Oh, Prinny, why do you do this? You get so much right and do so much wrong, the only conclusion is that you hate us no matter how much we want to love you. A 2D side-scrolling action platformer starring demonic penguins stomping and being stomped by the hordes of a goofily bizarre hell? Yes, oh yes, please! A crushing difficulty brought about by painfully stiff controls, combined with moves that would be useful if they didn't take just a little too long to execute? No. Just . . . no.
Prinny 2: Dawn of Operation Panties, Dood! is not a good game, no matter how much one might wish otherwise. The prinnies are likable goofballs, the 2D art looks great, there's a lot of variety and careful level design, and all of this is rendered nearly useless by painful controls that leech all the fun out of the game once things start getting challenging. Seeing as the challenge kicks in at level 2, this is a major problem.
While one of the jokes behind Prinny is that he's incredibly weak, he actually comes equipped with a nicely varied move set. The regular attack is a simple sword slash, but this changes into an air attack while jumping that sends a burst down at a 45-degree angle. Both attacks can be rattled off almost as fast as you can press a button, although the air slash is slightly weaker. Also while in the air, Prinny can do a butt-stomp that does no damage but leaves enemies stunned for several seconds when it lands directly on top of them. Chaining attacks and butt-stomps together causes the combo meter to fill, and when topped off it lets loose a bolt of lightning, damaging nearby enemies and giving Prinny extra attack power until the meter empties or you take a hit. Finally, Prinny has a spin move that renders him invulnerable for a short time, though it leaves him dizzy for a second afterwards. Alternatively, the spin can segue into a dash, which is a good way to both avoid being left defenseless and also run face-first into an enemy.
While one of the jokes behind Prinny is that he's incredibly weak, he actually comes equipped with a nicely varied move set.
The key to good play is learning to chain all the moves together. Jump, butt-stomp an enemy, use the bounce and double-jump again to gain some height, rain a barrage of air-slashes down on a flying baddie, butt-stomp another enemy, land, take out the two stunned monsters. When this works, Prinny 2 feels fantastic.
It all falls apart with the air controls. Prinny 2 copies the Ghosts 'n' Goblins method of jumping, in that onces you've chosen a direction to jump nothing is going to change it. While the double-jump lets you change direction (for example, jump forward and then straight up), there are no other in-air adjustments at all. While this is realistic, Prinny 2 is a game about a demon penguin chasing after his master's stolen panties while fighting a wide array of monsters and bosses in an insane anime-styled hell. Realism isn't a concern. Being locked into an action with no way to correct it, on the other hand, quickly becomes a major problem. When the levels start getting insanely tough, requiring a hundred lives or more to beat, the ability to subtly affect Prinny's in-air motion becomes incredibly important, and there's no way to do it. That stupid penguin spends a lot of time in the air for a flightless bird, and not having precise control is maddening.
If this were the only sticking point with Prinny 2: Dawn of Operation Panties, Dood!, it would score an ambivalent 3. Boss fights later in the game, however, can be brick walls that you throw prinny after prinny at, only to see them splat against its unyielding doom. Take fighting Chili, Pow, and Der (I'm sure someone must have thought it amusing) all at once, three priestesses who hop around the screen like overcaffeinated fleas and bust out attacks faster than the stiff controls allow a response to. Prinny's butt-stomp, for example, takes slightly under a half second to engage and can't be broken out of. A priestess's rising spear attack has zero charge time. Bosses have to be stunned for Prinny's attacks to do any appreciable damage, and the only way to do this is with the butt-stomp. Being locked into a move that was absolutely the right thing to do when it started and a horrible, unrecoverable mistake before it lands is a whole world of frustrating.
An old-school, tough-as-nails 2D sidescrolling action platformer is expected to be a little unfair. Defeating an overwhelming challenge is supposed to be a reward for rising to the occasion, leaving the player feeling exhausted but triumphant. Prinny 2 manages the exhaustion, but the satisfaction of victory from the early levels soon turns into “Thank god I never have to do that again,” and eventually, “Why on earth would I want to put myself through this!?” At which point Prinny 2: Dawn of Operation Panties, Dood! gets turned off, put down, and never touched again.