I've never cursed more at a video game, but I'm not sure that's entirely a bad thing.
The Prinny squad is back for another 2D sidescrolling platformer on the PSP. In Prinny: Can I Really Be The Hero, released in 2009, the main objective of the game is to recover Master Etna’s missing Ultra Dessert. Prinny 2 upholds NIS’s wacky nature by being subtitled “Dawn of Operation Panties, Dood!” That’s right, Master Etna’s panties have been stolen and it’s up to the Prinny squad to sacrifice themselves in the pursuit of capturing the pervertrator. At the start of the game, you’re given 10 hours and 1,000 Prinnies to accomplish your task. Each time you return from a level to the home town (Etna’s Castle), you lose an hour. Each time you die, your Prinny count decreases by 1. There are more than 6 levels to traverse, each with a host of collectibles hiding out under/behind various walls. It’s a weird, wild ride that possesses a strong sense of déjà vu: Haven’t I raged like this once before?
Yes. Yes, you have. Something I noticed right off the bat with Prinny 2 is how similar it is to the first game. The graphics are practically identical, and the core gameplay consists of double jumping, hip pounding, and sword slashing through different levels. Each level ends with a boss battle, and each boss battle follows the pattern of “hip pound to stun, button mash to slash, repeat (repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat), win.” It’s not as easy or boring as it sounds, though. Each has a unique attack pattern that must be completely understood before you can defeat it, and even then you’re liable to lose a handful of Prinnies. They’re also rather creative. I fought one boss while a giant “elemental dispatcher” talked on her cellphone in the background. When she crossed her legs, a certain section of the battlefield was struck with ice. When she twirled her finger, the main boss was enchanted with a shield that took many, many, many hits to break. Also, you’ll have to actually get to the boss in order to defeat it, which is an often tough task in it of itself.
The levels are spread out over a diverse lot of environments, including one that’s underwater and another that’s set in a desert. There are a fair number of collectibles in each level, including Orbs, Netherecords, Lucky Dolls, and some others. Orbs turn into NPCs back at the castle. The first one you’ll recover is the Save Manager, followed by a Replay Manager, a Music Manager, and so on. Netherecords can be played back at the Music Manager, a sort of BGM jukebox option. There are 3 Lucky Dolls per level, and each one requires that you hip pound in the right location to uncover it. Then, like many things in the Netherworld, it takes a whole lot of hits to kill. As far as I can tell, the Lucky Dolls are just a measure of completion, but they could unlock something else. The castle itself also has a handful of collectible items called Torn Tickets. Each time you return from a level, a new set of platforms are floating in the air. Jump on the first and make your way to the last, and you’ll net yourself a Torn Ticket. Each time you return to town, the set of platforms changes. You’ll have to make your way through some very technical jumps to get to the later Tickets.
If you know only one thing about the Prinny games, it’s likely the fact that they are extremely difficult. This is in part due to the fact that on the hardest difficulty, getting hit once lays you to rest. On Standard, your demon penguins can take up to 3 hits before they perish. Baby Mode awards you with 4 hits, safety platforms that block some pitfalls, and health regenerating items. Personally, difficult is not the word I’d use to describe Prinny 2 overall. There are some difficult sections in the game, for sure, but there’s a difference between difficult and frustrating. In my time with Prinny 2, I was often met with extremely frustrating moments that had me this close (fingers close together) to putting it down for good. One such recurring point of frustration is the number of times you have to hit some objects/enemies. For example, in the 6th level, there is a particularly difficult platforming sequence that is preceded by a ‘destructible’ wall. Said destructible wall takes about 40 hits to destroy. That would only be slightly annoying if you only had to deal with it once, but the next checkpoint in the level is placed after the aforementioned impossible platforming section. Chances are, unless you’re some platforming, Prinny savant, you’re going to die a lot, which means that every time you revive, you have an adamantium barrier to look forward to. The platforming part of the stage is difficult, for sure. It takes a certain amount of skill to complete. The section as a whole, though (from checkpoint to checkpoint) is extremely frustrating. Do you get the difference yet?
Prinny 2 is a son of a bitch of a game. Like its predecessor, it will have you questioning your reasons for playing it in the first place. And just like its predecessor, it will provide a plausible answer. This game utterly oozes with character. It’s fully voice-acted, and though the excessive use of “dood” can sometimes get annoying, I laughed out loud at some of the crazier quips (“Mayonnaise is my sticky white soul mate”, “Prinny, please, dood!”, “Does being quick make you great… in bed?”). Collecting the Torn Tickets was one of my favorite parts of the game. Stripping the world of its pesky enemies and indestructible objects made for an enjoyable interim between struggling my way through the main story. Procuring all of the tickets will unlock a new game mode, Asagi Wars, wherein you play as Asagi, NIS’s constant “Next Main Character.” You’re vying to defeat all other Asagis in order to become the definite main character. Instead of a few hits, you have a health bar. You’re also equipped with 6 weapons that you can scroll through by pressing L and R. The game plays similar to but slower than Contra, and to be honest, it’s a bit more fun than Prinny’s quest. Because I have an affinity for punishing platformers (Spelunker HD was my GOTY, and Super Ghouls’N Ghosts is my GOAT) I pushed on, but there were dozens of frustrating deaths along the way. I’ve never cursed more at a video game, but I’m not sure that’s entirely a bad thing.
For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation Portable version of the game.
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Developer:Nippon Ichi Software
Release Date:December 2010, January 2011, March 2010
Price:$29.99, £23.99/€29.99, ¥4000