Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero?
This Disgaea spin-off has enough charm and platforming goodness to satisfy hardcore gamers.
It's not often you see a game featuring an animal that is, in fact, a reincarnated soul of a demon. However, you probably shouldn't put too much thought into it and appreciate Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? for what it is, a charming and engaging platformer. It's a semi spin-off from the Disgaea series, but instead of being a role-playing adventure, its developers stuck with beating up enemies with a sword and bopping them on the head. Despite the change in gameplay, it works.
Again, prinnies look like innocent penguins, but they're reincarnated to serve an angry demon master. It turns out one of them ate her Ultra Dessert, leaving her in an enraged state. It's up to 1,000 of them (yes, that means you have 1,000 lives and you'll need them all) to recover the ingredients across a fantasy world and remake it. If the game's story sounds ridiculous, that's because it is. Prinny's sense of humor is likable, especially when characters talk in high-pitched voices and end every other sentence with the word "dood" (a variation of dude).
The game itself, however, is far more serious. You're introduced to the platforming style within the first few stages, and it ramps up significantly with each new world. Prinny uses a sword to attack enemies from the ground and in the air, and also uses a jump-n-bop attack to stun them. Some foes are easier to defeat than others. However, the bosses pack a serious challenge, ranging from a hungry ogre to a pair of knights to a final boss that's so hard, you might use 1/10 of your Prinny supply to beat it.
As for the presentation, it's awesome. The 2-D visuals are nicely drawn and there's even a nice little twist once you attack enemies in the air. The screen shifts a quarter turn into an isometric view, so you can see how effectively you hit baddies with air strikes. It's a neat idea that never gets in the way of the action. In addition, the animations are cute, like most of NIS America's products, and the stage design is smartly done, really drawing you into each area that you conquer. The music was well produced, with an epic score that keeps you battling through each new area. (As a bonus, the soundtrack is included with the game, along with a limited edition Penny Arcade print featuring the Prinnies in action.)
Prinny isn't for everyone. The word "dood" gets repeated so often that you might go crazy, and the difficulty level will anger you. Furthermore, there's not much to do once you beat the game, aside from revisiting earlier stages to up your combo count (the number of times you hit enemies per stage).
Still, it's hard to deny a game as charming as Prinny. The storyline and dialogue are ridiculously fun, the presentation is a nifty throwback to old-school platformers and the difficulty level is just right for gamers who conquered NES games back in the day. It's not perfect, but it's a treat for players looking to feed their PSPs with a quality game. Go get it, dood.
What's Hot: Superb visuals and audio, challenging gameplay, great sense of humor, package comes with bonus soundtrack CD and limited edition Penny Arcade comic strip.
What's Not: Incredible overuse of the word "dood" (dude), platforming may prove too challenging for some, penguins die.