The product, Saving Princess, was given to us for free by developer Jacob Pavone. It is important for us to make it known that this does not impact our opinion of the game as a whole.
The goal of the Saving Princess is pretty simple. You, Portia Crane, must save the princess or else you lose the war.
“What war, exactly?” you may be asking yourself.
Honestly, I’m not entirely sure. However, it is fun enough to make you forget there is a war in the first place. That is until you die and the game reminds you “Oh yeah, the princess is the key to not losing this war, no pressure though!”
Created by Jacob Pavone with music by T8HI, this Metroidvania sidescroller is reminiscent of, you guessed it, Super Metroid. With a splash of Mega Man, I should add. Even with this old world retro nostalgia, Saving Princess shows innovation in its smooth presentation and cautious difficulty. This game is available on both PC and Android devices. By far, the PC version of Saving Princess is the better version of the two. This game is rather short, so, fittingly, this review will be pretty short as well.
What’s good about it?
Saving Princess does a great job at keeping you engaged. It boasts a solid balance between retro nostalgia and a new and thrilling adventure. Every time you die gives you a chance to think about what went wrong and what strategy you could use to better your chances next time. There is a heavy emphasis on trial and error, and error happens a lot. Unless you get everything absolutely right on the first try, you’ll be spending some time trying to figure out where you went wrong.
As I mentioned above, the story is simplistic which, for a rather simplistic game, isn’t a bad thing. You enter, you save the princess and you win. A game as short and as sweet as this doesn’t need an elongated backstory and I think Pavone knew that when making this title.
The gameplay is smooth and the controls are solid, especially with the use of an external controller. You can find secret areas with additional power-ups and the game can change slightly depending on how you play. The power-ups can be used to your advantage when fighting enemies or traversing the gaming area. The level design forces you to blast jump your way across obstacles and pray that you don’t land in lava.
Unlike what you would expect, Saving Princess does not suck the life out of your Androids battery. I found myself playing it on my Android for nearly two hours with only about 15% battery loss. If you’re on a plane, train or automobile and need to kill time, this game is one efficient way to do so.
The pixellated art style is aesthetically pleasing, like it just plopped Mega Man into Super Mario NES. Players can smoothly move their character around the playing field without any hiccups, choppiness or frame rate issues. The music, done by T8HI, fits the theme Saving Princess perfectly, with music that compliments this game’s retro-inspired graphical design. If you’d like to hear some of T8HI’s work, you can find it here.
What are its downfalls?
This game is fun and engaging, but sometimes it can be flat-out engaging.
You can’t see me, but I shot up some finger guns with my rhyming puns.
Okay, I’m done, I promise.
To my point, sometimes the enemies, bosses especially, can kill you so frequently that it becomes annoying and makes you slowly lose your morale to the point where saving the princess just doesn’t seem worth it anymore. While challenges can be a good thing, sometimes Saving Princess pushes that envelope just a tad too far.
The controls on the Android version work. They could work better, but they work. The controls sometimes lack touch sensitivity and I’ve found myself hitting the wrong button on more than on occasion due to the touch-screeniness of the controls. I also had trouble syncing my external controller to the Android version, which was supposed to work but ultimately did not.
As enjoyable as this game is, you won’t find yourself playing it for very long. The story is short and you can find yourself fully completing it in about an hour or so. That being said, the replay value isn’t extremely high. I can see myself coming back to it every couple of months, but not on a constant basis.
You can find this title on the Google Play Store $2.99 or on Itch.io for a donation of $2.49 for the full game. If you’re interested, here’s a snippet of the gameplay:
As a whole, Saving Princess is a fun sidescroller shoot-em-up that pays homage to the greats. It will keep you locked in until an enemy boss makes you rage quit and even then you'll find yourself coming back for more. While it is short and can sometimes seem as though it is too difficult, it is a title that is worthy of praise and criminally underrated.