Code of Princess EX (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Albert Lichi 31.07.2018

Review for Code of Princess EX on Nintendo Switch

Remember Guardian Heroes? It was a beloved SEGA Saturn game that was remembered for its hybrid beat 'em up/RPG gameplay, where characters can fight along three separate 2D planes. A bit of a cult game these days, it stayed in gamers' consciousnesses thanks to its rocking soundtrack and large, stylish anime sprites. Other than a middling Game Boy Advance sequel that had little to do with the original, Guardian Heroes never really got to be a big name franchise. It wasn't be until some of the original developers made a spiritual successor on 3DS that this formula found its stride. Code of Princess is reborn from the limitations of the 3DS hardware, running at a fluid 60 frames per second on Nintendo Switch.

Code of Princess EX is Code of Princess as it was meant to be played. The original game was a bit too ambitious for an early 3DS action RPG. Full of slowdown and chop, the original just was too much for the old handheld to process. Enter Nicalis, the publisher that would re-release Code of Princess for Nintendo Switch as Code of Princess EX. Without any of the technical restrictions from the early 2010s, Studio Saizen's spiritual successor to Guardian Heroes can finally be played with a silky smooth frame-rate and a much more affordable means to play with friends locally.

What is Code of Princess EX about, exactly? Princess Solange is the wielder of the DeLuxcalibur and wearer of the dress stitched by the world's laziest tailor. Naturally (as magical large swords go), every Distronian soldier wants a piece of the action and Princess Solange becomes a fugitive in her own nation since her own father got assassinated. Then hilarity ensues because Code of Princess EX does not take itself seriously at all. All the characters are self aware that they are living out a cliché RPG plot, constantly making all kinds of self-referential gags that have made the genre what it is today. Expect lots of charming and goofy shenanigans over any serious attempt at drama. While it is not exactly genius comedic writing, it does manage to get a chuckle out of any tired and cynical gamer who probably lost their soul playing hundreds of RPGs their whole life. These attempts at comedy are utterly crucial since they save what can be an extremely tiring and monotonous beat 'em up.

Screenshot for Code of Princess EX on Nintendo Switch

Code of Princess EX lives and dies by a very strict formula that becomes apparent very early on: begin at a mission select menu, select a character, equipment screen, and then do a lot of fighting. Rinse and repeat ad nauseam from now till doomsday. There never are any surprises, and the one thing that would keep anyone driven to keep going would be to unlock more characters. The combat itself won't win any awards, but it is not offensive - just extremely standard as far as beat 'em ups go. Something like Code of Princess EX is roughly on par with something like one of the Final Fight games or, more obviously, Guardian Heroes. The thing to remember about those titles is that they were from the mid-1990s and Code of Princess is from the 2010s. Characters have a stiffness to their controls and there is not much in terms of flexibility between the main cast of heroes. It is not like Vanillaware's Dragon's Crown, where the combat had snappy grace to it, and there was a higher skill ceiling hidden with the core mechanics. Studio Saizen should be better than this after years of experience.

Code of Princess EX's graphics are unusual. The art direction saves what could be an ugly game. Being that this was originally a 3DS title, expect low polygonal characters and some really cheap-looking assets strewn about. Textures can be pretty muddy and sometimes it can be impossible to see what is going on in some stages because of how many objects clutter the foreground. The cel-shading effect is particularly interesting since it isn't going for clean and sharp lines, but rather emulating the looking of sprites from the SEGA Saturn generation. Even the way every character is animated tries to imitate the way sprites move, but it mostly ends up looking like sloppy 3D animation. It is not exactly very convincing and veers off into the uncanny valley, but it does help the game distinguish itself and makes for some visually interesting spectacles. On the big screen, this is not much to look at and is best played in portable mode where it more closely resembles the original way it was designed to be played. Thankfully, the frame-rate is solid and the overall product is as polished as Code of Princess ever could be.

Screenshot for Code of Princess EX on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 5 out of 10


It's not clear why Code of Princess on 3DS was ever a cult hit; maybe because it was the only action RPG on the 3DS at the time? Organising a local multiplayer session ends up taking up more time than the time spent playing together since the core gameplay of Code of Princess EX is very shallow and very tedious. Battles just drag on for an eternity as heroes constantly wail on goons, making everyone who is playing feel only regret. What a waste of excellent character designs that they have to be used in such a milquetoast beat 'em up.


Studio Saizensen







C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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