These days, everyone is talking about the evils of money, and how money corrupts. This idea takes centre stage in Penny Punching Princess, with you playing as a princess who was once the heir to a great fortune that was taken away from her by corrupt individuals. Your job in the game? To use money against them – and your fists – to beat people up, or convince them to be on your side instead.
Rags to Riches
It’d be impossible to start this review without mentioning what NIS America did fantastically in Penny Punching Princess. You’ve got the ability to bribe your enemies, which takes them off the battlefield and gives you an ability to summon them back into the game, as a one off attack. It’s a pretty nifty bit of gameplay, as if you’re in a bit of a bind and a couple of hard hitters are headed your way, you can just pay one of them to side with you and use him to attack the other enemy. Having that ability in your arsenal can really be the difference between life and death, and it gives you a whole different way to view how to defeat your enemies. It’s not just enemies that you can bribe as well. You have the ability to bribe traps around the map to prevent them from attacking you, and to get set off when you want them to.
Each level you play on is different. Different enemies, different layouts, but lots of hidden goodies spread throughout the map. To get to them, you’ll have to walk through some pretty trap-heavy alleyways, or by bribing the scenery to let you get through to even more treasures that you can use to boost your armoury. You’ll be able to pick up items to use to manufacture armour, but you’ll need one other thing – bribed enemies. Certain items require enemies to have been bribed in the past for you to build the item. This means that even though some enemies are a walkover, and pretty easy to beat, sometimes bribing them is the better strategy, as you’ll be able to improve your character overall by doing so.
There was one bit of functionality that was not present in the game. Something that I’d expect to be in most games these days, especially ones that are from a developer that have the same functionality in previous games. Having an auto-save would add a lot to the overall quality of this game. I normally take my time with games like this, because I’m not very good at them. I often find myself playing a level, then dying, then putting it down and going back to it after a while. Without the auto-save function, I had to remember to not rage quit when I got overloaded, and return to the kingdom to save. Sounds easy, right? Well… Not quite. The first time I played, I got through a handful of levels before wanting to put it down, and I didn’t know there wasn’t an autosave. So I ended up losing a good chunk of progress because I wanted to play something different. When I booted the game back up, I was pretty incensed to learn that my progress had essentially been wiped clean.
The rest of Penny Punching Princess, despite being fairly well put together, felt disappointingly average. For instance, when talking in a cut scene, you can press X, on the PS Vita version, to skip the current text to the end so you can read it quickly. This helps, especially when playing on mute, to read what they have to say at a reasonable pace. When you’re in the overworld, there are characters dotted around that will offer advice or tips, but they do not have the same ability to speed through what they say. Instead, it just skips it altogether. So if you’re new to the game, and want a helpful hint, you have to go against what you’ve learned in other parts of the game and try to avoid skipping it.
The Final Word
Penny Punching Princess isn’t my type of game. I did appreciate the nifty mechanics they brought to the table, and it does add a whole different dimension to the battlefield. Despite that, the rest of the game just felt very ‘blah’ and not a fully polished game. The weird omissions from the game, like a lack of autosave and inconsistent functions on messages made it a little less playable.