REVIEW: Amazing Princess Sarah

For years now, the 2D Castlevanias (and, of course, all the Castlevania-likes) have been struggling with a pretty significant part of their gameplay— how to make the constant overworld battles with whatever evil dungeon / cave / castle’s numerous foot soldiers interesting1, and keep players engaged between boss fights and story events. Lucky for us all, Haruneko‘s Amazing Princess Sarah ($4.99) might have just solved that problem, and it might’ve become one of my favorite action / platformers in the process.

The game shares some similarities with one of the developer’s earlier releases, Akane the Kunoichi, but whereas that was a more traditional platformer with traditional mechanics, Amazing Princess Sarah is a deliberate crawl, a slugfest for every inch of ground, from one end of the stage to the other. You don’t play the game as much as you just survive, as it cleverly reinvents the in-between stuff and makes the end bosses almost a secondary concern.

Don’t let the generous cleavage fool you; Sarah is one tough chick. After her father— also the King— is kidnapped by a demonic party, led by a horned boss known as Lilith, she sets out to tramp through a series of increasingly-difficult (and increasingly-longer) castles to retrieve him. These fortresses follow the platformer mold… in theoryplenty of enemies, some challenging jumps onto narrow (and sometimes disappearing) ledges, all concluding with the requisite boss encounter. In action, it plays completely different.

While Sarah has a normal blade attack that does adequate harm, her real skill lies in her unnatural strength; strength that allows her to hoist up the bodies of her slain enemies, and chuck them into oncoming threats for massive damage.2 Nice parlor trick, that. It’s also key to dealing with the unending parade of baddies, wiping out the more dangerous foes and / or trying to combo the rest to fall like dominoes. It’s hard to explain in words, but trust me, when it’s done right, it’s awesome, and really satisfying.

Choosing the right corpse for the job is important3, as most of them will have their own weight, properties, and effects. A bird can be tossed farther, but does less damage, while a bomber’s body will naturally explode upon contact. Ditto for other enemies and effects, like archers (split into arrows) and firebrands (waves of traveling flames). Depending on how you line up your ‘corpse attacks’, you can score several kills at once, helping you to level up and increase your overall health. This too, is vitally-important, as you’ll need the extra hitpoints to advance from checkpoint to checkpoint, the space between clogged with more and more enemies and hazards.

Amazing Princess Sarah - Screen

In fact, despite their epic size and decent challenge, the bosses do become secondary. Being chased by a giant spider or fighting a demon with sexy legs (… don’t ask) somehow provokes less tension than simply getting through a tiny stretch of one castle. This can either be a very good thing, or a very frustrating thing, depending on your view. While the controls are generally excellent, and the difficulty never felt unfair or too over-the-top, be forewarned— there are some tricky sequences (a vertical corridor near the end, comprised entirely of disappearing platforms and lined with archers that cause knockback, proved especially maddening).

You’ll certainly get your money’s worth, though, as you have to play through the game several times to actually ‘beat’ it, a process that will doubtlessly run you several dozen hours in length. Considering one playthrough will take you about five hours, finishing all seven(!) game modes4 to fight the true final boss will require serious dedication. But time and difficulty be damned, I say! With its clever re-imagining of basic stage design— and the inventive use of corpses— Amazing Princess Sarah is a challenging (and absolute) must-play.5

  1.  Part of that blandness with the combat is offset by ‘exploration’, and the old Metroidvania trick: slowly giving you access to new items and weapons to keep you motivated and moving forward. 
  2.  I’ve seen this compared to the idea behind Mischief Makers, Treasure‘s platformer on the N64. 
  3.  Something very wrong about seeing that line written out. 
  4.  With some neat variables to up the challenge, like your own ghost following you around the level, causing damage on contact, or ‘Drunk Princess’, a mode that messes with the camera. 
  5. This review is also featured at Indiepitome

32 thoughts on “REVIEW: Amazing Princess Sarah”

    1. Yup, time flies. Couldn’t believe it had been that long since I did the review. Goes to show how easy it is to lose track of things. :/

      But bottom line is, a worthy indie game gets another chance at life on consoles.

  1. I’ve finally finished “completely” this game ! It was a good experience and showed me how a five stages game can be cool with different features. The only problem was the jealousy of my wife: “Celso, Who is this busty girl?” I almost lost my head !!! ahahhaha Thanks Haruneko and TheXblig !

    1. Haha, you’re welcome! And congrats on finishing the game. Those special modes that get unlocked with each completion are really tough, so that’s an awesome achievement. Can’t say I blame your wife for being jealous; that’s a very long time spent staring at breats! 😀

    1. And so it has. So glad I picked it up for $1 I am sure they will not sell many copies at $5. For some reason that just don’t work on the 360 Indie channel even if a game is worth it.

    2. Yep, and we can’t complain we didn’t have plenty of warning beforehand. Looks like the Steam version launches on the 15th, so this is clearly to bring it more in line with that release.

      Funny thing is, the game has probably sold most of what it’s going to sell on XBLIG, now that it’s a month later. He’ll do better on Steam in the first damn week than he’ll ever do lifetime on XBLIG. Good on him. The game deserves it. XBLIG folks got it a month early, and at a ridiculous price. Really can’t say anything negative about that. 🙂

  2. It appears they are trying to raise the price to $3 on this as you had said before Tim. But due to Indie Games being broken right now it has been delayed. So if you were on the fence for this you should pick it up sooner rather than later while it’s still $1.

  3. This game is definitely fun and great for $1. And I like the music in it a lot too. I tried the trial version and was loving it. I did notice that since it saves every time you reach a save statue I could have actually just played it over and over again as the trail version and not payed a penny for it. BUT I thought that would be wrong of me to not give the simple dollar to the developer for such a great game as Amazing Princess Sarah is. 🙂

    Side note: I love that you guys here at The XBLIG find and review these gems of games through all the crap that’s on XBLIG. (And review the crap too so we can avoid it. :p ) I never even look through to see what’s new (or old either for that matter).on my console anymore. I just check you guys site once or twice a week and see what’s been reviewed.
    Thanks again for taking the time you guys do to have this site and do your reviews.

    1. First off, thank you very much for the compliment, and for taking the time to read the review! That’s what keeps me motivated, the comments I receive from you guys. That means a lot! 🙂 Not as many new releases these days, but I’ll keep going, good or bad.

      As other have stated, absolutely agree it’s worth the dollar. Also the music! Didn’t mention it (looking back now, I thought I did), but it’s actually kinda (excuse the word choice), well, …epic, in a way. Especially during the height of a battle, which is pretty much all the time in this game. 😀

      Hmm, wasn’t aware that you could reload the trial and continue playing from a checkpoint, though I’d imagine eventually someone would have to buy the game. Especially around the midpoint, when the space between checkpoints gets larger. Unless you were to pull off a perfect run each time, the trial might cut off before you could save again. 🙂

  4. Well, every month a new genre comes up so I have no idea how to call this game, so R2Tim2 v3.0, is this a boob game with platformer elements or a platformer with boob elements? Either way, after reading this review I downloaded the demo, after it finish guess what? Yep, psychic sensor is on fire, I went to take a peek at my redhead neighbor because she was doing some yoga, after that I inmediatly got the game. Shovel Knight, this one, and I plan to getting soon Rayman Legends will keep my platformers desires fullfilled. This was a surprise. for the cover I though this was a Team Shuriken game. But as that Brazilian proverb says “Life is like a stripper, in the front will look like a flat Cup A, but in the back she might have the cutest ba-dunk-a-dunk you ever seen”. You have to see life from both sides, you have to take a way around it, because in the back maybe you can find a happy ending. Same with boobs games, the cover put me away, but when I actually play it, I fell in love. And a sentence that I though i will never write, but here goes… I like a XBLIG boob game!! Thx again boyo, I will have never play this game otherwise

    1. ‘Platformer with Boob Elements’! It’s certainly a platformer first and foremost, but I like that one! You could put that next to the other ESRB ratings: INTENSE LANGUAGE, BLOOD AND GORE,… ELEMENTS OF BOOBS. I will have to keep that one in my growing list of Brazilian Proverbs.

      It does fit the mold of the boob game in some respects, but again, I’m all for as many boobs as a developer wants to put in a game, so long as there is a decent game below it. Amazing Princess Sarah does that and then some, so it gets my vote, ‘boob elements’ and all. 😀

  5. ”Oi Sarah, you ok?”

    ”To whom are you talking, Soosh?”

    ”Em, to no one, didn’t say anything”

    ”Are you talking to female game characters again?”

    ”Me? No… no. (whispers) Listen Sarah, just stay calm and I get you outta here”

    ”Who’s Sarah?”

    Oh, for fu… em ”My mate’s dog”

    ”Your mate has a dog called Sarah? And how can you talk to her, are you the Dog Whisperer and did the dog call you or something? Oh c’mon, you’re talking to a female game character with big boobs, just admit it”

    ”Ok, ok… Sarah is a princess and got big boobies. Are you happy now?”

    ”Can you clean the dishes?”

    “But Sarah needs my help, her father’s been kidnapped, and…”

    “Can you clean them now, please”


    1. Ha! And then Sarah’s all like, ‘Whatever, dude, I’m bench-pressing the bodies of my dead enemies and chucking them at other soon-to-be-dead enemies. I’m jumping over spike pits, switching up tactics, and rescuing kings and shit. Do I really need your help! Pssshh! I got this!’

      … …

      ‘Go clean the dishes, peasant!’

      … …

      ‘And stop staring at my chest!’ 😀

  6. You know, I’ve been checking everyday for a new xblig to play and I just stare at her boobs for a few seconds and then go, “meh”. Glad, I read your review and watched the trailer. I’m finna buy this right meow!

    1. See, proof that a game can showcase tits prominently AND be an excellent product at the same time. Some would say why focus on breasts anyway, when the gameplay is solid, but I saw a comment on the Steam page that said they’d voted for the game purely because of the boobs… …you gotta give the people what they want. Boobs. That’s the moral of the story. I think. ❓

  7. This comes in right after I finished Guacamelee STCE. Back to the glory days of the SNES platformer we go, for 1 buck are u kidding me? This game is a steal. The bosses alone are worth it. I almost gave up on indies but its nice to see its still breathing with this kind of quality.

    1. Definitely. I read the developer had put more than two years into it, so you devote that kind of time and effort into iteration, you’re (usually) going to come away with something special. The bosses would be great in any other game, but here, I found them almost to be a refreshment, compared to the work I had to put in to actually get to the boss. 😀

  8. It seems that the demise of XBLIG is balanced with these out-of-the-blue good games: first Shutshimi, now this … two games I wouldn’t have taken much more than a brief look at on the dashboard that appear to be on Tim’s top list! Just when we think things are dead, we get a great surprise. I’m a fan of any game that includes a drunk mode. There’s just something inherently entertaining about re-playing a level with some form of controller or visual handicap that make for madcap gaming. That’s always a good thing!

    1. Agreed. I don’t like the sometimes long wait between releases, let alone the long(er) wait between excellent games, but I’ll take it! 🙂 Will have to sit and think on where to rank this one for the leaderboard…

      Never unlocked ‘Drunk Princess’, so it’s hard to tell how much effect the camera movement would have. I know, based on two levels into ‘Angry Princess’ (the Ghost mode), that it could make things considerably harder. The precision jumps in the last castle, combined with my vengeful ghost following behind me? I shudder at the thought. Still, something strangely great about dying so many times and then coming out on top.

    1. Yeah, I was reading an article yesterday that was saying the whole country was still upset about the loss. Losing on your home field is never easy, especially with that score.

      The good news is, Amazing Princess Sarah is a great game! …that will hopefully take your mind off that other game… 🙂

    2. Whats sad is they gave up mentally during that game against the German’s and never really got it back against the Netherlands team It’s gotta be mentally tough. I mean look what Seattle did to Denver in last years Super Bowl. Can you imagine if Denver then had to go play a consolation game? To steal a phrase, sports is 90% mental and the other half is physical. 😀

      But yea looks like we got another winner on the Indies. I’ll have to give it a go. Damn back log and these 10 hour work days kill me so that even on my days off I don’t have the energy to game with IRL commitments and the like..

    3. Man, don’t remind me of that Denver game. I’m not really a fan of either of those teams, but I expected a competitive game. Actually, I expected Denver to win! You cost me $50, Peyton!

      That idea is on the money though. Doesn’t really matter who has the best team / most expensive athletes. You show up to play and the other team doesn’t, and you can beat anybody.

      @Dream Poet: Oh, and one thing I will stress about the game— if you do plan on picking it up and playing eventually, better to do it now than wait. The thing is set at $1 currently, but it seems to be a sales price for the new release. It was also just greenlit for Steam (after ten days!), so expect the price to go up and be in line with whatever the Steam version will cost. That’s my ‘Martha Stewart: Sell your stocks before they tank!’ tip of the day. 😀

    1. Thank you, thank you! It’s certainly worth a look if you’d like a new twist on the standard platformer. Little tough in spots, but I liked the challenge.

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