January 2, 2011

Review – Prinny 2: Dawn of Operation Panties, Dood!

Prinny 2 Dawn of Operation Panties Dood
A lone Prinny once again slips on the red hero scarf for the sequel to Nippon Ichi Software’s side-scrolling deviation to the Disgaea universe. As the extended title suggests, and perhaps causes some brief moments of awkwardness at the checkout counter, Prinny 2 tasks players with retrieving a pair of Mistress Etna’s unmentionables by slicing across several 2D stages in order to save the day and avoid facing her demonic wrath.

The original release, Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero?, remains one of the most difficult action games on the PSP – forged in the dark pits of hell and causing me to spend a few weeks recovering in a mental asylum back in 2009. While this sequel doesn’t buckle in challenging players seeking to perfect their ranking scores, there are a few changes that open the invitation for those who haven’t splurged on robotic fingers just yet. The most immediate addition is an easy mode that allows players to take three hits before dying as well as the opportunity to regain health points, which just to tweak your self esteem are symbolized by diapers – pink baby blocks also appear throughout stages on this setting to make jumps easier and block some enemy attacks.

Remarkably even this setting may leave some stunned at the challenge Prinny 2 smacks down.

Perhaps more remarkable is the fact that I’ve kept returning to this challenge with an unyielding determination to see the job done – owning plenty to the type of difficulty Prinny 2 dishes out, encouraging a “just one more try and I can do this” spirit.

As with the original, Prinny 2 offers an initial six stages that the player can select in any order, and at the completion of each a gauge marks down how many hours are left before the story ends – not presenting a real time limit, but instead changing the time of day within the remaining stages.

Each of these six stages changes with the hours, both in the amount of enemies waiting throughout stages as well as the paths players take through them to reach the boss battle. The boss of each stage will often change depending on the hour as well, so that while stages generally get harder as the hours count down, some final confrontations actually prove easier at later hours.

This time change puts priority on the order in which stages are played, and gives the game a unique edge during a time where straight-up difficulty seems trendy. But Prinny 2 isn’t difficult simply because of the volume and scale of enemies and boss encounters. The game uses evolving difficulty to make a puzzle of the stage selection, asking each player to discover the route most manageable for their fingers. Solving that riddle took me three restarts to find the order I could survive, only to then reach a further series of confrontations as the game unleashed sequential stages that proved even more maddening than those from the first half of the game.

If you have spent time with the original, it’s worth mentioning that Prinny 2 also feels a lot less cheap, though that didn’t cut short the amount of times I grinded my teeth, caught between wanting to scream and cry at the same time.

The trail-mix of enemies littering stages aren’t placed in necessarily aggravating positions, but still require a few deaths to learn their habits, which makes the act of reaching respawn points within stages essential to one’s sanity. Once again there’s good reason that players begin Prinny’s adventure with 1,000 lives.

Sticking with the game required learning how to make use out of Prinny’s full repertoire of moves. Prinny’s primary attack is striking out with swords while players mash the attack button either on the ground or in the air with Prinny’s hip attack that sends shots angling down at enemies as the screen rotates to further the player’s line of sight. Mashing hits fills a break limit gauge that will see Prinny deal more lethal damage when activated, which is also filled by collecting enough sweets in time to fill it or when activating respawn points.

The break attack becomes absolutely essential during boss battles in dealing any real damage, and taking a hit in turn will immediately drain the gauge so that dodging some mercilessly well designed attack patterns becomes key over simply trying to quickly wail on bosses as if this game were merely a button-masher. There were countless times that such battles seemed impossible until I took the time to use Prinny’s additional moves, twirling to briefly turn invincible before charging and/or diving past attacks and enemies to gain a different vantage point, or stomping on enemies to stun them and gain a few more moments to build that gauge.

Prinny 2’s stages shine bright and gorgeous on the PSP, though the necessary repetition of the difficulty will have players quickly getting familiar with the scenery. The enemies that populate these stages offer a reasonable amount of variation, but more importantly possess a design charm that recalls memories of Castlevania in the quality of animation and the way enemies seem at home within the environments – many have both waiting and attack stances to add to the effect.

NIS can’t avoid recycling enemy designs toward the end, particularly in asking players to fight several bosses over again at one point. The changing time structure often offers surprises as the paths through stages change, and while repetition with the basic structural design of those stages makes even new areas and battles predictable, the game continues offering terrifically patterned challenges with additional boss encounters – such as battling 100 dark Prinny or dual battles with bosses in the foreground and background of areas that push to continually surprise the player. Though once again repetition becomes key as many of these encounters defy quick or lucky strikes, instead demanding that players learn patterns and develop strategies like old school classics.

Meow Meow Dood!

Prinny 2 also offers an unlockable bonus game continuing the saga of NIS’ ever popular minor character Asagi – a quest that kept me pushing against the difficulty over many late night sessions. The only means I’ve discovered for unlocking the game is by collecting ten ticket pieces, each appearing in the base area players return to after missions and hidden via a series of jumping puzzles just above the line of sight there – every new hour offers a fresh challenge and ticket piece. Once players have collected all ten pieces they can access Asagi Wars after beating Prinny 2, or by restarting the entire game via their local restart demon, should the final stage of Prinny 2 prove too grueling.

Asagi Wars proved well worth the effort, with NIS once again delivering a game with amusing cultural brushstrokes that also might leave you assuming they sniffed a few cans while painting said piece. Reincarnated as a Prinny, Asagi discovers a series of impostor Asagi’s competing to become the hero of a new game, and sets out to show why there can be only one Asagi. The game recycles the environments of Prinny 2 along with stage enemies and time shifting, but leads to a new and bizarre series of boss battles that have players fighting robots, zombies, an 8-bit throwback and one very energetic yet microscopic beetle.

Asagi Wars also changes the set list by using television ratings as health and arming Asagi with an arsenal of hardware, including machine guns, a flamethrower, and missile launcher, all of which make blowing through familiar stages a major dose of stress relief after surviving the main campaign of Prinny 2. There are many moments of bliss to be found in returning to familiar ground to fill aggravating enemies with bullets – it’s worth mentioning that Asagi even jams on a guitar and strums a cat along the way to becoming the hero of her own story.

The return of NIS’ most recognizable character design brings players an experience harnessing a vicious Japanese demand for pattern recognition and perfection, but also mixes up the game with time alterations to create a title that continues feeling fresh even after repeated sessions. There’s a mix of evil mathematics and terrific design details – the animation is often remarkable. If Kirby’s Epic Yarn impressed me with subtle animations, I’m equally in awe of how much character NIS coaxes out of this tiny evil dead-eyed penguin, often through overreaction as Prinny panics with fear at one moment and bursts out with vicious attacks at another. Even while tripping through some repetitive riffs along the way, the commitment to mixing up a 2D landscape which so often rests on nostalgia offers an adventure worth several spins on your PSP and holds a few surprises for those willing to dig deeper.

Nippon Ichi Software

NIS America

PlayStation Portable


Release Date
January 11, 2011

*A copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review


  1. Sounds like a game I should add to my collection. I’ll get the first one and go from there. It’s always great to get a bonus game or mode with your purchase and NIS almost always has our back.

    Comment by EdEN — January 2, 2011 @ 6:39 pm

  2. I’d honestly just recommend jumping straight into this one, there’s nothing lost by not playing the original and the new additions left me a lot happier with the game this time around.

    Comment by Jamie Love — January 2, 2011 @ 6:43 pm

  3. Need to start ordering directly from the NIS online store every now and then so I can get some of the great pre-order items they give every now and then…

    Comment by EdEN — January 3, 2011 @ 12:26 am

  4. Someone posted up a youtube video on how to grab all the tickets needed to unlock Asagi Wars, which is sweet cause now I won’t ever have to make one –

    Comment by Jamie Love — January 4, 2011 @ 12:58 am

  5. Geez, now you can unlock Asagi with a ticket from PSN –

    “Prinny 2: Asagi Wars Premium Special Ticket (free)
    Can’t wait for Asagi to become the main character? Well, she can’t either! Grab this special ticket and help Asagi come to the front of the line. Gain access to Asagi Wars right from the beginning! Forget the Prinnies, this time Asagi can be the hero! In order to activate after installing, place the cursor on “New Game” at the title screen and press the buttons in the order of: ∆, □, о, ∆, □, о, ×.
    File size: 481 KB”

    Comment by Jamie Love — January 12, 2011 @ 1:48 pm

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