Thursday, March 29

Review: Penny Punching Princess [Nintendo Switch eShop]


Though it has only been a little over a year since the Switch launched there’s definitely some genre saturation already on the eShop. In order to stand out these days in many genres you need to change things up. It appears that with the release of Penny Punching Princess the folks at NIS America have taken that to heart quite literally.


Though at its core PPP is a top-down brawler what it does differently is introduce a healthy dose of capitalism to the mix. While you may be at least somewhat formidable as a warrior your true power in the game comes from your pocketbook, with the ability to bribe both monsters and even environmental traps to be on your side. While it is certainly an unusual mechanic it quickly introduces an interesting layer of strategy onto everything you do. Is your goal to save up and go big? Do you focus more on turning monsters to your bidding or are the traps a better bet? Monsters each have their own effects (while most do damage some heal you as well) but can be tricky to deploy just right while some traps, if you can get the bad guys into place, can absolutely do devastating damage. However, the real answer is you’ll likely want to employ a pretty broad strategy for the most success, bribing a little bit of everything along the way.

The reason for diversifying is that aside from being able to have enemy monsters and traps do your bidding bribing suits your needs between levels as well back at your castle. You see, there’s equipment you’re able to craft if you have the right combination of monsters, trap materials, and gold so if you move along getting a little bit of everything you may not have to grind as hard to get what you want. New armor won’t just help give you protection, it will also determine your secondary ability, which can be either offensive or defensive. This is one opportunity you’ll have to tune the play to suit your style, the other is to acquire skill points by collecting or crafting Zenigami statues. These will let you either raise some stats or unlock buffs or added actions. There’s not too much guiding you to help understand which of these things may be most helpful but to some degree it’s all part of the fun of things.

Where things bog down a little bit is in the areas of control and the big picture. When you bring up your calculator to bribe enemies the action continues right along, with the calculator even obscuring part of your screen. Trying to type in some numbers while you fight can be done but it can also be a bit aggravating. To help out there’s an auto-bribe function but when the action is intense and there are several monsters on-screen being sure to bribe the right thing can be very hit and miss. I tended to prefer going with handheld mode so I could use the touchscreen since it was more accurate but it can work in docked mode if you have some patience. I’m not going to lie, in order to really get what you need you should also expect grinding some levels as the margin for error in hectic boss fights in particular can be rough if you’re not really ready for prime time. That means figuring out what you need, making a list, and then going back into levels to bribe the things you need to improve. While I’m hoping it is fixed with a patch a major warning for now is also that the game does not currently auto-save, something that’s hard to believe these days. Unless you want to lose an hour or two of progress be absolutely sure to go to the menu and save before you quit!

I have to give credit to the development team for coming up with something I couldn’t have ever expected and to make it work pretty well overall. The style of play leaves it very open to strategy and experimentation so if things aren’t working out you may just not be using your money as wisely as you could. That said, it’s very quirky and probably not something everyone will enjoy. If you’ve been craving something a bit different and are willing to dig in your heels and get to know the nuances of the game systems Penny Punching Princess is a heaping helping of something different.


Score: 7

Pros:
  • Undoubtedly something different than you’re used to
  • Plenty of room for strategy and tuning to suit your style
  • A stiff challenge at times, it doesn’t take it easy on you

Cons:
  • What sets it apart is also what can make it aggravating
  • Boss battles could use some zooming out, placing everything can be a challenge since they tend to be large
  • Combat itself is a generic and repetitive, it is really only the bribe mechanic that sets it apart