Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? Hands-On Preview

prinny1Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero?
Publisher: NIS America
Developer; Nippon Ichi Software
Genre: Platformer
Release Date: 2/17/2009


Here’s the thing. I hate platformers. I REALLY hate platformers. I hate having to make those exact precise series of jumps. I hate that your protagonist never seems to know how to swim. I hate having to going back and replay entire worlds just to get one last jewel or orb or sparkly thingamaob just to unlock something. Most of all, I hate that these games are inevitably about luck over skill. I can count on one hand the numbers of platformers I’ve ever liked; Psychonauts, The Haunted Mansion, Super Mario Bros. 3, Mega Man 2, and Mega Man 3.

Here’s the other thing. I love Disgaea. I love the characters, the hilarious stories, the amazing music, the tactical RPG experience, the innovation and depth, and the ability to constantly bring something new to the table with each game or spin-off. Most all though, I love the Prinnies. Evil souls reincarnated as slightly retarded penguins with knives. How can you not love that dood? So of course when the first ever Disgaea platformer spin-off was announced, I was both excited and worried. Would Nippon Ichi finally provide me with a platformer that appeals to gamers like me, or would it merely be the first game with Disgaea characters I couldn’t stand. Well after spending a few days with a beta version of the game NIS America sent me, I have to say I’m looking forward to the release version of this game.

Like all Disgaea games, Prinny is a comical story, although this time they’ve really ventured into the surreal. Someone ate Etna’s desert, so the Prinnies have a choice: make a new one or be slaughtered. They agree to find the components for the ultimate desert and in return Etna gives them a magic scarf that presents them from exploding when thrown or jumping.

prinny2 The game starts off with six different levels that you can play in any order. The difficulty and layout of the levels changes depending on what order you play them in. This gives the game a great deal of replay value but also means that you may find yourself unable to proceed due to a lack of platforming skills.

Once you get past these six levels, you’ll have to play through four more, and then some more. There’s over a dozen levels in all and depending on your skill, they can take about five minutes to an hour to beat. Thankfully your eight minute time limit for the world resets each time you die.

Let’s talk about death actually seeing as you will be doing a lot of in. In fact, you will die more in this game than any game ever made before. Yes, I’m being serious. You get 1,000 lives and you will use many of them. By the time I had beaten the game, I had lost over 500. That sounds really bad there are two things you have to keep in mind. The first is that I suck at platformers and the second is that this game is hard. Very hard. It’s arguably the hardest game I’ve played in years and this is coming from someone who can beat Ikaruga without losing a ship. You will need all 1,000 of those lives, and if you really suck at the game, you’ll be happy to know that if you lose them all, you DO get a New Game+ option that unlocks a new ability for you. There’s also a standard mode which lets you take three hits before dying. I recommend this to all but the most masochistic of gamers, especially as there are no differences in the plot or any extra hidden endings in Hell’s Finest mode.

prinny3 The game is very pretty and it’s one of the best looking games I’ve seen for the PSP. In fact, in comparing it to the previous PS2 and the PS3 Disgaea‘s, I’d say this looks a touch better. The music is amazing and I’m ecstatic that the official release will contain a soundtrack for the game. The music would be more in line with an epic role-playing game, but consider that’s Prinny‘s roots, it works just fine here. The beta version I was given to preview did not offer the English language dialogue yet, but the Japanese voice work is in line with the previous entries into the Disgaea universe.

Platforming fans who somehow get off on the collecting of objects will be happy to know you can collect orbs and hidden lucky dolls throughout the game. Orbs transforms the souls at your home base into characters you can interact with. Lucky Dolls are a bitch to find because you have to use your butt stomp attack to potentially trigger then. Then once you find them, they take forever to kill and they love to run away. You do want to hunt these down though as collecting Lucky Dolls unlocks music tracks, extra stages and even the ability to rebel against Etna. Good luck with that last one.

I do want to take the time to give you all yet another warning that this game is brutally hard. SRPG fans may become exceedingly frustrating with the way every possible level gets exponentially harder as in-game time progresses. I actually recommend clearing the higher difficulty stages first as it gets them out of the way and they are much easier during the day. Even with the insane difficulty in mind, I had a lot of fun playing Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? The controls are bit lagging with ducking and sometimes the double jump or the butt stomp attack don’t respond. I’d also have preferred to be able to aim my jumps in mid air or to have the ability to use the analog stick instead of the D pad, but maybe these things will be corrected in the final release.

prinny4Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero hits shelves on 2/17/2009 and it offers Disgaea and platformer fans a wonderful new addition to the PSP library. It’s the most challenging game I’ve played in years, but I’m still smiling through the pain and profanity Prinny but me through and so will you.

I’ll have a full review of the game up closer to the release date of Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? Keep checking Diehard GameFAN for the full in-depth review. In the meantime you can go to the official website for the game or preorder the “Hero To the Rescue” bundle from Rosenqueen.com.

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