Battle Princess of Arcadias takes place in a fairytale land horribly tormented by monsters. Overrun with grief and bloodshed the kingdom turns to its princess, Plume, to lead the army and vanquish evil. As dire as that sound the story is actually quite lax, focusing heavier on quirky character interactions. The cast is charming if not a bit cliché, but thankfully the dialogue never overstays its welcome.
There are three types of gameplay types that all ultimately boil down to the same thing: 2D RPG brawls. In combat scenarios players scroll from left to right, tackling enemies along their way. Skirmishes amount to managing a battalion against an invading army. Players can bring in three generals and three troop types like bowmen, fencers, magicians, and more. Certain knights work better against others much like Fire Emblem's rock paper scissor mechanics. And boss battles are the same as skirmishes except with only one adversary and one troop type. It’s repetitive and difficult unless one grinds, but strangely that’s it’s greatest strength. To those that understand the majesty of Dynasty Warriors, this follows closely to that addictive formula.
Visually, BPOA is presented like a popup storybook. It’s also reminiscent of the stage like design of Paper Mario with its beautiful backgrounds matched against the paper like nature of the characters and enemies. It’s one of those games that may have been amazing in 3D. BPOA’s biggest flaw is a strange one in that it isn’t portable. Missions can be completed within 3-5 minutes and there’s an emphasis, again, on grinding. It’s a shame it’s not on say, the PS Vita, but it’s not exactly a detriment either. And the music, while good, is jarring to the tone of the game at times.
Battle Princess of Arcadias is a whimsical, colorful, and addictive game. Sure it’s got flaws aplenty like the repetitive gameplay, lack of variety, and a story that falls a bit flat, but despite those and more, it’s still fun. It’s not the right formula for everybody, but it’s a game where the mechanics are golden and nothing bogs that experience down. Hopefully NIS will help fund and publish sequels to this interesting new series since BPOA is NIS’ best in a long while. Too bad it wasn’t a portable game, because this writer can’t get enough in the meantime.