(3DS)

Game Review

Code of Princess Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Ron DelVillano

A code worth cracking

For a while now, hack-and-slash has been significantly undermined as a legitimate genre in video gaming, but Code of Princess doesn't care about any of that. Code of Princess spits in the face of modern 3D gaming and says “I can do things better,” and then goes out and does it. Being touted as a spiritual successor to Sega Saturn classic Guardian Heroes, fans of this long-slumbering genre should already know that they’re in for quite a treat.

At its core, Code of Princess is a simple 2D hack-and-slash affair, but it also offers players some RPG elements as well. At the completion of each quest, you will earn experience points, gold, and sometimes even equipment. With enough experience points, your characters can level up, at which point you will be given skill points to distribute between different attributes such as attack, speed, or vitality. Being able to distribute these points however you’d like allows for much character customization, as does the ability to equip dozens of different weapons, accessories, and pieces of armor. There are four different playable characters in the main campaign, each with a very unique play style, so choosing the right one for you is another element to factor in. Rather than forcing you to use a balanced character, this game allows you to play however you want.

Combat in Code of Princess is simple. Pressing the A button will cause your character to perform a strong attack with B providing a weaker — but much quicker — swing. Chaining attacks is simple, but learning to time your blows for those perfect combos can take a bit of getting used to. Other simpler combos that are useful for tight spots can be performed with inputs such as pressing down on the D-Pad or Circle Pad twice before pressing A or B as well. You character’s movements can be controlled using either the D-Pad or Circle Pad, so finding a comfortable way for you to play shouldn't be too difficult. Not utilizing the 3DS’s touch screen for additional attacks or combo inputs might seem like a missed opportunity, but to be honest, having to factor in touch commands would only distract you from the intense on-screen action. The traditional 'pad and buttons' formula laid down by Guardian Heroes all those years ago has been adhered to, which is no bad thing at all.

There are new additions to the controls that weren't present in Treasure's 32-bit classic, though. Along with the basic strong and quick attacks, you can also lock onto a target by pressing Y. Once you’re locked on, all of your attacks will do twice the normal damage. Another option for delivering massive damage is to activate your character’s Burst by pressing X. Once Burst is activated, you will be able to deliver twice the normal damage until you deactivate it, or run out of MP, whichever comes first. The best part about all of this is that the amount of damage you can cause from locking on to your target and then activating Burst actually stacks, so you’re able to do up to four times the normal amount. This may seem like a bit of over-kill, but it can be incredibly helpful when dealing with some of the later bosses.

All of the action in this game takes place on battlefields themed to look like a forest, tavern, or wherever else you may run into evildoers. Each battlefield is divided into three parallel planes — or rails — that players can jump between by holding the L or R buttons and pressing up or down on the D-Pad. Having three separate planes to battle on adds an element of strategy to battles, as well as giving players more opportunities to avoid enemies when the going gets tough.

Code of Princess knows exactly what its players want, and that’s fast-paced frantic action without too much plot getting in its way. The story is kept simple, sticking to the basic “an evil queen has summoned monsters and now you need to stop them” shtick, but the way it’s presented makes you care about both your characters and the generic citizens you’re saving. The script is actually fun, and it doesn't take itself too seriously. So many games try to connect characters with players on a deep, emotional level, but here we have individuals who mercilessly poke fun at each other and actually attempt to make players laugh. The best part is that even though there are scenes of dialogue between each quest, the chatter is usually kept short, and can be skipped by anyone who really just doesn't care about plot at all — something that comes in very handy when you're playing through for the second or third time.

On top of the characters being so darned charming, this game is fully voice acted, so not only do you get to read their dialogue, but you get to hear it as well. Similar to the exceptional quality of the voice acting is the robust and lively soundtrack. Sweeping musical movements infiltrate each and every one of Code of Princess’s battle and story scenes, making for engaging and emotionally driven results. Turning the volume off and playing in silence would be a disservice to the game, and yourself.

All of the characters and environments have a beautiful hand-drawn look to them, all of which retains a Japanese anime style. Though the story scenes are displayed through a series of still images rather than full animations, the stills are detailed and do well to reflect the attitude and tone of the individual characters. The action is mostly smooth and seamless, but you will experience a little bit of slow down in some of the more frantic scuffles, especially if you have the 3D effect turned on, but it definitely shouldn't be considered a game-breaking flaw. Another point worth noting is that as beautiful as they are, some of the environments can be a bit repetitive. There are only so many ways to represent a forest, and after so many battles in the same setting, it’s nice to be able to move on. With the exception of some latency issues and repeated settings, Atlus really went out of their way to make Code of Princess as polished as possible, and their efforts shouldn't go unnoticed.

As you complete quests in the main campaign, you will also unlock those same quests in Free Play mode, and Bonus Quests that correspond to the campaign levels as well. While there are only four playable characters in the campaign, Free Play and Bonus Quests allow you to choose between eight different characters, more of whom you will meet as the story progresses. These additional two game modes provide a bit of variety to the gameplay, and they also act as an opportunity to gain more experience points and level up for the campaign.

On top of the two additional single player modes, there are also options to play multiplayer both locally and over the internet. Multiplayer includes both co-op and versus play, but unfortunately, all players will need to own their own copy of Code of Princess as no download play option is available. The incredible news, however, is that there are over 50 playable characters to choose from in versus play. As you complete each level of the single player campaign, the enemies and NPCs that you encounter become playable in versus mode, including the boss characters — another awesome feature that has been carried over from Guardian Heroes. There’s just something so satisfying about crushing an enemy while playing as the giant, screen-filling Juggernaut - it simply does not get old.

Conclusion

Are you a fan of hack-and-slash games? Do you enjoy video games with an engaging plot and silly yet interesting dialogue? Are you looking to have a genuinely fun time on your 3DS whether you’re playing alone, with friends, or over WiFi? Are you a massive fan of the retro classic Guardian Heroes? If you answered “yes” to any or all of these questions, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Code of Princess. This is the rare kind of game that seamlessly blends classic brawler gameplay with RPG elements while still managing to remain simple and fun, and is one of the most appealing games we've seen on the 3DS so far.

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User Comments (91)

Jamouse

#2

Jamouse said:

I'll probably buy this just so I can play as a minstrel with a guitar.

Royspaceghost

#3

Royspaceghost said:

My copy arrives on friday, I'm really excited about this game, and the fact that everyone's loving it just reafirms it.

KneehighPark

#5

KneehighPark said:

Wait a moment.... Ron actually got to review a good game?!

(sneaks off to Amazon.com to order Ron a copy of Ninjabread Man)

But seriously, great review!

edhe

#9

edhe said:

This will never come to Europe. No one would publish it - least of all, Atlus who don't even have operations in Europe.

But I still want it - there haven't been very many 3DS games that have tempted me yet.

Ron_DelVillanoStaff

#11

Ron_DelVillano said:

EVERYONE. BEGIN "OPERATION PRINCESSFALL" AND DEMAND THAT THIS BE RELEASED IN EUROPE!!!

Or you could all spend your hard earned money on another classic that's being released today: Mad Dog McCree.

TheInvisibleTor

#15

TheInvisibleTor said:

Wow.....a 9.....i still really don't know about this game. Maybe ill run into it a year later for like $15 and grab it. For now, im getting Layton.

Popyman

#17

Popyman said:

Wait...what anime series is this based on? I have heard nothing about an anime. :/

Damagemanual

#18

Damagemanual said:

Good review, I've been playing for about two weeks now and I think you got it spot on. It's a lot of fun.

DarkCoolEdge

#19

DarkCoolEdge said:

Nintendo is the one to blame if we (europeans) can't play this game. Stupid region lock, it's a freaking miracle that we are going to get devil survivor overclock and by definition, miracles do not happen often.

undomiel

#21

undomiel said:

I preordered this one and got my copy last Saturday. Been playing whenever I have spare time. I can definitely report this game as being awesome. Except that pesky bard. He's a royal pain.

To the best of my knowledge this is not based on any anime.

Shotgunryugan

#24

Shotgunryugan said:

Well i am definitely interested,thanks for the review.
I haven't played a hack n slash game in awhile so i think i'll pick this one up. :D

Nestalgic

#25

Nestalgic said:

I pre-ordered it and got it last Tuesday. Sadly I haven't had a chance to play it yet! Life gets in the way so often.

XCWarrior

#26

XCWarrior said:

Sure hope people pick this up. Good review. Anything that is co-op online and easy to play should be on any 3DS fan's list. Go buy it people.

FonistofCruxis

#27

FonistofCruxis said:

@Popyman It isn't based on an anime, it just has anime style aesthetics.
Great review!
This game looks fantastic, I hope some European publisher like Rising star games or Ghostlight bring this to Europe.

CanisWolfred

#29

CanisWolfred said:

Finally, someone has a review of this game! And I'm glad you liked it. I haven't played my copy yet (will get to that real soon, hopefully, just had a busy week), but I love Guardian Heroes, having played it fairly recently and being convinced that it's up there with Streets of Rage 2. I still don't expect it to be as good as Guardian Heroes, but GH isn't portable, so that alone should make up for it.

Madmanonfire

#31

Madmanonfire said:

"Free Play and Bonus Quests allow you to choose between eight different characters"
This is incorrect. You can choose between all +50 characters you have unlocked so far as you would in versus mode.

Madmanonfire

#33

Madmanonfire said:

@33 I'm pretty sure you can use the characters as you unlock them in the story. Either way, you can still use way more than eight characters in free play and bonus quests.

Ron_DelVillanoStaff

#34

Ron_DelVillano said:

@DiaperSystem

That quote was a rhetorical statement playing off of the first sentence where I note that "hack-and-slash has been significantly undermined as a legitimate genre in video gaming."

And the only reason I compared it to 3D games is that they seem to be permeating the market right now, and it's refreshing to see a well-made game with 2D based action instead. And I think the rest of the review, beyond the first two sentences, provides plenty of arguments on why this is a worthwhile game.

Robo-goose

#35

Robo-goose said:

Awesome, sounds great and all, but I still have one question...
Isn't she a bit cold?

StreetRat

#36

StreetRat said:

Bought this on day one, but still haven't touched it. Too busy catching them all :/

Emaan

#37

Emaan said:

Good to see this turned out great. It looks interesting, maybe I'll pick it up someday. :o

fchinaski

#38

fchinaski said:

Given the lack of love Nintendo is showing for those of us who live in Europe, I'm starting to think they don't want me buy their products. And I would gladly buy a 3DS until the end of this year, but only if Nintendo cares to give us some decent launch dates and localization news. I mean, the DS sold extremely well here (as in everywhere else in the world), why not give a little more attention to the European market?

ouroborous

#39

ouroborous said:

This game is decent, A+++
It's nice to see they really took the time to make a quality game all the way around.
Lots of fun and easy-enough to play, but once you really get the hang of the combat you can crush your enemies.
If you go out and try to snag it now, you can probably still get a bonus edition for regular price that comes with a CD and little artbook, I did.

paburrows

#41

paburrows said:

I'm really glad that this is got a great rating here, IGN bashed the game and gave it something like a 6.8 or something.

ultraraichu

#42

ultraraichu said:

Nice review, pretty much said what I was thinking especially the script and dialogue part.

I heard that this game was hard to come by in some places in the states with some gamestop receiving as much as 2 copies (not counting Preorders). Hope more people gets it, online seems a lonely at times.

shonenjump86

#43

shonenjump86 said:

Got it it on day 1. Its pretty fun, but I would not exactly give it a 9 and I prefer Guardian Heroes over this. I just beat the game recently, now I'm gonna try and level up more characters.

Ron_DelVillanoStaff

#45

Ron_DelVillano said:

@DiaperSystem

I'm going to go ahead and use the same quote that I used before: "hack-and-slash has been significantly undermined as a legitimate genre in video gaming."

First of all, Muramasa The Demon Blade is a hack-and-slash, but that's the only one from your list. One out of the several that you mentioned being of the genre that we're talking about here makes the genre seem undermined to me. I't not receiving the attention that it deserves.

Second, I'm pretty sure that you and I are defending the same point which is "2D games are great," but we're wording our arguments differently. I avoided comparing it to 3D games (though there are still quite a few 3D hack-and-slash titles out there) because CoP does well to stand on its own. The whole bit about “I can do things better [than a 3D game]” was, again, rhetorical.

If you disagree with or misinterpret my writing style, then that's fair, but if this is a game that you're genuinely interested in, then you should definitely give it a play :)

Onett

#46

Onett said:

9? Err... I bought this game day 1 along with three friends and we were disappointed with it's lacklustre multiplayer features. The most notable beat em' up games allow all of the players to progress through the story mode together like TMNT: Turtles in time or Scott Pilgrim. Not this game. You'll find that out of the box you and your friends are limited to a single character and a single mission which means that in order to find more enjoyment in the multiplayer feature, you or the host must clear the story mode first which is different from traditional beat em' ups. There is also another issue I have with this game, the frame rate. As soon as a second player joins in, the frame rate drops dramaticly and it only gets worse if you get more friends to join. COP also introduces a new frustrating mechanic. If you've played Guilty Gear Isuka, you will likely be familiar with the mechanic which allows you to switch between different foreground and background planes for the players to fight on. The same mechanic can be found in this game which seems to be unnecessary and vitiate the pace of the game. If you can get passed the disappointing multiplayer, clunky plane mechanic and the occasional drop of frame rate in the single player mode, this game will be right up your alley.

Unfortunately for COP, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is not only more fast paced but executes these RPG-esque elements far more effectively and manages to stay true to the traditional beat em' up genre. I give it a 7/10.

CanisWolfred

#47

CanisWolfred said:

^I think they did that on purpose so people would make use of the RPG mechanics and pay attention to a story they obviously put a lot of time into.

Also, the plane system isn't clunky, IMO. It fixes the biggest problem with Beat 'em ups, which is that most require you be exactly in front of an enemy for your attack to connect, but you can't always tell if you're a little too far up or down. The plane system eliminates this problem entirely by restricting the action. It also makes it easier to evade, and it also makes the fighting-game-lite specials easier to pull off.

Nintendawg

#48

Nintendawg said:

Now, this is my bread & butter!
I'll get it in the post in a couple of days along with the cd and artbook, I can't wait!
cheers Atlus :)

Onett

#49

Onett said:

@Jon Then in that case, they should've just used battle mechanics similar to that of ToS and Brawl's subspace emissary instead of trying to correct a miniscule flaw. I believe the purpose of Co-Op Story mode would enable all of the participants to enjoy the story together. :)

CanisWolfred

#50

CanisWolfred said:

^Except that wouldn't have worked for the game they were trying to make. They were trying to combine a Beat 'em up with a fighting game and an RPG in Guardian Heroes, which uses a similar system. This game is trying to be like Guardian Heroes. They simply couldn't have changed that. Nor did they need to, since it actually worked. Yes, it means there's breaks in the action, but that's also part of the point. It gives you a breather. And in Multiplayer, it seperates the action, making things less confusing. It really isn't as much of a flaw as you're making it out to be.

Also, I don't know about you, but when I play with others, we skip the story. In fact, when someone wants to enjoy the story (usually me) everyone else protests. They would prefer to get in more game time than enjoy the story. I don't think that's uncommon, either, since many co-op modes lack story all together in modern games. My guess is they figure most people would skip the story if they allowed full access to the story mode in co-op. I think they'd be right in that assumption.

Of course, it could be a technical issue.

Onett

#51

Onett said:

"The plane system eliminates this problem entirely by restricting the action."
I don't like restrictions. Plus I didn't really see a need to fix something that wasn't really broken to begin with. It's not like all beat em' up games were frustrating to the point of being unplayable and throw away because of that miniascule issue. If anything, the 3D feature would have inadvertenly corrected the problem and made it easier similar to how 3D made Starfox easier to target enemies. Over all, I believe most games these days aren't giving the player enough credit by holding the players hand a bit too much and take the difficulty out of everything.

"Also, I don't know about you, but when I play with others, we skip the story."
So instead of giving the players the option to choose that mode to watch the story or skip it, they chose not to include it at all due to the possibility of having the story overlooked? Bummer. I would've liked a continuous flow of stages to progress through rather than being forced to select a single mission from the mission mode, play for 10 mins then have to revisit the mission select again. It's extremely intrusive and its a chore. It also doesn't help that at the end of each mission, the 3DS's take a lengthy amount of time to communicate with eachother before allowing you and your friends to gear up and proceed with the next mission.

Thank you for engaging in this discussion with me, Jon. This is what makes Nintendo Life the best. :)

Kirk

#53

Kirk said:

I know this might be a stupid complaint to some people but it really bugs me that this game has circle shadows when it's spiritual predecessor on Saturn, Guardian Heroes, could manage perfectly decent looking shadows.

CaramelK

#55

CaramelK said:

I have the game and it's pretty fun. I love the voice acting and they have funny lines. Though I ended up pounding the buttons doing all the different moves. I'd also give it 9/10

Windy

#59

Windy said:

The game is awesome! I agree with the reviewer on all points. I would give the game an 8 only because I joined a few online games that were absolutely unplayable at about 5 frames per second. most of the time its good online. That really doesnt matter to much in fact maybe a half a point off cause this game plays great! you will want to play every character and level them up. it keeps you coming back for more

Windy

#60

Windy said:

oh One point I would like to make. This is the best 3d game there is! I love the way this was done with 3d scrolling backgrounds and this is the the way i was hoping they would do more 3ds games. I hope we see more like this in the future

CanisWolfred

#64

CanisWolfred said:

@Onett No prob. We'll just have to agree to disagree here, since now it just comes down to preference. I don't mind restrictions if it comes with benefits, for instance, which I feel the plane system definitely does. I also don't find being sent back to the mission screen a problem, since assuming that anyone who goes online has finished the game already, we'll be able to play the missions we prefer rather than go through the entire game. It's also good for quick bursts of fun that handhelds are more or less meant for.

Windy

#65

Windy said:

I jumped online for a bit today and experienced some seriously bad lag in 2 player co-op. it does look like the game could have used some dine tuning in the online multiplayer. I still absolutely love the games single player and have played local wifi it runs good in local wifi

Mariru

#66

Mariru said:

So you have to beat the Story Mode first to play the 50 other characters if you don't want to play online..? :S

sinalefa

#67

sinalefa said:

The reviews (there are a bunch in Metacritic) have me interested in this one. I am just not sure if I should pay full price for it. I found Muramasa boring and repetitive, yet beautiful. Hopefully this one is different.

Gorlokk

#71

Gorlokk said:

I pre ordered this game and got it first day. I was really excited for it. I've played for a while now, and my friend and I both agree that we're bored and we should have gotten Pokemon BW2. It's a good game, but it just can't keep me entertained long at all. The best part is definitely the AMAZING music.

OnionOverlord

#72

OnionOverlord said:

@Gamesake

Guardian Heroes would be too large for the Virtual Console, due to Nintendo's restrictive size limits. The XBLA version (which is damned good by the way) was about 800MB. That far exceeds anything that can be fit on the Virtual Console.

@Onett

About your complaint regarding the planes, Guardian Heroes used the same "Planes" style, and this game is meant to be a spiritual successor to it. Besides that, the ability to move between the foreground and background was a unique component of Guardian Heroes, and many people complained when it's GBA sequel went back to the more traditional style of movement. The plane system blends beat-em-up with fighting game elements, making it more unique and more geared towards combos and such. The plane system also prevents players from using the classic "stand above your opponent and attack them safely" trick, since enemies are directly in front of you at all times.

Oh, and I know you were talking to Jon Talbain, so I apologize for getting involved, just wanted to throw in my two cents.

WhiteTrashGuy

#73

WhiteTrashGuy said:

I have to wait another couple of weeks to get it. Really hope I can still find a copy with the art book & music CD.

motang

#74

motang said:

I have this game, just need to play it. I will get around to it soon.

hopesfall

#75

hopesfall said:

I used to own Gaurdian Heroes for the Sega Saturn, and unfortunately do not own it anymore(but I'm sure I will buy it back). I will say this is the closest game to Gaurdian Heroes I have ever played, and I absolutely love this game. Alot of reviewers/people say it's a hard game, but I had no problem beating the game. I also love getting the extra characters because it keeps you coming back for more just to play as someone else, and level them up. If you like beat em up games, this is a must for 3DS owners!!!!!

Shy_Kai

#82

Shy_Kai said:

Glad it's coming to Europe- it looks as though it'll be a good game to play

GooRoo

#84

GooRoo said:

Fantastic game...fun, easy learning curve, and the action never feels repetitive, even going back and replaying missions with different characters. One of my favorite 3DS titles!

Dpullam

#85

Dpullam said:

This seems like an interesting game. I'll look up more information about it.

Jokoloco

#86

Jokoloco said:

I cant play online?!?!?!? There is no room at all!!!! It is getting very fustrating.Can anyone tell me how to play online?

Giggamer3000

#87

Giggamer3000 said:

Thanks to this review and NP's coverage of it, this will probally be my frist 3ds rpg....this or unchained blades...hmm

KaoruxChan

#88

KaoruxChan said:

Dang I just got my copy today and I'm pretty far I never knew they gave this game a good review I only grabbed it for the awesome combat hack fighting it's so awesome

ashlyquin

#89

ashlyquin said:

So....... This game is worth $20 downloaded from the esop then? Cause, ya know..... once you buy a game from the eshop...... its your forever pretty much..... ZERO trade value due to being digital....

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