By: Matthew Striplen
Ever wanted to control a super powerful, bloodthirsty warrior princess into the heat of battle? With Battle Princess of Arcadias, now you can… but without the whole bloodthirsty part. Players take on the role of Plume, a ditzy, loveable and ridiculously strong heroine as she fights her way across the kingdom. In doing so, gamers are treated to an intriguing mixture of the JRPG, 2D fighting and real-time strategy genres.
The controls reflect the blend of genres in Battle Princess. Each playable character fights with a distinct weapon type, such as a sword or bow. To complement these differences, the characters possess unique combos. However, many of the moves share names with other characters and accomplish the same goals, though the inputs themselves are completely different.
One of the more unusual mechanics of the game is the item/command menu. It appears as a series of icons in the top right corner (seen above). Accessing the menu takes place in real time, which is a fun concept but poorly executed. Difficulty finding the desired command or item fast enough can easily result in defeat.
Battle Princess employs an unusual art style of 2D character models. Each model is highly detailed and distinctive, which helps considerably when swarmed by enemy soldiers. Additionally, the rendering is very smooth and fluid. Battle Princess is quite a pretty game. The only part that left me scratching my head is the striking similarity the bosses bear to characters from the Pokemon franchise.
Voice acting is only available in Japanese with English subs and is very good overall. Rudolph is hilariously blustery and Plume is over-the-top silly. Battle Princess‘ music is also of high quality. Songs are catchy without becoming obnoxious. The soundtrack is extensive enough so that no single song is overplayed.
As I mentioned earlier, the most distinctive quality of Battle Princess is the meshing of different game genres. The RPG elements present everything gamers have come to expect: tons of characters, weapon customization and leveling up. Again, each character fights with their signature weapon type and combo set. Although the differentiation of the move sets is a nice touch, they are so numerous that memorization becomes a hassle.
As the player fights their way across the map, enemies will drop a multitude of items ranging from weapon components to health restoration. These components can be merged with a weapon of your choice for stat boosts. This inclusion is one of the most fun facets of the entire game. You never really know what you’re picking up in battle until you go to the weapon shop in town. Discovering you nabbed a crazy powerful weapon or boost is always a nice surprise. Plus, getting to custom design a weapon to suit your own combat style is an excellent touch.
Certain missions incorporate real-time strategy elements as well, albeit in a very basic format. These missions are almost all fought using armies, and the commands given handle things like formation and deployment. Giving commands uses up the morale gauge, which is filled as the player succeeds in battle. Only three formations are available: basic, attack and defense. If you manage to completely fill the morale gauge, you’ll be able to unleash a devastating attack. The player is also permitted to switch out armies, though the order is preset before the battle begins and cannot be altered.
When the player embarks on a mission, they get to choose a small party from the full list of characters. As they fight, they level up; boosting their power along with a more unique perk. As mentioned, each character also functions as a commander of an army. These armies level up as well, but they can only become as strong as their commander. To upgrade them, the player must go to the barracks to pay a fee. Beyond this, armies are not customizable. As new characters are introduced, level grinding becomes a necessity. Completed levels can be repeated indefinitely for experience and new items.
Story wise, Battle Princess of Arcadias is lighthearted and goofy without becoming annoying. The plot is advanced in extensive cut scenes, so be prepared to read a ton of subtitles. Although the story is charming, it doesn’t affect the actual gameplay much. Despite the T rating, I’d definitely say this game is aimed at younger audiences.
Since Battle Princess requires players to replay levels frequently along with its otherwise linear nature, the game doesn’t hold much replay value. Most difficult bosses or battles can be overcome by merely level grinding and upgrading weaponry.
Battle Princess of Arcadias is a cute game with tons of charm. By far, my favorite parts were the lovely graphic design and weapon upgrade system. Unlike many games in the same vein, this title somehow manages to steer clear of overwhelming American audiences with kawaii, which is a welcome change. Unfortunately, the repetitive nature of the missions and cut scenes prevents Battle Princess from achieving more depth. If you’re new to JRPGs, though, this is sure to offer lots of fun.