Thanks to NIS AMERICA for the review code
Title: The Princess Guide
System: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 03/26/2019
In this action RPG of sorts, you take control of a commander who has to befriend four princesses and help them defend the kingdom from a dark evil! A pretty wacky story where each of the main four have their own personality and arcs.
For some odd reason, I considered this to be a sister game to Lapis X Labyrinth back when I had both of those to review, mainly due to the way the menus and UI felt, having been developed both by NIS.
Yet the actual artstyle of Princess Guide couldn’t be any more different from the chibi side view look of Lapis, and in all honestly the out-of-battle conversational bits give off an art style that feels like other similar anime-themed looks, such as Etrian Odyssey.
In stages, the game does change to be a top-down affair with a typical chibi look to it, and if you’ve played Penny Pinching Princess you may notice a few similarities on that front. The music is fairly solid, and the voice acting is all in Japanese as to be expected from smaller titles like this.
After choosing to help one of the four princesses, you’re thrown into the action. The Princess Guide is split up into two main portions: the pre-battle parts where you can talk to your Princess and help her, while also equipping her squadron and those of your other leaders for battle, and the battling portions where you dispatch your armies across the map to intercept enemy forces, which will pull you into a top-down action segment for combat.
The action segment is the real bulk of the game, and it has a fairly simple control scheme: you have a “Commander View”, where your leader orders their troops around to attack the enemies, with each face button issuing a different command, and a zoomed-in battle view where the leader engages in combat themselves with their own weapon, rather than that of their squadron.
Whichever method you feel is suitable to take out the waves of enemies, you’ll be exploring each map to clear them out, using the environmental items to your advantage, and avoiding damage yourself before clearing each skirmish. Of course, sometimes you’ll have to defend certain locations from the enemies, meaning you’ll have to intercept them before they reach it, and if you go to an enemy lair you’ll deal with a multi-floor dungeon that needs clearing before you beat the boss that awaits.
Rinse and repeat as you build up your army and get the hang of things, and you’ll be comfortable with Princess Guide’s very, very repetitive gameplay loop. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much the bulk of the game, being one big portion of it: of course, you can use the shoulder buttons to scold or praise your princess if her squadron is sent into battle, which can help give benefits or hinderances depending on her mood, so you’ll have to pay attention to that aspect carefully, as it can save you in a pinch if you manage to get a health refill or buff out of it. If you have a non-princess squadron in battle however, then this option won’t be available.
But the majority of my playtime, both back in 2019 and now, was just being bored out of my skull by these action parts. Even now, as I finally “get the gameplay” more than I did before, and learned the natures of the two modes, EX attacks, and claiming territorial items to mess with. I just wasn’t that interested, and would often play in my sessions until I died and went back to a checkpoint, which led me to closing the game for the day with little reason to go back to it.
Yet if you stick around, you will get to unlock some handy traits for your princess, such as extra benefits and stat bonuses, so it is worth collecting every treasure chest you can, and buying better equipment for your squads with the gold you get. And eventually, you’ll clear the Princess’ story and move onto picking the three others, before it eventually comes full circle, though it still ultimately leads back to the same boring gameplay loop, however, so I can’t say it ever evolved deep enough for me to get engaged enough to stick through the whole experience, as I just never could do so.
In conclusion, The Princess Guide was another victim of the backlog curse that plagued my 2019 titles, but even revisiting it two years later and giving the gameplay another go, I just can’t find much enjoyment from this action RPG, and while the scold/praise system is a pretty fun way to help your princesses out in a pinch, the core gameplay loop is just too repetitive to really care much about, and even as I had fun with the combat at times and enjoyed finding rare drops, it just didn’t click with me much at all.
So at the end of it all, this is really only a game I can recommend if you don’t mind a typical action romp with a bit of strategy to it, and if you don’t mind the very, very repetitive nature you’ll be dealing with along the way. Some aspects of the management portions definitely remind me a bit of some older games such as the Princess Maker series, but otherwise Princess Guide ended up being rather uninteresting.
I give The Princess Guide a 5 out of 10.