30th Jul2018

‘Code of Princess Ex’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Britt Roberts

Code-Princess-header

Code of Princess EX is not a particularly good game. The anime cinematics, rich character portraits, seemingly epic story and bonkers music quickly gives way to tedious, repetitive game play. The fact that this relatively direct 3DS port is a full-price game seems pretty absurd.

As mentioned above, the opening cinematic is of a really high quality and the admittedly pretty standard tale of a darkness overcoming the land, whilst predictable is at least delivered with panache and a sense of fun. The moment that you take control however, it becomes clear that the game play itself is repetitive and generic. As Princess Solange (and her rescuer Ali, if playing in two player mode) you work your way through levels in a side-scrolling brawler fashion but it feels more like an arena-fighter due to the small areas used and short stages in general. The controls feel unresponsive and the main characters attacks (you can unlock more as you play) feel unwieldy and unsatisfying. The in-game graphics also betray their 3DS origins with low-resolution character models looking slightly Rise of the Robots-esque compared to the HD backgrounds and character portraits.

The music is great, moving from flute solos to slap bass in the blink of an eye and has a frantic feeling that suits the button-bashing action, but it can’t elevate the basic game play which is what is really lacking here. The fighting is set in certain planes, so to move between planes you hold down the block button and push up / down, this feels awkward when you have other buttons either not being used or being duplicated on the controller as obviously the Switch has more buttons available than were previously to hand on the 3DS.

The way the story unfolds is full of scantily-clad women, enormous club-wielding men in leather straps, pink-haired sexy necromancers and talking skulls with little girls in pink frilly dresses leading around skeletal snake-mammoths (that’s right) whilst cackling, masked enemies betray each other for personal gain, followed around by two bumbling henchman. It’s all very Japanese and pretty standard but enjoyable stuff, to be honest…at least on the narrative side of things.

As dressed-up as the cut scenes, dialogue and characters are, they can’t alter the fact that the actual game-play is so simplistic, bland and worst of all, boring. I also noticed that each scene seems to brighten and dim randomly, I have no idea why. There’s also some light RPG mechanics where you can upgrade weapons, characters, strength and pick up various charms etc. But as the fighting is so flat anyway, they don’t feel like they have any real worth and aren’t enough to raise the enjoyment factor.

If you are a huge fan of anime, or maybe willing to mindlessly button-bash your way through the stages just to follow the story whilst enjoying the music, this could be up your street…but at a full price release for a pretty straight hand-held port? Well, that’s up to you.

Right, I’m off to listen to Jaco Pastorius.

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