Etna’s kind of a bitch. The sexy demon loves snacks and torturing her poor Prinny slaves. So when she finds out that someone’s stolen her rare (and presumably delicious) Ultimate Dessert, all hell breaks loose in the Netherworld. It’s up to you to hunt down and gather the ingredients to recreate Etna’s exotic dessert or else you and all your Prinny pals are dead meat.
Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? is a solid platformer with gorgeous visuals and a masochistic difficulty level typical of ultra old school series like Ghouls ‘n Ghosts and Metal Slug. Expect to die. A lot. You can’t really control the arc of your jumps while mid-air like you can in many other modern-day platformers. So once you commit to your leap, you’ll need to time your air attacks and double jumps with pixel perfect precision to avoid death from the swarms of enemies assaulting you from all angles.
Above: Can a stressed out penguin-like coward with a fanny pack and a bad habit of saying ‘dood!’ every two seconds be a hero? The answer is yes
It seems like games have gone soft over the years, and it feels like it’s been too long since a title kicked our ass, demanding nothing short of perfection. But despite its extremely hard difficulty level, Prinny avoids much of the maddening frustration you’d expect by spreading out lots of checkpoints in every level and giving you 1,000 lives to beat the game. It’s still hard as hell, but dying never feels cruel or unfair as there’s always a checkpoint or save spot that’ll let you try again without starting over from scratch.
The near unlimited number of lives also fits well with the disposable nature of the Prinnies in the Disgaea universe. So it makes sense that when one dies, there’s another one queued up to take his predecessor’s place as the next wannabe hero.
Above: We love the boss battles. Here, you’ll need to split your attention between these two naughty knights
Every frame in each stage looks great. You’ll love the bright colors, the detailed sprites, and beautiful backgrounds. But despite the fun gameplay and shiny visuals, it’s still the unique brand of Disgaea humor that’s always kept us interested. Unfortunately, this is the one area where this game may disappoint fans and bewilder strangers to the series.
Gone are the elaborate cutscenes that we’ve come to expect since Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness and Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice. In their place: shorter scenes with fewer lines of dialogue that’ll amuse and satisfy hardcore Disgaea fans, but will likely leave strangers to the series wondering what’s so funny from time to time.
Above: Hopping in vehicles grants a glorious moment of invincibility. We wish it happened more often
We love hearing Etna casually condemn you and your Prinny pals to certain death by sending you on a suicide run for her fancy dessert. But this title’s missing much of the ridiculous, self-deprecating sense of humor, and over-the-top pizzazz that made us fall in love with the series in the first place. Instead, it’s assumed that you’re mostly familiar with the world of Disgaea, the sort of place where one of the Netherworld’s mightiest Demons spends her days watching television sitcoms while her Prinny servants slave away and pray that they don’t blow up.
But this niggling complaint shouldn’t turn off Disgaea fans or anyone looking for a challenging kick in the pants. That’s because Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? delivers all the goods where it counts most. It’s hard as hell, but won’t frustrate you to the point of despair. Its sense of humor is still charming - even though we wanted more of it - and it looks great to boot. Anyone with fond memories of super hardcore side-scrollers will definitely enjoy this title, Disgaea fan or not.
Feb 9, 2009