Amazing Princess Sarah takes us back (if only a couple of months) to old school platformers. The goal is simple; save your dad, the King. And to do this you’ll have to get past castle levels with icy floors, spikes and water streams that slow you down, among a bunch of other environmental hazards, and all of this while fighting off enemies.
The thing that makes this platformer stand out from other platformers is the fact that you, besides using a sword to eliminate enemies, can kill enemies by throwing them into one another and that way create combos. But both methods can be used to do this.
The higher the combos the higher the XP you receive. Don’t think this is yet another game with RPG elements in them, because it’s really basic and you could hardly call it an RPG element if you know what it’s precisely used for. You see, the XP you receive will level up your character but instead of gaining extra strength, more stamina or I don’t know what, your character will just gain 2 extra health points every time she levels up. Health is one of the key factors of the game, because there are a lot of enemies and, with a few exceptions, they all have their own moves. So you have to take into consideration that an enemy standing on a platform above you could easily hit you with an arrow or that another creature could send a wave of flames your way while you’re standing on a small ledge. The enemies get tougher as you progress so it’s only natural that you grow ‘stronger’ too. Later on you might think 2 health points is really too little and I’d have to agree with you. It’s practically nothing because all of the enemies inflict more damage than that. Still, things shouldn’t be too simple and replaying certain parts of a level is part of the game’s design. Completing a single level will allow you to level up quite a few times mind you.
There are several checkpoints to be found in every level and you’ll continue the game from the last checkpoint should you choose to quit the game. No need to replay the entire level again, which is a big plus.
But around level 3 or 4 the game will also rely on some trial and error aspects that I’m not a fan of (dropping down and hoping you’ll fall where you’re supposed to go). Thankfully you’re usually near a checkpoint when that happens so it should only take a couple of tries, but it’s a cheap gameplay tactic that this game doesn’t really need.
Amazing Princess Sarah takes a lot of time getting used to control wise. No, the controls aren’t hard at all. But if you’re going to play this with a controller the analog stick is best avoided because it’s highly inaccurate. Instead of using the stick use the D-Pad instead, it works so much better, especially for sections where you have to jump from tiny platform to tiny platform (sometimes even with enemies on them). You wouldn’t believe how many times I fell off or slipped off a ledge because the game didn’t respond to my key presses quickly enough. Rage Quitters, beware.
Graphically it’s nothing amazing. It has pixel graphics which look alright, but I’ve seen many other games with better graphics than this. They do, however, fit the game, like many other games in this genre. Pixel graphics just seem like a popular choice among platform games in general. The bosses, on the other hand, seem to use a different kind of art, and it’s noticeable and even a little bit distracting.
The quality of the sounds is also fairly basic. Your character will make a sound when hit or when she dies and then there’s the game over sound and the sound you make when throwing stuff. That’s about it I think. Then again, this is pretty usual stuff for games with visuals like this.
The music is, unfortunately, also nothing to write home about and feels generic. Well, to me at least.
This is not a big game. It has just 5 levels, each one ends with a boss fights, and each level will take about 30-45 minutes to complete. So in total it has 3-4 hours of playtime. I personally think this is the ideal length for a game like this. Any longer and the game would’ve lost its charm (i.e. the game mechanic of throwing around enemies would’ve worn thin by then).
Fortunately, for those that can’t get enough it the developer has integrated New Game+ into the game which should give you a better ending (that is what’s being implied) while also throwing some new stuff your way, like adding a chasing ghost of Sarah (which you have to avoid) or giving you the ability to double jump, at the cost of having enemies with more health and/or that you can’t use your sword.
The Amazing Princess Sarah doesn’t do anything to reinvigorate the genre, but it’s a fun game nevertheless and short enough so that anyone can pretty much finish it. I enjoyed it for what is was, but just remember to play this with a controller and, most important of all, with the D-Pad. It will save you a lot of frustration, trust me.