PlayStation Minis is really a finalized breed of games. While they clearly were the first step towards PlayStation Mobile that we have now, there has not been a single PlayStation Mini release in some time. Even so, there is a pretty wide selection of games available to it and, when it was active, there were some really interesting and unique games that came to the systems they are supported on.
Many PlayStation Mini games are 2D games that look similar to Flash-like games used in browsers. A more accurate similarity would be Mobile games. While they were still coming out, though, there was a big focus on some of them. Many of them came out with interesting gameplay and quick-bursts of gameplay. This was a very niche field back then, but it worked for what it was. Minis offered short bursts for a small amount of money.
One game that had a trailer and a lot of hype going for it when it was in development was a platformer game by Media Tonic. Filled with Comedy, Princesses, Monsters, and an egotistical Vampire, Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess was a big anticipated title on the PlayStation Mini platform. Here is our official review of that game.
I cannot give you the full explanation of the story without including spoilers for the game’s secret ending. But, I will do what I can. Monsters begins in a castle, owned by the Main Character, who is called “The Duke”. This character is apparently the Duke of the castle. He is also a vampire with special powers and an ego that is through the roof when it comes to large egos. The game starts showing him with his large organ and finding something amiss. His Princess is Missing.
Upon seeing this, he is absolutely, though not quite, sure that some sort of monster has broken into his castle, went to her chambers, smashed through the doors, and made off with her. On that note, he scurries out of the castle, in search of the fiends whom are responsible and to deliver swift justice in the process of rescuing his princess.
The game takes place on several stages with a specific Monster, whom the Duke arrives and immediately accuses of stealing his princess for various reasons, whether it be a sacrifice, meal, or otherwise. As he accuses each one, they run, forcing him to chase them and pummel them into oblivion.
The dialogue in this game is one of the most entertaining parts. Every time the Duke finds a monster, or just talks in general, you get witty, unsure statements towards the monsters he finds. Never does a stage appear where he doesn’t show his ego, make accusations, and have a monster respond with “Oh Crap. It’s the Duke” just before fleeing.
Normally, a painfully egotistical character in a video game isn’t such a good thing. Many egotisticals are annoying in games, but The Duke is implemented in such a way that every bit of ego he throws out will have you chuckling and smiling. Media Tonic did a nice job crafting this character.
The gameplay of this game is that of a platformer. Though, if I had to think of a name for this specific kind of platformer, I would call it a Tower Platformer. That may not be a real phrase or term, but that is the best way to describe just what this game is. Each stage is essentially a huge tower-shaped formation of a different kind of environment, whether it be a waterfall, cave, or castle.
Your goal, however, is not to reach the top of the tower. In each stage, you play as The Duke and are chasing a monster up the tower. As you climb, you can jump or double-jump to get from platform to platform. Your goal is to catch up with the monster and perform a double-jump to attack them. You will need to do this three times throughout the entirety of each stage to defeat them, which involves you using a quite dramatic finishing move and earning a score and medal.
What medal and score you receive highly depends on combos and being careful. With each platform you are on, you start a combo chain. Just on different platforms without falling to continue the combo. You also cannot step on the same platform more than once or the chain will reset. Getting a high combo is key to getting a high score and using the two upgraded finishers to get better medals for the stage.
The Finisher only has two upgrades. What finisher you use depends on what your current Combo Chain is when you attack and hit the stage’s monster for the final time. If you hit them with a combo of 0-29, you will use the Level 1 Finisher. If you hit them with a Combo of 30-49, you will use the Level 2 Finisher. Finally, you will use the Level 3, and very dramatic, finisher if you hit them with a combo of 50 or more. The key to getting high scores and medals in each stage and unlocking the alternate ending stage is getting that Level 3 Super in every stage.
Hitting an enemy seems easy and, at first, it is. The enemy in the first stage has no way to conceal or defend itself, so it’s easy to hit them. All you need to do is catch up to them each time. Afterwards, however, some monsters have the ability to conceal themselves. One can make themselves invisible for a short time and one can hide inside a Waterfall. With these, you not only have to catch them, but attack them at the right time to do the damage needed to bring down their health.
Upon finishing stages with certain scores and medals, you will not only unlock the playable ending, but also pieces of the Scrapbook. The Scrapbook is an extra feature in the game that gives you some background information on The Duke, The Princess, and the monsters that you end up fighting in each stage. This is pretty much the only way to really find out who The Princess is and why she does what she does later on in the game’s storyline.
There is also another Game Mode called Score Attack. This has three different versions of each stage and has set score goals for you to reach, to give a little more longevity to this game. Speaking of longevity, it’s a very short game. There are about 6 stages, not counting the secret stage, and in the main storyline, they can all be finished in 30 minutes or less. Give Score Attack and unlocking everything, I would say that everything can be done in about 2 hours, give or take.
As such, it’s known that this is a very short game and is meant for small bursts, rather than longer sittings. The gameplay is a lot of fun, and I found myself replaying many stages to be able to experience them again and get better scores.
As far as controls are concerned, you are in for a pretty easy trip. Apart from utilizing the menu with all of the D-Pad Buttons, X, and Circle, you’ll barely be using three buttons total on the system when going through each stage. This game has a very simple style of gameplay and, as such, has a very simple control scheme.
While the PlayStation Minis do utilize the same emulator used for PSP games on the Vita, you don’t need the Touch Screen controls for anything. In my honest opinion, this game requires a lot of precision, especially in the later stages. As such, you may wish to avoid touch screen controls and just use the buttons.
With the default Control Scheme, you’ll only be using the D-Pad and the X Button. The D-Pad’s Left and Right Button are used to control the Duke’s movements. The Down button on the D-Pad is also used, when you want to drop down to a lower platform you may have missed. Finally, the X Button handles jumping. You press it once to jump, and again in mid-jump to perform a Double Jump.
As far as looks are concerned, people do not need to worry about this game running on the PlayStation Vita. While it is true that most PSP and PS Mini games that run on it have their resolutions stretched out. This is true for this game as well. The difference is that the visuals of this game are not affected anywhere near as much as, say, Monopoly.
The designs for this game are 2D in nature and almost cartoon-like. I am not sure of something I can really compare it to, but it is very cartoon-like with the visuals. This also goes well with the humorous nature of the characters involved. It would be a funny little cartoon short. As far as that is concerned, the visuals look great and don’t look stretched or faded from the Vita’s native resolution and stretching it from the PSP’s resolution.
Where the game really is interesting, however, is audio. All of the stages have originally remixed tracks, but each stage has classical music playing. When you are in each area, you hear exciting classical remixes of the likes of Night on Bald Mountain, In the Hall of the Mountain King, and more. If nothing else, this game will reveal to you some great classical music with a modern edge to them in the remixes. They were all done really well and are quite catchy. In fact, I still have one of its remixes stuck in my head as I write this review.
All in all, Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess is a fun, catchy game on the PlayStation Mini platform. It’s funny, has catchy music, and the gameplay is smooth and fun. While the game is relatively short, even for a Mini, you will get a lot of laughs out of this and it could be something you’ll keep on your Vita all the time for bursts of quick gameplay.
The PlayStation Review Network Rates Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess an 8/10.