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Battle Princess of Arcadias
Score: 75%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:
Time to test if youíre a natural born leader! Enter Battle Princess of Arcadias, a new game developed by Nippon Ichi Software and published by NIS America which follows the story of Plume, a Battle Princess.

I hope youíre a fan of anime and Japanese culture, because youíll get blasted by it in Battle Princess of Arcadias, not that itís a bad thing. Weapon swings and attacks make cartoony noises to match the mood and graphics of the game, and much of the soundtrack is comprised of Japanese pop, both with singing and without. Iíd say it does a pretty good job of setting the atmosphere, as naturally songs change according to the scenario, but they still retain that upbeat feel for the most part. Hey, got to stay cheery somehow, right?

For better or worse, Battle Princess of Arcadias does feature voice acting for all characters, but itís all in Japanese. Monsters only get grunts and theyíll probably be grunts of pain if youíre doing your job right. Anyway, players are able to follow along with the story via subtitles, but if you dislike Japanese voice acting, then you can turn off Cutscene and Battle Voices in the Settings Menu. Even with the Japanese voice acting, I still felt very much engaged and amused by the humorous dialogue between characters. Also, if you have some hidden agenda against Cutscenes, you can also turn them off or skip them. Whatever floats your boat!

Battle Princess of Arcadias sports a simple graphic design, opting for 2D characters and backgrounds instead of 3D. Characters still make facial expressions to suit the mood, so donít fret over that. A 2D design also makes it less difficult to get lost for the navigation-challenged people like myself. Besides, giant monster pandas coming at you from six or seven different directions would probably be a bit more frightening, or hilarious, than just two.

In Battle Princess of Arcadias, players take control of Plume as she seeks to rid her kingdom of monsters. To assist in this goal, players gain party members during the story that they may use during battle. As players gain party members, new brigade member types are added to match the combat style favored by the specific party member. This is important so that players have a wide variety of brigade types in order to counter enemy brigades.

Battle Princess of Arcadias does not sport the full-on open world approach. Instead, players go to the map screen and choose different areas to do the missions there. Missions are pretty straightforward, only featuring one of three different types of battles present in the game. Players complete the mission and receive a score, along with rewards at the end. After battle, or whenever really, players are able to return to the central hub of Capital Town. Here players can purchase new weapons, upgrade weapons and brigade members, and talk with various NPCs.

As stated before, Battle Princess of Arcadias features three main types of battles which are denoted on the field by a differently colored flag. These are Combat, represented by a purple flag, Skirmish, represented by a tan flag, and Siege, represented by a blue flag. The Combat battles are incredibly straightforward: simply clear out the enemy monsters as your choice of three characters. The Skirmish and Siege add in a new element of gameplay in the form of your brigade. In Skirmish battles, players fight against enemies in the foreground while their brigade fights the enemy brigade in the background. Players are able to change their brigadeís battle formation and also build morale for their troops by slaying enemy leaders in the foreground. Sieges also feature brigades, but the player and their brigade work together to take down an imposing monster.

In regular battle, the playerís character information is displayed in the top left corner while their Battle Menu information is displayed to the top right. The character information includes the HP bar, the SP bar, and the EXP bar. The HP bar goes down as players take damage, and once a characterís HP bar is depleted, they can no longer continue in the fight. SP is gained as players attack enemies and is used to perform special character techniques during battle. Players are able to swap between item lists and command lists during Siege and Skirmish battles, but can only swap between items during a regular Combat battle.

Combat in Battle Princess of Arcadias is pretty simple. Players move forward or backwards with the Left Control Stick or Left/Right on the Directional Pad and attack with weak or strong attacks. Weak attacks are mapped to (Square) while strong attacks are mapped to (Triangle). A list of combos is provided for each character so players arenít just randomly button-spamming hoping for the best. Players may jump by pressing (X) and may attack whilst in the air. Items or commands are mapped to (Circle) and players may guard against attacks using (L1). Additionally, players may vault forward or backward by holding (L1) and pressing right or left. This allows players to quickly move forward or backward, dodging enemy attacks in the process. Players may swap characters by pressing (L2) or (R2), and when a new character comes in, nearby enemies are hit. Players may cycle through the items or commands by pressing (R1) and then (Circle) or (Square) and the Menus are swapped by pressing (R1), then (Triangle). Use your commands wisely to get a good battle report, or just spam and hope for the best.

Battle Princess of Arcadias does not allow players to change the difficulty, and it may be a good thing that it does not. For less experienced players, the Siege and Skirmish battle types may cause a problem due to players being required to not only watch their troops, but themselves as well, a fact which is especially true in the Skirmish battles. Brigade member levels are also a concern as even with a brigade that has an advantage over another type, players may still see their brigade getting wiped out if the enemy brigade is a higher level. A fair bit of grinding by redoing past missions will probably be necessary in order to level up all the characters and gain money, but this gets repetitive quickly and makes the game become dull. Thatís just my opinion though. You may absolutely love it, and if you do, youíre a better person than me!

Game Mechanics:
Battle Princess of Arcadias features a customization system. Itís not as extravagant as other games, but itís nice to play around with. Players may change their weapons and accessory as well as equip various consumable items. Players may only hold one weapon and accessory, but may hold five different types of consumable items. These items stack so players may hold more than one in a certain spot.

Players will quickly find out that brigades play a huge role in two of the major battle types. As stated previously, Skirmish and Siege battle types use brigades in battle. Brigades function mostly as fodder during Siege battles, but truly shine in Skirmish battles because players will have to be aware of the type matchups and select what brigade to send in accordingly. Each brigade type is strong against one and weak against another. For example, the Fencer brigade class is strong against Rangers, Mages, Lancers and Berserkers, but weak to Marauders and Gunners. Players should send out the appropriate brigade to combat the enemies' brigade, but also keep in mind that a brigade with a type advantage could still lose if lower level than the enemy brigade. Fortunately, players can train their brigade at Capital Town. This strengthens the brigadeís stats and equipment, but the brigade cannot be a higher level than the leader, which is the player character that the brigade corresponds to. Build a good brigade and none can oppose you!

Battle Princess of Arcadias also has an Honor level. Each character gains Honor with other characters if they are present when the character wins a battle. Honor impacts how often the characters will perform support attacks. Support attacks include characters executing follow-up attacks on launching enemies, or even joining in on an Ultra Move to increase the damage. Honor is shown through colored hearts next to the ally and the colors are yellow, green and pink, with pink being the highest. Make sure to take your favorite characters into battle so you get to see some super cool attacks!

Overall, I find Battle Princess of Arcadias to be a pretty fun game. Yeah, thereís some level grinding, but what game with RPG elements doesn't require level grinding? At least you can see it make a significant difference once your troops are higher level. They become death machines! So if youíre looking for a quick little game to occupy your summer days and youíre a fan of this genre, Iíd really suggest Battle Princess of Arcadias. Itís one of the many indie gems youíll find out there.

-SS-54, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ren Plummer

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