Review: Fat Princess Adventures (PS4)
Back when the original Fat Princess hit the PS3 in 2009, at a glance I always thought of it as a cute but bloody 32-player online game with a hilarious mechanic that made it tougher for the opposing team to rescue their princess. It was highly recommended back in the day as the digital game to get if you owned a PS3. Now in 2015, the franchise remains a Sony exclusive and moves forward with a different approach on the PS4. Was this a good change for Fat Princess? Let’s dig in. With Fat Princess Adventures, it’s now a 4-player co-op hack-and-slash RPG, placing you and your friends on an adventure to face the evil Bitter Queen. The play style may now be different, but the charm from the original game still remains. The Blue and Red kingdoms are at peace. The two sides have found a way to live together. But of course peace is only short-lived, and you and a bunch of friends head out for cake and country!
The gameplay is easy to pick up. You have square as your primary attack, and triangle as your secondary attack, and each of these attacks have a charged version if you hold the button. The kicker here is that you can swap between the four classes available (Warrior, Archer, Mage, Engineer) once you approach the class monuments placed everywhere in the game. Once near, simply pressing the directional buttons on the PS4 controller allows you to quickly change your class, providing new attacks to play around with, different life totals, and class-specific gear. As you progress, you will find chests and enemies that drop loot. These new pieces of equipment are not to just to increase your damage input or defense; they also provide passive abilities to your class. For example, a shield that gives your Warrior a chance to recover health from a successful block; a dagger for your Archer that can ensnare enemies in a web and slow them down; or a piece of gear that emits electricity around the Engineer as he jumps, damaging enemies near him.
It was interesting to mix and match the different pieces of equipment, switching classes every now and then based on the current situation. However, combat with each class, despite the bonus effects from your equipment, can become simple and repetitive in the end. This is more apparent while playing the campaign solo. Playing online or with friends couch co-op style can alleviate the basic gameplay through the sheer chaos of multi-player mayhem.
Fat Princess Adventures may look charming and childlike thanks to the saccharine visuals, but this game is no walk in the park. You get swarmed pretty quickly, leading to a few deaths, so I had to be alert at all times. Bosses in the game are fun to play rather than tough to beat. You encounter a good amount of them during the campaign, and they start off in an invincible state. These encounters have interesting mechanics that entail making the bosses vulnerable to your attacks. One boss required a Chicken Wheel: a chicken and metal flooring. It’s weird, yes, but that’s how the game is. Be it through music, story, or gameplay mechanics, Fat Princess Adventures will always find a way to shower you with its wit and personality.
It's easy for me to define this game's strongest highlight – its humor. From the narrator to the absurd situation currently at hand, I found myself cracking up at a variety of things. I’ve ventured out to encounter Vegan Pirates and brawl against ghostly bakers (that are apparently part of a baking reality show?). You regain health by eating cake dropped by foes, and eating while at full health grows your character as obese as a fat princess for a short time. This game never takes itself seriously, and the hilarity kept me pushing through the campaign for the sake of seeing more silliness. The overall plot is simple, but every goofy instance leading to the final conflict kept me smiling.
Once I completed the first task of the game, which was to defend the kingdom from a gobbling (Goblins) attack, I was given the freedom to explore. Looking around, I was able to choose from a variety of side quests scattered around the town. Most of the ones I picked up are fetch quests, simple tasks that seem to be fodder, giving a player something to do if they tend to hang around town. In one side quest, a red soldier tasked me with delivering a love letter to a girl in the blue army, which entailed simply looking for the quest icon in the mini-map and giving the letter to the girl. Side quests in general felt out of place. Some may require you to go to areas infested with enemies, but they still fell under the same formula of finding something for an NPC and getting your reward. The prizes for doing such tasks aren’t enticing enough to make them stand out.
In addition to the gold you collect being used to upgrade your equipment, there’s a leveling system. As I racked up experience, I didn’t see much of a point to the leveling-up. From what I can tell, the level of your character only unlocks more options to customize their looks. This turned out quite unusual since I got pumped acquiring experience only to discover that there’s no real use to EXP aside from cosmetics, which are quite limited to begin with. As you bash through all the objects in the game, killing enemies in your way, they'll drop gold, which is useful for improving your preferred equipment. Each upgrade simply improves the damage of a weapon, or your armor's defense. It’s quite basic if you compare it to other games.
As you hit the 5th upgrade to an item, you'll now require gems along with a handful of gold to upgrade further. From what I can tell, these gems can only be earned at the end of the game (I got one when I finished the game), and probably through the Grindhouse mode, which allows you to replay certain sections in the campaign with added modifiers picked via a slot machine, providing more challenge for the player. There’s also two higher difficulties unlocked once you finish the game the first time, so I assume going through the campaign again at a higher difficulty with the same gear could reward you with another gem to spend. This feels like a form of endgame grind if you wish to fully upgrade your equipment. I played a bit of Grindhouse, but there’s not much incentive to replay past levels aside from upgrading or acquiring new items to play with.
The experience dragged a bit at the outset. With Fat Princess Adventures' simple gameplay, I found myself struggling to push myself to keep playing. As I did so, the personality and humor of the game started to grow on me. It’s not even close to being a deep RPG along the likes of Torchlight, nor is it as straightforward as Gauntlet, but I found pleasure in going through this 6 to 7-hour campaign. This game is definitely best played with friends. Combining the different classes together is chaotic fun, and the humor found in every corner of the game will also entertain those present in the room. Online co-op is possible, and if you set your room to be open to the public, anybody can just jump in and join you. The overall adventure was a sweet one. Its simplicity might turn off players overly familiar with the genre. My love for the humor in the game proved to be a big personal highlight, but some might not appreciate it, and if you take that away, well, I don’t see the gameplay holding up on its own.
+ The humor and personality found in the game is great + Fun boss fights + Great couch co-op game with friends and family - Leveling is irrelevant - Side quests are fetch-quest fodder - Combat can be repetitive
Developer: Fun Bits Interactive Reviewed By: Carlos Hernandez
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