“That’s disgusting” I thought when I first saw the promo image for Amazing Princess Sarah. Anime girl with a ridiculous cleavage and crazy amount of exposed thigh standing legs parted, fleeing from some unknown evil. And still, before I even knew what had really happened, the game was permanently attached to my Steam account and I was installing it. It was like some blackout in common sense.
Games that advertise themselves with tits and ass haven’t been good for a long time. Hell, even Tomb Raider toned it down a bit – but considering Lara’s original, erm, proportions were a result of a development “accident” that can only be described as conveniently creepy, that just seems more like rectifying a horrible mistake, like returning a stolen baby, or replacing your iPhone with an Android. What’s even worse is that somehow, Lara Croft, provided with her accidental titanic rack, managed to become a sex icon while she genuinely looked like a roughly carved potato person with a bit of lipstick smeared on.
But I digress. Amazing Princess Sarah isn’t nearly as grossly oversexualised as the artwork would have you believe – but seeing as the game is just one big love letter to Castlevania, 16-bit sprites and all, that’d be hard to pull off without having her resemble Dog the Bounty Hunter’s wife via South Park. You play as the titular princess (I think Amazing might be something of an exaggeration, but Competent Princess Sarah doesn’t really sound as appealing) who’s on a mystical quest to rescue her father from a demon – insert vast amounts of white noise here.
The levels are straightforward platforming fare, peppered with a variety of monsters to stab and slash as you move along, but the melee attacks aren’t Sarah’s only weapon. This is a little bright spark of genius that serves to redeem some of the game’s more mediocre moments – after slaying a monster you can pick the corpse up and hurl it at other enemies for a variety of effects. Werewolf archers cause a downpour of arrows, fire nymphs create walls of fire – there’s never any shortage of things to throw, which unfortunately gives Sarah the image of an angry person in a kitchen, just throwing all the plates about in a fit of domestic rage.
The pitfalls are more cheap than challenging. There’s a level where if you miss a jump and fall into a pit you get dropped into a pit full of ridiculously tough monsters which is pretty much an instant death anyway – it’s not clever, it’s not remotely entertaining, it’s just a cheap shot. Haha. You fell. Instead of just dying right away we’re going to let a bunch of monsters beat the living hell out of you. How do you compete or rise to a challenge that’s more of a taunting insta-stomp? Instead of adding some much needed variety to average level designs they just pack in a few insulting ways to die.
The levels never really change. You’ll be fighting the same enemies with a different background, and after a little while, tedium will set in. The platforming and combat is all pretty solid but there just isn’t enough variety to convince you to play more than once. Which is why it’s really odd that it has seven new game plus modes. Seven! All these really do are add little modifiers to the game – like a ghost that chases Sarah around throughout the levels, dealing damage whenever it touches her. Drunk Sarah adds a wobbly effect to the screen and also invokes amusing images of a drunken anime princess wandering through a castle slurring her way through killing monsters and looking for her dad. Until it turns out she swallowed the brown acid and just murdered all of the servants. I might actually watch anime if it had more storylines like that.
The New Game modes exist to help Sarah gain enough experience to defeat the true final boss. It’s a shame that the levels only serve for tiny boosts in health and damage, with individual levels feeling more or less inconsequential. The game modifiers are meant to make those necessary replays a little bit different, but ultimately, they’re gimmicky and tedious. If you’re replaying Amazing Princess Sarah, it’s for the quality platforming, not for the mediocre modifiers.
For £3.99 it’s a nice little retro throwback. People looking for games harkening back to a more classic era are going to love it, and the low price tag is a definite plus. But the new game modes don’t really add a lot of replayability unless you’re a hardcore Castlevania nut and you want to replay the otherwise competent platformer with some ultimately pointless gimmicks. It’s not even £5, though – and a pleasant little distraction worth the tiny price tag.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.