Code of Princess was originally released on the 3DS in 2012 and quickly developed a cult following. Despite being well-received, it came with one caveat: performance issues. This was rectified with a steam release in 2016, but it removed the English dub and resolution was locked at 720p. Now, in 2018 Code of Princess is making its way to the Nintendo Switch as Code of Princess EX with a new leveling system and local two-player co-op.
Code of Princess EX takes place in a fictitious European medieval kingdom where monsters are running amok and our barely dressed heroine sets out to vanquish the monsters. Along the way she meets up with a whole host of different characters, including a thief, a nun, a living corpse, a samurai, and an elf with a guitar. The larger than life characters are the strongest part of the title’s narrative and makes up a large portion of the game’s length.
If you’re not a fan reading the copious amount of exposition, you can always fast-forward through the cutscenes by holding down the R button. Unfortunately, the English dub isn’t always matched up despite the subtitles being based on the script of the previous English dub. This leads to some awkward moments with a short Japanese sentence being accompanied by a lengthy subtitle.
The gameplay is of the side-scrolling beat em’ up variety, with RPG elements in the multi-plane system. There are three different attack buttons and a burst attack that increases your strength, but can only be used on three occasions in each level. The Switch version promises improved AI, but the enemies were still fairly incompetent with only the bosses putting up a decent fight.
For the most part, Code of Princess EX is a mindless button masher, albeit an entertaining one. The greatest strength of this title comes from massive roster of over fifty playable characters with their own unique set of attacks and skills. Like an RPG, your characters gain experience and you can also earn gold that can be spent on acquiring new gear.
Completing the main campaign only took about four or five hours, but the real experience was in the Free Play mode and Extra Quests, where you can play as every single character that was featured in the game. You can play as, quite literally, everything including enemies, NPC’s, and bosses. It was fun to go back through certain levels to experiment with some of the more non-traditional characters like a shopkeeper or NPC, and see that they can still hold their own in combat.
The Switch conversion introduces a new leveling system and local two-player co-op. This means that you can now enjoy local co-op on a single system with each player being able to use a single joy-con. The four-player online modes are still present, unfortunately I wasn’t able to experience the online mode before the game’s release. Originally on the 3DS only four characters were playable in the story mode, but the Switch bumps this up to eight characters. Also, the new leveling system means that your entire party will level up, as opposed to only a single character reaping the benefits.
While playing in handheld or docked mode, Code of Princess EX delivered a smooth 60 fps with almost non-existent loading screens. Sadly, the resolution could only be kept at 720p. On the Switch’s small screen the graphics looked fine, but when blown up on a large screen TV the jagged edges of the characters and environments become more pronounced. On the positive side, Code of Princess EX’s soundtrack was a standout with a mixture of rock and orchestral arrangements.
Overall, Code of Princess EX on the Switch is the definitive way to experience this quirky, yet fun title. The new leveling up system and local co-op have revitalized this game for new audiences. At $40, the price point for a nearly six year old title is pretty steep, but it’s still easy to recommend if you are looking forward to it. For everyone else, it might be worth waiting on a sale before taking the plunge.