Review: Code of Princess EX


She must be cold, like, all the time

2018 for the Nintendo Switch will be remembered as the year of the ports. Dragon Quest BuildersBayonetta 1 & 2, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Captain Toad, Super Meat Boy and so many more have made the jump from whereever they originated to it. It's a great system for second chances, and I think no game deserves a second chance more than Code of Princess.

Code of Princess EX review

Code of Princess EX (Nintendo Switch)
Developer: Studio Saizensen
Publisher: Nicalis
Released: July 31, 2018
MSRP: $39.99

Princess Solange Blanchefleur de Lux is on the run. When monsters invade her kingdom, controlled by the wicked Queen Distiny, Solange hits the wind. Dressed in an outfit that makes Slave Leia look like Mother Superior, and carrying the legendary DeLuxcalibur, Solange is on a mission to save her people. But to do that, she'll need an army of the best warriors the land has to offer. Unfortunately those are in short supply, so a thief, a nun, a zombie necromancer, a samurai, and an elven guitar hero will have to do. Code of Princess EX isn't coming at players with a thick fantasy narrative but rather an anachronistic road trip, with mismatched heroes banding together to fight a common evil.

I wouldn't want it any other way.

It's difficult to pull off referential, self-aware humor in video games and the dialogue of Code of Princess doesn't always hit the mark, but this jovial quest through DeLuxia is joyous enough to put a smile on my face even as the difficulty spikes unexpectedly. The campaign is broken up into quests that usually start and sometimes end with a light-hearted cutscene introducing the characters and the immediate threat. The whimsical English voice acting of the 3DS original is nowhere to be found, but the translation is able to carry the humor on its own.

Between these story segments is the rich beat 'em up action. I've read the comparisons to Guardian Heroes, but as I've yet to play that game, I can't tell you how close it hues. Any memories of combat being slow or stilted in the original release are gone as Code of Princess EX is incredibly quick and buttery smooth. The side-scrolling combat allows players and enemies to jump between three different planes, pulling off simple, button-mashy combos and more powerful magic attacks. Characters like Solange and Master T lean more towards melee combat, while Lady Zozo and Allegro specialize in magic.

No matter what character you choose to take through the story, on the field of battle, the most useful tool is the lock-on attack. Land this on an enemy and it will increase the amount of damage done as long as I'm locked on to them. Combine this with the many different pieces of equipment - that increase damage when I'm locked on - and suddenly enemies like Emble or The Guardian don't seem to difficult.

During the campaign, every character I recruit will level-up, even if they're on my bench. This is a necessity because some of these missions greatly spike in difficulty. Failing a mission is a punch to the gut, because I have to start from the beginning and I don't gain any XP to help me on my next attempt. At that point, my only option is to go back and grind through previous quests. Solange is enough to get me through most missions, but some are better attempted with a specific character who can utilize an enemy weakness.

Outside of the campaign, I can replay every quest in free play with any character I unlock and bonus quests I unlock as I progress through the story. These are more great ways to grind character levels and to show players that not all characters are created equal. I can't imagine seriously attempting to level up characters like Ooze or tavern owner Eluda, but it sure can be a hoot to play as them once or twice. In fact, experimenting with the more than 50 playable characters just may be my favorite piece of the entire package.

Code of Princess EX review

There is also local co-op -- each player can use a single Joy-Con -- allowing two players to make their way through every level of the campaign, free play, or bonus quests. Thankfully, two players with multiple enemies on the screen doesn't slow down the engine one bit. There is also online multiplayer allowing for co-op or competitive play. Online play wasn't available for my review period, but if it's terrible I'll let you know. 

My one qualm with the different modes is character levels carry between the three of them. I understand the appeal of that, but if I go through the campaign solo, and then want to redo it with a friend, I have to either play it hilariously overpowered or manually go through and revert individual character (or even whole game) data. It would be nice if solo and co-op play could be kept separate. It would also be nice if the character models weren't so low resolution because good God can they look awful.

Code of Princess EX really doesn't take itself seriously, but you should. Though not all of the 50+ characters are worth maxing out, the eight heroes of the campaign and the unlockable bosses are an absolute joy to play, learn, and master. With so many modes and so many quests, this is yet another quality Switch title ready to suck up dozens of hours of your life.

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

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Code of Princess EX reviewed by CJ Andriessen



Impressive effort with a few noticeable problems holding it back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.
How we score:  The Destructoid reviews guide


CJ Andriessen
CJ AndriessenEditor-at-Large   gamer profile

Just what the internet needs: yet another white guy writing about video games. more + disclosures



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