Battle Princess of Arcadias (PS3) Review
- Side scrolling action RPG fun in the style of Odin Sphere, Muramasa and Dragon's Crown
Not so much?
- Story and characters are dull and forgettable
- Uneven difficulty and the need for excessive grinding quickly suck all the fun out of the game
When your kingdom’s being threatened by monsters, what’s a girl to do? For Princess Plume, the answer is clear – take up a sword, and become the Battle Princess. Aided by her servants, allies and friends, Plume is ready to defend her kingdom against any threat, no matter how big the monster or how evil […]
When your kingdom’s being threatened by monsters, what’s a girl to do? For Princess Plume, the answer is clear – take up a sword, and become the Battle Princess. Aided by her servants, allies and friends, Plume is ready to defend her kingdom against any threat, no matter how big the monster or how evil the adversary.
When it comes to side scrolling action RPGs, the undisputed monarch of the genre is the ever excellent Vanillaware. With titles like Odin Sphere, Muramasa and Dragon’s Crown under their belt, they’ve made a niche for themselves – but is their success something Apollosoft’s Battle Princess can hope to emulate?
From the outset, it’s clear that Battle Princess is heavily inspired by Vanillaware titles. The anime-style character designs are distinctive and bright, whilst the look and layout of each level is immersive and detailed. But unfortunately, whilst the look is certainly there, Battle Princess just hasn’t got it quite right with regards to the gameplay.
In an attempt to innovate that just hasn’t quite been thought through, Battle Princess offers not one, but three different types of gameplay. Regular levels play as you’d expect – choose three characters from your playable roster, and cycle between them as you fight your way through hordes of monsters. It’s not especially remarkable, but it is the most enjoyable aspect of the game, and had the developers just stuck to this, Battle Princess would probably have been far more enjoyable.
The second gameplay type is Siege Mode, in which your main characters are joined by an AI controlled squad – the Princess Brigade – whose job it is to help you chip away at the life of tough boss enemies. Even this simple addition complicates matters greatly – not only do you have to keep your weak cannon fodder alive whilst the boss tears through them like paper, but the controls for issuing them orders are painfully slow – essentially you have to switch your item menu to a brigade command menu, and then cycle through the available commands to find the one you want. In the heat of battle, you can easily lose a fair proportion of squad whilst trying to switch from attack mode to defence mode, for example – and it’s certainly far too slow a system to encourage any kind of strategic play!
The third and final format is Skirmish Mode, in which you fight enemies in the foreground whilst your brigades fight enemy brigades in the background. At the start of the battle, you can select which brigades to bring into battle, in the hopes that you can play against the enemy brigades weaknesses. It’s clearly meant to be like rock-paper-scissors, except it’s far more complicated and less intuitive. Worse yet, not only can brigades only be levelled up by spending cold hard cash, but their level is capped to that of the brigade leader, i.e. your playable characters. So, for example, you might not like playing as an axe-wielding character, because you find them too slow, but if you don’t level them up, your axe brigade – who may be vital for victory in a Skirmish level – will be pathetically weak.
With all this to account for, it’s no surprise that Battle Princess is a game that demands a lot of grinding – to make any progress at all you’ll have to ensure that all your playable characters and brigades are levelled up. Even then, it’s hard to predict how you’ll do in a level; there are times when you can do quite well, then feel like you’re not doing anything different the next time only to get slaughtered in short order. If you persist with the game, things will get easier, but you simply may not have the patience to do so.
Battle Princess of Arcadias is clearly trying hard to be a good game, but unfortunately, it’s just not quite there yet. The inconsistent difficulty levels, insistence on tedious grinding, and poorly thought out gameplay styles all serve to make the game much less fun than it could be. If you crave side scrolling action RPG fun on the PS3, you’d be much better served with a copy of Dragon’s Crown.