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Sega Saturn version cover art
Princess Crown (プリンセスクラウン Purinsesu Kuraun) is an action role-playing game developed by Atlus and published by Sega for the Sega Saturn video game console in Japan on December 11, 1997. Some of the team members involved in the project later formed the game development company Vanillaware.
The game is a side-scroller with a medieval setting, and features real-time combat. It is possible to learn certain moves or button combinations which perform special attacks. Experience points, money, and various items are obtained by defeating enemies.
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Princess Crown gameplay revolves around a few major mechanics. These involve visiting towns, going on quests, gathering information, challenging bosses, and engaging in battles. The game has a linear storyline. Princess Crown is played in a side scrolling perceptive; hence, the chance of getting lost or losing track is small.
The game's exploration resembles that of Zelda II or Castlevania II. Exploration can be done via towns and paths. Towns are full of non-playable characters who have information that is needed to progress through the game. Paths are routes placed to move the player to the next town or event, and usually involve random encounters.
Encounters involve a combination of fighting elements and Role-playing video game elements. The battle system is simple yet challenging. Mechanics used include an attack command, guarding, evasion, items and recovery. As an average side-scrolling RPG, it mainly focuses on spacing, timing, reading, knowledge and evasion. What makes this game special is its power gauge, which is depleted by various actions. If it runs out then the character will run out of breath, which is needed to guard, evade and attack.
Item usage plays a big role in Princess Crown. This includes armor, recovery, magic, and throwing items.
Princess Crown begins with a little girl and her grandmother. The girl picks up a book and her grandmother starts reading the story of thirteen-year-old Princess Gradriel De Valendia. The player then takes on the role of Gradriel throughout her adventure as she travels her kingdom of Valendia wanting to resolve its many problems with her own hands. However, as is common with such tales, Gradriel encounters more trouble than she could have ever imagined.
After completing the story of Princess Gradriel, more books become available, thus allowing players to take on the roles of three characters that Gradriel has met on her journey. Edward Glowstar is a chivalrous knight on a quest to avenge his father and becomes a valuable ally to the Princess. Proserpina is a mischievous young witch who the player must fight her several times throughout Gradriel's story. Portgas Chrisford is a friendly, Robin Hood-esque pirate whom Gradriel first encounters when another pirate is committing unjust acts using Portgus' name. These three stories are substantially shorter than the first.
Princess Crown was a co-developed by Atlus and Sega for the Sega Saturn console. Project and Art Director George Kamitani, who previously worked with Capcom on arcade titles such as Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom, served as the game's lead designer and planner, while composer Toshikazu Tanaka, known for his work on SNK's Metal Slug series, provided the game's music. An original soundtrack titled Princess Crown Original Sound Collection + Full Arrange was released in April 1998 by Nippon Columbia Records, featuring 17 tracks from the game, as well as two arranged tracks by Tanaka under his alias "Dencyu". A remastered version of the soundtrack without the arranged tracks, simply titled Princess Crown Soundtrack, was released in February 2011 by SuperSweep Records.
The PlayStation Portable version of Princess Crown was announced at the 2004 Tokyo Game Show by representatives of Sony Computer Entertainment, with the first playable build of the game being exhibited the following year at the 2005 Tokyo Game Show. The port features the option to display in the game in the original 4:3 aspect ratio of the Saturn release with a custom window border, or to stretch the display to fit the handheld's widescreen aspect. It also includes new features such as a more legible font and a gallery mode with music and illustrations.
Princess Crown received a 7.75 out of 10 average from Japanese Weekly TV Gamer magazine, based on individual scores of 7, 7, and 8. While it was never released outside Japan, it has since been regarded as a popular import title among Western Saturn owners. In a 2005 retrospective, IGN called the game "one of the finest examples of 2D on the barebones (meaning no RAM cartridge) Saturn system," and that it "offered an expansive quest with terrific characters and lots of gameplay." Website 1UP.com praised the game's graphics, declaring that "not only is the artwork detailed, the character design is simply gorgeous", elaborating that "If you rank games like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night among gaming's finest 2D royalty (and it is), it's nothing compared to the visual quality of Princess Crown."
PlayStation Portable version
In a preview of the PlayStation Portable version, GameSpot stated that the game "manages to hold up nicely" eight years after its original release, elaborating that "the gameplay is rock solid, and the visuals have a nice retro look to them that still impresses."  Despite this, the port was criticized for its lack of a true widescreen display, presenting the game in its original 4:3 aspect ratio instead of the PlayStation Portable's native 16:9. IGN called the port "lazy", stating that "Princess Crown on the PSP is a port of the original Saturn game in the most shameful of terms -- complete with borders around the small 320x240 gameplay window." GameSpot would also claim that "The pseudo-letterbox presentation is a bit of a downer, but it's hard to complain since we're just pleased to be able to play the game on the go."
Odin Sphere, Muramasa: The Demon Blade and Dragon's Crown, are considered spiritual successors to Princess Crown, with the former evolving its scenario and the two latter expanding on its gameplay systems. Dragon's Crown is said to be a project in George Kamitani's heart since its release and marks the first true successor to Princess Crown.
- "プリンセスクラウンPSP" (in Japanese). Atlus. Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- Gantayat, Anoop (2005-09-18). "TGS 2005: Princess Crown Returns". IGN. Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- Gifford, Kevin (2011-07-18). "Vanillaware's George Kamitani on Dragon's Crown". 1UP.com. Retrieved 2011-07-20.
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- Gantayat, Anoop (2004-09-21). "TGS 2004: New PSP Games Announcement". IGN. Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- Torres, Ricardo (2005-09-17). "TGS 2005: Princess Crown Hands-On". GameSpot. Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- Gantayat, Anoop (2005-06-22). "First Details: PSP Princess Crown". IGN. Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- "Princess Crown Review". Weekly TV Gamer (in Japanese) (36): 19–38. 1997-12-19.
- "Princess Crown Preview for PSP". 1UP.com. 2005-09-16. Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- Thomas, Lucas M. (June 4, 2009). "E3 2009: Muramasa: The Demon Blade Interview". IGN. Retrieved 2011-04-23.