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Steal Princess, published by Atlus and Marvelous Entertainment, is an action/adventure/puzzler from the same group who brought us Landstalker for the Genesis (Climax) and the same man who brought us Rune Factory and Avalon Code, Yoshifumi Hashimoto. While Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon was pretty good, Avalon Code suffered from a lot of problems. Sorry to say, Steal Princess follows in those footsteps.
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Here is where Yoshifumi Hashimoto shines. He can tell a good story, or at least come up with a cool concept. Steal Princess is about a thief named Anise whom a fairy has decided is the new Hero slated to rescue the prince and save the land from evil. Anise is a bit doubtful, and not all together keen on the idea, which makes for some great exchanges between the two.
The story isn't really all that unique, but it is a nice twist on a classic tale and it's told well. Too bad the gameplay doesn't live up to it.
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Steal Princess' gameplay is okay. Not great, not terrible, just right in the middle with a lot of annoying parts that keep it from ever truly shining. For one, the game world is set up in stages and each must be cleared to make it to the next. Now don't get me wrong. These aren't platformer style stages. These are small rooms with simple puzzle stages, similar to Adventures of Lolo on the NES. Only these puzzles aren't quite as good.
Also, the game world is in the isometric perspective, putting everything at a slant that makes it look 3D. This was a nice trick back in the SNES/Genesis days, but now it is just downright annoying. Controlling Anise as she moves around is difficult , even when the game provides you with two control schemes, touch screen or buttons. The touch screen controls are unresponsive and the buttons are slow and blocky.
Puzzle wise, Steal Princess is similar to the dungeons in Avalon Code. You have a room that needs to be cleared with certain conditions (you always have to find the key to unlock a door). Anise only wields a whip, but she can pick up other weapons and use them to defeat demons. If only picking up items were easier and more intuitive it won't be so annoying. There really isn't much of a puzzle to most of the rooms, and you have 150 to get through before the ending. Oh, and each room is rated with a medal on how fast you can get through it. I suppose this is for folks who want to play the rooms again and again. I don't know who would like to, though.
As an added bonus to finishing the game, you can create your own levels. Yeah, they really were going old school with the design in Steal Princess. A level designer? Like Load Runner? Cool! I don't see why that would even be an added bonus. I like designing levels, but having to get through the entire game to be able to do so? Not worth it.
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Graphics and Sound
This game looks a lot like Avalon Code, actually, only not as well polished. Everything is fuzzy and blends together. None of the levels are particularly different looking from the last. It looks like they spent a minimum amount of effort on it, which is fine if the puzzles were any good. Too bad they aren't. The anime style of the characters is cute, but you only get to see them during dialogue.
Sound wise Steal Princess is pretty good. The opening theme song is very anime-esque, in a good way. The songs to each level are a bit repetitive, but they aren't that bad. There is, however, no voice acting. But I guess I can't get too upset about that.
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I played Steal Princess for a long time. I had an okay time doing it, but I would have preferred to play something else. It's okay if you are really bored and have nothing else to play, but all in all, it feels like a waste of time when there are better games out there.
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I'm not sure what Steal Princess is supposed to be. Puzzler? But the puzzles suck! Action/Adventure? Where is the action and adventure? LandStalker clone? Then why isn't it good? If you want a good puzzle game play Henry Hatsworth and the Puzzling Adventure and if you want a good action/adventure game pick up The Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass. If you want to waste $30 and hours of your life, buy Steal Princess.