Pros and Cons between two very similar games -at least in concept- that rapidly turn into vastly different games in the same genre.
Story | Story-telling
Battle Princess of Arcadia:
Basically it’s a NIS RPG. Unlike The Witch and the Hundred Knights, where its starts light-humored and slowly turns into a ‘darker’ story, BPoA is constantly telling an Ok story with humor in the eyes of our light-headed character/s. To set a difference with our comparison game, While in DC a dying old man is key to figuring out the world, on BPoA our king was turned into a goose by a cursed statue. And no, our quest isn’t related AT ALL with that, he is a happy King. On DC we aim to find the Dragon Crown but a thick political scheme is set in motion to retrieve it before you have a chance. In BPoA the princess Plume -a misteriously powerful princess- is tasked with saving her kingdom from monster hordes. The plot devolves into finding why there are several princesses with similar abilities and why the land is in danger.
DC > Equipment and skill allocation is where the RPG elements reside in the game. Grinding is loot-oriented since the game is level capped early on the adventure.
BPoA > Equipment can be crafted, upgraded and enhanced. Unlike many games in the NIS world, its pretty simple to understand. Weapons are ranked by stars (1 to 10) and they have a DMG | Luc and Elemental stats (if any). Weapons have 1 to 5 -so far- enhance opportunities (enhanced with money and item drops) and sometimes an upgradeable version of the weapon (which brings out the potential of said weapon). Level cap is higher and basically your units (in Boss Battles and Brigade Battles) are capped by your hero’s level. (Explained below in Battle System). Equipment is limited to 2 pieces -weapon + artifact- instead of 5 (DC -weapon + offhand + 3 accesories)
DC > Single Character, basic combos and mapped button-activated skills. Level design is bigger and usually full of secrets so its well balanced on exploration (runes, money and secrets) and fighting.
BPoA > While there are 7 (needs checking) different characters, each sporting their own weapon. You can take up-to 3 allies into battle, though experience is granted to the active player. You can swap them in and out with a press of a button. The game feels like a fighting game. Swapping needs to be done from a secure position (fixed or while in combo) and its comboable. Skills are unlocked by leveling, and are harder to activate since they cannot be mapped. Unlike DC levels are pretty straight forward, with little to no exploration (very few secrets).
The huge difference is that this ‘regular’ fighting is only half of the game. There’s a deep system for Boss and Brigades Battles. In Boss Battles, you command a group of allies to attack the enemy’s shield. once is dropped you can hurt it. Orders (Stances, such as attack, defend or normal or retreat) can be issued with a simple combination of buttons. Orders need Morale (which you get by hurting the enemy, successfully defending and such). Usually a battle takes 2 to 3 shields down to beat a boss if the strategy is well placed. Your allies have 150 respawns. Brigade battles are similar except you take 3 groups of 50 allies. Enemy usually does the same. You pick which group of people is going first, second and third. theres an elaborated Rock-Paper-Scissor way of knowing which weapon is stronger than the other, and it works similarly with Issued orders (Attack > Normal Stance, Defense > Attack, Normal > Defense). Brigades battles are both played by npcs and the player, who fights a group of enemies. If you beat them your team gets 20% morale.
Finally, your units are trained with money (not too-well balanced in the game, its grindy at times) and upgraded up to the hero’s maximum level. Example: Plume is a Sword user, her max level will be the limit for the sword brigade. Training the brigade (leveling) gives em stats (higher damage, hp and defense) and every 7 levels they get an upgrade in weapon and skills (which can be casted with 100% morale)
Artwork | Level Design | Character Design
DC > Amazing artwork, beautiful character movement and battle effects, well designed levels with nice imagery and well placed secrets. Character design is at least offensive. The tone for the world is pretty grim and is well represented
BPoA > The art direction is the exact opposite. Everything is exploding with color and sets a cheerful vibe. This is extended through out the game, and the characters sprites while repetitive (on enemies) are well made. Female Characters, despite NIS’ tradition are well clothed, and their personalities are what you can expect from NIS games. There’s a pervy guy chasing every girl, Plume is air-headed, there’s a short-fused brigade general and all. The King is a goose. Literally.
First Impressions 7 hours in – Conclusion
Its a NIS Game, end game will be grindy, heck the first part is, but there isnt an exorbitant amount of mechanics that will put player off like in Mugen Souls (granted it isnt NIS developed) or Disgaea (which is not that hard, post game is deep). I expect the game to be at least 25 hours long, and many of those hours will be grinding, which im personally ok with, because i like the BEST STUFF on my team.