The Disgaea series is known for its fantastic SRPGs yet it had a couple fun 2D platformer spin-offs and they're now available for Switch.
Prinny 1 & 2: Exploded and Reloaded is a compilation of the portable Disgaea spin-offs Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? and Prinny 2: Dawn of Operation Panties, Dood! which originally released on PSP over a decade ago. I actually still own both of them on my good old PSP and have fond memories of playing them. Unfortunately, this Switch release simply contains ports of both titles with no substantial upgrades or additions. This is kind of disappointing because if you already own them then you won't get anything worth double-dipping for here unless you really want to play them on Switch. In fact, the graphics are even blurry as they weren't remastered to match the Switch's resolution. Complaints aside, these games remain fairly enjoyable so allow me to dive into what they're all about.
Both included games are strikingly similar and follow the same formula: you're tasked with accomplishing a feat within 10 hours as you control a Prinny. Once you bite the dust (which will frankly be very often), your total number of Prinnies decreases from a starting total of 1000. Meanwhile, tackling stages at different hours results in either increased or decreased difficulty so there's an element of strategy involved. This campaign structure is actually quite brilliant and it's my favourite aspect about the Prinny games. Well, that and the goofy sense of humour which is portrayed through the games' over-the-top cast of characters and bosses.
Prinny's core gameplay essentially falls in line with a generic 2D action platformer where you run left and right while double-jumping, ground-pounding, and slashing enemies. You can also spin to charge a dash move and jump then attack to perform a cool-looking air-slash move. As you play either game, you'll fill a combo meter that grants you items in the first game and allows you to enter a sort of overdrive mode in the second game that lets you unleash a powerful dive attack. That's basically all there is to it. Thankfully, the stage designs lend themselves well to the gameplay by offering plenty of challenging enemies and platforming segments to take on.
With all of that being said, these Prinny games feature highly unconventional controls which makes learning how to play quite tricky albeit ultimately rewarding. For starters, jumping is ridiculously stiff as you can't control your momentum aside from ground-pounding mid-jump to stop or double-jumping to change direction. Also, you jump to a fixed height no matter how long you press the jump button which can be incredibly frustrating, especially when there's an enemy overhead and trying to avoid pitfalls can be an absolute nightmare at times. Having to move so deliberately is a huge part of the challenge but it also feels super-clunky and unintuitive.
Keeping that in mind, mastering stages feels fantastic and once you get to grips with the unconventional controls, stomping on foes to stun them while watching your combo gauge increase only to efficiently work your way to the boss without getting hit then defeat it on your first try is an exciting feeling. Of course, these moments will be undercut by loads of frustration and being able to play that effectively will certainly require a ton of patience and practice. Even after you "git gud", you'll still encounter plenty of annoyances that'll likely make you regret putting so much effort in. It's certainly not for everyone but I'm sure some will enjoy the uphill battle.
Prinny 1 & 2: Exploded and Reloaded contains a couple PSP games that are pretty fun and undeniably challenging. However, their clunky controls lead to much frustration so make sure you have plenty of patience in your pouch before you dive in.
- + Although tricky, learning how to play effectively is a fairly rewarding feat
- + Great characters and sense of humour
- + Innovative campaign structure
- - Gameplay is rather clunky with annoying hazards and stiff jump mechanics
- - Merely a port of the PSP games
- - Visuals are quite blurry