Note: Review and its score have been updated
Code of Princess EX is the Nintendo Switch version of 2012’s action role-playing game Code of Princess. The new version of the game contains plenty of upgrades, including smarter AI and a new progression system. But where it shines the most is in its animations, controls, and aesthetics. By keeping the sidescrolling and simple button mechanics of its predecessor, the game is a breath of fresh air when compared to other games in its genre, giving it an added element of charm.
Protagonists and some villains are dressed in vibrant, bright outfits that truly stand out from one another. The way they are presented perfectly matches their fighting styles and personalities. But it is the way they and cutscenes are drawn that adds to the beauty of the game. Both have a high anime style of quality, and conversations between characters are done really well despite them all being displayed through text. (The game does have voice actors, but the dialogue is spoken in Japanese.)
There are also jokes peppered in, giving its story some light moments. The story centers around Princess Solange of DeLuxia, whose world becomes under attack by monsters. During her quest to stop the attack and figure out its cause, she meets and teams up with other fighters.
Unfortunately, the story does not take a break to provide any substance on the characters and their backgrounds. This also affects other modes and features negatively. Sidequests aren’t quests at all; they are individual challenges that do not expand the story. They are just there for players to grind and level up their characters, which leads into another one of Code of Princess EX‘s issues. This is a game that makes you grind so you will play other modes. There is no way to beat the game without exiting the campaign and completing sidequests. Grinding is also important because the campaign’s difficulty increases as you progress.
I am okay with grinding to level up, but the appeal of other modes should be that they offer something more than that. If the sidequests came with added story information, the amount of grinding needed would not be as much of an issue. But they don’t, and completing sidequests only levels up the character you are playing as. This is totally different from the progression system in the main campaign, where all of your characters gain experience and level up after each quest is completed.
Half of the characters become playable too late in the game to warrant using them. A character like Zozo, the necromancer, uses long-ranged attacks that deal a lot of hits, which would make defeating bosses fast and easier. But by the time Solange was level 40, Zozo was only level 24 and everyone else was lower than her. So, of course, I am going to play as Solange the rest of the way. Even the upgrades you can purchase do more harm to your ratings than good, so there is not much worth spending your gold on.
The mismatches in character levels also affect multiplayer as no two characters are ever the same levels when you move from the campaign to multiplayer (Though you can reset their levels). Overall I did enjoy the simple controls in Code of Princess EX and the way the levels were crafted in the main campaign. But its progression system, use of bonus quests, and lack of both story, character development, and good upgrades hampered my enjoyment.
Disclaimer: A review code was provided by the publisher.