The game is the fifth and final game that was produced by Nippon Ichi Software for their anniversary, but was developed by Apollo Software for PS3. Even though NIS didn’t develop it directly, it empasizes many problems with NIS games and seems to borrow its navigation systems from the old NIS game La Pucelle. NIS America recently released it as a digital-only title.
The game follows the ditzy and naive battle princess Plume on her missions, which are given to her by her step-brother, the king, who was hexed into becoming a duck and doesn’t care. She defends her kingdom and humanity’s last refuge. How naive is Plume? She initially thinks people respawn when they die. Presentation is top-notch, with good visual effects and the like, but with too many load screens in town and poor audio balancing.
Battle Princess of Arcadias is a 2D side-scrolling beat ’em up, but there are a few interesting quirks to the combat systems. Firstly, you have three characters at any given time that you can swap out whoever you want in the normal battle levels. If you have high friendship, they’ll come in to do support attacks at random. However, there are two other systems present. There’s one where you command an army and have to fight one powerful monster, avoiding its moves and attacking as you command your army to retreat or move in for the kill. There’s also one that’s army versus army with a sort of rock-paper-scissors system (except with ~7 different weapons that have sometimes nonsensical strengths and weaknesses).
With the exception of how cheap status ailments are when used by the enemies, normal levels are fine, albeit stilted early on with things like double jumps and air dashes tied to level progression. If these sort of levels were the entire game, I’d actually have no real complaints – there’s good character variety, though enemies and backgrounds can get repetitive.
No, the problem is every other mechanic in the game. The aforementioned system involving leading an army is very problematic due to just how powerful the enemies are – sometimes you have to spend a long time staying far away and doing chip damage with ranged characters to win without excessive grinding. And, speaking of grinding, the army battles are loaded with them. After you’re introduced to the mechanic, the game expects you to grind before the fight immediately after it, which features much higher-level enemies. This happens right after the first level of the game, so you have to go back and beat the first level a good ten times.
The way you level up your army is just dumb. You have to pay large sums of money to level each type of unit, and the unit’s level is capped to the highest level between any of the directly playable characters who use the same weapon – so the swordsmen can’t be raised to level 5 until Plume gets to that level, for example. If you don’t use every type of character, you’re boned – and you still have to go back and grind to keep up if you do. This is disappointing because the concept of the army combat is simply interesting.
Menus are also very unwieldly, as even the simplest things require too many button presses. The optional auto-save feature also gets in the way, stopping you from doing anything while the game saves. This was also a problem in Disgaea D2, so NIS needs to get their act together.
Battle Princess of Arcadias draws you in with competency only to make you want to rip the game in half at the next opportunity. Good thing there’s no physical release, or I suspect many would have done exactly that.
Can NIS put out one competent non-SRPG? Please? Or even a good game that doesn’t ruin itself thanks to forced grinding? ‘Cause this is a consistent issue with the company.