Game Info:

Penny-Punching Princess
Developed By: Nippon Ichi Software, Inc.
Published By: NIS America, Inc.
Release Date: April 3, 2018
Available On: Switch, PS Vita
Genre: Beat ‘em Up
Number of Players: 1
ESRB Rating: Teen for Drug Reference, Fantasy Violence, Language
MSRP: $29.99
(Amazon Affiliate Link)

Thank you NIS America for sending us this game to review!

Penny-Punching Princess starts off with the tragic tale of the Princess’ father having died a tragic death after losing everything - his kingdom, money, and eventually his life - due to a poor set of investment decisions that ended up with him losing it all. The Princess is incredibly angry about this - and she wants revenge. She wants to take back her kingdom the old-fashioned way - with a punch to the face, along with money - since money is what really rules the world. She does this with a gift that Zenigami, the god of money, gave her: a magical calculator that she can use to automatically find anyone’s price - and bribe them to serve her, instead of their current masters.

The action takes place in a 3/4 top-down view, with everything being 2D art. The backgrounds are gorgeous pixel art, and the characters are lower resolution sprites, but still look pretty good. It’s a unique art style that works.

The Princess can do quick combo attacks, strong attacks, and push attacks that cost health. There are also a limited number of skills she can use as well. Most of the game becomes about juggling and stunning your opponents to keep them from wiping you out, as well as bribing enemies or relics to either keep them out of your way, attack your enemies, or both.

It must be said that this game is basically all but impossible without lots and lots of bribing. (And even with bribing, it is no cakewalk.) It’s incredibly challenging, as more and more powerful enemies come your way, and your innate power does go up, but not nearly enough to compensate for what starts to come at you. To make up for this, you need to become incredibly skilled, and persistent - and know who and what to bribe. Sometimes it may be more beneficial to bribe an enemy outright and take it off the field, while at other times it makes sense to bribe the relics, which are environmental items, which then can attack whatever enemies get in its way – and can be really powerful.

Penny-Punching Princess

Strong Points: Fun beat ‘em up action; unique premise and mechanics; very nice art and music
Weak Points: Incredibly challenging to the point of frustration; difficulty spikes can be outrageous; sound crackles on occasion
Moral Warnings: Animated violence, as you punch everything in sight; money can solve all problems, though is played somewhat tongue-in-cheek in the story; enemies include skeletons and other undead, demons, dragons, and various other fantasy creatures; multiple gods, including Zenigami, the god of money; minor curse words like ‘h*ll’, ‘sh*t’, and ‘p*ss’ used; ESRB notes drug references

In each level, you can find Zenigami statues. In order to become more powerful, you need to gather these and spend them on various attribute bonuses as well as more skills. It can take a while sometimes, but it can really help to double your hit points, for example.

Another important way to improve your power requires two things: collected kingdom members, which are grown through bribing in a level, and having lots of money. By putting these two together, you can buy better armor that can have skills, offense, and defense built in to make you both do more damage, and be more resiliant to impact. It makes a big difference, especially since you pretty much always need all of the help you can get, especially with some of those nasty difficulty spikes.

The actual gameplay of Penny-Punching Princess is a lot of fun; it is polished, has a lot of character, and some of the dialogue is quite funny. But man is it difficult. Maybe I’m getting old, but if I hadn’t long worked out throwing my controllers through a strong desire to preserve my personal property, I have no doubt that I would need a new Pro controller by now.

Grinding is often required to get the best equipment, because you require a set number of certain citizens in order to buy each type of armor. As you gather more and complete more levels, more powerful types of armor become available. I have found I needed to grind quite a few times to keep up with what has become available. And that isn’t always enough.

I found that with some of the difficulty spikes, equipment only goes so far. At the end of the day, you may just have to practice over and over again until you get it just right, even if you’ve done everything else you can. When you die, you have to play the whole section you are on over. Some levels have multiple sections, so you don’t have to redo everything – but someone better not quit that game until you have completed the level and saved, because sleep mode may be all the break you can get until you get back to the overworld map.

Penny-Punching Princess
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 74%
Gameplay - 13/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 78%
Violence - 7/10
Language - 8/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 7/10

Thankfully, the art is great, and the music is also fantastic. I found myself really liking some of the music, even if it loops a bit sooner than I would like. The only thing that had me scratching my head is that sometimes I would hear a glitch during a song; I’m not sure what that’s all about. Otherwise, it sounds great.

Morally, there is the obvious, if not tongue-in-cheek overruling power of money. Many times over, including by the money god himself, there is a reinforcement of this concept. Despite the colorful cartoon-y art style, I would probably not have younger (but reading) players play this, as they might not get the intentional irony in all the money talk. It’s probably too difficult for them, anyway.

Of course there is lots of fantasy violence, as pretty much everything gets punched to death. There is no blood, as enemies drop coins when they die. There is a small amount of magic, mostly in the form of enemies throwing fireballs and such, but I don’t perceive it as occultic at all. As already mentioned, there are references to various gods. Some enemies (and party members) are undead, and includes skeletons, zombies, and other creatures like imps, dragons, and other common dark fantasy fare.

The ESRB noted some drug references that I did not catch. They included mushrooms saying they were high, and bees talking about taking a hit. There is a lot of dialogue that happens while fighting, and it's easy to not notice what they are saying; I am guessing these were that case.

Penny-Punching Princess is a cute, fun beat ‘em up with some RPG and town building elements. It’s very enjoyable, but incredibly challenging, with some steep spikes in difficulty. If you are looking for a well polished and difficult beat ‘em up, then Penny-Punching Princess may be right up your alley. It’s also filled with great writing and humor to round out the package.

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Jason Gress

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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