In a world where cash is king, one little princess is certainly not sparing any expense against her enemies.
Title: Penny-Punching Princess
Genre: Action RPG
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
System: Nintendo Switch, Playstation Vita
Length: 25-35 hours
Where most games fail to spark any interest in me based on the premise alone, I can always count on the minds at Nippon Ichi Software to concoct some diverting material that will always manage to steal my glance, money, and sure enough, time. Earlier in the year, they succeeded with the visual novel/RPG hybrid The Longest Five Minuets, a title playing off the conceit of an amnesic hero retracing his memories to the final boss fight. Next up on that list: Penny-Punching Princess, a story of a miffed off little girl using her fist and financial finesse to reclaim her rightful inheritance against the devious Dragoloan Family. Coming from the same stock as the Disgaea franchise, the writing mixes snarky humor (light prodding at capitalism included) and easygoing storyline for an overall serviceable product. It doesn’t quite reach the same level as Disgaea or other previous titles in humor, yet not short on any of the high-energy or hijinks that are usually par for the course.
With The Longest Five Minuets and Penny Punching Princess being of similar scope, the latter is certainly more lengthy rounding out at 25-30 hours than the former’s 15-18 hour romp. With each chapter being broken into stages, the goal in most consist of finding/shaking down enemies for cash until you reach the endpoint. Being quite possible to win battles by bludgeoning foes with your fist, the game actively encourages players to bribe them. Since every trap, monster, and obstacle has a price, it is just a matter of having the cash required and handing it over. Although, as brilliant as the mechanic is, certain caveats exist, too. For one, you can only bribe one entity at a time and can only use their abilities for a limited number of times. Add to that, it takes time for the calculator used for bribing enemies to charge, so you can’t abuse and use this power at will. Nonetheless, I do enjoy finding myself locked into confined arenas and forced to decide when to use the princesses raw strength or when to use the calculator to turn the tide of battle. However, I do sometimes feel that the concept of cash and bribing enemies does become a double-edged sword at times.
As you complete each stage, the princess does gain a few points to buff her stats and strengthen things like combos, calculator charge time, and the like, but with such upgrades requiring more points as you go, bribing is the only real alternative. With every foe you bribe, they will be added to your citizens list under their respective type and grant bonus not only in stats for the number, but also can unlock special abilities and skills if you have enough. In way, it is great for pressing players to utilize the main concept, but an absolute chore when you consider having to replay past stages if you are not up to snuff for what the future ones can bring. That being said, difficulty will ramp up from the onset and most likely will be advantageous to at least visit past areas twice over.
For a game appearing to be developed on a budget, the visuals are of great quality. Much like The Longest Five Minutes capturing the look and feel of the 8-bit era, Penny-Punching Princess goes for similar retro aesthetic, yet brings a modern touch thanks to current systems. Playing exclusively on the Nintendo Switch, the performance is also great – running into no slowdowns or other technical problems. On the other end of aesthetics, the musical score is also decent with many tracks not especially memorable, but pleasant enough.
Having a handful of others titles to look forward to this year, Penny-Punching Princess is one of the more interesting diversions I have played thus far. Whether it be reclining on the couch or commuting to work, this is one of those exemplary titles for killing or stealing a few minuets to hours of time with. If you decide to give jt chance, I am positive that one princess will appreciate the monetary compensation.
Pros: Use of both touch and traditional controls. calculator and bribe mechanic, fairly lengthy main story, different paths and secrets within stages.
Cons: Fair amount of repetition between enemies and stages, need to replay past stages in order to advance.
Final Verdict: Offering a clever, creativity, and charming take on the action RPG genre, Penny-Punching has more than enough to satiety the appetite of most longtime fans, yet also a place for newcomers. Marred by the prospect of replaying levels to curve the difficulty, most will find it minor inconvenience or opportunity to better learn the nuances of the mechanics.