Sad Princess ($1.99) by Perlo Games is a side-scrolling hack-n-slash action adventure game for your iPhone and iPod Touch.
You play the role of Clover, who is the princess of the Kingdom Mosorlak. She falls in love with the prince, but something happened to the prince and now she is seeking revenge! Clover had no idea of the tears and pain that she would meet and it's your job to help her find a happy ending in this sad and romantic tale.
On launch of the game, you'll get an amazing looking cutscene that will explain the story, or you can skip it. The artsy graphics are very well done, unfortunately they are not optimized for the iPhone 4 Retina Display. Though as I played, the graphics still looked good enough.
Currently Sad Princess only has the Story Mode, since the Survival option is grayed out but will be coming soon in the next update.
Starting a game in the Story Mode will require you to keep a save file like most games, and luckily there are four available slots in case you decide to share the game with someone else.
During the game, you'll find yourself in various levels of side-scrolling hack-n-slash action. Enemies will spawn all around you, and will be indicated with a little black symbol on the left and right sides of the screen. The goal during each stage is to clear out the enemies as soon as you can, and you'll be graded on your performance at the end with a letter grade. The hits that you get in before getting hit yourself will be counted as a combo, so it's easy to rack up these hits.
As you kill enemies, you'll gain experience. With each level-up, you are awarded 2 skill points that you can allot to four attributions: HP, SP, ATK, and DEF. Think carefully of what you allot them into, because you can't reset the points.
Controls for Sad Princess involve a virtual joystick on the left, potions and powerful bombs in the middle, and attack and shield buttons on the right. While they work, I found that they can get a bit tedious to use, since the joystick sometimes didn't respond in time when I needed to turn around to attack an enemy, resulting in a hit which breaks the "combo."
You can also evoke Clover's special attacks once you gather enough sadness. When this happens, the shield button becomes a star and you can unleash your fury upon enemies.
Additionally, if there are objects on the ground besides money, there will be a button with a hand on it which is used to pick up items. Sometimes I found my character able to pick up items by simply running over them, but other times I needed to use the button. It seemed a little inconsistent, but no biggie.
Once you clear each stage, you're taken to an interim stage called the "Cave," where you can buy items, weapons, and even eggs to hatch a pet. The pets can help you in battle once they are hatched, but you'll have to keep feeding them various foods or else they'll eat your items! The items merchant has various potions and items to raise your attack and defense for a short period of time. The weapons merchant has plenty of powerful spears and clubs that will enhance your power, though they get pricey, so it's best to save up! These weapons can also be upgraded to unleash more power.
There will always be a boss level at the end of each stage, which will have you fighting a boss in relation to the environment that Clover is in. What makes it more challenging is that there are regular enemies that will also spawn while you fight the boss, which make it chaotic and much harder than other games, where it is just a boss on the screen. Some people may appreciate this and some may not, but all-in-all, it's pretty fun.
The button in the top right corner will bring up the character screen, where the skill points are allocated and you can view your inventory and use items.
Additionally, there is another section that has several in-app purchases if you want to enhance your game at the cost of real money. Some of these include larger bags for inventory (you only get 9 slots free), eggs, medals, a pet garden, and various potion packs. I'm personally not a huge fan of this, since the game already costs $1.99, it seems the developer is nickel-and-diming you to get the most out of the game, since everything is at least a dollar. But other people may see this differently.
Game Center is integrated into Sad Princess, and has achievements to get and leaderboards. The achievements actually contain a good variety, so it's not the same old boring achievements that other games may have (every 10 levels, stuff like that). This keeps the playability high.
For $2 (without any in-app purchases), this is a pretty fun game that holds a lot of replayability value. The Survival Mode is also something to look forward to. The graphics are very good even though it's not optimized for Retina Display, but I didn't find it bothersome. Fans of the side-scrolling hack-n-slash genre should definitely check out this one.