Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero?
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Platform:
    • PSP
  • Developer:
    • Nippon Ichi Software
  • Publisher:
    • NIS America
  • Released:
    • JP 11/20/2008
    • US 02/17/2009
    • UK 06/26/2009
Score: 75%

This review was published on 09/28/2009.

This is a game starring the infamous Prinny characters from the Disgaea series of games, which were strategy RPGs developed by Nippon Ichi. In those games, Prinnies were the souls of the damned reincarnated into living penguin suit creatures, who were enslaved to a terrible demon to make up for their past misdeeds. They also happened to be the weakest characters in the game, to the point where it was more beneficial to use 'em as explosive ammo rather than legit members of your team. Oh yeah, did I mention they explode when thrown? These games love to drill in that fact. They're sad, pathetic buggers. How could they ever hope to achieve the greatness of a hero? That's like making a Mario game with a Goomba as the protagonist. It's madness.

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Etna, a reoccurring character in the Disgaea games, is the one usually commandeering an army of Prinnies to serve her every selfish desire. I find that to be an odd choice, because they're incapable of achieving even the smallest of tasks. Perhaps this reflects a flaw in her character. If you're wondering, she's a demon that looks like a 12 year old that just walked out of a bad bondage porn video, and is actually several thousand years old. I know what you're thinking; it's just an excuse to get some 12 year old walking around in a skimpy bondage suit. The Japanese love their Lolita. Anyway, the story starts when Etna discovers that she lost her precious dessert. She is not very happy about this, and orders a small army of about 1,000 Prinnies to go and retrieve the ingredients to make a new one. Incidentally, these ingredients are being kept by ferocious demons. How convenient.

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For those of you who've been into console gaming for a long time, you may still be plagued by nightmares of Ghosts 'n Goblins, some of the hardest 2-D platform games in history. Prinny focuses on providing an old school challenge reminiscent of Ghosts 'n Goblins, just not quite as harsh (it can come close at times). The main way that they went about achieving this challenge is the phenomenon known as the "fixed jump." That means the length of your jump is fixed, and you can't change direction during a jump. Well, you can, but only by using a double jump. It's possible to shorten the length of your jumps by doing a Mario-like ground pound (which can also be used to stun enemies), but again, this is the only way to achieve length alteration of a jump. What it all comes down to is that you have to carefully plan out every single jump you make, cautiously avoiding overshooting any of them.

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If you picked Normal mode, you'll get a magical scarf that'll prevent Prinnies from exploding upon contact with the first enemy, allowing you to get hit up to three times before expiring. On Hard mode, though, you'll die in one hit. Those 1,000 Prinnies sent in the story actually come into play in the game, as you start off with a "generous" 1,000 lives. It's not as generous as you might think, though, because there's no way to gain more lives in the game. If you hit zero, it's a permanent Game Over, and you need to start over from the beginning. Luckily, you can still save in between levels, and in the event that you need to start over, you still keep any extra stuff you may have unlocked. It's possible to reset the game without saving if you happen to lose too many lives within a level, although some would deem that as a method of cheapness. I'm not too fond of this whole thing, but I suppose Nippon Ichi had to find some way to differentiate this game from every other side-scrolling platformer in history, and this was it.

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Bosses are introduced with fully voice acted cut-scenes that are comical in nature. It usually plays on the fact that the Prinnies are the weakest things in the universe and are going up against a more than formidable foe, though there are variations to the jokes. As for how bosses are fought, that's the kind of interesting part. They're near-invincible until you butt-stomp them a number of times, which will then stun them. Once stunned, you can rip right into them to inflict some damage. I hope you've polished your button mashing skills, as you'll have to mash the heck out of that baby to deal any significant amount of damage.

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The Disgaea games have always had a grotesque graphical style of nicely drawn 2-D sprites plastered over the worst 3-D polygons ever seen in a console game since the days of the N64 and PS1. Prinny has not been absolved of this honor. However, since this is a side-scrolling platformer, the putrid nature of the polygons is less noticeable, thus we are able to better enjoy the 2-D sprite and background work that Nippon Ichi's art teams are best known for. I'm sure things would look a thousand times better if it all had been drawn in 2-D, but sometimes developers don't do the right thing, be it due to ignorance or laziness (it's harder to draw 2-D scenery than it is to make a 3-D block with poor textures).

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After every level, you are sent back to a small hub area where you can talk to other NPCs and save your game. You can select from a number of levels right at the start of the game, which might give the Mega Man vibe. However, unlike in the blue bomber's games, the levels change depending on the time of day in-game. See, each time you beat a level, an hour passes in game time, and it changes from morning, to noon, to night, etc. Depending on when you decide to enter a level will change it drastically, altering not only its appearance but its difficulty as well. Since levels will get harder as time goes by, it's preferred that you do the difficult levels first and the easier levels last. That is, if you want things to be easier. The time of day also affects the type of ingredient you collect upon completing the level, and even dialogue of cut-scenes. So if you suffer from a severe case of OCD, you'll need to beat each level a number of times to have seen it all. It does add replay value, I suppose.

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Prinny is a good time if you're the type that enjoys extremely challenging, old school platform games. It is designed so deviously that you're almost certain to befall many embarrassing deaths before reaching the end. The only thing that ticks me off is that the majority of your deaths will be of the annoying kind. For instance, an enemy hits you and the knockback sends you plummeting to your doom. That happens like, all the time, in every part of every single level. It can get infuriating, I'll have you know. But yeah, aside from that, it's good fun. I suggest you give it a try if you're up to the challenge.

Word Count: 1,203

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