Battle Princess of Arcadias: Defense is the best offense

June 25, 2014


Battle Princess of Arcadias is not the type of game that Nippon Ichi is typically known for. When I hear the company’s name I think of the turn-based combat of the Disgaea series, but everything in Battle Princess takes place in real time. There is one key similarity, though: female characters are considerably more than just eye candy.

Plume, the titular battle princess, is the muscle of the royal family, while her brother is a literal goose who is unable to fight in any way. You can take three characters into normal levels and switch between them at will. Square and Triangle execute light and heavy attacks, Circle uses an item, X jump and L1 blocks. Blocking is extremely important in Battle Princess, as every character is something of a glass cannon: you can take only a few hits, so blocking at just the right time is key to victory. It takes some time to get the hang of the timing and figure out a boss’s patterns, so don’t be surprised if the first major encounter takes you a few attempts.


Boss encounters work similar to normal levels, with the addition of a 150-person-strong brigade that fights alongside your hero. Now, in addition to watching your own health, you need to keep an eye on the strength of your brigade as well. That same brigade will do the lion’s share of the damage to the boss, and it’s your job to lead them to victory. Shift formations to defense when an attack is incoming, attack when the boss is stunned or retreat when too many of your brigade have tired and need to recuperate. Your character will be all alone while this happens, so don’t expect to make any serious headway against the boss while you wait.

After battle, Plume can walk around the capital city to buy and upgrade weapons, and every level can be re-run multiple times to accumulate extra experience and equipment. And you’ll need the help: Battle Princess of Arcadias is a difficult game. I ran the first boss multiple times before finally claiming victory, even though I realized right away that blocking was important instead of just a combat choice.


There are no roll moves, and even if there were, once an attack has begun it is not possible to cancel it to block or evade. The only path to victory comes in learning enemy and boss patterns. Plume may tote a sword around, but her greatest asset is knowing when to defend instead of attack.

The combat system makes sense and is fair, but unforgiving isn’t fun for everybody. The whole thing feels a bit clunky compared to other combat-heavy titles like Batman: Arkham City, God of War and Devil May Cry, in which offense is focused on over defense. The focus on defense makes Battle Princess feel slow where other games feel fast, and Plume feel fragile where other characters feel strong. It feels satisfying when Plume is victorious in an encounter, but every time I went up against a boss, I felt like the whole thing should have been executed in about half of the time.


I want to see an action-RPG published by Nippon Ichi that emphasizes action instead of defense, because there is room for a great combo-based game with an anime aesthetic, but the plodding pace of Battle Princess of Arcadias keeps it from being something that people will come back to.

Pros: Strong female characters, great character design, interesting brigade mechanic
Cons: Characters are too fragile, boss encounters drawn out far too long

Score: 3/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.