[Review] The Princess Guide - Nintendo Switch
The Princess Guide is a niche action role playing game where you take on hordes of baddies and train a princess up to be a powerful ruler. It takes some more traditional mechanics from the RPG genre, and borrows some others from the beat em up category. The Princess Guide (somewhat) introduces a scold/praise mechanic to aid in your grooming.
While we have seen the beat em up/RPG mash up in many other games, the Princess Guide shifts it from the more traditional side scrolling perspective to the top down view we are more accustomed to seeing in more traditional overworld traversal in turn based RPGs, and to a small extent reminds me of the combat in the Tales series. Unfortunately for The Princess Guide, the combat feels a bit more like the beat em up side of the formula, and it's absence of the ability to use items in battle really hurt the experience. While making the game more unnecessarily difficult in the beginning, it's really just a huge annoyance that underpins the entire game. Health shrines and HP drops from chests are far too rare, and so you will spend most of your time in fights running away from monsters to avoid damage, and taking unnecessary damage because the screen is so busy that you can't easily keep track of your enemies. You can find/enhance gear throughout the game, but you can't change gear mid battle. Instead, you have to actually successfully finish the mission that you found the gear in, and then remember to equip appropriately once out.
In addition to our protagonist general and the Princess he happens to be training at the time, you can also hire more generals to bolster your forces. Each general has their own particular fighting abilities/styles, and each has a select group of troops that can be hired to accompany them. During combat, you only control your commander, and have a loose ability to control your squad. The squad has it's own HP, attacks, and formations to be executed. If they die during battle, you must withdraw from your location to revive them. It's also a good idea to withdraw your commander from a location once you have finished a mission there so that he can also regain any health not gained back from the battle. Otherwise, you could find yourself in a situation where a new battle starts, and your commander only has half of their starting HP, which leads to mission failure fairly quickly.
I encountered a bug on two separate occasions in which I had completed a mission, but then the screen told me that I failed and I had to do it over again. It was quite frustrating, and I hope that it gets worked out soon.
I haven't really mentioned much beyond the story and combat, and for good reason. While you can enhance your weapons, the materials and money to do so come infrequently, and it just isn't worth the grind to do it. Your special abilities in battle are tied to your weapon, and as such, it is usually best to consider the ability on the weapon over the stats on the weapon. I inevitably defaulted to a weapon with a healing ability when possible, because that was universally useful. I mentioned earlier that health was in short supply, and every so often you happen to get a general or piece of equipment with a health restoration spell, and it is actually more useful than an extra powerful attack in most cases. This is also where having the ability to scold or praise the princess comes in handy...for the princess alone. If you praise her during battle, and she has low HP, it will heal her up. Scolding her will increase her attack power during combat. There are also various formations that you can utilize to overcome the lack of items. Sometimes the formations just buff your party, but they'll also cure status ailments and restore some health...once you've earned enough points to use them by defeating enough enemies. The problem with the formations is that they need to be done real time in battle, and require you holding down the L shoulder button, and then scrolling to the appropriate formation for the desired effect and pressing the button to activate them twice. This can be very damaging when you are relying on the formation that restores HP to stay in the game.
Which leads us to the stark realization that we have too many bland encounters that all start feeling the same after the third or fourth chapter, and those same battles make up much more of the game then it feels they should. Since the game is supposedly built on the idea that you need to counsel and train a Princess to be a powerful ruler, I think the game should have had more of an emphasis on visual novel or relationship sim mechanics. Give me more chances to interact with the princesses and other NPCs around her. Give me some political intrigue where maybe I am on a stealth mission, trying to avoid detection...or maybe have scenarios where I am guarding a diplomatic mission and must have a tactful argument with the adversarial parties.