I’ve got a lot of stuff arriving from NISAmerica soon, meaning plenty of Japanese games coming up. It’s always risky, and especially so with the Switch. Games which work well on the Switch are short, arcade style games which you can put down quickly, and Penny Punching Princess is all of those things.
In fact, Penny Punching Princess is a breath of fresh air in a genre which is solid but has made very little forward process. Looking pretty, being funny and having a wonderful twist on a solid mechanic means that despite the fact you will be playing this game in short bursts you will be playing a lot of it.
The princess in question is one fuelled by vengeance and capitalism. After her father dies of illness and debt the princess makes a deal with a god, blessing her with horns and a magical calculator to destroy her enemies. Alongside her is her dung beetle butler Sebastian who provides the comical counterpoint to her silent violence. You challenge is not just to defeat your enemies, but to build back your empire with cold hard cash.
You split your game between dungeon crawling and upgrading. Dungeon crawling is as simple as it sounds, you go around the dungeon and defeat enemies. You have a light and heavy attack, as well as a dodge roll and a special move related to your armour. It’s a simple, dopamine infusing cycle but one which has enough variety to keep you going.
Defeating these enemies collects you money, which you can use to activate your godly ability to bribe your enemies by pulling out your calculator, meaning you just don’t have to fight them. Money making is quite easy, as money can be found in chests around the level and leveraged out of enemies when you break them for a short period of time. Bribing enemies also gives you limited use special attacks with them so bribing an enemy can easily turn a battle in your favour.
But money isn’t just for bribing. You take your money back to your kingdom, in the ruins that it is, and use it to power yourself up. Primarily this is done by donning new armour and building statues from plans hidden in chests. The armour adds to your base attack and defence, as well as giving you a new power to choose from which you can practice in training. The statues give you experience points, which you can trade for boosts to your health, attack, defence and other typical RPG stats.
In essence, this game is very simple: trawl a few dungeons and boost yourself so you can trawl through harder dungeons. It is a shame that nothing new is added aside from a few extra calculator powers but the game is not long enough to make the cycle boring. Everything works as intended, and you want to push forward partly to complete the game but partly for the dialogue between Sebastian and everyone else as he is the strong comedy arm of the game, supported by the familiar-but-no-so-familiar-I-can-name-him narrator who lend the story a fantastical and epic edge.
The cycle is not perfect however. Difficulty in this game seems to swing on a pendulum, going from being very easy to getting your royal behind handed to you very quickly. Arenas vary in size and number of traps, so you could be in a huge area with few enemies or, more annoyingly, a small arena with too many enemies and traps making movement difficult if you have no money. Boss difficulty is also ridiculously high compared to the other enemies. Sometimes you have to play cheap (no pun intended) and just bribe the biggest enemy and use his special attack to clear out smaller foes. If you get this game you will have to game the mechanics at some point.
But this doesn’t detract from the game’s good qualities, and soon you’ll be beating your way through all manner of foes and enjoying yourself immensely. That is what Penny Punching Princess does well, making you enjoy your small jaunts with it. It is definitely a game I will be recommending on Switch, and one I think anybody who buys it will have an enjoyable time with and get their money’s worth.
That pun was intended.