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Video Game / Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero?

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Every life is precious. Except his.
— Tagline

Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? is a spinoff of the Disgaea games. This one's not a Turn-Based Strategy game like the others, though: it's a Platform Game. A very hard Platform Game.

Prinny puts you in charge of the combustible penguin army as they quest to find the legendary "Ultra Dessert" for their abusive master Etna. Hardly anyone knows what the actual ingredients are, but Etna sends them off to the most dangerous parts of the Netherworld anyway.

In order to get around the Made of Explodium properties of Prinnies, Etna gives them a special "Hero Scarf" that offers (very) limited protection against sudden impacts. There are a thousand Prinnies yet only one scarf, so the Prinnies have to pass it to the next one in the queue when the current wearer meets his (inevitable) demise, essentially giving the player one thousand lives. And you will need them.

The sequel, Prinny 2: Dawn of Operation Panties, Dood!, is essentially more of the same, except this time the Prinnies are looking for Etna's stolen panties. The sequel introduces a Baby Mode, a Super Mode called "Break Mode" and an Another Side, Another Story starring Nippon Ichi's eternally-miserable cameo character, Asagi.

As in the grand tradition of Disgaea games, the Hero Prinny appears in Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice as a unique character with his own special attacks and personality.

In March of 2020, Nippon Ichi confirmed a rerelease of both games in one package for the Nintendo Switch titled Prinny 1•2: Exploded and Reloaded, released the following October with various extras such as a soundtrack CD, artbook and collectible Prinny block figure. The games are also available individually on the eShop.

Gotta have tropes, dood!

  • Affectionate Parody: Darth Moab, an obvious parody of Darth Vader, has lines like "If he could be churned, he'd make a powerful stir-fry," and "The sauce is weak with this one..." After defeating him, the hero even says "Enough of this parody crap, dood! I've got to get to Sir Sweet!"
  • Alas, Poor Villain: At the end of Asagi mode, her prinny suit explodes and kills her. It's not all bad, though; in The Stinger, she comes back as a Prinny. She also gets her own mini-campaign in the sequel, the closest she's gotten so far to getting her own game.
  • All Just a Dream: A lone Prinny defeating a reborn Tyrant Overlord Baal!? It's too good to be true. It is.
  • Alternate Universe: In this one, Laharl sacrificed himself to resurrect Flonne, becoming a Prinny in the process. However, Seraph Lamington is possibly alive, meaning it could be a mix of the original Disgaea's good (canon) ending, and the normal ending. If this game is part of the regular Nippon Ichi continuity, it remains to be revealed.
    • It's also possible Laharl died in a different scenario. It was mentioned by one Prinny that he died in a war, which could mean Disgaea's last chapter, or something else entirely.
      • According to his file in Prinny 2, it was in a war between the Netherworld and Celestia, which does add some support to the theory.
  • Amusement Park of Doom: Demonland, which combines this with Slippy-Slidey Ice World.
  • Arrange Mode: The Asagi Mode is unlocked by collecting all of the Torn Letters hidden behind platforming challenges in the Hub Level (one for each hour of the day, with an hour passing for each level you clear). Asagi Mode is an abridged version of the main game where levels are played in a set order and all bosses are replaced by fights against Asagi. The story of the Asagi Mode continues in the game's sequel, where Prinny Asagi gets Promoted to Playable for an expanded side-story called Asagi Wars.
  • Artifact of Death: Spoofed with Etna's panties. According to rumors, her panties can cause total annihilation, but that's only because Etna will kill anyone caught sniffing them or wearing them on their head.
  • Art Shift: The Disgaea: Love-Hate Battle Tale trailer uses the more realistic artwork of the Hayarigami artist instead of Takehito Harada's artwork.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The sequel's final boss is a giant Etna. And there's the Quadruple Wielding Dovalky!
    • Moreso with the Baal battle. If you thought Etna was huge...
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Prinny Raid. While it's certainly very useful for clearing the screen and makes the Prinny invincible the whole way through, you lose 1 life for every Prinny that falls onto the screen.
    • It's actually a bit of a gamble. You have to weigh the use of those lives now against the very real possibility of losing them anyway though repeated replays.
    • Prinny Laharl and Prinny Asagi in the sequel. Their attacks are powerful, but they use up an extra life when used and you can use them only for one level, after which you have to buy them again. But then again, considering their power, you might actually end up losing less lives.
  • Bad Boss: Take a wild guess. Etna.
  • Big Eater: The Gourmet Ogre. His character info notes that he invented a fifth meal just to kill time before going to sleep.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Eventually, the Prinnies sent out to gain the Ultra Dessert ingredients demand a raise in the form of actual money instead of fish. Etna, of course, refuses, and engages the Prinnies, who have banded together against her alongside all but four of the Prinnies out of her entire staff (giving the player infinite lives). By the end of the battle, Etna shows that defiance of her power is futile.
    • And even without the Etna boss fight, the original ending has a lighter, more comedic variation. Etna decides to reward the Prinnies with a party...that they have to pay an obscene amount of money to attend.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Turmeric, when he's not fulfilling the role of a one-man Goldfish Poop Gang.
  • Bonus Level: Operation V-Panties in the sequel. It is unlocked by either acquiring all 30 Netherworld Medals, or by talking to the Tutor Manager and pressing Triangle 100 times while in the menu.
  • Boss Rush: The second-to-last stage has you fighting most of the bosses over again.
  • Breakout Mook Character: This game is one for the Prinnies and Asagi.
  • Brutal Bonus Level: The hidden Martial Tower is orders of magnitude harder than the rest of the game. In the sequel, the Martial Temple and Martial Tower: Abyss.
  • Cerebus Retcon: At the end of the first game's Asagi Mode, Asagi dies when she's unable to take off her Prinny suit, which had a bomb in it, due to the zipper being stuck. The whole scene was treated as a joke. Asagi Wars reveals, however, Asagi Kurosugi, disguised as an unassuming tailor, was the one who made that suit and purposely planted the bomb and sewed in a malfunctioning zipper to ensure Asagi's death so she can take her place. She was also the unnamed producer that Asagi mentioned early in Asagi Mode.
  • Chainsaw Good: After collecting all 120 Lucky Dolls in the sequel, you can use these as a weapon for the Hero Prinny and Prinny Asagi. The weapon is stronger than the knives that the Hero Prinny usually wields, and has an auto-attack, but does not have the ability to shoot projectiles. For Prinny Asagi, it's a powerful, unlimited use, extreme-close-range weapon that prevents you from being able to use the other weapons unless you pick up her cat or guitar items.
  • Classic Cheat Code: NIS uses the same code to unlock the alternate storyline on all three of its PSP games — Triangle, Square, Circle, Triangle, Square, Circle X (US version — The original Japanese one swaps the Circles and Xs).
    • Using it in the sequel to unlock the Asagi Wars campaign, however, will only get you the preview. No shortcuts this time around. The code will unlock Asagi Wars, however, if you buy a special ticket for it via PlayStation Network. (Thankfully, it's for free!)
  • Complaining About Things You Haven't Paid For: In-universe example: Etna asks the Hero Prinny to sell some games and the console she's playing them on, claiming they suck. The prinny points out that she pirated the games and hacked the console.
  • Cosmetic Award: The various medals that can be unlocked do... nothing.
    • If anything, they're largely there as in-game milestones. In the sequel, though, collecting them all unlocks a final stage... if you haven't already figured out how to unlock it manually.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: In the first and second games, the boss battle against Bok Choy (Demon Sea Aria or Sandwich Palace, 10 Hours Left, respectively) is about on par with the Waddle Dee battle from Kirby Super Star. He's just a single zombie that hops as his only attack. That's it. No gimmicks, no pitfalls, no Dark Sun, nothing.
  • Deadly Remote Control Toy: Sabercats use remote controls to send miniature Driller-G vehicles after the player. The Driller-G vehicles are totally indestructible, and if you try to get to higher ground they can burrow underground to come after you (assuming you're not on a floating platform). Defeating the Sabercat will get rid of the Driller-G, and you can try to drop the machine down a pit.
  • Dirty Cop: Though none appear in the actual game, the Prinny you play as says he was one of these before he died.
  • Dual Boss: The twins Kim and Chi, and the skeletal dragon... things, Basil and Chervil. And about half of the bosses in general in the sequel, even having a 3-on-one! Not to mention a 100-on-one! Technically speaking, that is.
  • Double Entendre: Turmeric constantly makes these:
    "Turmeric of the Phoenix Clan is not ready to climax just yet!"
    "I, Turmeric of the Phoenix clan, am a no-holes[sic] barred warrior of passion..."
    "I, Turmeric of the Phoenix clan, will not allow such a tiny worm to penetrate my tight barrier!"
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Prinny caught the [Passion Seed] in his mouth!
    • Not to mention said item's in-game description: "Lots of protein, but hard to swallow."
    • How about the "G-Sweet"? Not to mention the seemingly...passionate...way the Big Bad talks about it and how hard it was for him to find it.
    • Or the "Used Recorder"? The in-game description asks if both of the twins used it at once. Yeeeaaahhh...
    • Asagi Asmaal Asalindt offers Prinny Asagi to join her and make "offspring", musing that they can make enough to create a full baseball team.
  • Double Jump
  • Downloadable Content: For about $4 each, there are additional levels available for download from the Playstation Network. So far, there are three, Flonne's Castle, Li'l Asagi Come Home, and Marona of Phantom Brave.
    • The sequel holds the record for the cheapest piece of paid-for Downloadable Content in gaming's history, with the ten-yen Demon World Radish, though it's about 99 cents in the US. There's also Pram's stage and the Asagi ticket for free.
    • The Switch release of both games, both in physical and digital form, have all the DLC included for free.
  • Dynamic Entry: If you choose to play as Prinny Laharl, he will drop from the sky and land on the current Prinny. And yes, it does cost you a life every time that happens. Same happens when you unlock Asagi.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: Baby Mode gives you three hit points (or lower rating decrease in Asagi Mode as well as increased ammo on all weapons), pick ups that allow you to regain lost hit points, extra blocks to make platforming easier, and less stun points on bosses in exchange for turning all of your hit points into diapers.
    • For extra mockery, there is a medal for clearing 22 stages in this mode. But considering that it's needed to obtain the last actual medal in the game....
  • Evil Counterpart: Asagi Kurosugi to Asagi Asagiri. Imagine the Asagi we all know and love. Now imagine her as a Manipulative Bastard and you more or less have Asagi Kurosugi.
  • Evil Laugh: Laharl's laugh increases his combo gauge, but leaves him vulnerable to enemy attacks. Just like the Evil Overlord List predicted.
  • Fox Folk: Cardomon is one, although she is pretending to be a Cat Girl because she heard her master, Sir Sweet, hates foxes. She appears as a boss in the Demon Sea Aria. She tends to be extremely flirty but will attack at a moments notice.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: The CHEFBOT-9000 has no real reason to be in the game except to break up what would otherwise be a very long cutscene with a boss fight, and has no indication that he actually exists prior to his pre-battle introduction except the mysterious giant padlock on the scene. Lampshaded by the Hero Prinny himself.
  • Goldfish Poop Gang: Turmeric becomes this during the Boss Rush. Every time he tries to make his introduction, he's knocked offscreen by another boss...
    • His sister, Haldi, continues the tradition in the sequel, but she isn't hit with this trope as bad as Turmeric and gets thrown a bone in the ending.
  • Hopping Machine: TX-6 Jumpstart.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Many, but Darth Moab's pre-boss cutscene stands out. He grows out of it in the sequel, for the most part.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: Standard and "Hell's Finest." In the latter, your Prinny is turned into a one hit-point wonder. Also, Baby Mode in the sequel.
  • Idol Singer: More or less what Asagi Kurosugi was trying to become. Eventually what Asagi Asagiri becomes after she reincarnates in The Stinger.
  • Impossibly Delicious Food: The Ultimate Dessert!
  • In-Universe Game Clock: Etna gives the Prinnies a strict time limit to accomplish their task before she rains hell on the crew. This takes the form of a clock that starts at midday and progresses through sunrise the next day. Clearing a stage progresses the in-game timer by one hour, and the time of day you tackle the stages (AKA the order) determines the difficulty and layout of the levels.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: During one of the visits to the Antechamber in Prinny 2, Flonne urges Etna to be nicer to the Prinnies, starting by telling them to keep up the good work, believing that it will produce harder-working Prinnies than Etna's current methods. Etna begrudgingly complies, which only causes the Hero Prinny to believe that he'll get increased pay, a bonus, a vacation, and other benefits, proving that going the opposite route would only produce Lazy Bums. Flonne keeps quiet for the rest of the scene as Etna goes back to yelling at the Prinny to get back to work.
  • Justified Extra Lives: Etna is sending a thousand of her Prinnies to obtain the Ultra Dessert in the first game and her panties in the second, and gives them a scarf to prevent them from exploding. Because there is only one scarf, the Prinnies simply pass the scarf onto the next Prinny whenever the last Hero Prinny dies.
  • Kinda Busy Here: Joshua, the Omega Cool spell keeper, spends the entirety of the battle against the Phantom Thief on the phone.
  • Lethal Joke Character: The Prinnies were always helpless little things in the games. Now, with your help, they can conquer the Netherworld!... For food and panties... while losing hundreds of their own... Eh.
  • Lethal Joke Weapon: The downloadable Netherworld Radish in the sequel for Hero Prinny and Prinny Asagi. The weapon's melee attack is weaker than the knives that the Hero Prinny usually wields, and has an auto-attack, but does have the ability to shoot projectiles (which actually become more powerful with this weapon), as opposed to the chainsaw, and is also capable of being used at the beginning of the game. For Prinny Asagi, it's an unlimited use extreme-close-range weapon that prevents you from being able to use the other weapons unless you pick up her cat or guitar items, just like with the chainsaw.
  • Lunacy: On the night of the full moon, Hoshikagenote  becomes Tsukikage note . Much faster, stronger, and angrier than usual. She even scares Master Frog.
    • Similarly, Mustard becomes Bloomin' Mustard during full moons. She gets possessed by a ghost, changing her from a Flunky Boss who cheers from the sidelines to an insane, famished, rabid maniac jumping all over the arena on all fours.
  • Mythology Gag: Much of the game's enemies are based on or lifted from the Disgaea series and Makai Kingdom. The boss Cyberclops, for example, is based on the Galactic Demons from Disgaea: Hour of Darkness.
  • Ninja: Both as regular enemies, and one as a boss.
  • Ninja Log: How the non-boss ninja become immune to stunning. Hoshikage has a variant that uses her master, a ninja frog.
  • Nintendo Hard: Those 1,000 lives you get? You're gonna need a lot of 'em, even on the Standard difficulty.
    • The sequel somehow manages to make it even harder.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: When you ask the ninja at your hub to help you run away to start a new play cycle, the end credits roll, showing your prinnies' failed attempt at escaping. You also get one if you lose all 1000 of your lives. Replaced by "Death" in the sequel. He's really a pants tailor. Best part? It turns out the ninja's a spy for Etna. And single.
  • "No Peeking!" Request: During the final stage of the alternate Asagi storyline, Asagi shouts "Pretty Prinny Evolve!" and runs off-screen to change into her new costume. She does shout at the Prinny to not peek.
    Asagi: Hey! No peeking, perv!
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: On "Hell's Finest" difficulty, Prinnies die if they're touched by anything hazardous. With Score Break in the sequel, they also explode if they jump onto the walls or ceiling after a dash, in ANY mode.
  • Outside-the-Box Tactic: The Prinny Laharl boss battle. You have the option of fighting him normally, but Ground Pounding him three times and then tossing him ends the battle much more quickly. This goes for Prinny Asagi in the sequel. As in previous Nippon Ichi games, Prinny Baal lacks this weakness.
  • Pet the Dog / Throw the Dog a Bone: In the sequel's ending, Etna decides to be nice to the Prinnies for once and treat them to a hot spring vacation with no strings attached. Yeah, she says she's using a free coupon, but this is probably the nicest Etna has ever been to the Prinnies. And even after Hero Prinny comes in with her panties on his head (Which was totally by accident), she doesn't go back on her word about the vacation, though she does leave Hero Prinny with multiple bruises.
  • Phantom Thief: The eponymous Big Bad of the sequel, who goes around stealing rare items. Later revealed to be Lord Junkie, a demon noble who wants revenge on Etna.
  • Platform Hell: Especially in the later parts of the game. Martial Tower and Martial Tower 2 note  deserve special invoked mention.
    • Getting Torn Letter 10 is enough to make you snap your PSP or Switch in half. You have to master the double jump, running jumps, and just about every other little bit of platforming just to reach the halfway point. The last jump in particular has to be pixel-perfect, or you'll be doing the whole thing all over again.
  • Press X to Die: Pressing L, R, and X together kills you and brings you back to the last checkpoint. You lose a life, but it's useful if you want to restart boss battles and such.
  • Pun: Etna-chamber... antechamber... ugh.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Dolvalky, a giant four-armed god who is being summoned to bring the Netherworld into chaos and wields two evil swords called Animosity and Hatred. He is also retired and has taken up gardening in his spare time. In fact, once you get past that whole chaos thing, he's actually pretty friendly.
  • Rank Inflation: A mild example; it uses the fairly standard D, C, B, A, S.
  • Refuge in Audacity: The subtitle of the sequel is Dawn Of Operation Panties, Dood... You're tasked with finding the guy who stole Etna's panties...
    • And to further dig themselves in, NIS America announced a contest... to design a new pair of panties for Etna.
    • Even further, there is a bonus level based upon the old bosses hunting down a spot where the "ultimate panties" are. You end up in a land where panties scatter the background, are used as items to collect tons of points, and beat an old boss who's wearing a pair on his head and uses EXPLODING panties as weapons.
  • Scarf of Asskicking: Sort of. The scarf keeps prinnies from exploding. So it's more like a Scarf of Not Getting Your Ass Exploded.
    • In the sequel, once in Standard Break mode, it can be used as a weapon while Prinny is spinning.
  • Secret Character: Prinny Laharl and Prinny Asagi are playable in the sequel.
  • Secret Level: You can unlock an alternate campaign involving Asagi's attempts to become the hero by entering a code at the title screen, or by collecting all the Torn Letters. This returns in the sequel, this time collecting Torn Tickets.
  • Shout-Out: The character info for the CHEFBOT-9000 is a reference to the "Over NINE THOUSAND" meme. Apparently, the writers couldn't bring themselves to go all the way with it.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: A volcanic, ninja-infested hellhole gets.. cheery upbeat jazz music?
  • Spam Attack: An absolute necessity on bosses. You know that pain you get in your arms from lifting weights too much? Yeah, playing this game for a day or two causes that same feeling.
  • Sprite/Polygon Mix: Dood!
    • The sequel pushes this even further with the bigger bosses being rendered in 3D.
  • The Stinger: All four endings come with one.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Prinnys can't swim, dood.
  • Super Mode: Break Mode in the sequel.
  • Swamps Are Evil: The swamp level in the sequel.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Subverted. Asagi uses Action Replay to increase her level to 9999. Since this isn't a normal-style Disgaea game, however, this is only Cutscene Power.
  • Testosterone Poisoning: Asagi Schwarzinature is this combined with The Ahnold.
  • Timed Mission: Sorta. You have ten hours to find the ingredients for the Ultra Dessert before Etna goes ballistic, but that's the exact number of stages you'll need to play to win (the first six can be selected in any order)
    • Played straight during actual gameplay. Each stage has to be beaten in eight minutes and bosses have to be finished in three.
  • Theme Naming/Punny Name: The prinnies in the main hub. If you take the time to talk to 'em, you'll notice their names are things like Pripaid, Prittany, Prix, Pritchy...
    • In addition, a lot of the characters specifically added for the game are named after various cooking terms or foods, considering the goal of the first game is to obtain the ultimate dessert. Names include Bok Choy, Anise, Kim and Chi (EN)/Natsu and Megu (JP, Nutmeg), Basil and Chevril, Cardamon, and Turmeric.
    • A large majority of the monsters in this game are also Makai Kingdom monsters, which mostly have food designs.
  • Transformation Sequence: Subverted and parodied by Asagi. In your final battle against her, Asagi will say the words Pretty Prinny Evolve and will appear to flash as her Theme Music Power-Up starts playing. However, once the flash is over, she runs off screen to put on her costume. And the kicker? It's just a Prinny costume.
    Asagi: Hey, no peeking, perv!
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay
  • Turns Red: When enemies are near death, they turn red, and somehow become volatile. When the bosses turn red, they get more dangerous.
  • Uniformity Exception: The game plays with this by making the main character one of the disposable Mascot Mook Prinnies who's wearing a red scarf. However there's nothing special about said Prinny; when they die, the player's next "life" is another Prinny wearing the scarf.
  • Verbal Tic: As usual, the Prinnies, dood.
  • We Have Reserves: Actually, YOU have reserves of 1000 prinnies for getting through all of the levels. Though it'd probably be more accurate to say You NEED Reserves.
  • Wutai: Sakura Palace and Nethersea Volcano, the former being a Japanese-style palace up in the sky, and the latter a Chinese-style restaurant in a volcano Under the Sea.
  • Yandere: Anise the Cat Witch, who wields an axe in addition to her magic wand, which makes her a Girl with Psycho Weapon (and quite literally Axe-Crazy).
  • Zerg Rush: The 100 black prinny boss battle in the sequel.
    • In general, the overall premise is that 1000 prinnies zerg rush each stage till one succeeds in the overall mission.