The past week or so, I've had a lot to say about Arcadias no Ikusahime (The Warrior Princess of Arcadias). I've praised the art style and music, and have taken an in-depth look at the gameplay. But even after all that, there's still much more to say about a game that is just so enjoyable to play.
Arcadias no Ikusahime is a PS3 title set in a world where warrior princesses are sent out to fight the ever increasing monster population—as well as invading enemy kingdoms. While this could easily serve as the set up for a serious dramatic plot, Arcadias no Ikusahime has nothing of the sort. Rather the story is that of a comedy more than anything else.
Plume, the resident warrior princess, is hilariously naive—so much so that when her manservant dies at the start of the game, she assumes he will eventually re-spawn like the world's monsters seem to do. She is joined by a colorful cast of characters like her brother, the King, who has been transformed into a duck; the poor hapless schlub who has been assigned as her newest manservant; and her new manservant's sister—who, while a complete airhead out of battle, transforms into a curse-spouting brawler in the face of the enemy.
In other words, the story is full of light comical fun where it's quite enjoyable to just watch the characters stand around and talk.
I've already talked somewhat at length about the visuals of Arcadias no Ikusahime, but they deserve to be mentioned again. The game is full of bright colors and vivid backgrounds that mesh perfectly with the game's enemy designs. The game's world is split into volcanoes, caves, icy mountains, jungles, forests, plains—not to mention the town or castle—and each has its on distinct visual style that sets it apart from the game’s other locations. Even better, the game's soundtrack matches each of the areas perfectly, making for a great overall presentation.
There is a lot of variation in the game's playable characters. While they all use the same basic comboing system of strong and weak attacks, no two characters have the same skills and attacks. Even characters of the same class have entirely different move sets.
Then on the back end, you upgrade their weapons and armor to do everything from raising strength or defense to adding elemental properties to their gear. This, coupled with being able to switch between two other characters at any time in battle, allows you a lot of customization in how you play the game.
When Brütal Legend was released a few years back, most people were expecting a third person hack n' slash similar to God of War or the like. However, when players picked up the game, they discovered that while it was that, it was also a real-time strategy game as well.
Arcadias no Ikusahime is very much the same. While it looks like a side-scrolling brawler at first glance, it also has some light RTS elements as well. In general, there are three types of levels: brawler levels where your team of three simply fights till it reaches the end of the stage; boss levels where you control not only your three characters but also an army that follows you around at the same time; and army-versus-army battles, where you brawler battle in the foreground while your army battles in the background.
The three different stage types really serve to mix-up the gameplay and keep it from being monotonous. And more than that, there is quite a bit of strategy when your army comes into play. In a lot of ways, it's like playing The World Ends With You, where you must split your focus as you fight two different battles at once.
If there is one weak point in Arcadias no Ikusahime, it's that you're going to be running into the same basic enemies countless times. At first, it's a normal bird. Then it has a slight jungle redesign and has an electric shield sometimes. Next level it's the same basic sprite again only blue and capable of shooting icicles. However, despite the minor changes in appearance and the occasional addition of a new skill, the enemies still act largely the same, requiring little to no change in your own strategy. Yes, you will constantly be facing new combinations of enemies, but even this does little to disguise that you are encountering the same basic entities again and again.
Arcadias no Ikusahime is a beautiful-looking game with a great soundtrack and a cute little story. Its three different styles of gameplay serve to keep everything fresh, and the character variety and customization allow you to play in any number of different ways. In other words, when it comes down to it, Arcadias no Ikusahime is one of those games that is simply fun to play. If you like RPG-brawler hybrids or like the challenge of having to split your focus while playing, you'll probably enjoy this game.
Arcadias no Ikusahime was released in Japan on September 26, 2013, for the PlayStation 3. There is currently no word on an international release.
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