Review – Prinny 1•2: Exploded and Reloaded

Spin-offs can be tricky little beasts. On the surface, they make sense. Take a franchise people already like, and change it up to expand the audience while retaining your core base. However, it’s always a gamble. Will the changes alienate those original fans? Will the new look bring in anyone to offset that loss? Is a spin-off worth it at all versus just focusing on the main franchise line? Decisions like this are often offset with lower budgets, creative compromises, and the use of secondary development teams to work on these games. Even then though, sometimes you have to wonder just how some games were ever made. They’re just so bizarre compared to where the franchise started. Prinny 1•2: Exploded and Reloaded is a collection of two games that define that bewilderment for me. In a good way though.

The look of someone who realizes they’re doomed.

Disgaeathe franchise that spawned the Prinny games, is a tactical JRPG series. Think Final Fantasy Tactics, but on steroids, with a super anime theme. When thinking of possible spin-offs, you know what doesn’t immediately come to mind? A brutally difficult 2D platformer that tries its best to be a slightly less unfair version of Ghosts ‘n Goblins. Someone at Nippon Ichi clearly thought differently, however, and here we are. There’s two of them even. The truly bizarre thing though, is that it actually works. They aren’t the tightest platformers ever designed by a long shot, sure, but they’re still a lot of fun.

The boss fights were one of the highlights of the games for me, and I loved their variety and quantity.

The plot of both games are simple and similar, and very much standard Disgaea fair. Etna, a recurring character from the main franchise, has had something stolen from her and tasks her loyal Prinnies with retrieving it. In the first game it’s her dessert and in the sequel it’s something far more…….personal. Regardless, the games play out the same way. 2D platforming across a variety of levels which can be played in any order, each of which ends in a boss fight. You have a thousand lives to complete the game, which may sound like a lot. However, the game’s brutal level of difficulty means that you will probably need every one of them. And that’s just the main campaign, there’s a variety of extra bosses and levels that will FURTHER test your rage quit limits.

These are some Kojima level names right here.

It can’t be understated how similar both games are in play and structure. It’s the very definition of “if you liked the first, you’ll love the second”. It really feels more like a progression of the first instead of a sequel. Your moves are the same, simply upgraded. There’s some new power-ups and items, but nothing game-changing. The biggest additions are the large variety of new bosses and enemies to fight, as well as a full sequel to the original’s best easter egg. Called Asagi Mode, it’s one long reference to a cancelled spin-off that revolved around Asagi, another recurring Disgaea character. The original game’s mode is essentially an alternate version of the main story while the sequel’s Asagi Wars bonus mode it more of a fully fledged campaign in it’s own right. Both are a lot of fun, and a nice twist on the main game.

I for one enjoy the thrilling and thought provoking plots many Japanese games excel at telling.

I still have no idea why or how these games exist, but I’m glad they do. I’m a sucker for a fun tough 2D platformer that’s not a bullet-hell or a “move one pixel too far and you’ve lost everything” kind of game. It’s the perfect blend of hack ‘n slash and platforming for me, with plenty of variety in enemies and environments to keep things interesting. I feel like a little more could have been done to make this remaster feel like more of a remaster, but the art style helps a lot to make this much less of a problem. Overall though, I’m very happy with this, and though I doubt the core Disgaea fanbase would get much out of it, anyone looking for a fun 2D platformer is in luck.

Graphics: 5.0

This was a PSP game. It still looks like one.

Gameplay: 8.0

It’s a surprisingly solid 2D platforming gameplay, with plenty of variety to keep things fresh.

Sound: 7.0

The voice-acting is passable and the soundtrack is decent enough. Again, this was a PSP spin-off, so you shouldn’t expect much from it.

Fun Factor: 7.5

It’s so bloody hard it’s kind of insane, but in a good way. It’s reminiscent of classic platformers, though far more fair and less cheap.

Final Verdict: 7.0

Prinny 1•2: Exploded and Reloaded is available October 13th on Nintendo Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of Prinny 1•2: Exploded and Reloaded was provided by the publisher.