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Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero?
Score: 87%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Media: UMD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Platformer (2D)/ Action

Graphics & Sound:
It's been a few weeks since previewing Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? and I can still say that the life of a Prinny sucks. As if it wasn't bad enough that you're an exploding, stuffed penguin with peg legs, you also have to work for one of the Underworld's most demanding citizens, Etna. But, their pain turns out to be your pleasure.

Prinny really captures the look and sound of the Disgaea universe. Levels are a mix of 3D environments and 2D sprites. Most of the game is viewed from a 2D perspective, though unleashing Prinny's aerial attack flips everything into a behind-the-back view. It doesn't do much for the gameplay, but it is a cool feature. Backgrounds are incredibly sharp and feature themes like a pagoda-dotted lava field, grassy fields and the ominous-sounding Death's Watchtower. Most of the enemies you'll come across come directly from the strategy games. Although not as crisp as the backgrounds, they look a little better than the sprites in the console games.

Background music is great, even if there's a bit of recycling going on. Most of the tracks are remixes of songs from the console games, giving Prinny a nice mix of old and new. The voice acting is decent, though you'll eventually get tired of hearing the Prinnies yell, "Dood!"

When someone eats the Demon Lord Etna's dessert, the Prinnies are given the envious task of tracking down the ingredients for the Ultimate Dessert. Okay, so it's really just a bunch of random crap tossed into a concoction - but legend has it that it's a really good dessert. Besides, what Etna wants, Etna gets, and the Prinnies' explosive issue doesn't put them in a position to negotiate.

Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? is a side-scrolling platformer. The game's six levels can be tackled in any order, though some levels are harder than others, adding a bit of strategy to how you take on levels. Additionally, level difficulty is based on the game's day/ night cycle. Early in the game (or during the day), levels are easier to handle, but later (at night), they become harder. Enemies take more damage and some jumps become more difficult since platforms will begin to disappear. The game never gets to the point that it's unbeatable - checkpoints are pretty common - but even platformer veterans can expect a challenge.

Regardless of the time of day, Prinny can't escape the fact that it is being played on the PSP, or rather, that you're playing with the PSP's troublesome D-pad. It's impossible to adjust Prinny's jumps mid-air, a trait that doesn't play nice with some of the game's trickier platforming elements. I can't recall any impassible areas, but I do remember a few cheap deaths while trying to reach a ledge.

Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? is hard, and proud of it. When a game boasts that it's "casual" difficulty is hard, there's a reason to take notice. The game practically boasts about its difficulty level from the minute you start it up. Prinny offers two difficulty levels, Standard and Hell's Finest. Standard is for "casual" players and allows Prinnies to take three hits before dying (which works out to 3000 lives if you want to do the math). On Hell's Finest, Prinnies are, well... they're Prinnies - one hit and it's all over.

Most enemies are easy to defeat, though bosses require careful attention to details. Every boss follows a certain pattern that you need to identify before you have any hope of coming up with a counter-strategy. Most are easy to decipher after a death or five, though others - like the Magma Dragon - will drive you nuts.

Game Mechanics:
Prinny's only weapons are his knives, which he can use to slice through enemies, and his magic scarf, which allows him to take an extra hit before blowing up. Prinny can also butt-stomp enemies, stunning them for a few seconds while he slices them up. The deeper you get into the game, the more vital the butt-stomp becomes. Repeated butt-stomps can run up a combo meter that can earn you extra desserts (for points) and even extra red scarves. Butt-stomps are even more important when facing bosses. Sometimes it's the only way to get them to stay still long enough to hit them and other times, you'll need to stun one to kill another.

At certain points in the game, Prinny can jump into tanks, planes and an odd jumping contraption. These areas offer s brief respite from the platforming, but are by no means a cakewalk.

Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero?'s greatest asset is also its greatest liability. Players who love really hard games will love it, while those adverse to big-time challenges will probably give up after their hundredth death. Either way, Prinny is a blast and shouldn't be missed by any Disgaea fan.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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