Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero?

We all have our own personal demons. Whether it's a habit you just can't quit or a personality quirk, there's something about each of us that is undesirable. These don't make us completely undesirably persons, though. Even the heroes among us have a flaw or two. I'm sure the pilot of the plane that crash landed into the Hudson River forgets to put the toilet seat down. And yet we still admire him.

Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? deserves the same consideration. While it would be easy to pick at its flaws, the overall appeal is there. It's weird and falls short in places, but we can't help but love it in controlled doses.

When the ultimate dessert disappears from Etna's castle, her subservient prinnies take the blame. To avoid execution, the prinnies are commanded by Etna to track down a replacement dessert. One brave prinny (who is referred to only as Prinny) is selected to lead the task of finding all the necessary ingredients. Of course, collecting each bizarre component means battling culinary-crazed demons throughout the Netherworld.

Etna's unreasonable demand has Prinny trekking through the tranquil demonic countryside, hopping over pits of fiery magma in a fortress, even scaling an icy watchtower. Getting Prinny through these environments unscathed is your primary objective. The platform challenges within each level range from simple jumps to more difficult timed manoeuvres requiring you to hang from ledges and execute precipitous jumps. There are some seriously tough parts, although the stiff controls contribute unnecessarily to the difficulty.

Jumping is done easily enough with a press of the X button. You can set the direction of a jump by holding down left or right on the D-pad (no support for the analogue stick here) and then pressing X. Unfortunately, you're unable to move mid-jump; in other words, you can't jump and then press left on the D-pad – Prinny won't move towards the left. This prevents any nuanced control over movement, which is needed to overcome the more advanced platform challenges. Even simple tasks are made frustrating due to the inability to carefully control the direction in which you jump.

Despite being the farthest thing from an action hero, Prinny must also learn to engage a variety of demonic foes in side-scrolling combat in order to survive his ordeal. Jamming on the Square button instigates a basic attack with his daggers. Jumping and then pressing Square triggers an air slash attack that radiates waves of damages at an angle to enemies below. Prinny is also capable of pulling off a ground stomp, mainly used for stunning enemies.

Combat plays second fiddle to platforming in most of the levels, although Prinny shows off his combat prowess during each end-of-level boss battle. You can make it through a level with a minimum amount of combat, but you need to tap into creative tactics to beat the bosses. They're the best part of the game, offering unique and challenging confrontations that force you to use Prinny's basic combat abilities in creative ways.

The battle with the Gourmet Ogre, for instance, has you stunning the porker with a ground stomp and then slashing him up with your daggers. Other bosses build on this simple tactic, introducing more complicated attack patterns, additional enemies, twin bosses, etc. Difficult to be sure, but rewarding when you finally manage to down the suckers. Bosses are just tough enough that when frustration is about to set in, you figure out how to beat them and finish the fight. While it would be fantastic if the platform mechanics were as finely-tuned, its this superb balancing that makes the boss battles so enjoyable.

As great as the boss battles are, what really makes the game worth playing is its hilarity. Quips from your prinny pals lounging around Etna's castle and witty banter with each boss prior to battle always get a chuckle. The presentation is equally colourful with beautifully drawn levels and a comical soundtrack that perfectly accompany the antics.

What few flaws exist are overridden by the game's sheer ability to entertain. Without question the jumping mechanics need to be reworked in order to facilitate greater precision, yet that doesn't make Prinny unplayable. On the contrary, the demons are laughed away through the course of this fun and unusual adventure.

Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero?

Noticeable control demons are the only thing that prevent this hilarious game from appeal to our better angels