I had high expectations for Code of Princess. It seemed like a cool action game with a nifty visual style and some solid multiplayer components. Unfortunately Code of Princess isn’t quite as entertaining as it could be. It can be a fun diversion, but serious technical issues hamper this slightly above average brawler.
Code is a side-scrolling brawler with some RPG elements added in. Before each mission you select from a stable of characters and equip them with a variety of gear that gives them stat bonuses. Once you are in the battle you can move between three different lanes in order to dodge attacks and fight different enemies. In addition to the standard light and heavy attacks each character has a unique move set with fairly simply inputs like down-forward and down-down. In addition to these moves each character has a lock-on attack and a burst trigger. The lock-on attack obviously lets you lock on to a specific enemy, making your attacks deal double damage. Burst mode temporarily stuns all enemies around you, and can give other benefits depending on the items equipped. While in burst mode your character’s mana, used for magic and some special attacks, is constantly draining. The systems are simple, but oddly satisfying in short bursts, though playing for a long time with a single character can become monotonous. It’s good then that the main characters play very differently from one another, and switching between them is a good way to keep yourself interested. A bigger problem is the game’s framerate, which almost never stabilizes. This can slow the game to a crawl, and even when there is only minor lag it ruins the feeling of the gameplay. It’s not the most responsive game at the best of times, but it’s especially true when the framerate can’t keep up.
There are several different modes to choose from in the game’s single player: campaign, tutorial, free play, and bonus quests. Campaign mode lets you play through the story of Code of Princess with the four main characters. Each character is fairly diverse in the way they play, but it would have been nice if you were allowed to play as some of the other characters that showed up. Fortunately you can control these characters, as well as the main ones, in free play mode, which lets you play through the campaign missions without having to watch cut scenes again. Bonus quests, which also let you control whatever character you want, are additional missions that let you level up your characters and add additional replay value to the game. The game’s tutorial is decent and pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the game. In addition to single-player, there is both local and online multi-player. You can play both versus and co-op games. I was unable to find any co-op games online, so I am not able to assess that feature. However, I did manage to get into a few versus matches. These allow you to choose any character you have unlocked and play against other humans using the same systems as in single-player. In matches of four players, the maximum you can have, the frame rate can suffer much like it does in the singleplayer. This problem is compounded by occasional connection problems and seemingly poor balance amongst the characters, making it far from the best way to play Code of Princess.
Graphically Code of Princess is average. For the most part the art is pretty standard anime-fantasy stuff. It’s not original, but it’s okay to look at. However the in-game textures don’t always look so good. Some of the character models are strongly blurry, especially the main character Solange, and breakable objects are not as good looking as those in the background. The 3D effects give the game a nice depth of field, especially because you can move between the three different lanes. However turning on the 3D makes the framerate even worse than it normally is, so you’ll want to turn it off for the best gameplay experience. On a final note the music is actually good. Again it’s a little generic, but there are a few tracks that I really enjoyed.
Despite being somewhat unoriginal, simple, and having a multitude of technical problems, CoP can actually be pretty fun, especially in the beginning. Defeating enemies was satisfying and the game’s story was funny and charming, but as the campaign wore on I became less and less interested in what it had to offer. The framerate and lack of responsiveness really started to become annoying, and by the end I didn’t care very much about the story. I never had a horrible time playing Code of Princess, but I never had an amazing gameplay experience either.
If you’re dying to play something on you 3DS you could do worse than Code of Princess, but you could do a lot better too. It’s a decent diversion with a fair amount of content, but at $40 and with so many cool and promising games coming out for the system in the near future, I have to recommend that you hold on to your money until then.