Friday 27 July 2012

Princess Punt: Kicking Action Puzzle RPG

     Cell Shaded graphics are usually a good thing. This holds true for Princess Punt, an Action Puzzle type of RPG. Although the word "punt" really reminds me of American Football, this game doesn't really have much to do with the sport. The main character is a princess who kicks off her bombs and men/bodyguard/protectors into the battlefield. On levels with bosses, you get to kick a variety of men; an archer, a lancer, a magician/sorcerer, and a knight. Once you kick a character into the field, you no longer control them. Each round you kick in another character. Tap on the bomb or ball(in this case the fighter that is going to be kicked) to cycle and select your type of ball/ammo/attack. Kicks are performed like catapulting or shooting an Angry Bird. Unlike that game, however, your minions that you kick out stay on the field and attack each round unless their HP is brought down to zero or they fall off. Enemies attack you at the end of each round. Each type of weapon has different attacks and skills and different Mid-Air Attacks. Mid Air-Attacks are activated by a tap on the screen while your non-bomb shot is in flight. The path of your previous kick will be shown with a dotted line that is placed during flight.

Bosses randomly pop out upon level selection.
   On stages without bosses, you can only equip your main hero, referred to in the game as "Hero". You may equip different health items, attack weapons, and skills. Only one skill, one health or defense item, and one skill may be equipped at any given time. The skill must be the same type as the weapon. If a skill for a different weapon is chosen, then usually the strongest corresponding weapon will automatically be equipped too. The only things you may purchase at the Shop are Skills. Once a skill it bought it is usually automatically equipped. During gameplay, tap the ammo to change shot type. Tip: If you are already aiming the kick and decide you want to change the type of shot, then you can press pause(upper right) and then resume like you were not aiming yet. Hint Alert: Pressing "Retry" is not the same thing as "Continue". Continue will use large amounts of your gold to refresh your men and amount of kicks left, but keep the damage done to the enemy. Retry is restarting the level all over, meaning you lose your progress from that stage but it's free. It will still load that stage again though.

    When you gain the maximum experience for an item, that item is considered "Mastered." Each time you master a health item and skill, your attack and maximum health increases. Each time you master a weapon, your attack increases. Once a skill is mastered, it's next level will be available in the store. Bosses drop a lot more experience whenever you hit their weakpoints. The weak spots are revealed to you at the start of the fight. However, they seem to drop more attack experience than other kinds. This was problematic when I only needed skill experience points.

Bosses are big and detailed. The animations and attacks are smooth.

    Some weapons and skill combinations are better in different situations. Although I haven't exactly figured out the main use of some of all of them. Some weapons will be easier to use than others. You may come back to lower levels after you get stronger. Equipping lower level items that aren't Mastered the second time around will help you Master those items because you will be stronger already. Actually you probably have to come back anyways because if you just keep pushing new levels, then eventually you'll reach levels that you can't beat because you haven't mastered enough items.

While on the world map or stage selection, you may enter the shop or equipment area. While browsing through acquired items, the attack, and change/difference in attack to your attack item will be displayed on top. The same will happen for health/defense items but for health stats instead of attack stats. Next to the EXP in the middle will be a fraction displaying your current amount of experience for that item on top of the amount of experience with that item that is required to Master it.

A nice touch is the addition of being able to rotate your Hero in the Equip area.

The Results Screen after a battle
Upon completing a level, your princess does a celebration dance and your hero joins her and you receive bonus's for each kick that you had left unused. Then you will be taken to a results page. Here you will choose what kinds of experiences you want. There are three kinds of experiences. All of them count towards your characters level. The three kinds are for your Weapon represented by an icon with a Sword, Health Item represented by a Pink Crystal icon, and Skill with a Lightning icon. All experiences cost gold to use. I am not sure but I believe ratings are based on number of turns you take, the number of your men who were knocked out, and the amount of on screen coins (Princess Coins?) collected during the fight. Mid-Air attacks should be taken into account when trying to collect these coins. For example an Knight pops up a little then flies straight down after you tap when he is in mid-air, while an archer pops up a little then flies almost straight down, a lancer jumps up diagonally towards the right, and a magician does a backflip and then flies horizontally forward a ways.

Princess Punt scores really high here. The Cell Shaded graphics are really impressive. The details reminds me of Okami. The storyline is kinda lacking....or maybe I just don't get it. Since this is an application, storyline isn't a standard or expected. The cutscenes at the 1st level of every stage (map?) are detailed drawn manga's or comics. The details of the drawing sure surpass a whole lot of apps out there, although it doesn't tell much of a story. Although Princess Punt has been classified as an Action Puzzle type of RPG, I try to stay away from using the term RPG if it isn't a traditional Japanese Role Playing Game or have a big and long storyline.  Each map has 6 areas. And each area has 10 levels. The 10 levels are the same as each other (same enemies in the same spots in the same background) but with slightly stronger versions of enemies. The Sounds are neat from the menu clicks to the attacks. The friendly music, to the kicks and monster Roars sometimes reminds me of a Mario atmosphere(the princess too) and that's a good thing. From my experience Mario games have lots of quality. Helpful gameplay hints are displayed during loading screens. Although the English isn't perfect, it's understandable.

Princess Punt is Xperia Play Optimized. The optimization wouldn't be really helpful if the game didn't have response issues during the slot/ticket selection. It seems to have problems moving left and right sometimes for choosing the slots. The R and L shoulder buttons come in handy here because they let you cycle through the slots selections.

There is a Princess Punt THD that is exclusively for Tegra devices. It adds shadows, more lighting, and weather effects without sacrificing framerates. Both versions have a 4.6 rating on Google Play with a combined total of over 1 Million downloads(mostly the non HD one). Try it out. If it isn't your type of game, you should still be able to appreciate the artwork.



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