When you think of female characters in gaming, they tend to fall into one of two categories. On one hand, you’ve got your independent ass-kickers like Samus, Alyx Vance, and Jade. On the other, you have the damsels in distress, such as Peach and Zelda, who seem content to cheer from the sidelines and hang out in dungeons.
Throughout gaming, the word princess has been synonymous with useless… that is, until now. Enter Princess Fury for the iPhone. When her kingdom is threatened by all kind of evil creatures, she does what any self-respecting potential monarch should: she grabs an extremely over-sized sword and she hits the battlefield.
Now, you may think that a ruffly pastel dress, shiny silver shoes, and a tiara would be impractical for heavy combat. Well, the Princess is out to show us otherwise, and the result is an entertaining little title for the iPhone.
If you think of Castle Crashers with old-school JRPG sprites, you’ll be fairly close to the visual style of Princess Fury. The art assets are well crafted and give that retro throwback vibe, which works great with the strange anachronism of the Princess out there mixing it up with the common troops. Animations are smooth and clean, and I’ve only seen the game hiccup a handful of times.
The game is a single player side-scrolling beat-em-up in the same vein as a Streets of Rage, or perhaps Golden Axe would be a closer comparison due to the fact that she’s always rocking the uber-blade. Between her standard melee attack and some magical/special attacks that have cooldown times, the Princess gets to hack through wave after wave of baddies.
The combat is both satisfying and easy to pick up, which makes it well suited for the platform. The game sends just enough enemies at you to keep it interesting, although if enough of them are in your vicinity it’s very easy to lose the Princess in the shuffle and not know which way she’s facing. I’ve been forced to use special attacks before I was ready many times, just so I could locate her in the fray.
Missions are paced quickly, many with timers on them. These arbitrary time limits are great for gaming on the go, as you can always rely on your gameplay being pre-cut into bite sized chunks. Apart from your standard kill-everything-in-this-level levels, the game provides a little variety in the form of missions where you capture control points, take on bosses, and the odd escort mission. Escort missions are usually the bane of my existence, but this title handles them nicely. As long as you’re appropriately levelled-up, they never get out of hand.
Speaking of levelling up, this is where I do have some concerns with the game. The levels of enemies progress faster than yours do, so the game can become extremely grindy in spots and force you to repeat levels multiple times to gain the levels you need to face the next challenge.
This happens often enough that it begins to feel like it’s a way to artificially lengthen the game; the sad part is that there’s no need to pad the length, and as a reasonably priced release ($1.99) the game offered up more than enough content to justify a purchase without resorting to this technique. Whether it was a deliberate design choice or a lack of play testing and balancing, I can’t say.
As you advance in levels, you unlock more special attacks that you can map to one of three slots. You also gain followers – soldiers of different weapon types that will fight for you. These can also be slotted in and out like your special attacks, and so you can alter your coterie prior to starting each new level.
One thing I really enjoyed about how the followers were implemented was the ability to toggle their AI. A simple button flips their behavior from a defensive formation around the Princess to fanning out to actively engage the enemy. Despite the simplicity of this mechanic, I found a lot of depth in it.
During escort missions, I learned to send my troops out to engage all the little enemies while I would wait by the escortee and pick off any stragglers who made it through. When a big bad would show up to smash the NPC, then I would call my troops back in to draw attacks away and concentrate our fighting on the larger threat.
Princess Fury offers a charming take on the old beat-em-up formula; simple but fun combat, great art style, simple squad mechanics, and a great take on the main character all combine for a fun and laid-back experience that I definitely enjoyed. If you’ve got two dollars burning a hole in your pocket, you could do a whole lot worse than spending it here.
Gamer Limit gives Princess Fury an 8.0 out of 10.