Battle Princess of Arcadias is a recent PSN-exclusive title that features Plume, a battle princess. The title is a side-scrolling beat-em-up action-RPG with tactical elements. Yeah, bit of a mouthful there, huh?
You start out with a basic goal in the beginning – you need to defeat these ancient weapons that are coming back to life. Throughout the game, you find out something even deeper is happening in the world and that you can’t truly trust certain people. However, almost every time it comes back to one of these ancient weapons.
The game actually starts out extremely difficult. Be prepared to grind levels to be able to even survive or upgrade your equipment. This is exactly what I was stuck doing for roughly the first half of the game, and then suddenly the difficulty level dropped and I wasn’t having many issues at all (with a couple exceptions). While difficulty curves are great and all, I usually like to see them at the end of the game not the start of the game. As you hit the later parts of the game, you’ll find yourself sitting on mountains of money wondering “What can I even do with this? Where was all this money at the start?”
While there is a large variety of playable characters, if you don’t want to spend forever and a day grinding just to complete the main storyline you’ll want to stick to a main three. You’ll also want to be sure to level these three evenly so that you can use them in the ‘Skirmish’ battles. Right around my midway point, I actually ended up switching out who one of my characters was and boy was the leveling to catch them up annoying… Even later characters you get all start out at an extremely low level (think, 5 when you have people 4x that level) and it will take you a fair bit of grinding to catch them up.
Speaking of grinding, there is, as I’ve mentioned, a large deal of it in the game. Between leveling and trying to get early-game money, you will find yourself repeating several levels over and over again. Unfortunately, with how much of an emphasis there is on grinding, there really isn’t that many great spots to do so. It’s sort of just a trial and error thing to find what you like and will bring in the best money.
I previously mentioned that there are ‘Skirmish’ battles. This is just one of the three types of battles you will encounters throughout the levels. The other two kinds are ‘Siege’ and ‘Combat.’
Combat levels involve, at least until certain ones right at the very end, you running through just destroying hordes of enemies.
Siege battles pit you against a boss-type enemy with your troops, though you can only give them very basic commands (stay defensive, be aggressive, or basic, to put it simply). They will, over time, regenerate since the bosses can and will kill them in big groups. I often found myself just telling them to go into the defensive stance just to keep them alive – since if they all died I would lose the level.
Skirmish battles you, yet again, have your troops with you. You can give them the same commands, only this time they are there to work down the other sides troops. Your role is to take out the waves of enemies that come at you with the particular leaders, though from what I could tell what you did here didn’t really wear down the other side very much as far as troops went. That was actually slightly disappointing to me.
As far as the actual story, like I previously mentioned you learn extremely early that your main goal is to destroy these weapons that are being awakened. Overall, I actually quite liked the story, as long as they weren’t being all perverted. There was several times when a serious conversation would be happening and there would suddenly be a line about wanting someone, loving someone (or something on someone), or worse.
The controls at time felt a bit awkward to me, but perhaps that’s just due to not being used to playing very many beat-em-up style games. Some controls were never even explained to you in the tutorial, I just found them out by accident (like for example, how to switch out a character in battle or how to use a special attack). They were also extremely picky at times and it was hard to try and activate the special ability occasionally. Guarding also felt, for the most part, pretty useless because you’d usually have too much beating up on you and you just needed to defeat them.
For those wanting a game with a completely Japanese voice over though, this is a game for you. There are absolutely no English voices available, and for those who don’t know Japanese, be ready to do a lot of reading to understand the story.
There are definitely several things I felt they could have done better. You have to go to the throne room a lot for various story triggers and each and every time you have to run all the way through the town and the main hallway to get there. A shortcut would have been nice for sure, considering how often you have to go there. Thankfully, there is a shortcut out.
Battle Princess of Arcadias gives you the ability to customize weapons you find with various materials. Each weapon can only be customized a certain amount of times (typically 3-5 times), and you can boost a decent variety of stats. Almost every materials will give some form of a boost to your attack – with the rarer ones giving even better boosts – but some will also boost your luck or even allow you to add an elemental attack to the weapon! I found this system quite intriguing, though I would typically just massively boost my attack and if an element also got attached then it was a bonus.
You also have the ability to level up your troops, something you will most definitely want to do. Your troops can be leveled up to the highest level of their particular leader. So for example if Plume is level 15, the swordsman troops can be leveled up to 15. Unfortunately, this leveling takes that extremely hard to find early resource… gold. As I was getting later in the game, I found I was able to (very easily) get the troops up to their current cap and still have plenty of gold left over.
Should you die in a level, whether it be from losing all your characters or all your troops, you will just be sent right back outside and can try it again. Any items you used will be gone, as will any you picked up in the level – you only get these on the victory screen – however any experience you gained will stay. As someone who died in levels many times, this was definitely a nice feature to have.
Well, I guess there is one other way of losing a level that I encountered… by the game freezing. I only had two instances of this in my time playing, the first time it completely froze my PS3 on a loading screen, the second just the game froze on a loading screen. This all happened within the span of about four levels and then never came back.
In the end, I would definitely recommend Battle Princess of Arcadias to action RPG fans, despite my issues with it. Just take note though, that you will need to be prepared for the game to be very difficult for quite a while.
Battle Princess of Arcadias Review Score
While I enjoyed most of the story and most of the combat, small issues here and there prevented me from truly loving it.
I would like to thank NIS America for providing me with a copy of this game for PS3.
You can purchase Battle Princess of Arcadias now for $29.99 through PSN.