In this day and age, its really hard to find a good, solid, challenging game. Although many old school 2D style games like Super Meat Boy and Tempura of the Dead pop up from time to time, they’re few and far between amidst an endless sea of shooters and 3D action titles.
Fortunately, NIS enjoys sticking to their roots quite often, and gave us the insanely difficult (actually, just plain insane) Prinny series.
Explaining the Prinny series is fairly simple. You play as an army of 1,000 penguin-like creatures who do the bidding of demonic Beauty Queen Etna, your master. In the first game, your quest was to find the ingredients for the ultimate dessert, to present to Etna before she murders you. In Prinny 2, you’re embarking on an epic quest to find Etna’s stolen panties: yep, panties. If you absolutely hate quirky, odd Japanese anime, you can probably stop reading this review now and move on.
The “1,000 Prinny army” theme is taken quite literally – you have 1,000 lives to complete the game, and if you run out, it automatically ends. In case you’re curious, for the average gamer, the average amount of lives you’ll be spending learning a stage is around 30, however, it can be a lot more or less depending on your skill level. In the original game, to facilitate (or hinder) your quest, there were two modes: normal and hell.
Normal mode gave you three hits to spare until death, but in hell mode, you can only afford to get hit once. Both of these modes return in Prinny 2, in addition to the hilariously new “baby mode”, which is basically like an “easy mode”, only it forces you to shamefully wear diapers while playing.
Gameplay wise, your Hero Prinny really feels like an old school action star. When he jumps, he can’t change direction in the air, and he only has three attacks: a sword slice, an aerial projectile, and a zero damage butt pound. However, once you actually get into the game, you’ll find that he can actually strut his stuff quite well. The general strategy for bigger enemies is to butt pound them into a daze, then literally slice them into the next life – the game will slice as fast as your finger can mash, which for me, translates to almost slicing my finger clean off in hectic moments.
If you read how defenseless your character seems, you might be a bit turned off at the game. But, like most well designed games, if you stick with it, you’ll start seeing things in a new light. Remember that one area you thought was impossible? You can skip that by butt pounding above (or below) that entire section. Really ticked off at one type of enemy? You can easily defeat them by staying back and patiently air raiding. Nearly every section in Prinny 2 has a suitable counter, and only very rarely will you find that you were cheated out of a life.
Each of the six starting stages can be completed in any order, and depending on your choices, they’ll have different difficulties and even boss variations. All of the levels in Prinny 2 feel distinctly different, and feature a heap of unique design choices that allow you to play them in any style you choose.
Just like the original Prinny, at the end of each stage, you’re presented with a lavish boss fight. Most of the bosses are defeated in the same way: butt pound them until they become dizzy, and slice them into oblivion until they recover. These fights are extremely old school: pattern learning and all. Often times you’ll be fighting a particularly difficult boss, trying one “surefire” method over and over, only to have a revelation such as: ”oooooh, you butt pound OVER his left claw!” They’re all extremely satisfying, and even the most hardcore of gamers are sure to blow a blood vessel or two on the last boss fight.
Once you’re done with the game, you’ll unlock Asagi Wars. For people who aren’t familiar with Asagi, she’s basically the unofficial gun toting samurai-girl mascot of developer NIS. She’s a bit jealous that everyone else is starring in their own game, and attempts to take over every game she’s in. In Dawn of Operation Panties, Asagi is actually a Prinny now, and wants to kill everyone that would steal her spotlight.
Unlike the Hero Prinny, Asagi has some weapons at her disposal, such as a machine gun and flamethrower. Also unlike the main game, you have to perform under the constant scrutiny of “TV ratings” – if you pull off combos and kill enemies, your ratings go up – if you get hit, your ratings go down. Once your ratings go to zero, you lose automatically. It’s all extremely entertaining, and in addition to the dynamic stage system, is sure to merit multiple playthroughs. Also keep in mind that NIS is planning some DLC levels for Prinny 2, if post-game support is your thing.
As a whole, Prinny 2 mostly feels like more Prinny 1, and that isn’t a bad thing. Thankfully, NIS really succeeded in making a pretty original series in a day and age when platformers are scarce.
Although Prinny 2 is pretty sleek, there are a lot of reused Disgaea series models, and some pretty dated sprites. Additionally, the story isn't quite as enjoyable as the first game.
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Prinny 2 plays a lot like the original Ghost and Goblins style platformers - if you know what you're doing, it plays great, but often times you'll find getting hit will lead you to the bottom of a pit.
The sound effects are solid, but the voice acting in Prinny 2 is severely lacking compared to the first game.
Each of the levels in the game can be played in a separate order, which changes their difficulty and presentation. Also, there are secret modes, characters, and upcoming DLC stages.
Prinny 2 is a solid platformer that will appeal to anyone with patience.