Have you ever wanted to become an Instructor and decide the fates of four uniquely different Princesses, each with their own wants, needs, and desires? If so, The Princess Guide might just be the game for you. The latest entry from Nippon Ichi Software hitting our shores thanks to the fine folks at NIS America, it boils down the 2D Action RPG genre to a very simplistic formula. But that question I posed at the start. If you answered unabashedly yes.. I implore you to read on before continuing that thought process.
Title: The Princess Guide
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Available On: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4
Reviewed On: PlayStation 4 Pro
Release Date: March 26, 2019
Game Provided By NIS America for the Purpose of This Review
Taking place on the Relic Islands, you are a master of combat, expertise, and knowledge. Now, there’s an even greater role for you to fulfill, that of an Instructor to one of four Princesses that desperately need your services. At the very beginning, you’re able to select if you want to play as a male or female Instructor, and are given small variations of character skins to choose from. It isn’t very in-depth, and all characters more or less look the same anyway, so choice doesn’t particularly matter.
From there, the story is introduced to you. Because of your abilities and accomplishments stretching as far as the eye can see, four different Princesses immediately want to begin training under your command. You must select one at the very beginning, but as things roll on, you’ll eventually be able to take control of all four. Let’s take a look at each of the different Princesses.
First there’s the Warrior Princess Liliartie, Captain of the Kingsguard and Princess of the Alixon Kingdom. She is extremely outgoing and her cheerful smile and bubbly personality make her beloved by her entire Kingdom… but she’s always insanely hungry and can eat an entire Dragon if desired! Then there’s the Witch Princess Veronica, the young prodigal tyrant of the Rusty Magic Guild. She is villainous down to the core, and her sole reason for wanting to train under the Instructor is for his knowledge of the Relics. Next up there’s the Rose Princess Monomaria, the fallen Duchess of a once extremely powerful family in the Mercantile Trade Coalition, the Yudaria’s. She desires to grow personally, as her people still love and support her, and she wants to lead her Kingdom out of financial ruin. Finally there’s the Dragon Princess Alpana, the 64th descendant of a long line of Dragon priests from the North Kamara Clan. Her one goal is to unite the world and have there be peace and harmony between all living creatures.
Once you have selected a Princess, the game becomes a heavy grind fest. While each Princess does have a unique playstyle and different combat mechanics, it doesn’t make up for the fact that you’ll simply be jumping from one location on the map to the next and entering into combat for 90% of the time spent in The Princess Guide. At first, the combat felt fun and I was really enjoying myself. 30 minutes later, and I was left bored and wanting there to be more to do.
While it borrows heavily from the Roguelike genre and Action RPG’s, combat is a matter of slamming buttons and trying to dodge, because there really isn’t any way of defending yourself on the battlefield. At times, there’s so many enemies on screen that it’s hard to distinguish your characters from the ones that are piling on top of you, and at that point, death is inevitable. Therefore, the game is quite challenging. There is a mechanic where you can Praise or Scold the Princesses after missions, which will affect the way they perform in future missions. Praising also heals up the party some, so if you’re low on health, this is generally recommended.
Gameplay takes place in a loop. To begin, the world map can get confusing and isn’t all that special. You’ll select a party from the menu with either yourself as the commander or one of the Princesses. From there, you send them to a specific tile on the world map, and an icon representing the party will begin traveling toward the location. Along the way, you may bump into an enemy icon, and that signifies it’s time for battle. You can complete quests and tackle missions on the world map, but it’s very humdrum and rather dull. The overall formula just didn’t work well for the type of game that The Princess Guide set out to be.
I do want to touch on the insane bounciness of the characters when they’re engaging in dialogue and you see a portrait of them on the screen. To be frank, it looks as if the characters are having a seizure or epileptic attack, and it’s very distracting. I get the sense the developers tried to implement this in order to be cutesy or make the characters seem animated during still-image cutscenes.. but my word is it annoying and over-done. It took me out of the overall experience every time dialogue would present itself or cutscenes began, and I was ready for them to be over after mere seconds. Which is unfortunate, because the narrative itself never really gets going after the initial plot points are delivered at the start of the game.
Here’s the deal. I have an intense love for all things Japanese, and companies like Nippon Ichi Software tend to release games that speak to my soul. I’ve loved so many things they’re developed as a team and published as a studio, and they’re willing to take risks which I appreciate more than anything. Every now and then, a game comes along that makes me question that, as the disconnect is just too high. While still fun from a gameplay and combat perspective at times, I just cannot recommend The Princess Guide as an overall.
6.0 / 10