Code of Princess originally released on the Nintendo 3DS family of systems from Agatsuma Entertainment in Japan before seeing a localised release in the Americas from Atlus USA. On the 3DS, it was a fairly competent beat em up hack and slash RPG. It was eventually ported to Steam with a pretty bad conversion and mostly forgotten outside of the original 3DS release. Nicalis has brought it back into the limelight with an enhanced release for the Nintendo Switch in the form of Code of Princess EX and as with all Nicalis releases, there’s a fantastic physical release also available.
While there is a pretty decent story mode with a nice narrative, the bulk of this game is enjoying the free play mode with a ton of characters. The story mode is restricted to a handful of characters but you can enjoy the other modes with all the characters as you unlock more. The characters have their own skills and combos for you to master and if you enjoy the core gameplay loop and combat, there’s loads of fun to be had here. Combat occurs over 3 different lanes in an area and you have to jump across these lanes to either attack enemies or avoid them. The actual combat feels a bit slow and you often feel like your characters are underwater with how slow some weapons feel. Barring this flaw, the combat is great mindless fun. There are also boss fights that could have been better in scope. Once you level up, you get to raise your stats and can even grind for stats if you feel like it.
Outside of the main Story Mode, there are co-op modes for both online and offline. One aspect I love about most Switch co-op games like Overcooked and Cave Story+ is being able to play 2 player co-op on a single Switch screen with a single Joy-Con each. That’s possible here as well if you want some bite sized hack and slash co-op action on the go. Unlike many other games that have to compromise the controls in some way to work on a single Joy-Con, things play great here.
The Switch release has quite a few advantages over both previous releases of the game in both the visual and gameplay side of things. It is great to have experience gained by every character (albeit less than the main characters) and not just the main ones during gameplay. Stages and characters have been given an overhaul and while the game looks great on the Switch screen, I was hoping a bit more polish went into the sprites. Some of the sprites look quite ugly during gameplay. The difference in performance with the 3DS and Switch version is night and day. If you enjoyed this on 3DS and have wanted an excuse to replay it, this is definitely worth getting.
Visually Code of Princess EX is mostly good. As I mentioned earlier, some of the sprites could’ve been improved more for a higher resolution display compared to the 3DS screen. Environments and menus look great and the game runs well. Character portraits during dialogue and cutscenes also look very nice. I’ve always loved the art style and character designs and it is great to see them on a modern system.
While the music is very nice overall, the audio overall has a few issues. During combat, it gets too hectic and could’ve used better mixing because I ended up muting it in some combat situations because it got distracting. The biggest problem is the lack of English voice acting. This was a problem in the PC version as well and it looks like a licensing issue with Atlus USA’s English VA. Both the PC and Switch version have only Japanese voice acting which is good on its own but disappointing for anyone who enjoyed the English voice acting on 3DS.
Overall, Code of Princess EX is a competent hack and slash beat em up that is a mostly great conversion from the 3DS original. The new content and enhancements make it a lot easier to recommend and while some of the flaws from the original are still here, this is the best version of the game now. This is a no brainer purchase for returning fans and newcomers who are looking for a nice co-op beat em-up on the Switch will find a lot to like here.