Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? – Nintendo Switch Review

Overview – developed by Nippon Ichi Software and published by NIS America, Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? hits the Nintendo Switch with a remaster of the original PSP title. This spin-off to the Disgaea franchise features all the self-aware humor, charm and punishing challenges that the main series is known for while taking the form of a side-scrolling action platformer. This title is available exclusively for the Nintendo Switch, a link to the official site and Nintendo store page will be available at the bottom of this review.

Disclaimer: before I get into the review, I would like to thank NIS America for providing the copy of Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? that was used for this piece. The provision of this title has not influenced the contents of this article, all thoughts and opinions expressed within are my own.

Now with the introductions out of the way, let’s get into the review, starting off with the story. I will be calling this release Prinny 1 for brevity and the player character as either Hero or Hero Prinny.

Story – the Demon Lord Etna has discovered that her Ultra Dessert has gone missing, initially blaming her squad of Prinnies for stealing it. After convincing her that they weren’t responsible, she gives her demon servants the task of obtaining another for her. Unfortunately, Prinnies are fragile and explode easily. To compensate for this, Etna provides a scarf for the little demons to wear that prevents them from exploding easily.

However, there is just one scarf so as each Prinny falls, the next must take the lead as the hero. The Prinny squad now has 10 hours to collect ingredients and create a new Ultra Dessert, travelling through the different parts of the Netherworld to complete their quest. With a total of 1000 Prinnies, they may have numbers on their side but the Netherworld is a dangerous place, filled with demons and monsters that will do their worst to make them explode.

Gameplay – Prinny 1 is a side-scrolling action platformer, vastly different from the main releases in the Disgaea franchise. The core premise is to travel from the starting point of each stage to the boss gate, battling enemies, collecting items and avoiding deadly traps. This is an arcade styled title, with a high score system where desserts, enemies and checkpoints provide point rewards. The story mode is made up of 10 stages, with a non-linear flow to the first half of the game as the first six stages are playable in any order, giving the player flexibility in the way they want approach the game.

At the start of the game, there are two options to select, Casual where the player can take three hits before death and Hell’s Finest where one hit equals death. This choice is the only setting for difficulty that players have access to, however, the difficulty selection can be changed during the game if desired.  Both Casual and Hell’s Finest are tough, but with 1000 Prinnies in the squad the player has plenty of chances to succeed at their quest.

The Hero Prinny has a simple move set, consisting of a slash attack that can be performed on the ground and in the air, a hip pound attack that can stun enemies and a spin dash. The moves that the player has access to may appear limited, but fit the game well, providing a sense of fluidity and accessibility to players of all skill levels. In some stages, there are special vehicles that the Hero can operate, allowing players multiple solutions to some of the tougher segments, adding to the free form approach to the game.

The majority of the stages follow the traditional platformer style, with the Hero Prinny moving from the starting point to the end of the stage. There are checkpoints scattered through the stage, activated by using the hip pound. The frequency of checkpoints in a stage varies, with the challenge dictated by the number of stars assigned to the chosen stage. At the end of the stage a boss gate appears, once opened a cutscene plays out and the boss battle for that level begins.

In battle, bosses must be stunned with a hip pound attack, this will weaken the bosses defense and temporarily stun them if their shields has been fully depleted. While stunned, the Hero can attack as many times as the attack button can be hit, but be careful as the bosses may attack at close range upon recovery. Once the boss is defeated, the stage is cleared and the player is given a ranking based on their performance.

Outside of the stages, the player has access to several NPC options at the home base (unlocked by collecting orbs in stages). I will be listing only a few core functions to prevent spoiling some of the surprises this game holds. These core functions are;

  • Save Manager – this Prinny allows you to save the game, the most important NPC to unlock during the game. Make sure to save often as lost data can be a real pain.
  • Professor Lucky – give the Professor the lucky dolls you have found hidden in each stage, with rewards when specific milestones have been reached.
  • Data Manager – check out the collectable items obtained and the details for enemies encountered in the game. Secret details for the Data Manager can also be found during stages and given as rewards.
  • Runaway Manager – this NPC allows the current play through to be abandoned, resetting the game with a fresh set of Prinnies and keeping all game unlocks, along with a special ending.
  • Etna’s Throne Room – interact with the Demon Lord Etna between stages, you may even notice a few Easter eggs hidden in the game.

The last thing I want to discuss is the self-aware nature of the game. During the game, players will find references to movies, TV shows and other Nippon Ichi Software titles. These range from characters that are parodies of pop culture figures, objects hidden in plain sight and 4th wall breaking interactions. These instances of self-aware humor tie the overall experience together, adding the signature charm that titles in the Disgaea universe possess.

Now with the gameplay covered, I will be moving onto the other aspects of the game starting with the controls.

Controls – Prinny 1 has a very simple control method, with easy to pick up inputs for all character functions. There is however a minor flaw, the Hero can attack very quickly but at a cost. To rapid fire a lot of manual button presses are required, which has the potential to cause muscle fatigue and pain for the player. The controls with both the Joy-Cons and pro controller are very comfortable, with no input drops or lag during gameplay.

Difficulty – the challenge of Prinny 1 can be either gradual or punishing, depending on the choices of the player. Stages will get progressively harder as the story continues, denoted by their star level, but smart choices can ease some of the tougher challenges early in the game. The second part of the difficulty I want to talk about is the platforming. Jumping from point to point can be tough as the Hero can miss jumps if timing is off, potentially leading to a sudden death from a pitfall.

The last thing I want to discuss is the punishing nature of the game in general. There is a time limit to all stages and bosses. In the main part of each level, the time limit is fairly lax, however, the bosses can have very strict limits that will lead to failure if the boss isn’t defeated fast enough. There is a lot of trial and error, making the game even tougher in the one hit death Hell’s Finest mode, but with 1000 Prinnies this game can be beaten with enough time and effort put in.

Presentation – this release is a remaster rather than a remake, with visuals and sound cleaned up for the new system. The character sprites, backgrounds and details look crisp and very pleasing to look at, still maintaining the anime style that Nippon Ichi Software is known for with Disgaea and related games. The performance is excellent for 99% of the release, with very occasional frame drops when a lot of visual effects occur simultaneously, but this is a very minor complaint.

The soundtrack is outstanding, featuring tracks that work well and are a treat to listen to outside the game. Prinny 1 features the sounds of screaming hard rock guitars, heavy bass lines and the signature Japanese Jazz sound, mixing well to create an engaging experience that pleases the senses. The game also offers the option for both English and Japanese voice over, with a cast of talented actors from anime and video games fitting each individual role perfectly.

Final Thoughts – I played Prinny 1 back when it was on the PSP many years ago and enjoyed it immensely. When the game was announced for the Nintendo Switch I was excited to be able to play this game again, this time on a big screen. I was not disappointed as this is an excellent HD port of the original release, along with several bonuses including extra DLC content that was made exclusive to download on the PSP.

I cannot recommend this title enough, it is perfect for fans of Disgaea, action platformer titles and those looking for a tough challenge. The gameplay is rewarding, the story is engaging and the experience just drips with personality, with the tongue in cheek humor that titles from NIS are known for. The game is tough but can be beaten, with a level of challenge appropriate for all and many secrets to unlock. Just be careful not to strain yourself when hammering the attack button, because it really hurts in the morning.

In the end, I give Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? a final score of 5/5. The quality of gameplay still holds up in this excellent HD remaster, with a tough but beatable challenge that is both fun and frustrating. An excellent game and a perfect fit for the Nintendo switch. if you want to check this title out for yourself, a link to the game and official site will be below.

Link to Nintendo eShop (HERE)

Official Site (HERE)

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