Steal Princess – hands-on

A platform puzzler with an unlikely hero, Steal Princess is all about traveling across the land while stealing as much treasure as possible, with the eventual secondary goal of saving the kingdom’s prince from an evil captor. The levels that we’ve played so far all ultimately consist of traversing a small area peppered with foes and obstacles in order to find the key that opens the door to the next level.

The controls are supposed to work similarly to Phantom Hourglass – guide your character’s movement by placing the stylus where you want her to go, and tap an enemy to attack. The princess can also jump by hitting the left shoulder button (or the A button if you’re left-handed). Various weapons appear scattered throughout each level, and you can equip them by simply standing over the item and tapping your character (or by pressing the Y button). Unfortunately, because tapping your character again also unequips your item, we did have an issue in close-quarters combat where we’d often accidentally drop our weapon in the heat of battle, which is pretty much the worst thing to do when an enemy is right in your face.

Both enemies and weapons have elemental affinities that are represented by colors, but you won’t have to worry about memorizing what’s strong against what, because all enemies are weak against their own element – meaning a red sword is strong against a red enemy. It might sound overly simple, but since the game is already full of puzzles, it’s actually a relief not to have to worry about keeping straight a random set of elemental hierarchy rules.

Above: Steal Princess opens with an energetic theme song and cinema showcasing our heroine – How’d she get that eyepatch?

You’re also equipped with a whip as your default weapon – it’s not actually useful as a weapon per se, but you’ll need to use it to get past a number of different platforming challenges, like swinging across chasms. Most helpfully, you can use it as a lasso – useful to stun enemies as well as line them up to use as stepping blocks to reach taller ledges.

With its adorablychaotic neutralheroine, Steal Princess might have enough charm to get us past its handful of control issues, which we’re hoping will be ironed out anyway by the time it ships in March. Until then, check out ourscreen galleryto see more shots of the artsy opening cinema and various puzzle-laden levels.

Jan 29, 2009

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