I’ve never played the original version of Code of Princess. Though even if I had, I’m pretty sure my opinion of Code of Princess EX would be the same.
Imagine if you took a bog-standard JRPG and removed all the exploration bits, just leaving the combat behind. That’s pretty much what Code of Princess EX is. Honestly, it wouldn’t be too bad if the combat was any good, but unfortunately it isn’t.
A princess and her sword
Code of Princess EX‘s story mode follows the journey of Princess Solange, a young woman who finds herself wielding the legendary sword DeLuxcalibur. Of course, along the way she ends up befriending a ragtag group of fellow adventurers who decide to accompany her wherever she goes. Adventurers that range from being mildy amusing to downright irritating.
Whether you get a kick out of Code of Princess EX‘s narrative will depend on your tastes, but I failed to care for it. Eventually I found myself pressing buttons to get through the text as fast as possible, just so I could get back into the action. And then when the action itself became boring and tiresome it was hard to focus on Code of Princess EX at all.
Initially, you’re only able to take control of Princess Solange to tackle the game’s story quests. Quickly though, you start gaining access to other characters. Most are only usable in the game’s alternative modes, such as Freeplay, but there are three which are playable in Story Mode, too. No matter who you choose to play as though, what at first appears to be fun soon becomes tedious.
Sliiiide to the left!
As mentioned earlier, each one of Code of Princess EX‘s quests is simply a battle. They’re like mini side-scrolling beat ’em up stages, often requiring you to make your way to the right while defeating the foes that stand in your path. You don’t have entirely free 3D movement though; while you can move to the left or right easily enough, to move into or out of the screen you need to hold block and then press either up or down. You basically have three lanes.
Changing lanes is largely a pointless mechanic though; enemies generally pursue you, no matter which lane you’re in. I’d often end up changing lanes at the same time as the foe I was planning to attack, performing the reverse of the kind of dance that you do with random passers by in the street when nearly walking into each other. As such, I quickly gave up bothering to change lanes, instead opting to let my foes come to me to face a pummelling.
The combat in Code of Princess EX just gets very repetitive very quickly. There aren’t a great range of moves to perform, and with the considerable number of enemies thrown at you in each battle, the action soon becomes boring and exhausting. And it doesn’t help that movement is sluggish. Perhaps its saving grace is the element of strategy, with enemies you’re locked onto taking extra damage. Combined with your limited use of a Burst state which also enables you to dole out stronger hits, locating and locking onto stronger enemies pays dividends.
A sucker for loot
What I enjoyed the most about my time spent playing Code of Princess EX is unlocking new items to equip. But then, I’m a sucker for it. There are countless items to be acquired, either by completing quests or eventually purchasing them with the gold you’ve earned. And, along with levelling up, they allow you to enhance the abilities of the characters on which they’re equipped. If you can stand the tedium of the combat, finishing the game’s story and unlocking all the available equipment will provide a lasting challenge. But that’s a big if.
The same goes for Code of Princess EX‘s alternative modes, too. There’s a lot to go at providing you can stomach the endless repetitive battles with small move sets. This Switch version even allows you to play online, partaking in a spot of co-op questing or fighting against others. And of course, local multiplayer is also supported.
If Code of Princess EX‘s combat was just a little bit better, it’d be quite a solid game. I actually like the idea of an RPG without the exploration bits, but such a game desperately needs to place more emphasis on engaging and enjoyable combat, which here, is severely lacking. There’s no doubt some fun to be had if you plan on playing Code of Princess EX in short bursts, but most Switch owners would be better off looking elsewhere for their action-RPG thrills.