No offence to Dale Carnegie’s best-selling self-help book, but we’ve found a simpler way to win friends and influence people.
While it won’t enhance your real-life social standing or improve your self esteem, Little King’s Story will make you feel like true royalty - while you are playing it, at least.
The game is a blend of several genres: RTS, adventure and life-sim, tied together with a strong storyline and a control system that is simple and intuitive. New elements are constantly being introduced as the game progresses, but thanks to on-call tutorials and minimalistic commands, the learning curve is a mere 5-10 minutes at most. With its kid-friendly PG rating, Little King’s Story is accessible to all ages. It is tailor-made for the Wii so there are none of the graphics or control issues that can accompany a ported version. Going multi-genre can be a risky gamble; we can think of several titles which have suffered due to an ‘identity crisis’. In the case of Little King’s Story, however, there is a perfect balance between genres and the gamble has really paid off.
The game’s story is one which will appeal to all ages too: young Corobo is a shy ‘Billy no-mates’, who stumbles across a magical crown one day, which bestows powers of charm and command upon the wearer. Corobo dons the crown (as you do), and instantly becomes sovereign of his own village. Under the guidance of his advisor and ministers, the young king sets about expanding his kingdom and finding gainful employment for his loyal subjects… all for the greater good, of course.
Initially, your citizens are all unqualified layabouts whose only talent, besides standing around gossiping, is digging holes. Once you’ve put them to work and unearthed a bit of buried treasure, you are able to erect buildings to train these ‘Carefree Adults’ into ‘Hardworking Farmers’ (specialist diggers), and ‘Grunt Soldiers’ (peerless fighters). Later on you will gain access to other professions such as carpenters and hunters.
Characters and locations often have whimsical, tongue in cheek names such as Princess Apricot and Upchuck Forest, and are beautifully designed. While most have no impact on the main story you’ll be able to meet and interact with hordes of interesting and downright wacky people, plus celebrate festivals and participate in planting and matchmaking activities. It is easy to grow attached to your citizens’ individual quirks and personalities, and the goings-on in their day to day lives (think Animal Crossing).
While there are many items and resources to collect, managing them is not an issue as they are converted into gold, which is added to your coffers and used to buy or build anything you need, including new training facilities and citizen upgrades.
It’s all very well trying to live in harmony with your fellow man or beast, but some creatures are ill-disposed to trespassers on their turf, and combat is an important element of the game. UMAs or Unidentified Mysterious Animals are best dealt with by using extreme prejudice and the pointy end of a sword. Fighting is a simple matter of directing your soldiers to attack, and leaving them to it. Much of the time you are rewarded with items and resources which can be traded in for gold, and surviving grunts can earn promotions.
Strategy definitely comes into play in the boss/guardian battles, which are challenging – but not overly so. Knowing when to attack and when to retreat can mean the difference between victory and inglorious defeat, and taking down a boss can see you rewarded with serious cash and prime real estate. As well as hostile creatures to dispatch, there are rival kingdoms to deal with as your own borders expand. These encounters will put your skills to the test, but once again, the rewards are worth the effort.
Quests are divided into three categories: those which advance the main story, collecting items and keeping your citizens happy. No matter how trivial, there’s always something to do, which helps keep the pace cracking along. Game time passes much more quickly than in reality; if you venture out at night it pays to be well armed, since this is when the tougher UMAs appear. Load and save times are minimal, which is always a real bonus.
Visually the game is very polished indeed; pastel-effects lend a dreamlike quality to cut scenes and gameplay, colours are rich and bright, details are plentiful and animations are seamless. Background music is courtesy of 19th century composers, such as Tchaikovsky, Grieg and Sousa. Sound and graphics combine to produce the ‘fairy tale’ atmosphere which is a perfect backdrop for this game.
Little King’s Story is a little beauty; fans of Nintendo’s classic ‘cutesy’ titles such as Animal Crossing and Pikmin will truly love it. We may be finished with the reviewing side of things but are still playing Little King’s Story… which is probably the best endorsement we can give any game.