NIS AmericaDeveloped By:
Nippon Ichi Software/ApolloSoftGenre:
T for Teen (Violence, Mild Language)Release Date:
June 17, 2014Screenshots: LinkPSN:
$29.99 (Buy Now
Matthew PruntyJuly 22, 2014
- While I’ve reviewed countless games over the years, there is something about games published here in the states by NIS America. While majority of them are JRPGs, each provide a unique experience that harks back a game from my past, while at the same time introduce me to new series that I would otherwise overlook. Their latest release Battle Princess of Arcadias takes inspiration from the likes of Odin Sphere
, and Muramasa: The Demon Blade
to name a few. While developer Apollo Software took a few liberties with the established formula that made Vanillaware famous, the core experience remains the same… and enthralling experience.
The world of Battle Princess of Arcadias is overrun by dangerous monsters, forcing the various countries of Vertex to deploy all available forces in order to protect the people. Leading the charge are the powerful princesses, which each country sends out in order to turn the tide in battle. Known as Battle Princesses, they are loved and respected by their people for keeping them safe in a time of strife. While the people of Vertex have been living in relative peace within their respective kingdoms, it has come at a great cost to the armies sworn to protect them.
The opening sequence of Battle Princess of Arcadias showcases a defeated Schwert Kingdom, who has lost scores of soldiers to an overbearing beast. By the time the Battle Princess, Plume, arrived on the battlefield, all she could do is watch as her squire was struck down before her. With his last breathe; Plum’s squire gave her instructions on how to safeguard them from a future attack. Plum returns to home, not knowing what to do with oneself after such a personal loss. A few days later a young man by the name of Raltz shows up to the castle; a replacement squire for Plum. Within the opening sequence you come to find out that Raltz is a nice, caring man… without a spine. Also joining the team is the castle’s keeper Yuni and the king of Schwert, Sigurth, who for some reason is a goose. This team, which will expand as you continue your quest, is tasked with restoring the kingdom to greatness and honoring the last words of Plume’s fallen squire.
Just reading about this game, you come to the notion that it’s all serious… and that’s far from the truth. For those familiar with previous NIS America games, you already know that their games tackle heavy themes with tons of wit, humor and innuendo in order to liven to tone and make the adventure more interesting. Each character is unique and interesting in their own way. The princess is strong-willed and determined, but can come off energetic and an airhead at times. The castle keeper Yuni can come off cute and innocent, buts has sharp tongue and isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. You’ll even find yourself coming across a ladies man, a wannabe ladies’ man, and even an introvert. Don’t forget, there is a goose for a king. While this game can be appealing to all ages, it’s also a game that can only be fully enjoyed with some prior knowledge of NIS America games, anime troves or if you actually have a since of humor.
On the surface, Battle Princess of Arcadias seems like a straightforward experience, however that’s far from the truth. This game has just as much depth to it as your typical AAA RPG experience. At any given time, you will have three characters in your party who can be swapped in and out and the push of a button. Combat is simplified to three buttons; a forth if you include your special attacks. You are able to block and attack with either your choice of a weak or strong attack. Along the way you will be able to acquire new weapons and gear either from fallen foes or through purchasing them at your local shop. Special abilities, enhancements and maneuvers will also be unlocked the higher your get your characters' level.
Combat within Battle Princess of Arcadias is broken down into three segments: Combat, Siege and Skirmish. Combat is the most common within the game. This is the one where you have clear out the level of all the enemies before the level is completed. As your get further into the game, there is a slight variation to these battles, however for the most part they are the same throughout. These battles also allow you to go all out, trying new abilities and weapons you acquired along the way. Every so often, you will come across a Siege battle. How you come across these vary as well. Some levels, as soon as you step foot in them, your boss battle begins. Other times you will find yourself clearing the level, only to be greeted at the end with an intense battle.
In regards to the Siege and Skirmish battles, strategy is key to survival and victory. For the most part, the bosses follow a formulaic patter, however every once in awhile, they will switch things up, requiring you to pay attention to your opponent. During these boss battles, accompanying your trio is a cortege of soldiers at your command. While focusing on your own attacking and defending, you must give your soldiers various commands to aid you in battle. These commands – attack, defend, swap, basic and showdown – all serve a purpose on the battlefield. Getting the timing down to known when to switch from one stance to the next is key, but if all else fails, you can order them to simply defend… but keep in mind, the boss battles will take forever to complete and will force you to handle everything. I learned the hard way numerous times over that you can’t always focus on your own movements.
Skirmishes are your worst enemy, unless you like a challenge. No longer is it you, your comrades and a whole army laying waste to a single enemy. In these battles, it’s you and your army against another army. Each side has its own set of HP points, which if they hit zero, renders that team defeated. You and your troops will gain morale with every command you give them in battle. So it’s very important to know when to attack, defend or switch out you sets of troops. Before each skirmish, when decide on your three amigos to lead your armada, you are greeted with a screen that shows how well those troops of a particular skillset will do against others. For example, if one of your comrades is of the spear type, they will be good against those who use a bow, gun or magic, but weak against someone at close range wielding a sword or an axe. I found these battles both nerve-racking and rewarding at the same time. Once I understood my troops and who they were stacking me up against, commands started to flow naturally. The only gripe I had was with how commands were given. In the upper right-hand corner is a menu that holds the various potions you have available. If you want to get to the screen to issue commands, you must first hold down R1 and press the Triangle button in order to switch from your potions to the commands menu. Using Square or Circle, you will scroll through the various commands available. It seems simple enough, but when you have to switch back and forth between both your potions and giving commands in the heat of the battle, you will find yourself messing up and selecting the wrong option. This same structure is also used for boss battles. At the end of the battle, you are given a list of items that you can claim as your reward for a job well done.
After every Combat, Siege and Skirmish battle, you are graded on your performance and rewarded items and money. With regards to the acquired items, you can go back to your kingdom and use the various shops to fortify your weapons or sell them off in order to score more money. With the money, you can buy new more powerful weaponry and gear, as well as upgrade the equipment of your troops, so they do better in Siege and Skirmishes. But also keep in mind, the leveling of the troop is closely tied to the leveling of your comrades. If Princess Plume is only a level 15 combatant, then the troop of similar fighting prowess can only level up to 15 and not any further. So just like any typical JRPG, level-grinding is both your friend and curse. For those who don’t like to do that, you will find it very difficult to get ahead in the game. For those who relish in it, you will hone you battle skills, while at the same to increase both the level of your comrades, but of your troops as well.
Mentioned before, Battle Princess of Arcadias shares a lot in common with several games that have come before it. You’ve very detailed and stylized 2D storyboard backdrops. Everything that tries to kill you is in the foreground, some once you clear the area, you can marvel and the subtle detail in the artwork. The artwork within the backdrops, featuring mountains and forests, harkens back to Vanillaware’s Odin Sphere
, but beefed up for the HD resolution. The characters, as well as the enemies, are made up of several layered parts, which gives somewhat a since of life to the entity, instead of it looking like a static image moving. Regardless of performing a special move or having countless enemies on the screen at once, there is virtually no slowdown in the frame-rate of the game.
While some may see it as a negative, I loved the fact that Battle Princess of Arcadias only came packed with the Japanese voice work. Everything about this game is true to its roots, and will of felt off by placing English voices into the game. You have the option of using English subtitles if you want to make out what everyone is saying in the game. Each and every character has his or her own distinct voice and way of speaking which helps flesh out the character. In terms of musical score, Battle Princess of Arcadia is solid and well-rounded. When events are suppose to get serious, the music ramps up with excitement, however when you simply traveling through your kingdom, you have more of a mellow selection playing. Sound effects are OK, nothing to write home about.
How much replayability that is available in Battle Princess of Arcadias depends on your level of perfection. With each level you complete, your performance is rated – S, A, B, C, D or F. Most people will probably be rated around the A or B rating early on in the game. However, as you progress and become even more powerful, going back to those early levels will allow you to turn those lower scores in ‘S’ ratings with ease. For those looking to Platinum this game, getting ‘S’ ratings on every level is key.
Battle Princess of Arcadias is both a challenging and rewarding experience for those who venture down the rabbit hole. You can easily sink 15-20 hours into the madness and still not experience all that the game has to give. Paying homage to games of yesterdays, developer(s) Nippon Ichi and ApolloSoft were able to carve out an experience that is still refreshing in today’s age of “like me”. If you haven’t already picked up this digital-only released, you owe it to yourself to put down that PS4 controller and pick up your PS3 controller because #GreatnessAwaits no longer.8.5/
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