Review: Prinny 2: Dawn of Operation Panties, Dood!

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Oh no, dood! Some perverted klepto has stolen Master Etna’s panties! What’s a Prinny to do? Well, go on another rousing platform adventure, of course, and reclaim Etna’s prized undergarment before the thief sniffs them and thrusts the Netherworld into cataclysmic chaos. Yes, that really is the plot of this game – and in typical Disgaea form, it is quirky (and quite juvenile) anime fun packed with crisp, spritey graphics and humorous dialogue aplenty.

Prinny 2: Dawn of Operation Panties, Dood!, out now for PSP on UMD and PSN, is the sequel to Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero?, and it lays down another gauntlet of the most challenging 2D platforming and boss battlin’ you’ll face outside of Capcom’s classic Ghosts ‘N Goblins franchise.

“More of the same” is the quickest (and laziest) way to summarize the game, because by and large it really is just more of the same brutal platform hopping and boss battling (as such, much of my review for the first game still applies). You once again have 10 hours (each hour equates to a level or boss fight) and 1,000 lives to do Etna’s bidding, plus the further restriction of time limits of eight and three minutes for each stage and boss, respectively. And once again you’ll be happily begging for mercy long before the adventure comes to a close.

You certainly won’t need all 1,000 lives, but count on burning through at least a couple hundred (which is still A LOT). Prinny 2’s demanding brand of platforming is old school all the way, testing your ability to react quickly and master a few very simple mechanics. Like before, Prinny’s jump mechanic seems to be the most controversial aspect of the game, some players finding it too rigid and unforgiving, others appreciating that it challenges your capacity to adapt to its style of play as well as your intestinal fortitude in the face of such obscene trial and error and devilish level designs. If you couldn’t guess already, I’m a member of the latter group.

The toughest part to grasp is the finality of every movement. Once you commit to a jump, you are committed, and there is no turning back. Prinny can perform a second mid-air double jump to change directions or gain extra height or distance, but that’s it. You can’t slow down if you jump with too much force and overshoot a platform, and you can’t pull back if you leap forward and find a nasty demon waiting to poke you into the nearest pit.

Once you familiarize yourself with these little wrinkles, the game controls marvelously and really isn’t THAT difficult. OK, maybe it still is, but this time around NIS added a few new touches to help out the ‘newbs’. The ‘Baby Mode’ difficulty is the main new feature, affording players three hitpoints — appropriately represented on the screen by baby diaper symbols — safety blocks covering particularly tricky traps and pits so it isn’t quite as easy to fall to your doom, laxer enemy placements throughout each stage, and fairly generous diaper refills for additional backup.

To give players even more of a chance to make it through to the end, NIS also made Prinny more powerful. As in the original, Prinny has his dual-wielded blades to use for melee attacks, an aerial range attack to rain down fireballs on enemies below, and a hip pound ability to stun whatever he lands on. But now Prinny can also gain a boost in attack power by filling the combo gauge and entering ‘Break Mode’ (do this by chaining attacks or collecting treats without taking damage). In Break Mode, Prinny’s standard attacks become much more devastating, and new special attacks also become available, including a chargeable hip pound, a spinning melee attack, and a diving kamikaze strike that wipes out everything in its path. In the first game, filling the combo gauge was simply a means to increase your high score or earn the occasional health refill, but now it is an integral part to beating the game, particularly the bosses. If you can’t avoid damage and keep Break Mode active, you’ll be dying and retrying like clockwork.

But don’t feel like less of a Prinny if you have to play in Baby Mode, dood. The game is still plenty tough, even with these extra helpers. In fact, in spots it feels like NIS overcompensated a bit too much, as I found myself succumbing to more ‘cheap’ deaths than I recall from the first game, which I thought was very fair in its balancing. Then, of course, there is the Hell’s Finest difficulty which pulls those diapers off and limits you to one-hit kills. Talk about brutal!

All this tough gameplay is great for longevity, too. On a clean run through, the game is feasibly beatable within an hour. However, only gamers gifted with god-like finger agility and the patience of a saint will be able to pull that off. For me, it took over eight hours… on Baby Mode at that (yes, I’m a baby, whatcha gonna do about!?). That’s a lengthy runtime for such a straightforward game, and amazingly there is still plenty else to see and do after the initial playthrough.

Topping the list is an unlockable bonus mode called Asagi Wars, a continuation to the alternate story unlocked in the previous episode consisting of six new stages and bosses and roughly three hours of extra play time. The kicker here is that Asagi Wars is more than an alternate story, it’s a different gameplay experience altogether. Well, it keeps within the 2D platforming realm, but instead runs with a side-scrolling action/shooter twist similar to Metal Slug or Contra and introduces a more forgiving health system whereby a fan rating bar determines how much damage you can take – killing enemies raises the ratings and keeps you alive longer, but taking damage leads to lower ratings and eventually death. It’s a nice change of pace from the core game, and a rewarding prize for braving the base story mode (a free activation code can be downloaded from the PSN store if you want to unlock it without any effort).

Other unlockable goodies are basically the same as the last game, including things like savable video replays, a soundtrack player, and an option to replay completed stages. Also like the original, the hour-based structure causes the game to change each time through depending on which order you play the levels in. The time in the story alters each stage, so you’ll have to play multiple times in multiple orders to discover every last secret.

But will you enjoy the game enough to care about all of these extras? Absolutely, I say. Prinny 2 has its fair share of trying moments that’ll test your patience and maybe even make you pull out a few handfuls of hair. But through the regular swearing tantrums and thoughts of slamming my PSP to the floor in frustration, the game’s tight gameplay and trademark Disgaea humor kept me engaged the whole way through, and even as I continue to revisit it now I find it difficult to pry myself away. Old school platformer fans, this game is for YOU!

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Pros:
+ Challenging 2D platforming is a blast from the past
+ Baby Mode and expanded combo gauge offer a more forgiving level of difficulty
+ Unlockable Asagi Wars mode is a great compliment to the main story
+ Tons of replay value and secrets to unlock
+ Diverse and challenging boss battles
+ Trademark Disgaea humor and presentation

Cons:
– Difficulty seems a bit cheaper than the last game
– High trial and error can be very frustrating
– Controls require skill and patience to master

Game Info:
Platform: PSP (available on UMD and PSN)
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Release Date: 1/11/2011
Genre: Action/Platformer
ESRB Rating: Teen
Players: 1
Source: Review code provided by publisher

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About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!