If I’m going to be perfectly honest, I find it kind of funny when I hear complaints about developers re-releasing old games. You know, either in collections or as standalone titles. I say that because, whether it be a remaster, reimagining, or just a plain old port, I absolutely love it. It gives me the chance to replay a game I adored in the past, or maybe even play something I never had the opportunity or ability to play during previous console generations, now in a much more accessible way. I mean it’s at least more convenient than digging up your PSP, hoping it still has a charge and finding that dang UMD! That and if we happen to get some enhancements, additional features or a much needed uprez, then that’s just icing on the cake.
Well, NIS America was thinking that too, because they’re releasing not one, but two of their classic handheld titles based on the infamous Disgaea universe – Prinny: Can I Really Be The Hero?, and Prinny 2: Dawn of Operation Panties, Dood!. But will their platforming twist on the classic tactics formula satisfy long time fans, or should this collection of offshoots have been left in PSP limbo?
It wouldn’t be a secret if it wasn’t hidden, DOOD.
Being a long time fan of the Disgaea franchise, the Prinny games always had me intrigued. I mean, one of my favorite parts of the Disgaea series was its general over-the-top antics! From its character designs, which are absolutely fantastic, to its silly dialog, everything about Disgaea screamed bizarre and I loved it! Not to mention its ridiculously deep tactical gameplay that throws level and damage caps out the window. So, my hopes were high that a platformer based in that same world, would be everything I could wish for and more. I mean, they focused on the best highly explosive minions ever created for a video game, the Prinnys themselves!
The only problem was, the Prinny games were exclusive to the PSP. Now, this isn’t inherently bad, but since I typically stray away from playing handheld games, I never really went out of my way to try them out. Occasionally, I remembered that they existed and would drool over the gameplay, all the while lamenting over my lack of ownership, but I digress. Remember, I’m a big Disgaea fan AND a HUGE platformer fan.
Suffice it to say, I was quite excited when I discovered that NIS was bringing both games to the Switch! You could even play them in handheld mode, like they were meant to be played, if you really wanted to! Myself, I was quite thrilled to be able to play them on the big screen. The question that was on my mind however, was how did these antiquated PSP games translate to the modern age?
Well, I guess you could say that it got most of the way there. Like other Disgaea games, the Prinny games seem simple on the surface, but as you get more invested they reveal a gaping chasm of depth. What I mean is, both Prinny games, especially the first one, are simple and straightforward platformers. You play as a Prinny set out on some ridiculous mission from Etna, the Demon Overlord, where you’ll hack and slash your way through various stages, defeating enemies and toppling increasingly difficult bosses. In fact, each stage becomes increasingly difficult as you progress as well. Though that may be selling the difficulty curve a bit short.
The depth comes from each game’s subsequent playthroughs and how each stage will offer different challenges and even story events, based on which order you play them! Top it off with achievements, unlockables, secret stages and a whole slew of items to collect, and you’ve got yourself a set of games that are 5 times bigger than you initially thought!
Gotta have guts, DOOD!
Nonetheless, this all comes with a few caveats that can dampen your experience. For one, the knockback in this game is horrendous and the single most frustrating thing about either of the entries! Never have I had a run ruined more often by getting knocked into a pit and dying after getting hit by a well timed fireball slamming into my little penguin face, than I had playing these deceivingly difficult games!
This is only exemplified by the second biggest offender in the two Prinny games, their rigid jump! Which is slightly mitigated by the fact that you can double jump, but once you leave the ground you are 100% committed to not only the direction of that jump but also the distance and arc. Which can make the timing and the accuracy of your landing difficult. So, if I could change anything, it would definitely be that. Give me a variable jump, that’s all I ask! Now, I will say that the sting of these problems was dulled a bit in Prinny 2 with the addition of an “Easy Mode”, and the inclusion of the new “Break” system that will increase your attack strength after maxing the combo meter, but in no way did it make the game easy. Just a little less hard.
On a more superficial note, I kinda wish the visuals had been uprezzed with a defter hand. I say that because the pixel art in Prinny and Prinny 2, just like the Disgaea games, is exquisite and it’s a shame that the beautiful pixel art looks like it was sent through a smoothing filter.
Although, it may not be easy to look past these frustrations while playing both of the Prinny games, I will say that what kept me coming back was that Disgaea charm. I wanted to see what silly characters I would encounter next, and what goofball boss I’d have to defeat to get there. Plus, NIS really leaned hard into replayability when they created these games, and I could see myself obsessing over getting each and every unlockable for the same reasons.
That’s a sly way to not cuss, DOOD!
So, should you play the Prinny games? I think if you love the Disgaea games and are in the mood for a platformer that features characters from that universe, then absolutely yes! I would go in prepared for a challenge however, because these games are not easy, and they will definitely test your patience and your thumb dexterity. Since both games drop at the same time, you can have a Prinny platforming field day, and a good screaming into a pillow session afterward! Don’t worry, it’ll be worth it. With that being said, if you only want half the games and meager three quarters of the frustration, then I’d recommend investing in Prinny 2 over the original. It added improvements to the gameplay and a few other mechanics that made it a much more enjoyable experience, DOOD!
If you’re interested in checking out either Prinny: Can I Really Be The Hero? or Prinny 2: Dawn of Operation Panties, Dood!, you’ll be able to find them both on the Nintendo eShop, October 13! Or if you’d like them bundled together in an amazing physical collector’s edition you can find Prinny 1•2: Exploded and Reloaded Just Desserts Edition on the NIS America store!
If you liked this review then consider checking out the video version! It’s a great way to see the game in action!!