Prinnies are back to make you feel pain, in an old school way!
The Disgaea universe is set in stone as Nippon Ichi’s most popular and memorable. Prinny 2 is based in the netherworld section and continues the same 2D side-scrolling gameplay from its predecessor, and of course it still features everyone’s favourite exploding penguins. Taking the original PSP game as its base, Prinny 2 builds upon the solid old-school platforming foundation and adds a few extras here and there and an interesting new game mode.
In the netherworld Etna, leader of the Prinnies and your boss, has just realised that someone has made off with her panties. It’s your job to find the culprit and get them back. Yeah it’s a bit of a strange plot, but narrative isn’t something to be taken that seriously in the world of Disgaea, and even if this is your first encounter with the colourful cast of characters you’ll still find the game to be funny and full of charm.
Prinny 2 is not an easy game however; it’s borderline insane. Prinny 2 is so hard in-fact that the game gives the player a thousand lives to slowly lose. While similarly difficult games like Super Meat Boy have fantastic control systems that allow you to constantly alter your direction in the air, Prinny 2 does not. This game has a stiff jumping mechanic meaning you cannot alter your height or angle of the jump. You either jump left, right or up. It’s like a trip back to the ages of the NES and games like Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins and Castlevania. There is a double jump, so you can jump again and press a direction to move back to safety or reach higher places, and there’s a Mario-style butt-stomp allowing you to cut your jumping arc short, but it still feels dated compared to some of the newer offerings in the world of side-scrolling platformers.
Butt-stomps also allow you to stun enemies, and are normally part of the routine on taking down bosses at the end of a level. Their presence is secondary to the Prinny’s swords however which are the main focus of combat here. Enemies can be killed by simply mashing the square button. Doing this within a certain frame of time builds up a combo metre at the bottom of the screen allowing the Prinny to go into “break mode.” Break mode allows you to do more damage with normal attacks. It also allows the use of the metre to do a Prinnikaze Bomb drop, a powerful move that does a lot of damage to enemies around where it lands. Prinnies also have their famous air attack, which requires you to press attack during a jump to start throwing blades of energy from your swords down towards the unlucky foe.
To help new people adapt to the series or people that had trouble with the first game Nippon Ichi has added a new “Baby” mode. This is Prinny 2’s easy mode, allowing the player to take extra damage, have safety blocks appear to help you cross challenging gaps and easier access to building up the break combo metre. Even having it on easy mode still makes the game challenging; you’ll still be dying and those lives you initially started off with soon dwindle. The worst part? Losing all your Prinnies means you have to start the game over again.
Trial and error is a key aspect of beating Prinny 2. To beat this game you are going to have to memorise, learn, adapt and gain skill to beat each stage and its layout. Getting through the later levels can be excruciatinglydifficult, even on normal mode. When you finally do beat a level however, it feels so damn rewarding. You’ll forget all about the screaming and hair-pulling that certain levels can driver you to, at least until you have to go through the cycle all over again on the next stage.
Beating a stage pits you against the boss that normally follows the old-school logic of classic gaming; learn the enemy’s pattern to defeat it. The boss fights are exciting and tough and even though you will die a lot it somehow isn’t as frustrating as dying fifty times on one section of a stage.
If you remember at the start of this review I mentioned that there is a new game mode that is including in Prinny 2. This is called Asagi mode, and it unlocks when you complete the game. It’s an alternative gameplay and story take on Prinny. In this mode you take control of a Prinny named Asagi, and rather than having swords she has machine guns and other weaponry making the game turn into some sort of platforming Metal Slug. It’s almost like having a different game.
Presentation-wise, Prinny 2 has some great artwork; it uses the assets from Disgaea and plants them into a side scrolling environment. Voice acting is respectable all around, although veterans may find the change to Prinny’s voice off-putting. If there’s any one problem with audio it’s hearing the word “DOOD!” a billion times. It can get a little irritating, especially when it says it every time you respawn after death.
Prinny 2 is a niche product that won’t appeal to most people. A lot of gamers will think it’s cheating them or the game is broken in design. It’s not, this game is for the gamer who wants to live the old days of gaming and take up the challenge of playing games like we used to. It just shows us how much game mechanics have evolved and how we as players have taken them for granted in this new day and age. If you can handle the pressure then Prinny 2 has a lot to offer, you’re just going to require the patience of Ghandi to beat it, DOOD.