Penny-Punching Princess review for PS Vita, Switch

Platform: PS Vita
Also On: Nintendo Switch
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Medium: Digital/Cartridge
Players: 1
Online: No

If nothing else, you have to applaud Penny-Punching Princess for taking a novel approach to all the loot you find lying around in dungeon-crawlers. Where in most games you use that money to buy upgrades, here you can use it for much more mercenary reasons: you can buy off your enemies with it.

As neat an idea as that is, however, there are some problems with its execution. The game has unreasonable expectations of players’ dexterity, as you have to navigate the titular princess around small, confined spaces, avoiding attacks with one thumbstick while at the same time typing your dollar amounts in an onscreen calculator and then tapping the target of your bribes. Note: you’ll only be able to pull that off if you can balance your Vita or Switch somewhere stable, because otherwise, it’s probably not doable. You also have to forgo fighting back while you’re doing all that, which means that you can only attempt to bribe enemies if you have a healthy amount of XP available for you to waste.

There are similar issues with gathering loot. Yes, there are chests scattered throughout every dungeon. But if you really want to hit the jackpot, you need to tap on enemies after you’ve broken through their defenses and left them dazed. Again, neat idea, but in execution it means stopping your attacks against all the other non-dazed enemies so you can tap the screen repeatedly. Given that your grade for each battle is, in part, determined by how many coins you can pick up, it’s not exactly something you can just choose not to do, either.

The one bit of good news about Penny-Punching Princess’ dungeon-crawling is that the levels are short. There’s a lot of them, so they’ll still feel like a bit of a grind eventually, but at the very least, they don’t try to wear you down through lengthy, monotonous, repetitive battles.

Setting aside dungeon-crawling — which you probably shouldn’t do, since it’s about 90% of the game — there are some things to like about Penny-Punching Princess. You can tell the game was formed out of the same sensibilities that gave rise to other NIS titles like Disgaea, since it has the same kind of half-serious/half-funny approach to dialogue and characters. Whether that’s a good thing really depends on what you think of how well Disgaea games do it.

Unfortunately, even if you think that’s a point in the game’s favour, all the funny interactions and oddball characters in the world can’t hide the fact that Penny-Punching Princess’ action is kind of meh. The game gets points for trying something new, but it would’ve gotten even more if that new thing had actually turned out well.

NIS America provided us with a Penny-Punching Princess PS Vita code for review purposes.

Grade: B-