Greed is good. Money talks. Capitalism reigns king. Make it rain. No matter whom you ask, more money is usually desired to make life easier and more fun. So, what happens when an entire game is based around the acquisition of funds in order to bribe enemies into helping you achieve your rich ambitions? No, this isn’t Warioland, nor is Scrooge McDuck’s coin vault anywhere in sight. This is Penny-Punching Princess, an Action/RPG/Brawler that features some clever ideas and mechanics, but falls short in implementation.
As you might infer from the game’s title, you play as the Princess out on a mission to get rich. She has ditched pyramid schemes and money laundering and went straight up gangster on helpless, unassuming monsters. OK, so maybe they’re not exactly defenseless and in her defense, they are monsters. The game begins as a pretty straightforward affair. The action is presented in a top-down viewpoint, similar to the 2D Zelda games. You can move about the screen as you like, but you’ll often be trapped in small zones where you’ll have to defeat all of the enemies to proceed. You can deal light or heavy damage, and there are various moves and combos you can unleash to make mincemeat of your foes. After you get their energy below a certain threshold you can then spin the right analog stick to shake them down and steal their money. This is an important thing to, since you’ll need every single cent you can find to progress further in the game.
You’ll be able to bribe enemies and even unlock secret areas in stages with the money you’ve earned. You have a magical calculator that allows you to spend your greenbacks to woo enemies over to your side for a short time. You can also bribe other things, like traps, fireballs, and other hazards so they work for you instead of hurting you. By strategically spending your funds in each area you can deal maximum damage to the monsters, earning you even more cash.
As you dive deeper into the game you’ll be able to craft items, such as armor, that will make your character even stronger in battle. You’ll also be able to find special coins hidden throughout the levels that will let you spend skill points to upgrade attributes, like health, attack, and the amount of cash you can squeeze out of your enemies.
While all of this is good, and there is some depth to be had here, the overall experience still feels shallow. There’s just not that much variety in the battle system and it felt like I was mashing the same buttons over and over again to achieve the same result, no matter the monster. Sure, the bosses are much more difficult – to the point where the game actually became frustrating because of the backtracking and grinding needed to defeat some of the tougher ones. I give the game credit for its witty writing and unique ideas, but if you wash all of that away you end up with a pretty standard game that really didn’t hold my attention for long periods of time. As with any brawler type game, it’s more fun with a friend co-op, but sadly this game is solely single player – a missed opportunity for sure.
When all is said and done, Penny-Punching Princess features some really nice backgrounds and sprites and I dig the overall presentation, but the gameplay was way too repetitive and the kill rooms became tiresome. I appreciate the humor and the wacky stuff that is randomly thrown in, but it wasn’t enough to keep me entertained for long periods at a time. Perhaps this could be the perfect handheld game to play in 20 or 30-minute increments. No doubt some will fine immense enjoyment with the game, but it just wasn’t for me.
Penny-Punching Princess was reviewed using a final retail Nintendo Switch download code provided by the publisher.