In the vast sea of visual novel sim games on the market right now, it seems pretty hard for developers to have very many unique ideas that are also compelling enough to make you want to finish the game, but the latest game from NekoMura Games manages to have the best of both worlds in this respect.
“Princess Battles” combines a number of different styles and genres within the realm of niche Japanese gaming into one package, bringing together influences from visual novels, dating sims, princess/raising sims, and card battle games.
These elements all work together to form a well-rounded experience that avoids most of the pitfalls that these genres have within themselves. For instance, it never gets too boring or tedious, the talking sections aren’t terribly long, and the card battle system is satisfying and challenging, yet not overly complex or overwhelming. Its easy to get into the battle system and there’s a lot to expand on once you learn it and start to face harder opponents.
Playing through the story mode gives you a reason to care about the battles (and the characters) and also acts as a very long tutorial for all the elements of the card battles. This mode features many different paths and endings depending on your choices in certain situations as well as how well you do during the major card battles.
There’s also a number of collectible items you can obtain in story mode, and even an achievement system for tracking your accomplishments. After you’ve finished story mode, the card battle aspect of the game can be much further explored by playing the “Free Play” mode, where you can customize your deck as well as your opponents.
The story itself is a little silly or run-of-the-mill for this type of princess sim game, but that’s part of the fun, in a way, where you can laugh at it from time to time but still manage to get attached to the characters through the decisions you make. There is very little spoken dialogue in the game, which is a good thing, since translated and dubbed voice acting on Japanese-style games are usually a nightmare. The little bit of dialogue that is spoken is usually kept to a word or two at a time and the spoken parts are few and far between in general.
The game also does include a light dating sim element, where you can say certain things in certain situations to further a love interest with some of the characters, but this element is actually completely optional, which I was pretty happy with, since I’m not the biggest renai sim fan. You can play the whole game without having any romantic sub-plots and instead choose to follow your own interests or goals specifically if you’d like, and I really enjoyed having this choice to avoid these aspects altogether.
The game was actually quite a charmer in the audio/visual department as well. While the character art wasn’t the best I’ve seen, it was very sufficient for what it was trying to do, and the colors and art design throughout were pretty lavish and fun to look at.
I also especially enjoyed the music, which has a feel reminiscent of classic RPG game music from the 16-bit or 32-bit era of gaming, with lots of strings, piano, fanfare of horns, harpsichords, and the like. The compositions are simple but very catchy and get stuck in your head pretty quick.
If you’re a fan of any of the genres mentioned here (especially the card battle aspect,) or just looking for a fun time-waster for a few days, I’d definitely suggest trying out “Princess Battles,” I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. The price is also budget-level, for those more conservative gamers out there, yet you get a good amount of quality content for the price. Have a look for yourself and hopefully you’ll have as much fun as I did.
Here’s some official links and info for the game:
Official Game URL: http://www.princess-battles.com
Release Date: July 26, 2013
Platform: Windows computers running Windows XP and higher. Not available for mobile devices.