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Game Info:

Prinny®: Can I Really Be the Hero?
Developed By: Engine Software, Nippon Ichi Software
Published By: NIS America
Released: October 13, 2020
Available On: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation Portable
Genre: Action, Platformer
ESRB Rating: T (Fantasy Violence, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes)
Number of Players: Singleplayer
Price: $19.99

I'd like to thank NIS America for the review key to this game.

If you've played the Disgaea games, their mascot is the Prinny, the hapless penguin suited souls in penance, and while you can have them as party members, there has never been a game devoted to them alone. At least, there wasn't until this was released for the Sony PSP, and now Prinny: Can I Really Be The Hero? has been ported for Switch gamers to enjoy.

The story is that someone stole the dessert of Etna, who now runs Netherworld from Disgaea 1 (following on the normal ending of the first game), and she's not happy. She calls in the Prinnies to go get her another one, but they protest that will die in one hit going to the places she wants them to look. She provides a magic scarf that makes the average Prinny more durable, but since it only helps so much, when one Prinny finally drops, another picks up the scarf, and since 1000 Prinnies were sent out, that means the player effectively has 1000 lives.

The game itself is a Disgaea-themed side-scrolling platformer game. Specifically, the old-time, stiff controls, and bottomless pit laden platformers of old, where quick reflexes are essential to avoid an even quicker death. Having a 10 hour (in-game time, not real-time) time limit to beat all the levels and make it back with Master Etna's dessert, you must jump, slash, and otherwise beat the clock in each stage without losing all 1000 lives, because the game is over when you do.

Prinny®: Can I Really Be the Hero?
Highlights:

Strong Points: Funny; challenging; good dialogue
Weak Points: Stiff jumping controls
Moral Warnings: Cartoony action-platformer violence of the bloodless variety for reasons of self-defense; some minor language use (a few h**l and d**ms); some revealing female outfits; some cruel humor at the expense of the title characters of the slapstick variety; lots of undead and supernatural themes and characters are present given this is set in a Hell-like setting, albeit a cartoony one

Graphically, the game is a colorful 2D-based platformer with the various characters of the Nippon Ichi franchise Disgaea is part of represented as character sprites and enemies. Aside from some adjustments for the internal resolution of the Nintendo Switch, it's otherwise a straight port of the original PSP game. Unfortunately, that means the user interface is a bit grainy and low resolution since it reuses older assets instead of the more modern interface used in later Disgaea games.

The music is essentially the turn-based strategy orchestral and synth music of the Disgaea games retooled for a platformer, and it sounds pretty pleasing to the ear. Sound effects remain crisp and distinct, and the voice acting is excellent and hilarious.

Controls are an adaptation of the PSP controls to the Switch, which was not difficult given they share a lot of the same buttons. You have a few tutorial levels that will teach the basic controls, which are easy to learn. Unfortunately, this game is very hard since the jumping controls are stiff like in old NES games (where you can't change directions easily midflight with stiff animations), meaning mastering jump timing will be crucial if frustrating.

Stability is quite good for a Switch port of the original PSP title. Load times are not too long, and aside from some minor occasional frame hitches (likely due to the difference in timing of the original PSP and Switch frame refresh rate), this port plays quite well on the Switch.

Morally, we got some issues for sure.

Violence is of the action platformer variety, where you swing a sword and toss sword waves at foes. It's all done in a bloodless, cartoony style, and they disappear immediately after defeat. You are always acting in self-defense against mostly non-humanoid foes, though there are some of those too.

Prinny®: Can I Really Be the Hero?
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 80%
Gameplay - 16/20
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 58%
Violence - 6/10
Language - 5/10
Sexual Content - 7/10
Occult/Supernatural - 1/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Language is pretty clean save for a few mentions of "Hell" (which the Netherworld of Disgaea is a partial analog too). Otherwise, bad language can be counted on one hand, mostly from the character Etna in the intro, nothing worse than PG-rated (like h*ll and d*mn). Sexual content is fairly low, some revealing female outfits, but nothing you couldn't see on a kid's cartoon. There are a few instances of cruel humor (mostly because the titular Prinnies are the Netherworld's punching bags and their suffering is played for laughs), but nothing worse than in a slapstick cartoon.

Since this is a Disgaea game, where the beings of Heaven, Hell, and Earth are all represented to some degree, albeit through a satirical lens, that means angels, demons, and various beings in between are all represented. Done in a cartoony style, but the supernatural is a common element, given you play as a human soul in a silly penguin suit. There are zombie enemies as well, but as a Prinny, you don't have anything other than two swords and your reflexes at your disposal to fight them.

Morally and ethically, Prinnies are supposed to suffer a Purgatory-like existence paying penance for whatever foul deeds got their souls sent to the Netherworld, so the entire point of their existence is to do all sorts of scut work like they are forced to do for their masters as depicted in-game. There is no option to do anything unethical (as that's what got them punished, they have no desire to compound that), and the quest they are sent on is, by all moral standards, not unreasonable given their position.

For its price, it's well worth it. Morally, if you can handle the slapstick violence, mild language, and the omnipresent supernatural elements of the Disgaea universe, this is not something I'd consider inappropriate for a teenager or older. And, if you want a hard but fun platformer, Prinny: Can I Really Be The Hero?" is a great test of your reflexes.

About the Author

Daniel Cullen

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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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