Amazing Princess Sarah is a 2D game that feels reminiscent of games like Mario, Castlevania and Megaman. The game has a retro feel with an 8-bit style, which seems to be an extremely popular type of game at the moment, with the likes of Shovel Knight and Axiom Verge rejuvenating the genre.
You play as a Princess called Sarah on a journey to save your father, who is the King. The king is kidnapped and you must travel through five different castles to save him. This story is one we have heard many times before with games like Mario and Zelda. As I said there are five castles, which include Luxury, Ice, Dark, Inferno, and Lilith’s Hideout.
Each castle you take on has different enemies and obstacles to face. You have a sword to defeat enemies, and what’s most interesting is you can use objects in the environments to throw at enemies. You can even hurl enemy corpses at foes, which comes in extremely usefully. The enemies are varied and challenging and what makes things even more interesting is that each type of enemy you throw possess different abilities. If you throw an archer it drops four arrows from above, some have bombs and some objects have health boosts. These added abilities become vital when the screen starts to fill with multiple enemies, and can be a good way of clearing a path. You don’t even have to kill every bad guy, but it helps boost your XP and level up.
The experience you gain is carried forward, even when you die. The levels also have checkpoints throughout, in the form of magical statues. The game does get pretty difficult as you progress, and these checkpoints become vital. The castles have a good mix of challenges to face including platforming, pits, spikes, fire and larger enemies. The castles have a fairly linear path to take, with switches that open hidden entrances. Once you have battled your way through each castle you will face a boss. Each boss you face have very different abilities and attacks. Like most games in this genre, it’s all about learning these attack patterns and then use that against them. I have to say that I didn’t like the design of the bosses as much as the smaller enemies and overall level design.
The game is pretty challenging, and ramps up towards the end of the game. I found that I died many times, and the checkpoints made things less punishing. When you have completed the five castles, you unlock new game + mode. This has some interesting new features that keep the game fresh. There is a ghost mode, where a ghost version of yourself chases you. There is another mode where you constantly bleed, and have to beat each level as fast as possible. These modes aren’t anything too special, but it does mean you have to be faster and more responsive. Each time you complete the game, a new version of Princess Sarah is unlocked that uses a unique gameplay gimmick. Versions of the Princess include angry, cursed, bat, drunk, naturist and vampire.
I have to say that I only started a second playthrough, and that was enough for me. I don’t feel like the extra abilities added enough for me to want to replay the game that many times. The overall presentation is decent, but not on the same level as games like Shovel Knight or Axiom Verge. The game does have some varied and well designed enemies, but I found the bosses a bit out-of-place with the overall feel of the game. The game did remind me of old school 8-bit games, with a quirky soundtrack and sound effects.
Overall, Amazing Princess Sarah, a decent little game, with some interesting gameplay ideas and character design. If you like games like Shovel Knight, Megaman or Mario, then you might enjoy this game. The game does get repetitive and frustrating at times and you probably wont want to play through it more than once, despite the added extras. It would have been nice to of had a bit more of a story or possibly some sort of weapon upgrading system to create a playstyle that suits you.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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