Prinny: Can I Really Be a Hero?
Set in the world of Disgaea, Prinny is unlike any other game NIS has put together. Rather than be a full-blown strategy role-playing game this title is a side-scrolling platformer. Thankfully the game doesn't lose any sense of Disgaea's style or its personality. This remains a thoroughly charming affair with familiar characters and takes place in one of the most unique gaming universes out there.
But what if you haven't played Disgaea and simply don't know what a Prinny is? Well, basically a Prinny is a human soul that has passed on and traveled to the Netherworld. In this dimension they take on the form of peg-legged penguins with a penchant for saying "dood". Oh, and they also explode whenever they are hit. Imagine trying to play a platforming action game with that little handicap. Thankfully the Prinny's master, Etna (should sound familiar to you if you played Disgaea), grants him a red scarf for protection that allows him to take multiple hits before popping like a firecracker. It also grants you 1,000 lives to play the game with.
The whole point of the game? Does there really need to be one? Well, since you asked. Someone has eaten the beautiful demon Etna's dessert, which was apparently very tasty. Naturally being the fiery redhead that she is, this angers her. Thus she sends Prinny out on a quest for the Ultra Dessert so you'll be going through stage after stage fighting for your life to get key ingredients and cook up something special. It's silly, pointless fun for the sake of giving Prinny his own adventure, and for what it's worth the game offers up his just desserts.
The first thing I want to talk about with regards to Prinny's gameplay is the difficulty. After all it's the first thing I mentioned in this review, so it's only natural that it's the introductory piece to the gameplay section. With that being said, this game is hard. It's challenging, it will make you want to put the PSP down and walk away, you'll die frequently and cheaply, and as you watch those thousand lives slowly tick away you'll feel the pressure of failure. This is gaming the old school way.
Things are designed to provide you with an obstacle to overcome and you'll be spending much of the game playing trial and error. Did you attempt a platform jump but didn't quite make it? Is a particular enemy giving you a hard time in one spot? Is that boss throwing you a curve ball? There are so many things this game throws at you that will keep you on your toes. While it can be very frustrating at times, the fact that the controls are spot on and razor sharp means any death is your own fault. And with the ability to just take four hits with each life you'll want to hone your skills at the game as soon as humanly (or is that penguinly?) possible.
The controls in the game are quite straightforward if you've ever played a platforming title before. Prinny runs along your screen and you have to navigate him around by jumping and whatnot. Jumping in this game is another throwback to games from a bygone era since you can't control which way you go once your feet leave the ground. This means you have to plan things carefully unless you want to burn through another life. You do have the ability to double jump though, so it's not all bad. Prinny also has a variety of regular and special attacks, and he's equipped with knives. What's more dangerous than an explosive penguin with a knife? Nothing, that's what.
When you first fire this game up, you may think that it's relatively short in length. This thought would contradict everything we've ever come to expect from NIS, so thankfully it's not entirely true. While there may only be a handful of stages at the outset, the game offers different versions for both night and day. You also unlock goodies via Prinny's hub and be able to replay stages for better grades. The game really opens up after some play and you'll become addicted to exploring what the title has to offer. Sadly there's not quite as much available here as we've seen in other games from this universe.
The fact remains that Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? is a stellar game from start to finish. There's a lot of challenge to the gameplay, it's downright endearing with its personality, and it's nestled comfortably within the Disgaea universe. If you're a fan of the series looking to see something different, pick this one up. If you're a lover of old school, hard-assed platformers that give you a run for your money, pick this one up. Everyone else can probably skip it, because while this game is awesome, it's definitely only for a select few.
Oh, and it's worth mentioning that the game comes packed with a Special Edition style box. An original soundtrack for the game is included with it along with a lyrics sheet, reversible cover, and little comic by the guys at Penny Arcade. How's that for fan service?
Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? looks awesome on the PSP. NIS went the extra mile to infuse the Disgaea art style and sense of design into every single aspect of this game. You wouldn't think that the SRPG roots and artwork would translate well to a side-scrolling adventure, but you'll be impressed no matter what your expectations are. The graphics are colorful and insanely detailed, the animation is incredibly fluid, and nice touches such as changing environments and enemy variations help flesh out the experience. The bottom line is this is one of the better looking titles on the PSP and you'll wish every game could be infused with this much personality.
Dood! NIS did an awesome job on the sound for this game dood! Just like it's sibling game series, Prinny hammers home a fantastic soundtrack, awesome voice work, and charming sound effects. The world of Disgaea is full of so many unique and quirky personalities, and the voiceover teams are a big part of that. Every character is played perfectly and there are so many charming aspects to this game. Sure some of the content can become repetitive, but it's so endearing you really won't care.
Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? is only for Disgaea fans or lovers of hard platforming titles. Anybody else who applies will find the game's challenge too frustrating and may be lost in all the "doods". If you're one of the select few who will enjoy this game then welcome to one of the greatest platforming titles you'll ever play on the PSP. It's hard, sure, but it is a masterfully developed through a charming universe that will keep you laughing while the constant deaths keep you crying (for the record I died about 400 times playing through the game).