The original Prinny was a bit of an anomaly: a hardcore 2D action tribute to the classic Ghouls n’ Ghosts series from a developer better known for grind-happy strategy games, set in the weird and wacky universe of one of said strategy games (Disgaea). Like its inspiration, Prinny was screamingly difficult - though certainly not unfair – and reactions were split between the game being a brilliant homage to bygone classics or a game so obsessed with emulating the heavy difficulty and imprecise controls of the past that it became unenjoyable. Prinny 2 looks to satisfy the latter camp a bit more while still appealing to the former – and for the most part, it succeeds.
As in the original game, you’re put in control of the peg-legged Prinny, a damned soul stuck in a fragile penguin-like body and doomed to serve Demon Lord Etna. It seems some creep has made off with a pair of her tighty-whities, and if the Prinnies don’t find the panty-snatching perv, Etna’s next set of lingerie might just be from their hides. Once again, you’ll be given a massive army of Prinnies – 1,000, to be precise – and set off into various levels to try and track down the thief. Stages can be tackled in any order, though they become increasingly tougher as more and more are cleared, changing things like enemy and obstacle layout depending on the order they are played in.
And make no mistake about it: Prinny 2 is tough. Those 1,000 lives you’re given? You’re going to need at least a decent chunk of those to finish the core game. It’s actually notably easier than the original, though: the Prinnies have access to a new “Break” mode that can be entered by using special combo attacks repeatedly and collecting bonus items scattered throughout the levels. When the Prinnies are in Break mode, their attacks become significantly stronger, and they get access to new special skills to help them clear out enemies. There’s also a new difficulty setting, “Baby Mode,” that gives the Prinnies extra health, adds restorative items to levels, puts in some additional “safety blocks” throughout stages, and ramps down the difficulty on the bosses slightly – though it mocks you a little in the process, turning your health indicators into diapers and littering the levels with Prinny-baby imagery.
While the difficulty level is considerably friendlier this time around, one of the core complaints about the original – the controls – is still a sticking point. While the controls are responsive and easy to learn, they’re intentionally designed to be similar to those of old, classic platform games. In other words, you might be able to double-jump, but don’t expect to be able to precisely alter your trajectory after you’ve pressed the buttons. This will take some serious getting used to for both old and new platforming fans, and while some players will eventually embrace it, others will likely find it too frustrating.
The controls are easier to forgive, however, when you realize that they’re a loving homage to the games the developers at NIS no doubt loved during their formative gaming years. There’s a great amount of affection for the genre that shines through in Prinny through the cleverly devious stage and boss design, the excellently done 2D sprite animation, the catchy music, the various “gimmicks” and hidden secrets, and the charming sense of humor that NIS is known for. If you can make it past the old-fashioned controls and have the will to face its relentless challenge, Prinny 2 is an operation worth engaging in. Just remember that throwing your PSP out of frustration is a bad idea.
Feb 25, 2011