Penny-Punching Princess (Switch, PS Vita)

Sometimes you gotta fight the bad guy, but if they’re so bad couldn’t you just pay them off? Penny-Punching Princess has you fighting and bribing your way through the bad guys to reclaim your rightful title, lost by your father’s poor financial skills. It’s an action rouge-like title with the twist that you can bribe enemies (and obstacles) such they they fight for you instead.

The game starts with you, and your faithful cockroach/bug (don’t ask) vowing to recover the kingdom lost by your father. From there, the game launches into a pretty standard dungeon crawl with one significant change. Defeated enemies dissolve into cash. Cash can be used throughout the level to bribe enemies into defecting, or it can be saved to spend outside the game to improve one’s skills.

Bribing a monster eliminates it from the room (as if you killed it). You can then “spend” the captured monster as a special ability while fighting. Traps and obstacles can also be bribed, giving you two uses of the trap to damage monsters (while you are now immune.) Of course, you can’t just bribe your way through the entire dungeon. You’d quickly run out of money. In addition, calling up your little calculator (which is how you offer up your bribes) is limited by a timer. Thus, you can only bribe things once or twice a minute. Of course, as would be expected with games of this type, you can find power-ups that instantly reset the timer.

Aside from the bribing, combat is pretty straightforward. There is a fast, basic attack that leads into some simple combos and a more powerful, but delayed attack. Monsters stun when at half hit points or so. You could then lay into them with some big attacks, but you can also tap them on the screen to grab some extra loose change! Your Princess also has a special attack on a timer. Her special attack varies, depending on her equipment (armor.)

Outside of the dungeon, you are credited with “collecting” any monsters (or traps) that you bribed in the dungeon. These can be used to create new types of armor (which affect your stats, special abilities, and even the size of your coin purse. Character improvement is tied to finding statues in the game. After finding a statue, you must then “spend” some of your acquired monsters to build it. Building a statue earns you skill points you can spend to increase your damage, health, special abilities, etc…

Penny-Punching Princess would be a ho-hum action dungeon crawl if it weren’t for the whole bribing issue. It brings a bit of strategy to each dungeon run. Do I spend my money now to get through this particularly hard combat, or do I save it up so I can spend it on improvements outside the dungeon. The game resources are set up so that you typically have to hit up each dungeon more than once to save up enough money and collect the right monsters. This isn’t too much of a chore. However, I’m not the world’s best gamer (I’m an old dude, after all) so I may have had to revisit levels more than most. I found the first boss particularly challenging, such that I wasn’t sure if I was expected to grind some more or if I was just bad at fighting it. The storyline is an interesting (and cute) diversion from the traditional hack and slash. The traditional banter between the enemy dragon and his minions are replaced by mocking of the Princess’ (and her father’s) fiscal abilities. “Go out and earn enough money to take back your kingdom, because ca$h is king!” Is a welcome twist on on otherwise overused cliche’. If you are predisposed against such action-style dungeon crawls, the unusual theme is probably not going to win you over, but players who like a quick hack and slash will find the game’s unique bits entertaining.


Kid Factor
Not a lot to be concerned about here. Sure, you’re beating up monsters but they just dissolve into a pile of cash (although I suppose one could think of it as shaking them down for protection money or something…) The story is told through text, but reading is not required as the text primarily provides the storyline. The goofy humor might go over the heads of the youngest gamers, but I suppose it might be considered a strange sort of capitalist propaganda (which would then again, fit right into the story of the game.) Worst-case scenario, the game’s difficulty is a bit high but I figure kids younger than myself will find that less of an issue.

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