You got your side-scroller in my RPG! You got your RPG in my side-scroller! Together it makes for an initially fun game that gets bogged down with the need to grind levels, cash, and equipment.
What They Say
The world has been overrun by vicious monsters, and countries across the land have been forced to deploy all their available forces to protect their people.
To help keep everyone safe, each country also sends a powerful princess into battle. With sword in hand, these dangerous beauties are known far and wide as Battle Princesses…
I have a love / hate relationship with the games NIS America brings over. Battle Princess of Arcadias is the latest entry in that relationship. You are Plume, the Battle Princess tasked with keeping her kingdom safe. Her brother is the king and also a goose due to a bizarre curse involving a statue. This is the least of your concerns though; the kingdom has come under attack by a mysterious force. Plume’s loyal attendant falls in battle.
Enter her new attendant Raltz, a young lad who has yet to see battle. He is the first in a long line of standard anime character tropes that will aid you in your fight. At its core, Battle Princess has you take three characters into a three very different and enjoyable side-scrolling combat scenarios. Layered onto the combat is a thin RPG system; you gain experience and levels as the character defeats enemies. New skills and combos are unlocked at certain levels. Honor is achieved between characters the more you team them up in battle. Weapons and armor can be upgraded, enhanced, and have special skills unlocked. You start with the standard side-scrolling action beating up creatures for experience and loot.
Battle Princess quickly adds additional challenges in the form of Battle Skirmishes and Sieges. In both, you command a variety of troops to defeat the enemy. Sieges are simple boss battles; your three characters lead an army against a very powerful boss. Together, you must wear down the shield of the boss to get at its hit points. You can order your army into a defensive formation to save their own hit points or into attack formation where they hit the boss hard and fast but take more damage. If you can hit the boss fast enough, you will stun him allowing you to unleash a special cinematic ultra attack.
Battle Skirmishes are more complex. You pick three brigades to take into battle – archers, fencers, spear men, etc. Each brigade is ranked as stronger or weaker against the other types. When choosing your brigades, you can see what the enemy is bringing into play and try to optimize your choices. Much like sieges, you can place your brigades into attack or defensive formations and unleash a special cinematic attack once enough vigor has built up. Additionally, your can swap between your brigades to better match up against your enemy’s current brigade.
While the brigades are fighting in the background, your three characters must fight their own enemies. Who you take into battle and have active is very important; each brigade gains additional buffs if their leader is active. Countering your buffs are enemy leaders that randomly appear and provide their troops with buffs. Beating these leaders quickly is a necessity to ensure your troops have the advantage.
The RPG system is not very deep but still enjoyable. You gain new skills and combos and can enhance your weapons with the loot enemies drop. However, you quickly find this system dumps you into The Grind™. While I do not mind grinding a level to find out the trick to beating it, you quickly find yourself having to repeat levels to grind up new characters to an appropriate level, grind for money to level up your brigades, grind to get enough materials to unlock that special skill on your weapon. The levels are enjoyable the first time or two you play through them but quickly go stale.
The story and cast for the game is amusing and features the original Japanese voice acting. The graphics are colorful and varied but never slow the game play or frame rate down. The music can be catchy at times but mostly fades into white noise. Nothing remarkable in any of these categories.
Initially, Battle Princess of Aracadias is a fun side-scroller with light RPG elements. Wading into the different types of battles with the different characters… Pulling off combos… Figuring out the right strategy to bring down the boss or brigades… All great stuff. Unfortunately, you quickly hit the RPG grind wall, and those levels you just figured out must be trudged through repeatedly just to have a fighting chance to keep the story going. You will likely find yourself enjoying the game for one night, hitting the grind wall, and then setting it aside to revisit it in between other game releases.