In Princess Debut, you play a young girl who discovers a magical alternate universe where she is a princess, and the boys in her school are princes. By first learning to dance, and then dancing with the princes, she can get their attention and select one for upcoming big ball.
It would be no surprise if most folks have tuned out by now, as Princess Debut is admittedly a product aimed at a very specific demographic (young girls), but for those still reading, let me explain how the game works. After being transported to the alternate universe, taking the place of another girl who looks just like you (while she takes your place in the “real” world), you’re quickly greeted by your butler-bunny friend who quickly explains your predicament: There is an important ball in 30 days and you have to woo a partner and practice a dance that will captivate everyone at the gala.
The story moves quickly along and you are introduced to the prince candidates, one of whom you’ll have to select for the ball. You go through conversation trees with the different candidates, which is part of the gameplay mechanic of Princess Debut. You’re soon introduced to the other, more fun mechanic when the dancing minigame tutorial shows you the ropes. Basically, you follow a glowing dot along a pre-set route. You have to keep your stylus above the dot as it moves along increasingly complex routes. Because the game is aimed at younger gamers, the difficulty never really ramps up (Elite Beat Agents this is NOT), allowing you to contemplate the melodies and the 3D dance moves.
As expected, the visuals in Princess Debut are extremely bright and cheerful. The dance scenes are presented in decent looking 3D while you are guiding your stylus along. The conversations play out with 2D animated characters similar to other Natsume published games. The audio in Princess Debut is equally tilted towards the young and feminine, with lively and light tunes complementing the conversations and waltzy compositions accompanying the dance routines.
Even before you’ve received bonus dance gowns, dresses, and accessories, you’ll get the sense of who Princess Debut is targeting, and given the reactions of my younger niece, it does a good job at achieving its goals. The game is obviously not for everyone, but with the growth of gaming and the DS’ phenomenal sales, it’s very likely you know someone who would be very interested in a game like Princess Debut. With fanciful storytelling and a decent gameplay dancing mechanic, Princess Debut will likely dance its way into a few Holiday wish lists this year.