REVIEW: Punch Capitalism in the Face with ‘Penny Punching Princess’ (Switch)

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penny punching princess

For a young princess, Capitalism is the enemy. Mounting debt took her father’s life, and now this princess will fight to avenge her dad, even if it means bribing her enemies. From NiS America comes Penny Punching Princess, a unique game that has players using financial corruption against the morally bankrupt.

Penny Punching Princess is an action brawler with a twist. In a mysterious kingdom, there exists an assortment of humans and creatures. It was a strong but unorderly world that believed in Survival Of The Fittest. However, Capitalism came to rule the land, seen as a less primitive and more prosperous form of living. In doing so, many became wealthy, but a select few became corrupt and powerful. These families took to crime to secure their wealth, and the most notorious one of all, the Dragonloan family, took control.

With her family having suffered, a young princess takes the fight to the Dragonloan family. The God of Wealth bestows upon her an electronic calculator, which she can use to bribe enemies to fight for her.

Players play as the princess, who will bare knuckles and strength to defeat her foes across the kingdom. From dragons to trolls to sentient swords, the Princess will fight just about every creature imaginable to avenge her family’s name. However, brute strength and power will not be enough to stop the Dragonloan family.

Using the calculator to bribe enemies allows them to fight alongside you, giving players temporary powers, such as fire attacks and healing. From large foes to smaller enemies, the calculator will work with just about every enemy, including traps that are hidden through the level.  Since the Dragonloan family mob is overwhelming and great in numbers, this mechanic is absolutely essential for survival, especially as many of the game’s battle take place within temples rife with traps and enemies.

Penny Punching Princess is an incredibly satisfying combat experience. Being able to bribe enemies in the heat of combat makes for a fascinating twist on traditional action experiences. Most games have a straightforward formula, but this is a unique take allows players to feel like an anti-hero that isn’t afraid to play dirty to achieve her goals.

In the course of a level, a player can encounter a horde of creatures, but bribe the fire-breathing dragon to incinerate surrounding foes. Shortly after, a player can bribe an enemy that looks like a bouncing heart, to acquire health. Experimenting with each enemy and their power is important, especially as bribed enemies will benefit and enhance your own kingdom, as well as your own abilities down the line.  Being able to beat back a corrupt, corporate family with their own game is actually quite refreshing. However, there is a drawback to the combat and that is the difficulty. There can be sharp difficulty spikes in each level. While each level is relatively short, there are some moments in which the game will become quite a challenge.

I found myself struggling with one arena, as it involved me repeating a gauntlet, in which difficult enemies are locked in a small space and bribing becomes a tactical decision. I tried several playthroughs, bribing stronger and smaller enemies, but after several more, I wound up bribing a trap, but even that was challenging.

Combat takes place in real-time, and when players draw out their calculator, they will be exposed to the enemy. Players can have an “auto-bribe” system activated, but that does take away from haggling. To curb the difficulty, players can assemble their own armor, with a combination of money and the enemies they have collected. Each bribe enemy is collected into your own kingdom and can be used as currency to upgrade your armor and equipment. However, this does mean potentially grinding out earlier levels, and if you are stuck in a situation, you may have to restart the level from the beginning. It can be inferred that this is a significant setback to enjoyment, but it can also be inferred as a means to create old-fashioned difficulty.

If players can get around the gameplay and difficulty, Penny-Punching Princess is a rock-solid good time. The story is humorous, witty, and clever, with its fun jabs at greed and capitalism. The story and presentation subvert the expectation of other similar Japanese brawler titles by being self-aware and light-hearted, despite the seriousness of the situation.

Penny-Punching Princess isn’t a terribly long adventure, making for the game well worth your time, but not overstaying its welcome. As someone who has played many brawlers, Penny-Punching Princess leaves a solid impression by taking the fight to financial greed.

Penny-Punching Princess has its faults, but it is made up for by being entertaining, unique, and refreshing for the genre.  Its combination of brawling combat and bribing, set against a fantasy kingdom, makes for an enjoyable adventure that anyone will enjoy. If you feel the need to punch greedy capitalism in the face, Penny-Punching princess is certainly the way to go.

Penny Punching Princess is available on Steam, Nintendo Switch, or PlayStation Vita now.

Penny-Punching Princess
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    Rating - 8/10
8/10

TL; DR

Penny-Punching Princess has its faults, but it is made up for by being entertaining, unique, and refreshing for the genre.  Its combination of brawling combat and bribing, set against a fantasy kingdom, makes for an enjoyable adventure that anyone will enjoy.