Let me start by saying I never expected to be reviewing a game that had the word “panties” in the title. I distinctly recall working at EB and wondering what it would be like if I had to review the latest Playboy game. But to be fair, Prinny 2: Dawn of Operation Panties, Dood! is all in good fun; it’s your standard, lighthearted, humorous production from Nippon Ichi. Fans of the prominent Japanese developer may not be too interested in a hardcore platformer, but you can’t deny the inherent old-school charm and singular challenge. The game has a few hang-ups that bother me and if I hear one of those silly Prinnies say “dood” one more time, I’m just gonna have to stop playing. But that being said, I typically enjoy the atmosphere and style (to a certain extent), and the side-scrolling action/platformer setup gives you that old nostalgic twinge. And due to the steep challenge, it actually reminds me a bit of Ghouls ‘n Ghosts . Think you can handle it?
If you’re at all familiar with recent NIS projects, you know what to expect when it comes to the visuals. They’re crisp and clean, the animations are usually smooth and pleasing to behold, and the creative ingenuity is prominent. I’m not the biggest fan of the enemy designs in this particular title and some of the special effects feel a little uninspired but other than that, Prinny 2 is a solid, colorful graphical presentation. There’s lots to enjoy and that includes the diverse landscapes that require conquering. It’s not about heaps and heaps of flashiness; it’s not about jaw-dropping graphics that are ultra-detailed and spectacular. It’s about producing a certain atmosphere, which is conducive to the game’s theme. These are developers who have always understood their target audience, and they rarely fail to provide those fans with a satisfactory palette that leaves a smile on the face. And you know, in the end, this is pretty clean for a PSP game, so that alone is a plus.
The sound is a bit more subjective, as one really has to like the anime style. Of course, just about any NIS game comes with this caveat so the followers won’t be surprised in the least. Those who aren’t so interested in the comically over-the-top style will find Etna’s freak-outs annoying, and some of the voiceovers really are cringe-worthy. But you have to understand: in many cases, they’re supposed to be cringe-worthy. That demon who sounds like a half-retarded tool? Yeah, that’s just about right. It’s supposed to be funny. The soundtrack is also in much the same ballpark, so if you’re partial to the Japanese themes and attitudes, you’ll be far more inclined to appreciate the selected music and goofy voices. In terms of clarity and balance, the game turns out just fine, so there’s nothing to worry about on the technical front.
This game’s predecessor was Prinny: Can I Really Be The Hero? and it was brutal. Just plain brutal. The difficulty was sky-high and even though you had 1,000 lives to beat the game, many found that it wasn’t enough. You really had to buckle down, master the controls, memorize entire levels, and become intimately familiar with every obstacle and enemy. This required a bit more time and dedication than one may have expected, and many did indeed complain about the difficulty. So to counter the problem in the sequel, the designers tossed in a new “Baby Mode.” In this mode, your health is denoted by diapers rather than scarves (there’s a little jab for ya) and whenever you pass through a checkpoint, you’ll immediately hit Break mode, where the Prinny becomes super powerful for a limited time. You even get safety blocks if you get close to death, so you shouldn’t lose those thousand lives quite so quickly.
However, there is a bit of a downside: you’ve got 10 hours to complete your mission. That’s right; 10 hours before Etna turns you all into banana hammocks for not locating her stolen panties. So, you set out on yet another platforming quest where the fragile Prinny can jump, double jump, spin, dash, hip stomp, and use his trusty blades. He even has the Prinnikaze, which lets him dive-bomb enemies with a fiery thrust. See, he’s not entirely helpless; he just can’t take much abuse. And this is where the old-fashioned gameplay comes in- you really do need to know what’s coming; you need to know how certain enemies act (and what their weaknesses might be), and you have to be very careful. Charging forward is a good way to lose a lot of lives very quickly. And at the end of the day, I really do appreciate this nod to yesteryear, a time when video games were a good deal harder and trial-and-error was the crux of most interactive experiences. But there is a problem or two.
I know there were many games where one couldn’t change the direction of their character after jumping. So once you leave the ground, you’re committed to whatever direction; straight up, angled with velocity, whatever. Oh yes, I think we all remember this. The problem is, we’re so used to having full control over any character, be it in a handheld or full console adventure, that such a lacking isn’t nostalgic…it’s just annoying. There are aspects of the golden age of gaming that I wish were still around, but I love the advances in control and sacrificing the now-expected ability to change direction in mid-air doesn’t fly with me. I also think there’s a fair amount of cheapness involved in Prinny 2 , and that could be due to a slight collision detection problem, or simply because it seems any enemy is capable of destroying you. After a while, it really does feel too much like a chore. And that doesn’t fit the happy-go-lucky style, either.
Even so, the game is well put together and rock solid in terms of execution and implementation. Even though you can’t change direction in the air, all other elements of basic control are nearly flawless and there’s good responsiveness. I also liked the diversity of the areas (if you’re skilled enough to see them all) and because Prinny is capable of multiple maneuvers, it forces you to be somewhat strategic in your approach. Plus, you have to consider that while speed can be a bad thing, it can also be your best friend: stringing together successful attacks will build up your Combo Meter, and that can prove invaluable. Lastly, although 10 hours might not sound like very long, bear in mind the challenge involved, and you’ll realize that the game is quite long. Still, I could’ve done without the time limit…I despise them in just about every format anywhere in gaming, though, so this is more personal preference.
Prinny 2: Dawn of Operation Panties, Dood! is a solid, capable, entertaining, and super challenging action/platformer, and one that would fit nicely in a PSP collection. It’s both colorful and genuinely funny – at times – and Baby Mode really does make the experience more accessible. I sometimes wanted to toss the unit out the window because I was convinced I hadn’t touched that enemy, I could never quite get past the very old-school jumping mechanic, and some of the voiceovers did get to me. But it’s almost impossible not to have fun with this one, even if the hair-tearing may be inevitable. There’s just something about the Prinny; something about the nicely generated environments, something about the involving, surprisingly diverse gameplay, and something about the netherworld queen losing her panties… It’s difficult to pinpoint but the appeal is there.
The Good: Pleasant visual scheme and decent music selection. Solid, responsive control. Varying, challenging levels and environments. Baby Mode lets novices indulge without the strain.
The Bad: Voices can get irritating. Outdated jumping always seems to cause issues. Trial-and-error experimentation is often tiring.
The Ugly: God…please…stop saying “dood”…