy with a quick bribe system, it never feels like too much trouble to turn enemies into allies.
Penny-Punching Princess is available for the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation Vita.