Rejoice Disgaea fans! Your favorite lovable yet easily combustible penguins get their very own game. NIS is branching the Disgaea series out into the 2D platforming genre with Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero. The game brings all the quirky charm and great characters of the main series to a hardcore platformer in the vein of Castlevania. While the game is unbelievably difficult, fans of the genre will feel right at home due to some solid controls, great boss battles, and clever level design.
For those of you who are uninitiated to the Disgaea series, Prinnies are the souls of humans who were evil during their time on earth. As punishment, they are forced to live in the Netherworld as servants until they make up for their misdeeds. The Demon Lord Etna is the commander of the Prinnies, and boy is she is pissed. It seems someone stole her dessert (the horror!), and she’s sending the Prinnies on a suicide mission to recover the ingredients for the Ultra Dessert. The story is a perfect fit for the Disgaea universe, and it packs all the humor and charm that you would expect from a game in the series.
Etna is willing to sacrifice the lives of up to 1000 Prinnies to recover the ingredients, so that’s how many lives you’ll have to finish the game. Now, you may be thinking “A thousand lives?!? What a cinch”. However, you should know, Prinny is tough. I’m talking head shaking, curse word screaming, want to throw your PSP into the nearest body of water tough. What it is not, however, is unfair. Very rarely will you die a “cheap” death. Almost always your demise can be traced back to carelessness on your part. This is very important for this genre, as it turns each completed level into a triumph, rather than a frustration.
Gameplay in Prinny plays out as you would expect for the genre. You’ll make your way across side-scrolling levels, besting enemies and making tricky jumps along the way. Prinny has several main attacks at his disposal, ranging from your standard knife slash, to a jumping hip pound. He also has a cool jumping slash attack that flips the world into an Isometric view (just like the standard Disgaea games) when triggered. The boss battles are very well done, and complete with some really great dialogue. Overall the combat and enemies are varied enough to make the game fun to progress your way through.
The platforming in Prinny also shines, due mostly to some very interesting level designs. A great majority of the jumps in the game can be very tricky, a challenge that is only enhanced by that old genre staple: enemies that are specifically placed to mess with your liftoff. Prinny’s jump will probably throw a few players at first, especially players that weren’t weaned on the platformers of old. There is no way to change direction mid-jump, which means you have to be incredibly accurate with your jump timing and placement. This will take a lot of players some time to get accustomed to, but hardcore fans of the genre should feel right at home as they navigate the various stages.
The graphics in Prinny are a mix of 2D characters (with the exception of the aforementioned 3D flourishes for certain moves) and 3D backgrounds. The vibrant colors and great character designs help everything really pop off the screen. The audio is equally as excellent, with the stage music especially standing out.
Overall, I can definitely recommend Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero. If you are a fan of 2D platformers, the Disgaea series, or just great old school games, you’ll find a lot to love here. There’s a ton of stuff to unlock, and gamers who are looking for an extra challenge can play on Hell mode (where Prinny dies after only 1 hit). The humor and charm of the game is enough to make even the most jaded of gamers crack a smile. Can Prinny really be the hero? Turns out, the answer is a resounding “Yes, Dood”!