I’ll admit, I was never a huge fans of the Disgaea series. It’s not because it’s bad by any stretch of the imagination because I can appreciate the epic and beautifully designed tactical adventures that they offer… it’s more a case of the slower and methodical pace of the gameplay not really appealing to me. A spin-off platforming adventure starring exploding penguins, though? Count me in.
Taking place in the Disgaea universe and starring the iconic Prinnies, Prinny 1•2 Exploded and Reloaded offers two classic PSP games in one neat package – Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? And Prinny 2: Dawn of Operation Panties, Dood! They sound pretty bizarre, right? Well, they are, but they’re also surprisingly well-made platforming adventures that are only held back by some fiddly controls.
It’s easy to summarise both games’ narratives up in one sentence. Taking on the role of the titular Prinnies, you’re tasked with rescuing two items for their Master: in the first game it’s her tasty dessert and in the second game its her… uh… panties. The only way to get them back is by venturing through the hazardous locales found in the Netherworld and uncovering them from the nasties that stole them in the first place.
So listen, the story is quirky, weird, and full of penguins that say ‘dood’ a LOT, so you shouldn’t expect some narrative masterpiece in Prinny 1•2 Exploded and Reloaded. That’s not to say that it isn’t pretty funny and witty though, with plenty of interactions to encounter in the game that can really have you chuckling. It’s a silly game for sure, but it never feels TOO stupid and has its share of clever moments that help make the whole experience feel all the more charming.
At their core, both titles included in Prinny 1•2 Exploded and Reloaded are platforming adventures that offer an array of challenging levels to clear as you look to complete your slightly peculiar objectives. Played a 2D scrolling platformer before? You’ll be right at home here, with plenty of running, jumping, and enemies to beat up across each adventure.
There is one big catch to the experience though: you’ve only got a thousand Prinnies to work with, and when they’re gone, that’s it. Game over. No coming back. DEAD. Pretty brutal, right? Well, luckily the number is more than enough to beat the game, even if some of its platforming challenges and boss encounters can prove pretty tricky to overcome. I managed to get through both games with more than enough Prinnies left, so the pressure isn’t too high… well… unless you’re really bad at platformers, that is. Prinny 1•2 Exploded and Reloaded isn’t an easy collection of games and those who don’t have some platforming prowess might find their supply of Prinnies running low quite fast.
Each level in the game is made up of a series of platforming obstacles and enemies that are always trying to one-up you by unleashing a mix of melee and ranged attacks, so there’s plenty to keep on top of as you navigate through each area. Fortunately, you’re well versed in self-defence, with the Prinnies able to spin and stomp at any enemies in their path. With the levels themselves not overly long and following the same side-scrolling style of play though, you shouldn’t expect too much variety across both games – just consistency in the fact that they’re generally pretty fun to get through.
It’s worth mentioning again that they also happen to be pretty tough though, with plenty of brutal challenges to face that’ll cause your supply of a thousand Prinnies to dwindle away. This is especially evident in the boss encounters, that take a fair bit of tinkering and careful planning to defeat. They’ll unleash all sorts of vicious attacks upon you and with each Prinny only able to take four hits before exploding, it’ll be rare for you to conquer a boss without suffering losses along the way. At least Prinny 2 does bring with it the ability to power up your moves though, which can be game-changer during the tougher encounters.
The tough difficulty doesn’t make the bosses any less fun to face off against though, with Prinny 1•2 Exploded and Reloaded’s encounters making for some of my favourite moments across both games. Whilst the level-to-level platforming can be samey, the challenge brought by the boss encounters spices things up and forces you to be more careful and wait for your moment to strike. They’re fun battles, whilst the creatively designed creatures you face off against fit in perfectly with the game’s zany vibe.
So I had fun playing through Prinny 1•2 Exploded and Reloaded regardless of its difficulty, but it does have some issues. The controls are guilty of feeling a bit clunky in places, especially when you’re trying to pull off precise platforming manoeuvres or land a quick hit on an enemy. The fact that it takes place over a 2D plane does make it bit easier to get used to since you’re not contesting with an awkward 3D camera too (I’m talking to you Super Mario 64), but it still manages to feel pretty fiddly and lacks the precision found in other titles in the genre.
It’s something that’s all the more problematic when you consider each game’s difficulty, with a lot of deaths suffered because of the game not being precise enough with its controls rather than because of the challenge you’re facing off against. Believe me, it’s a pain when you can’t seem to land on a platform perfectly or get hit by an enemy because the controls were just a bit too clunky, so it can cause a fair few frustrations across both games. You’ll get used to it, sure, but you’ll never feel like you have perfect control over your Prinnies.
This remastered release of Prinny 1•2 Exploded and Reloaded doesn’t do a whole lot outside of giving the visuals a sharper look, so you shouldn’t expect a whole lot of extras when compared to their original release on the PSP. It’s not that you really need them mind, with each title lasting around ten hours each and bringing with them additional content when you beat them. I haven’t spent too much time in these extras yet, but with Prinny 2 featuring a whole game mode based around another character, they’re certainly something that could prove appealing to Disgaea fans.
The adventures offered in Prinny 1•2 Exploded and Reloaded are bizarre yet fun to venture through, even if they are held back by slightly cumbersome controls. Don’t get me wrong, they can be pretty tough and certainly aren’t for platforming newbies, but each level offers plenty of enjoyable moments and they never feel unfairly difficult – just slightly frustrating when you end up losing one of your valuable Prinnies because the game didn’t offer enough precision with your jumping.
You do get used to it the more you play though and, whilst the controls are never perfect, they’re adequate enough to get through both of the unusual but ultimately entertaining escapades featured in Prinny 1•2 Exploded and Reloaded.
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher: NIS America
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch