Title: Prinny Presents NIS Classics Vol. 1
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Release Date: August 31, 2021
Reviewed On: Switch
Nippon Ichi Software established itself as the Disgaea studio when the series began in the early 2000s. However, the developer has a long list of other titles unrelated to the SRPG genre. In an effort to bring those titles to new players, the team is releasing Prinny Presents NIS Classics Vol. 1, a collection of two games, Phantom Brave and Soul Nomad & the World Eaters, for Nintendo Switch. While each game is a port, it’s clear that they aren’t equal in terms of remastered quality.
Phantom Brave is a great game; let’s just preface this by saying that. This Switch version is the definitive release that also includes Phantom Brave: The Hermuda Triangle and Phantom Brave: We Meet Again. Further, players will find that the resolution has been sized for modern TVs. However, I couldn’t help but feel like the kerning of the letters made it difficult to word, and they felt smushed.
During gameplay, players are introduced to Marona, a young orphan who has been through more than many 13-years-old. On a mission, her parents died along with their hired party member Ash after encountering an evil creature named Sulphur. This ultimately led to Ash becoming a phantom, but I’d hate to spoil how that all works. Each character plays a significant role in the narrative as Marona chases her dreams of earning money and buying Phantom Isle. However, that means she’ll need to take on a lot of odd jobs, all while signs of the evil of Sulphur emerge.
The game borrows tactical RPG systems as players navigate Morona around a map. Given that they are phantoms, Marona needs to get creative with how she summons them. This perhaps leads to some dated mechanics that appear in both titles. In retrospect, these games are not completely user-friendly. They act more as a way for the developer to try new things and see what works. Regardless, I think Phantom Brave is one of those games that every JRPG lover should experience.
On the other hand, Soul Nomad & the World Eaters does not share this same sentiment. When playing this game at a younger age, I was exceptionally confused by its death and repeat gameloop and I still kind of am now. The game has players create a character who is then given a sword that embodies the soul of the Master of Death, Gig. The idea here is that you’re free to use his power, but you can also allow him to completely take over your body to defeat an enemy. However, this typically leads to a bad end because shortly after, he’ll destroy everything.
Soul Nomad & the World Eaters has a lot to talk about and is an exceptionally unique JRPG. For starters, you hire manikin units to make up different sets of parties with a leader. Combinations of units allow them to do different actions, which can be figured out through experimentation or just using the auto function. You’ll want to create multiple parties to summon them to the field, where you’ll fight against other groups of enemies.
Parties will each attack when in a fight, which is always followed by a counterattack. Typically I wouldn’t say I like this feature because counterattack should be a skill only some units know. Anyway, you move units around the map and the fights are pretty straightforward. The goal is to become strong enough to fight the World Eaters.
There are some optional endings based on your choices, but a lot of the experience rides on the possibility that you could encounter a bad end. The clear data can be saved, and you’ll start from the beginning with your level intact. Thankfully, you can skip the dialogue scenes, but they ask you this question even if you haven’t seen them before, which is offputting and makes it seem like the story doesn’t really matter.
Soul Nomad & the World Eaters is a decent game if you’re looking for a unique experience and have about 30 hours to kill. There are systems here that you’ve probably never seen attempted in a video game before, which tests your JRPG skills. Sadly, the worst part about this version is that barely anything has been done to it.
While Phantom Brave has been remastered in the past and retains those updates in this Switch release, Soul Nomad & the World Eaters didn’t receive that same love. Its screen resolution is kept to standard, and the in-game assets have only been upscaled. The text in dialogue has also been touched up, but that’s simply the bare minimum. The problem with this port is that it comes off as lazy. I appreciate having these games readily available on Switch, but I wish they showed better care at making them more accessible to new players. Currently, I don’t see anyone wanting to play these games unless you have some major nostalgia for them.
Prinny Presents NIS Classics Vol. 1 is a brilliant idea in concept. Nippon Ichi has a large library of games that deserve to be readily available to modern players. However, they need to take the advancements found in recent remasters and apply those options to these titles. Phantom Brave is a lengthy and beautiful JRPG with its remastered assets, but Soul Nomad & the World Eaters really doesn’t compare, and it shows from the second you boot of the game.
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