Ever been kicked in the shin before your gut is repeatedly punted? Then, for really no reason, a fierce throat punch comes as you lay there writhing in pain? If not but you’re now morbidly curious; great news. Masochists rejoice as Prinny 1 & 2 Exploded & Reloaded is upon us. A re-release of two games that were first launched for the PSP back in 2009 and 2010 respectively. A pair of action platformers that’ll demand precision. As I promoted the trailers, I saw a common denominator. Not only will it be difficult, but people were hyped.
These are Disgaea spin-off canon titles with a cult following. It’ll take place right after the “normal end” of Disgaea 1. Sadly, there are no refinements. Although, it does include the DLC, so there’s that. What’s more, for those that liked being punished; oh, that’s intact. You’re all weird. So what do I have to say about Prinny 1 & 2 Exploded & Reloaded? A lot. I have a lot to say.
WELCOME TO THE NETHERWORLD!
Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero – Master Etna is pissed. Seems someone ate her dessert, dood! And now, she’s furious and blaming us. The thing is, we didn’t do it. In fact, we knew about it before she decided to have a fit. We just chose not to tell her to avoid her anger, dood! Thankfully, she believes us. Though, she now also wants us to go out and gather ingredients for another, dood! We tried to get out of it. Told her that if we got hit, we’d surely blow up. She thought of that too and gave us a scarf. With it, we can take up to 4 hits! Now, as an army of 1,000 Prinnies, we set off on a mission. Our goal is to get the Ultimate Dessert, dood!
Prinny 2: Dawn of Operation Panties, Dood! – Okay, listen, so I was collecting the clothing drying outside. Had to wash and clean all of Master Etna’s things. Then I saw it; her undergarments are gone. Someone stole them, dood! She isn’t too happy about it either. And as usual, we have to go get them back. If we don’t, she’s threatened to turn us into women’s underwear. I don’t want to be a Prinny patterned thong, dood! Who would want to steal such a thing though. It doesn’t make any sense. Come to think of it, there is that rumor that sniffing her panties could end the world. That isn’t true, is it, dood!? Man, I really need to get out there. So what the hell are we waiting for, let’s go!
PERVERTED AND RELOADED!
Prinny – A vessel for souls of those that have died. People that when alive, committed a crime and were awful in general. Once dead, they’re condemned to these penguin bodies. Brainless creatures with an infatuation for sardines. And a knack for combusting at the slightest of touches.
For those familiar with the core franchise, you know what to expect. The writing is perverse and it’s full of double entendres. Whether that‘s intentional or not is another question. Such as Etna threatening to cause her soulless minions to explode, or a boss that’ll propose morning activities with his missus. I either laughed, rolled my eyes, or groaned. Most importantly, no matter the response, I was engaged. It helps to go into it not expecting a thriller with twists and turns. This isn’t that and it doesn’t try to be. I especially loved the dad joke caliber puns. They spoke to me. Humor is the staple of this franchise and as such, it’ll be subjective. If you don’t mind the above, or the 4th wall breaking dialogue, this won’t disappoint. I personally thought it was all charming and quirky.
Shout out to Nippon Ichi calling themselves a bunch of demons. Now I know to always have salt on me. That was a bad joke.
WHO BUILT THESE LEVELS, DOOD!?
While playing Prinny 1, I fell in love with the level design. Complete transparency, at first, I died many times. I didn’t understand the mechanics. Therefore, I‘d try to quickly push forward. Kamikaze tactics are clearly not recommended. It wasn’t until I began to operate much more methodically that the genius showed itself. There was a sense of fluidity to the stages. Sure, traversal is tough, but never infuriatingly so. Well, unless you’re wanting the collectibles. There are torn letters found within the hub world. Once all ten are gathered, it unlocks story content starring Asagi. A 4th wall-breaking character that just wants her own game. Get on it Nippon Ichi. Obtaining these requires exact platforming. I didn’t mind that, until the 10th happened. It took me 4 hours. The reason is it’s needlessly difficult and overly tedious. Unfortunately, this problem plagues the 2nd game.
I’m going to say it, Prinny 2 has atrocious level design. It’s not all bad mind you. I actually like a few. However, others I felt were unfair and rage-inducing. Before I go off on a tangent, I need to explain this. You‘ve 10 hours to finish the Ultimate Dessert or to find Etna’s Panties. With each level beaten, the clock ticks down an hour. As night falls, the difficulty spikes. To freshen things up further, the stage lay out will also change. Once 7 hours remain, the utter nonsense begins. Here are a few reasons why I found it frustrating;
- Monsters feel randomly placed. As the difficulty mounts, so does the number of them. To the point I felt overwhelmed. This was especially bothersome with those utilizing projectiles. Try as I might, death followed. It felt like I was at the mercy of Lady Luck. Placement isn’t my only gripe either. The knock-back is obnoxious. Because of the numerous small platforms, getting hit is lethal. I found the 2nd to be reckless. While the 1st felt meticulously planned, this – at times – felt extremely unfair. I will say both are generous with checkpoints. It helps, but it never mitigates any of the rage.
- This next point is only valid in select levels. Prinny 2 introduces a new usage for the combo bar. Unlike in the 1st, filling it surrounds Prinny with a forcefield. Doing so grants faster strikes and a nifty spin attack. This visually activates with a thunderbolt. Here’s the problem. Each stage has food to bolster your overall score. If you gather enough, you’ll trigger what is called “Break”. However, if you find a “donut”, that alone can do it. At times, I’d find one on a tiny platform. Because I’m conditioned to grab it, I do. I died for those efforts. For some explicable reason, the ground beneath me exploded as the bolt of lightning hit. These aren’t easy to avoid either. It felt like I was being punished for wanting a better score. Not only that, but the tedium of repeating that section took any fun out of the game.
- You’ll eventually encounter a stage with a black sun-like machine. It stays in the background as it shoots fireballs to the foreground. Usually, a prompt appears to warn you where these will land. If you, however, enter the level in the evening, things get annoying. While warnings are still present, extra fireballs crash down. Ones with no warning whatsoever. So essentially, you’re at the mercy of – you guessed it – Lady Luck. You’ll spend a lot of time with her. Hope you’re okay with commitment. And dying. You’ll be dying a lot.
AM I DOING THIS RIGHT, DOOD!?
The arduous reputation that both entries are known for is courtesy of gameplay. Again, full transparency – the time spent beating a stage was insanely long. At least the first few days. I’m talking two hours before I could move on. With time, I found that every action actually has an alternate use. Not only that but if they‘re all married together, it makes things easier.
As already eluded to, each Prinny will be able to do an aerial strike. What if I were to tell you that there’s another use for it? See, there are moving platforms in the form of flying carpets. Sometimes, you may find you overshoot a leap. It happens a lot. Don’t worry as you can still salvage it. Attacking from the air causes Prinny to be suspended. It only lasts a couple of seconds, but that delay is super useful. It allows the carpet to catch up. It’ll take some practice, but it’s doable.
Now, probably the biggest hurdle is the jumping itself. It’s very old school in its approach. When you decide to do it, you better make it count. There are no mid-air adjustments. And if Prinny falls, you’ll plummet straight down. Think of it like this, unlike in most games, gravity is a thing. It‘s going to pull you down into the darkness.
The default distance of the jump is quite far. So being precise is important. At least that’s what I thought. See, you can still manipulate where you land. By ground-pounding, you can stop wherever you want. This made the whole experience so much smoother. Not only that, but I could also use that technique to bounce off enemies. It gave me that extra boost while also stunning them.
This specific gripe is extremely subjective. As I’ve been slowly revealing, I’m a disabled gamer. So, there are things that may not be hard for you but will be for me. In order to attack, you’ll need to button mash. My right side isn’t optimal and kind of slow. So my melee or aerial attacks weren’t quick. Both Prinny games have this problem. Thumb cramps are another side-effect of smashing. It’s not fun, especially when Prinny 2 decides to bombard you. Fortunately, it introduces an auto-weapon. Instead of repeatedly pressing, simply hold it down. Prinny now rapid-fires. Although, the trade-off is less damage. This may sound dumb, but it felt like I was being punished. I still used it because it actually inflicted more damage than I was on my own accord. Still, would’ve been nice if the option didn’t come at a cost. I’d have loved it if it were added to the 1st too. For my money, Prinny 2 is better in terms of gameplay.
COLLECT IT ALL, DOOD!
There’s a lot of collectibles. One thing I loved is how every stage can be beaten six separate times. Because the levels will alter each time, replay-ability is there. Even the snippets once you encounter the end boss change depending on if it’s morning, noon, etc. It gave it a sense of progression. Once a boss is defeated, you’ll receive an ingredient or a rare item. Standard enemies also grant an item; a letter. When obtained, it reveals a secret. From what I saw, it appears inconsequential. It does count to in-game achievements though.
The main collectible is what’s called a Lucky Doll. In the 1st game, these unlock monster secrets, music, and also brand new areas. In the 2nd, you unlock even more. For example, you can be a Prinny that’s based on Laharl – the protagonist of Disgaea 1. To find these, just ground pound everywhere. There’s no indication in the first as to their location. It’s a bit tedious but you can unlock new areas with these. Thankfully, the second has a radar to help pinpoint the dolls.
NOT SO SHINY
As is, the sprite work itself is pixelated. And the environments are a bit blurry. I will say it gave these titles that retro feel. I kind of liked it to be honest. They did add new voice acting. I believe there was a contest to be a Prinny. I could take it or leave it personally. The voice acting as a whole is fantastic. The fan voiced Prinny’s just stuck out. The cadence and delivery fall flat at times. It’s not horrible but it clashes with the others. The music itself is great, but because you’ll be dying a lot, the constant loop is grating. I was never able to hear the whole track. It’s a shame too as the Disgaea franchise generally has great music. To better explain what I mean, it’s like listening to a song but restarting it after three seconds continuously.
AND THE NETHERWORLDS VERDICT IS…
Prinny 1 & 2 Exploded & Reloaded hits a very specific niche. It’s unforgiving and will provide even veterans a sturdy challenge. And once the intricacies of the mechanics are found, there’s a lot of fun to be had. I’ve put in 60 hours between the pair. I did, however, find it odd that there weren’t enhancements. These are straight-up ports from what I see. At least all DLC is included. With it, you’ll get an alternate plotline featuring Asagi. You’ll just have to muscle through intense platforming. The content available in this collective package is staggering. What I didn’t like was the lack of quality of life improvements, especially to the first. The Lucky Doll radar for instance. It would be nice if searching for this isn’t so tedious.
Prinny 1 nailed the level design, but Prinny 2 nailed the gameplay. I really did enjoy myself with both, despite their flaws. Though I wanted to quit many times, I just couldn’t since I had a duty to fulfill. I also can’t ignore the problems. While how the jumping works is intended, it’s clunky. Those destructible platforms are frankly infuriating. Those times I had a monster camping on a platform I wanted to get on was annoying. To bypass them, my jump had to be frame perfect or just dumb luck. Deaths felt really unfair. Prinny 1 & 2 Exploded & Reloaded is best played in short spurts. After 2 hours of continuous failure, I wanted out. I wasn’t having fun. That’s the biggest issue. Prinny wants to be tough, but it sacrifices your enjoyment to do it. I will say, returning after a break had me ready. I was so down to clown for 2 more hours.
I recommend Prinny 1 & 2 Exploded & Reloaded for those that love the niche. For those looking for that tooth and nail gameplay. However, the needless frustration induced by the awful level design in the 2nd makes this unattractive for the casual player. To play this for a long stretch will take any semblance of fun out of the experience. You’ll then take a break and may never even return. For these reasons, I say;
WAIT FOR SALE ON PRINNY 1 & 2 EXPLODED & RELOADED
Thank you to NIS America for providing a Nintendo Switch review code for the game.
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Painfully single, but still somehow a master of dad jokes. If asked, he’ll answer it’s for his inner child. Fabio enjoys JRPG’s and has embraced his anime love.