Prinny 1•2: Exploded and Reloaded – Switch

As anyone that has been a long time reader to will know, I love Prinnies. The first choice of avatar, this site’s icons and my previous Twitter handle were all Prinny artworks. There’s a lovable simplicity to the design and my love for the Disgaea series is already well documented. I was well aware of the PSP games when this Switch title was announced and I remembered them to be difficult but enjoyable enough. There were plenty of competitors in the action platformer genre on the PSP. Ultimate Ghosts N Goblins was the stand out for me with both great MegaMan games a close second. The Prinny games were definitely different and a lot more punishing. How are they now and has there been any changes made?

The most disappointing aspect of Prinny 1•2: Exploded and Reloaded is that this is an almost direct port of the original PSP games. Buttons have been updated to be switch controls, there is no option for DLC, Japanese voice acting is now an option on both titles from the start and that’s it. If you’ve played any Ghosts and Goblins game before you’ll know what to expect in the core gameplay for both games. A 2.5D platformer where you need to take your time, think before you act and be prepared to die. A lot. You cannot change your movement once you jump, you’ll need to attempt to kill anything that moves and you’ll need to memorise a lot of the layouts as you go. Both games come bundled on the physical edition but you can purchase and download them separately from the e-shop.

In both games you have 1000 prinny lives to clear them and each game gives the impression you only have a set amount of time to complete them in. This is simply an indicator of how many levels you have left to complete. You can pick and chose the order you complete the stages in and it will change the time of day for each stage and scale the difficulty accordingly. As you jump between platforms you can attack in the air and this will tilt the camera so you can see what’s ahead of you, giving you a slim chance to avoid any damage. Each stage is a rush through monsters and traps to get to the boss encounter with checkpoints unlocked throughout. Each unique boss has a shield and health bar, hip pounding the boss’s armour Mario style (a ground pound in all but name) chips away at the shield until they’re finally stunned and then you’ll be smashing the Y button until your thumb hurts to try and kill them before they stand up again.

Prinny® 1: Can I Really Be The Hero?

Challenging doesn’t even come close to how hard Prinny Can I Really Be The Hero (aka Prinny 1) can be. There are two difficulties and although the game would have you believe one is Normal and the other Hellish, both are Hard with Hellish verging on the extreme. On a normal difficulty setting you have 3 hits before you lose your prinny and it’s back to the last checkpoint. Visually Prinny 1 has scaled nicely for the most part with the PSP geometry and textures looking nice. On the Switch it does scale nicer to handheld but even on the smaller screen the text and some of the sprites really could have used some work looking blocky and not quite up to scratch. For the most part it seems if the text was in game it’s fine but if it was an image then it becomes a bit messy.

Prinny 1 has plenty of content but you’ve got to unlock a lot of the more interesting features the hard way. You only unlock the Prinny Bomb attack by losing all 1000 lives and starting a new game from the game over save and you can only unlock Asagi mode by finding all 10 torn pages. It’s full of interesting ideas and the scaling of difficulty for each stage depending on the order chosen does lend itself to multiple playthroughs. Everything is designed for portable play, it’s difficult but short and as such if you get stuck you can always refer to old guides for the PSP version as essentially it’s the same game.

You’ll need all the help you can get here. Each stage is packed with pockets of fun to figure out and play but there are moments in boss fights and areas where you’ll be caught by an off-screen fireball, an extra enemy spawn or death from a platform that vanished. When you’re hit the Prinny will bounce and more often than not you’ll bounce to your death to start all over again. Stages start at costing single digit lives to finish but before the end you’ll be losing double or triple digits. Still on your hundredth attempt at trying to figure out the tiniest perfect steps and button mashing to clear a boss. It physically hurts to clear the game as every enemy needs multiple attacks to defeat and I’m not entirely sure the experience is worth that. Prinny 1 is a lot better to simply enjoy short bursts and then put it away again but it’s definitely a masochists delight.

3/10 – Makes Cuphead look like a walk in the park dood

Prinny® 2: Dawn of Operation Panties, Dood!

The title of this sequel should give you a heads-up in the tonal shift. Where the first Prinny game is a race to make the Ultimate Desert, Prinny 2 is a race for stolen panties. The dialogue and cutscenes reflect this and some sprites somehow manage to lean towards the lewder side. It’s also a product of 2008 and some of the writing isn’t great, having literal black coloured clones of enemies as 2nd bosses in its closing act and naming them all Junkies (to imply junk versions) is a particularly cringe inducing moment. As with Prinny 1 this is an almost direct PSP port with the same minor changes. Prinny 2s gameplay is a refined experience compared to 1 but the changes aren’t enough to fix core issues.

The difficulty is curved nicely for the most part with 3 options to chose; Hellish, Normal and the stupidly named ‘Baby Mode’. Baby adds in more hits before death (although the scarf indicator is replaced with nappies) and extra blocks through the stages that make the game a lot more playable. It’s insane they try to shame the player in this way as the game itself stresses, events and endings don’t change with difficulty. You’re supposed to die and lose Prinnies a lot throughout but without ‘baby’ mode you’ll be so frustrated as hell and it’s unlikely you’ll finish it. It really feels like an older game than it is, you can collect a weapon at the start of each stage so you hold Y instead of mashing it to attack but that lowers your damage and changes the swords to vegetables. Every assist is begrudgingly given and you’re expected to want to suffer to clear everything.

The experience is more bareable than Prinny 1 but it’s still a dull slog through trial and error. That is until you unlock Asagi mode. The story continues on from Prinny 2 as a Prinny Asagi goes through a TV competition to prove she’s the true Asagi. Unlike Prinny 1 & 2 if you chose to play as Asagi the system changes and you start with guns and ammo. Each hit lowers your TV ratings (essentially a health bar) and you have different bosses and events to enjoy. The difficulty it a lot more balanced and there’s no final ‘Junkie Edna’ boss that will have you losing hundreds of lives, consulting YouTube videos and still not being able to clear after hours of play. That’s not to say it’s easy but you will be able to enjoy the gameplay a lot more.

Unlock Asagi mode from the title screen by highlighting “New Game” and pressing X, Y, B, X, Y, B, A.

As with Prinny 1, Prinny 2 looks best in handheld mode. When the Switch is docked it looks a lot like a PSTV running the original PSP game and unlike Prinny 1 there is a lot more sprites on the screen at any time. It is scaled from the original 480 x 272 pixel PSP screen to whatever your TV can handle and the effect isn’t great. If you can get past the rough presentation there is a ton of content to unlock and find in Prinny 2 although your mileage with vary depending on how deep you want to look for it. It’s a lot more enjoyable than Prinny 1 but still difficult to recommend to anyone without a lot of caveats or a turbo button controller.

5/10 – A lot more fun but still unfairly brutal dood

Prinny 1•2: Exploded and Reloaded

The collection is a strange one. To call it a remaster would be wrong as it’s a port of 2 overlooked niche PSP games. If you really enjoy a difficult and punishing “find the exact pixel perfect route” gameplay experience then you’ll adore both games. Dial up the difficulty and knock yourself out. Each stage is ranked so you can grind for that perfect run if that interests you. If you just like the Disgaea franchise then it’s going to be a hard sell but worth a look as long as your prepared to be left frustrated and with sore thumbs. The writing in both games can be fantastic and there are great ideas for bosses and enemies but these great moments get watered down often by frustrating level design and a lack of any polish. I’d recommend starting with 2 and then going back to 1 after. The difficulty is insane dood.

4/10 – Gotta be a lover of the Netherworld to want to power through these dood.

Prinny 1•2: Exploded and Reloaded comes to EU Switch on the 16th October 2020
Code provided by EU Partner Relations – NIS America Inc. Check out NIS here


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