Battle Princess of Arcadias
Battle Princess of Arcadias falls into the same Nippon Ichi Software America release category that Legasista fell into back in 2012. While it was a solid game with a tonne of potential to go far in the West, they instead opted to limit its market potential by making it digital download only and not giving it the localization budget for a new English dub. Especially given it’s part of a new IP I can’t really fault NIS America in this decision, but it is a real shame when games such as Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection, which ended up being the worst game I have played this year, received such attention. While it required quite a lot of grinding throughout, Battle Princess of Arcadias proved to be a competently designed side-scrolling action-RPG which offered many hours of entertainment and challenge.
Starting off on a less than stellar note, the storyline of Battle Princess of Arcadias is unmemorable, struggling to stand out for either detail or comedy aspects which Nippon Ichi Software America’s games have provided in the past. The game follows a young princess by the name of Plume, also known as the “Mighty Battle Princess” or “Plumie”. With the world now overrun by monsters, each kingdom needs to fight against the growing threat to mitigate the risk of being overrun by them. Having lost her previous assistant just days before at the hands of a towering monster, Plume acquires a new assistant and later several new friends who help her in battle.
To the games credit, there are a large variety of characters with an equally large variety of personalities. However while there are a few comical interactions and interesting events between the characters, none of them stand out – and in all honesty I felt tempted from early on to just skip over the dialogue. This resulted in an overall average but unremarkable experience that isn’t bad by any means, but nothing much you would look back fondly on upon completing the game.
Design / Music / Voice Acting
While we are seeing great strides being made in 3D gaming every year, this is not to say that there isn’t anything that 2D gaming can offer. Battle Princess of Arcadias proves this. Nippon Ichi Software America have managed to retain the same visual charms present in recent Disgaea releases into the game, both in terms of environment and character designs. It may not always be possible to stand still and appreciate them given how many enemies are thrown against your characters at any one time, but many of the environment backdrops are bright and vibrant, featuring more than just a static background, with little bits of detail strewn throughout the levels. In addition, every characters on-field sprites are visually appeasing, offering distinct designs and different animations to complement their attack styles. The character designs retain the same bright and vivid charm as the backdrops, meaning that both aesthetically integrate well.
The soundtrack for Battle Princess of Arcadias was enjoyable, offering an assortment of different instrumental and lyrical tracks that help contribute to the overall on-field experience. Some of the lyrical songs especially stood out earlier in the game, and I wouldn’t have minded a larger variety of them to offer additional variety during the long grind sessions.
As mentioned at the beginning of this review, Nippon Ichi Software America decided to not provide the localization budget for an English dub, and I think this is a bit of a missed opportunity. Irrespective of my personal opinion, the Japanese voice overs are hard to fault, matching the characters and their varied personalities well. In addition, a good portion of the game is dubbed, unlike some other games where only key events are dubbed.
Battle Princess of Arcadias features not one but three different takes on the typical side-scrolling action-RPG genre. Perhaps the most commonly found are the “Combat” stages, where you travel from one side of the stage to the other, taking out waves of enemies until you reach the end point. Those who played Dragonica back in the day will be familiar with what this mode entails. It is simple, however offered a good balance between challenge and entertainment, and was mostly well implemented given the character system built into the game. At any one time you can take three characters into the fray, each with their own stats, equipment, abilities and attack styles from the others. This allows you to diversify your party to cater for different elemental weaknesses and most effective attack styles. However as all characters gain experience independently from one another, it can be easy to typecast three or even one character into your fighting routine while others are left under-levelled. As I will mention shortly, this can cause one of the games biggest issues.
The second and easily most memorable of these battle modes were Skirmishes. In this mode, both sides of the war choose three brigades (Each with strengths and weaknesses against other brigade types) and pit them against one another. While they are battling out, Plume and her friends fight away from the crowd, taking out stronger enemy units in order to fill a bar which unlocks skills to turn the tide of battle. The goal is to balance putting out right unit types to prevent them from being annihilated quickly with wiping out your own enemies to obtain powerful attacks. If there was one problem with the system, it would be that the user interface (Which merges with the Item system) to give special commands is clunky – and one wrong button press can see you recall a dominating brigade instead of performing a powerful attack.
The third and most challenging of the modes are Sieges, where you and a brigade of mixed character classes are pitted against a single boss which has high defences, high HP and often can deal a lot of damage in a single attack. Following a similar pattern of breaking their defences for a small window of time to deal damage to the boss, your job as the player is to balance the offence with ensuring that your soldier count doesn’t drop down to zero OR your entire party of three doesn’t get knocked out. Unfortunately the same control system from skirmishes also appears in sieges, with the same risk of imputing an incorrect command which can easily lose you the battle.
Levels are often brief, and last only a few minutes apiece. One thing that can prevent you from progressing any further in the game however is the sheer amount of grinding that needs to be done. While all three battle modes are different, all three are dependant on having the correct character and brigade levels. Things are pretty standard in combat modes, as without the right levels, your characters will be downed quickly in battle and that may prevent you from reaching the end of a stage. Things are different when it comes to the other two however, as each character runs a particular brigade (Each with an associated weapon type), and that brigade can only be as strong as their associated character. In skirmishes you are able to take in brigades not associated with your party members, but if that brigade is only level 1, they may quickly be wiped out irrespective of their own strengths and weaknesses. Maintaining all playable characters at an appropriate level is a huge time sink, but does at the very least invite you try out the different classes or at least switch between characters from time to time.
Final Words on Battle Princess of Arcadias
While the grinding can exceed normal acceptable levels at times and the storyline may not be anything more than “just average”, but there is still plenty to like about Battle Princess of Arcadias. Its three different side-scrolling action RPG systems when coupled with the easy-to-grasp control scheme offers much variety and challenge throughout the game, and is capped off nicely with great visuals and music. A nice gem amongst all the games making their way onto the PlayStation Store, especially at a cheap $29.99 USD price point.
Battle Princess of Arcadias
Nippon Ichi Software and APOLLOSOFT Inc
Nippon Ichi Software America
Side-Scrolling Action RPG
PlayStation 3 (Digital Only)
NIS America for providing a review download code for this title.