Note: Since the original publication of this review, the developer has patched the physics for the Xbox version of the game. The content and score of this review have been updated to reflect that change.
Haruneko’s latest 2D platformer shows promise but ultimately fails to deliver a fun, playable game. You play Sarah, charged with rescuing her father from the demonic Lilith. You trek through five pixel-art castles, defeat Lilith’s minions and fight some honestly bizarre bosses (Legs in thigh-high boots? Really?).
It’s exciting that the game has a female protagonist—indeed, a Princess—doing the rescuing, instead of being rescued. Additionally, Sarah’s got a useful skill: she lifts, bro. The game’s core mechanic is Sarah’s ability to pick up an enemy’s corpse and throw it at other enemies. Different corpses have different effects: firebrands launch flame waves, bombers explode, and so on.
The gameplay, however, is a slog-fest. You will die many, many times. Part of that is game design: taking damage knocks you off tiny footholds; invulnerability frames are so short that you can’t escape an enemy before you are hit again; enemies can shoot you through walls, but you can’t retaliate. In those respects, this game is brutally challenging.
But it’s also frustrating because the game controls are pointlessly unforgiving. Jumping requires extreme precision, which can be infuriating in sections where that’s all you can do. Additionally, edges on the graphics are unclean, so the visual edge of a block won’t always correspond to its real edge, which, in turn, results in premature death-by-plummeting.
Despite her (many) demises, Sarah levels up as she defeats enemies. For each level, she’ll gain two measly HP. This makes camping and grinding out levels an effective strategy, although, of course, that’s not fun.
Finally, while it doesn’t affect gameplay, all of the female characters in APS (even the non-human ones) have giant breasts for no discernible reason. The cover art deserves an eye-roll, at least. In fact, the graphics make it hard to take the game seriously. Since gameplay is also lackluster, I wonder, is there any selling point beyond boobage?
Amazing Princess Sarah has the potential to be a fantastic old-school platformer, but in spite of its interesting core mechanic, it is effectively a long, arbitrarily difficult jumping puzzle. The game regrettably suffers from design issues and pedantic controls which- if addressed – could result in an enjoyable game that still remains a challenge for its player.