Chaining combos together in a beautiful masterpiece of death and blood sounds like something straight out of the perfect beat-em up game. The very scantily clad protagonist wielding a very big sword on the cover begs for attention. One glimpse One glimpse and you know you’re in for a “bouncy” adventure.
The lead protagonist is well developed, and I’m not just talking about her chest, but that isn’t enough to save Code of Princess from mediocrity.
For those who had a Sega Saturn, or for those who bought it on XBLA, Code of Princessplays similarly to Guardian Heroes. You have the ability to jump between three “rails.” For example, if an enemy is on the first rail, you can jump to the second rail to avoid an oncoming attack. Guardian Heroes also uses this system, but the similarity is no surprise as both games share some developers.
The rails do add strategy to the combat, but mechanic is not well implemented. I either found myself never having to change the rail I was on, or I fought with the controls as I attempted to dodge a beam attack. There was little middle ground.
Outside of the poor rail mechanic, the combat doesn’t feature much else. A few combos can be used to deal massive damage in conjunction with character specific special attacks, and a lock on attack allows you to deal double damage. A burst ability is also available which quickly drains resources and offers even more damage. However, none of these extras make the combat as addictive as I want it to be.
Despite lackluster combat, Code of Princess does feature a decent amount of variety. Four different main characters are available. Each character is different in looks, personality and play style, giving players a decent choice between strength, speed and magic. The campaign compromises of missions that last on average between one to five minutes which offers short bursts of button-mashing anger management.
Developer Agatsuma also offers a multiplayer component. There is support for up to four players, but Code of Princess limits what can be played depending on the amount of players. Three and four players are limited to playing bonus missions only while two players can tackle the campaign together.
However, playing the campaign missions with a friend suffers from the same problem that I had with Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days: missions must be completed in single player before they can be played in multiplayer. And even there, playing the campaign with a friend is rendered even more useless as multiplayer strips any cutscenes and progress made.
It can’t be said that Code of Princess lacks content, but the game also includes a versus mode. It can be a fun little distraction, but its basic combat and lack of variety gives it a very limited appeal. As you play through the game, you unlock not only the main characters, but also various other characters as well as playable monsters. Playable characters for versus mode range from the weak ooze to tough dragon and even ranges to civilians such as an old man and a young girl.
The back of the game’s box features false advertising: it claims there are “50+ playable characters to find, customize, and put into battle.” In reality, players can only play as one of the four main characters in campaign, one of eight available characters for bonus missions. The fifty other characters are limited to the aforementioned unappealing versus mode.
Equipment management in Code of Princess is very unbalanced. You can play through five or so missiosn before amassing enough money to buy a weapon that’s stronger than what you currently have, yet get something much better by simply completing the next mission.
If you’re looking for a game that don’t want to build a long term relationship with, Code of Princess might be good match. Even with all its bouncy mediocrity, the game is enjoyable enough to keep you playing through the story at least once. However, there are plenty more better dressed beat-em ups out there.