Review: Princess.Loot.Pixel.Again

Princess.Loot.Pixel.Again is a roguelike side-scrolling dungeon crawl. I picked it up for a dollar on IndieGala and you can too.

I got this game because I liked the graphics and was in the mood for a side scroller. I usually don’t like roguelikes, so I was taking a little bit of a chance with my dollar this time.

The Plot

There’s a princess, I guess. From the main menu, there is a “Story” option which takes you to a very short intro. What happens doesn’t matter because it is not addressed in the game at all. Unless it’s toward the end of the game, in which case I’ll never see it. Either way, like every roguelike, the story is extremely minimal and levels are semi-random and lack depth of any sort. Don’t play this game if you want a story.

The Gameplay

I began playing PLPA with the keyboard only. And that wasn’t too bad. But once I switched to a controller, the play was much better. Like any decent side scroller, PLPA is optimized for a controller.

Attacks and movements are responsive enough. No complaints. Tricky jump/stab moves can be executed with precision (an absolute must it playing with the rogue’s short little dagger).

The game’s difficulty is fairly relaxed. Each time you complete a map, you move up to the next level of the tower. Every second tower level brings you to a boss battle. First boss is super easy. Second boss had me pulling my hair out. I assume there is a third boss, but I’ll be damned if I ever get that far.

Classes available range from the obligatory fighter, mage and ranger, with a necromancer, barbarian, rogue, paladin and I may be forgetting one or two. They are all fairly unique which is good. Some are more difficult than others to play. I personally prefer the mage because his magic attacks can be pretty overpowered. And I’m not very good at games, so I need all the help I can get.

So yeah. It’s roguelike. For those of you who don’t already know, that means YOLO. For those of you who don’t already know, that means an extremely frustrating gaming experience where you play the first stages of the game over and over. You die, you start from the beginning.

My take

Graphics are great. Nice colorful lighting effects sort of follow when you move. The soundtrack is a bit short, but it mixes 8-bit style classic gaming tunes with modern dubstep. I actually really like the music and it stays in my head throughout the day.

But despite great controls, debonair style and great sound, there is another side to this game that I must address.

I hate roguelikes. Sorry. I’m not a hardcore gamer, and roguelikes seem to be geared solely toward supergeeks who think being good at video games is actually like being good at real things. I’m not one of those. Gaming for me is a way to relax and blow off Steam (Pun?). So when a game like this comes along, it makes me crazy. Why?

The gameplay of PLPA is super-slick and satisfying. But playing through four floors of the tower to get to the 2nd boss, only to be surprise-smooshed by his stone fist that very suddenly falls from the ceiling within a couple seconds of reaching his lair, instantly killing me and forcing me to start over, grinding all the way back to the fourth floor boss to try to stab his face only to realize I should have been stabbing his stone fists which I manage to avoid, only to be zapped by his laser eye beams, instantly killing me and forcing me to start over, grinding all the way back to the fourth floor boss who I don’t have time to fight because my kid is about to pull the bookshelf over onto his face and I can’t save my game and come back because I’m not a hardcore enough of a gamer to have a save option – makes me frustrated.

What happened to the days of actually designing each level, instead of randomly assigning potions that may or may not ruin my stats, to chests that I have to waste precious keys on? Why not make a hardcore option for supergeeks and let casual gamers enjoy your creation too? I really like the way this game plays, but replaying the whole damn game every time I die is frustrating for me. Some gamers like it. I’m guessing most don’t.

Update: I just completed the game with the wizard. After finally finishing the 2nd boss, the game was a breeze. The enemies are mostly the same throughout, so once you get your weapon and magic leveled up enough, enemies just lay down for you. There are only four levels, and you get to rescue a king.

Hey devs!

Don’t take my ranting too personal. I have a thing against roguelikes. And PLPA has a style that I really like. I love the homages to Mario, Zelda and all the classics and I would like to see what’s on level five. But your game is too hard!

When you make a game like this, you are making a game for the hardcore gaming community. Maybe you are hardcore gamers yourselves. And I love indie games because they are not made for mass appeal, but for people like me who want a quality gaming experience without the high-cost, high-demand, overhyped, panderingly-marketed crap that major developers tend to put out for the sole purpose of raking in dough. But why not make roguelike a selected mode that rewards players that want that kind of experience, and have an easy mode for chumps like me who just want to slice through bad guys and collect clouds of gold coins?

That would be great.

Hey readers!

Sorry about my rant. Overall, I think this is a great game and worth more than I paid for it. For a dollar, I would do it again. If you like hard games, roguelikes and especially classic gameplay, check this one out.

Rantingly yours,

The Ghetto Gamer

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