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Review: Penny-Punching Princess

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Whip out that calculator

You can always count on NIS to get weird.

That's why I immediately jumped at a game called Penny-Punching Princess, which has key art that features the titular princess with a giant fist and a calculator in-hand. It's just as quirky as it looks, even if the premise doesn't lift it past its grinding reality.

Penny-Punching Princess (Switch [reviewed] Vita)
Developer: NIS
Publisher: NIS
Released: April 3, 2018
MSRP: $39.99

The silly premise of taking revenge on predatory lenders works. I'm sure a lot of us can get on board with that, but the cartoony visuals really make it sing, and man NIS sure does know how to design minions. Even the low key useless fodder is memorable, and it's almost like NIS knows that when they constantly call back to the rank and file sprites like skeletons (which are basically the Prinnys of the PPP universe).

Beyond its pretty pictures, Penny-Punching Princess operates on a simple loop. You enter a dungeon, finish a battle royale of sorts at the end with a bunch of enemies or a boss, and you head back into another similar looking dungeon for more chances at cash and recruits. The idea is that you need to bribe more minions to do your bidding at your castle (more on that in a minute) -- and you'll do that with your trusty calculator. And...punching things.

The princess is perfectly capable of defending herself with a swath of combat actions -- including rolls, normal and charged power attacks, and EX specials like fireballs and the like. Everything feels responsive and the top-down camera angle is sufficient at figuring out the lay of the land, and by the time you get tired of one playstyle another one pops up in the form of "armors," which change your abilities and loadout.

But again, the real focus is bribing, which you'll do with your touchscreen (or d-pad controlled) calculator. Everyone and everything has a price in Penny-Punching Princess, including said baddies, traps, and bonus doors. By defeating foes and rattling them by rotating the right analog stick when they're in a downed/stunned state you can shake them down for cash, an in-game currency that dictates how much you can bribe.

By holding down the bribe button you'll whip your calculator out (which brings with it a hilarious animation) and the price of each object pops up. Just type in your offer and select an enemy, and bam, it's yours. It's not only a rush to pluck enemies out of a combat zone; buying up traps to take out packs of enemies feels great too. In one early level I felt overwhelmed by a few stronger minions only to buy a buzzsaw, lead them over to it, and slash them up for cheaper than it would have costed to bribe one of them. The game doesn't explicitly tell you can bribe everything during the brief tutorial, and finding all of the ways to use the game's various tools keeps you going.

But it's not all arcade-oriented, as the palace element keeps you on your toes, somewhat in a tedious manner. This is where you'll get new armor and upgrade your statline, which comes in handy during some of the more punishing stages later on in the campaign. Sadly a lot of this comes down to grinding up certain minion types (by bribing them, which also brings them to your castle), as certain upgrades require a metric truck ton of citizens

It, in addition to the practice of going into new stages rapid-fire in the same play session, brings to light the game's biggest fault -- fatigue. The combat system is sound, bribing remains ridiculous throughout, but I wish the storyline was a bit more fleshed out and the palace system was relaxed to help break up the grind. I didn't necessarily want to stop outright at any point, but I did get the distinct feeling of padding.

NIS delivers the weird yet again with Penny-Punching Princess, a fun little arcade romp that just escapes the danger of staleness. Stretched a little too thin but a lot of people are going to be enjoying this one with a price drop.

[This review is based on a retail version of the game provided by the publisher.]

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Penny Punching Princess reviewed by Chris Carter

7

GOOD

Solid and definitely has an audience. There could be some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.
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Chris Carter
Chris CarterReviews Director, Co-EIC   gamer profile

Chris has been enjoying Destructoid avidly since 2008. He finally decided to take the next step, make an account, and start blogging in January of 2009. Now, he's staff! ------------------- T... more + disclosures


 


 


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