Code of Princess EX is a remaster of a game that originally launched for the Nintendo 3DS. It plays like the classic Guardian Heroes that launched on the Sega Saturn, and part of the reason is the main talent behind it also worked on that game. The visuals are a mix of 2D and 3D which is interesting because it looks gorgeous most of the time, however, the game could have benefited from a larger jump in resolution.
This is a part side-scrolling brawler and part action RPG. The unique appeal of the game is in its art style which is stunning, and it also features some great character design. Sadly when it comes to gameplay, Code of Princess EX tends to get repetitive and lacks a decent progression system that makes it somewhat a bland experience that looks flashy on the surface but lacks depth.
The story centers on a heroic Princess Solange of DeLuxia whose kingdom gets invaded by monsters under the control of Queen Distiny. She manages to grab the legendary sword DeLuxcalibur that the enemy is looking for before leaving the Kingdom. During her journey, she will meet several people, some of which will decide to join her quest. The people who join her party are all great fighters with their own unique abilities and appearance. Her goal is to find the cause of the violent behavior of the monsters that attacked her Kingdom and rescue it from the clutches of evil.
There is significant emphasis placed on the story in Code of Princess EX. The game features beautifully drawn animated cut scenes that serve the purpose of eye candy. They give a glimpse of the story and let you see the character models in detail. The animated look for the characters is pretty good however I don’t think their style translates well into the visuals of the game.
The story is told through a mix of cut scenes and character conversations. The game’s story works with a mission-based design so you will have to complete new missions to progress in the story. Each mission comes with a difficulty meter that lets you find how hard it will be to tackle. The difficulty itself depends on how efficiently you can use a character however the combat system is nothing special. The opening and ending of a mission usually have a short cut scene that advances the story further.
Code of Princess EX is rather weak with its simplified combat mechanics. It reminds of the classic Golden Axe games that had a certain clumsiness to them, and similarly, there is a lot of clunky animation in between the attacks in Code of Princess EX. The combat system also suffers from repetition and you will be mostly mashing the same combo on an enemy until their health is completely depleted. Most of the fights are against a horde of similar looking enemies but sometimes you can get a tough challenging boss fight at the end of each mission.
The good thing though is the writing is generally good and can often offer some comedic moments even during a serious situation. It is sadly a mission or quest based design that remains there from the start until you end the game, and it was a major issue for me because while I enjoyed the characters and the story elements, I was struggling with the combat system and the lack of customization options.
As I said, this is an action RPG but the customization offered here is rather weak in this regards. You can equip each character with a set of weapons and armor that can also give them stat boosting effects or special abilities. Your character can also get experience points however since there are multiple playable characters, it usually results in the player controlled character getting the most amount of experience points. I would have preferred if everyone received experience points equally so that I didn’t have to juggle between the different characters.
There are multiple playable characters and you are free to pick anyone for a mission, however, most of them aside from the main cast will be only available in free play. You can unlock new characters by finishing the main story missions however it is hard to pick a favorite since everyone has a certain charm. Some characters are good against a certain boss or more efficient in a mission. Others are useful in close combat or work better as a ranged fighter.
The mission-based structure makes it easier for you to grind out a character if you hit a difficulty wall. You can continue to gain experience points if you finish an old mission. There are also bonus quests that unlock once you finish certain story missions while some of them are also hidden behind fulfilling specific requirements.
Code of Princess EX Review (Switch)
Game Reviewed on: Switch
Game description: Code of Princess is an action role-playing video game developed by Studio Saizensen and originally published by Agatsuma Entertainment for Nintendo 3DS.
This game isn’t going to offer you a great combat system but there is an impressive cast of playable characters. The writing is solid and the art style is captivating, however, the quest-based mission design is a major flaw that hinders the potential of the story.