Prinny 2: Dawn of Operation Panties, Dood! ReviewKyle Stepp
Prinny 2 is a strange game.
I don't mean that it's strange in the sense that you do something weird like play as a penguin on a quest for panties (though you do). What I mean is that it's strange that NIS would go to all the trouble of giving the titular Prinnies a host of new abilities while leaving one of its core mechanics to be an absolute mess.
In Prinny 2, you play as one of a thousand Prinnies, who fans of the Disgaea series will remember as those little purple penguins that explode when chucked. Their master Etna (who fans of Disgaea will also remember), a recent victim of panty theft, has sent one thousand of her volatile lackeys to travel through several stages filled with tons of monsters, traps, and capped with boss fights in their bid to get them back... But not before casting a magical spell on them to make them particularly more badass than the average Prinny.
Indeed, these new abilities can be fantastic. By building up a combo gauge, the Prinnies can enter Break Mode, which not only enhances their abilities, but unlocks the ability to perform even more amazing feats, like slicing through an entire line of foes, or leaping into the air to throw large, pink blasts of energy in rapid succession. It's difficult to find a platformer with combat more cerebral than that which Prinny 2 features, making fighting the foes to be an absolute blast.
It's unfortunate then, that the biggest problem with the original Prinny has yet to be rectified in Prinny 2. Despite the fact that Prinnies are meant to be pictured as bumbling, incompetent idiots, the only thing a Prinny can't do well is easily accomplished by even some of the oldest platformers. Though they can jump just fine, they're unable to make even simple platforming obstacles reliably thanks to the inability to change direction midair. What this means is that a player will often find themselves either far over- or underestimating their jumps, making a vast majority of your one thousand pool of lives simply going to the fact that the Prinnies control like absolute crap. It takes a game that makes a good first impression with its colourful graphics and charming (if juvenile, but what would you expect from a game about stolen underwear?) banter and turns it into a frustrating mess as you're constantly sent back to checkpoints for no reason other than your Prinny refusing to do what you want it to do.
I often hear that the goal of Prinny and Prinny 2 is to make a difficult game to challenge platforming fans. That's wonderful and all, but a game can still be difficult without being broken, and unfortunately that's what Prinny 2 is. The stages in the game are varied enough that they would have been interesting to peruse had my PSP not been dangerously close to being flung into a wall at any given moment. Various locales like an undersea restaraunt and a floating castle lined with sakura trees and deadly succubi are some of the highlights of the locations. Furthermore, you can complete the stages in any order, and the layout of the stages change depending on the time in which you tackle them. In an attempt to make amends with some players, NIS included a Baby Mode difficulty that serves more to insult the player than to actually lower the difficulty. Stage layouts change around some, but the jumping mechanic is still utterly broken, and to add insult to injury, the Prinny's life meter (usually little red scarves) is changed to diapers, as if NIS is saying "Oh, you're too much of a baby to deal with our horrid controls, so here's diapers signifying that."
Too bad, too. There's a ton of unlockable content for players who wish to put that sort of time into Prinny 2, including new characters with some altered abilities, and even some new stages. But when those new characters will control just as poorly and those new stages will induce fury to threaten your PSP, why even bother?
I know I won't be.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.