on Jun 23 by kitsumeda
Released last week, exclusively for the PlayStation 3, Battle Princess of Arcadias is a download-only title. This game departs from the classic JRPG formula we have seen time and time again, by including gameplay from multiple genres. In the end what we got was an adorable, albeit flawed adventure.
The tale takes place in the Schwert Kingdom, a story book land filled with adorable characters and varied locales. Once the land got overrun by monsters, a girl quickly stepped up and cleansed the land, becoming known as the Battle Princess. Unfortunately after the initial setup, there really is little to the story and more often than not the characters will run around doing random tasks rather than have a real purpouse. Later on there are a few twists, as the story tries to tackle some deeper themes, but it doesn’t fit the overall presentation and feels like too little, too late.
You play as the redhead Battle Princess Plume, an energetic and ditzy girl. Along the way you will meet many friends and allies, who are mostly ridiculous and egocentric enough to bring a few laughs. They include: Sigurth the Goose and King who is also Plume’s brother, Yuni the bunny girl artisan, Raltz the scaredy-cat squire and borderline yandere Odette. The games enjoyment hangs on the ability for the cast to entertain you, with their mostly nonsensical dialog and succeeds only if you are a fan of this kind of banter.
At the game’s core lies an interesting mesh between RPG and beat-em-up title, with more than a few twists on the classic genre, feeling a bit similar to Duel Saviour. From the world map you can select which level you want to go to. There are three types of levels in the game. The first is Combat, which features the traditional beat-em-up gameplay. You move to the right, killing everything in your path. Once everything is dead the level is cleared. The combat is fast paced and has tight controls, making it generally enjoyable. Being an RPG, the game allows you to equip your characters with weapons and accessories of your liking. You can also cast spells, defend and dodge, all of which add a bit more depth to the game.
Aside from Combat levels you have Sieges and Skirmishes. Both of these play out like the classic Combat mode, but bring an RTS element to the table. Sieges are boss battles where you bring your whole army with you to battle it out against a boss. These foes initially have a shield, which once destroyed will leave them vulnerable for a few moments. You can switch the formation of your troops, focusing on attacking, defending or even retreating. Correctly timing these formation swaps can mean the difference between life and death, as the bosses can literally take down a third of your army in one hit. You can only swap a formation if you have enough moral, which slowly fills up. Once maxed you can use up the entire moral bar to order your soldiers to unleash an ultimate attack, which also prevents you from using the change formation command for a while.
Finally there are Skirmishes, which are battles between two armies. Here you must select which types of troops you will put up against the opponents. Your troops battle in the background while you fight against endless waves of enemies in the foreground, which gives boosts to your moral gauge. It plays out like a bit more complex version of rock-paper-scissors, where aside different types of troops you must take into account formation and levels.
What separates Battle Princess of Arcadias from other similar titles is the ability to swap between two other characters in the middle of combat. Each character has his or her own move set, which increases as you level up. Characters drastically differ from one another in both power and speed, making sure there is something for everyone here.
Unfortunately, Battle Princess of Arcadias can get very repetitive at times as it lacks depth. There is only a limited amount of things to see and do and once you played one of each level type you will have seen almost everything the game has to offer. Difficulty tends to spike from time to time, so you will most likely be grinding a long time to beat a specific stage, and once you do you will be overpowered for quite a while. All these elements, including the bite sized levels, make the game better suited for the handheld market.
The game has other minor nuisances, such as the inconsistent and unwieldy menus. It’s hard to see what items you have equipped when you have over ten characters in your party. What’s worse is that while in town you cannot equip anything without entering a shop first.
The game economy feels a bit unbalanced, as you will probably have a lot more gold than you can ever spend. I always bought the strongest weapons and equipment, upgraded all of it as well as trained all my troops to their current max level, but I still had more money than I ever knew what to do with.
While the game has a gathering system, it feels tacked on, as it prevents upgrading weapons if you don’t have the correct items. This means you will either grind even more if you want something specific, or just totally ignore unlocking skills for your weapons.
Despite the game clearly having a lower budget, it looks absolutely amazing. Each level plays in a different location, allowing for stages to never get stale. There is an enormous selection of backgrounds in the game, from lush forests, to tropical jungles, to deserts, to icy mountains and even pirate ships. Most of them have animated backgrounds and end up looking amazing. Some stages even have interactive backgrounds. For example some trees drop fruit by slamming an enemy against the ground, while in the lava stage you can get hit by flames coming from the ground. Everything in the game looks adorably cute, having a story book vibe to it. Things are extremely colorful and lively, and everything looks very sharp. Animations are also very impressive as individual body parts are animated.
As for the music, there are a ton of different genres of songs here, from upbeat tunes, to awesome vocal tracks, to blood pumping rock. However, while none of them are especially poor, they end up feeling out of place considering how varied everything sounds. Even though it features only Japanese audio, it is fully voiced even in the most unimportant conversations on the street, which is a nice plus.
This game ends up feeling like a budget title, as many things end up feeling like they required an additional layer of polish especially for the PlayStation 3. At the same time it is genuinely refreshing, because it tries to do something new and succeeds with it. I’d personally love to see a sequel, either focusing on handheld platforms, or refining some of the elements and adding a bit more depth for home consoles. If you love playing action titles with something new to offer or beat-em-ups in general, it might not be a bad idea to check Battle Princess of Arcadias out.