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Little King's Story

Score: 75%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: XSEED Games
Developer: Marvelous Entertainment Inc.
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Strategy/ RPG/ Miscellaneous

Graphics & Sound:

Little Kingís Story is not a tech demo of graphical possibilities, for sure, but it does have a charming look to it. Thereís a sketchy filter over everything, which gives the feel of a storybook illustration. The king and his followers are all bobble-headed little folks running around in a world full of equally cute and bobble-headed animals and monsters. The look and feel of everything is warm, simple, and cute.

Personally, I could do without the hazy filter, but overall, the warm colors and simple layout make everything pretty easy to work with.

Little Kingís Story is actually an HD update to the 2009 Wii game of the same name. There is definitely a crispness to the graphics now, but the character design and look of the game remains the same. The chunky characters look a bit dated, but overall, the game looks good.

The sound of the game is that classic go-to RPG trope. Everyone speaks, and everyone has different voices, but most of the words they speak are garbled into a stream of nonsense. It sounds like someone is talking to you, but you can never quite make it out. You rely on the written dialogue on the screen to put words to the voice.

The background music is actually quite interesting for the fact that it is all classical music. Thereís lots of recognizable Beethoven, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky pieces, to name a few. I am not a music buff, but I recognize most of the music in this game, if not by title, at least by tune. There are many tried and true pieces such as "Pomp and Circumstance" and "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy." There are apparently 37 different classical songs played throughout the game, so if you are into music, this game may be a relaxing little diversion just as a musical journey.


Gameplay:

The humor is one of the best things about Little Kingís Story. You find a magic crown, you become king, and you gain a ridiculous entourage of advisers and citizens. Becoming king overnight is funny enough, thereís more to it than that. Your trusted adviser, Howser, for example, straight up admits he wants you to go for full "World Domination." But is this really his plan? Perhaps he is actually a brilliant manipulator just looking for the chance to make his move - wait, now heís reading a scribbled letter that calls the king a jerk. He then consults with the royal cow. The layers of absurdity are pretty hilarious. The intro is fairly deceptive and makes it sound like the game will be a saccharine-sweet cute fest, but it ends up being a rather smart and funny place full of interesting characters, a bit like an early Jim Henson production.

I thought at first that this was a game about world building, but thereís really not much to do in the way of decision making. You go make money, you go build the next thing on the list. There is some satisfaction in seeing your kingdom expand, and you can make some decisions to build certain things before others, but itís pretty straightforward.

The real game in this game will take a ploddingly long time to find. As you slowly build upgrades, you slowly get access to new jobs like Carpenters, Farmers, and Soldiers. You then get the ability to equip items. In what seems like an eternity, youíll earn the ability to command certain formations such as defense or an aggressive attack. Youíll learn how to attack and recall your group in order to expertly defeat your foes and maximize your treasure hunting speed.

It seems like an eternity to get to that point because this is a game built on days. There is only so much you can do in a day due to the level design and the way the game builds in bottlenecks. For example, at one point, your only available options might be to fight a giant toad, which is a particularly tough boss, or eke out some measly treasure that only shows up in a select few spots on the map. You can loot the treasure caches, sleep, then start over. However, you canít expand your kingdom (even if youíre swimming in cash) until you defeat the toad. So really, you have no choice but to fight the toad at that point, even if youíd like to explore or build something else first.

While the linear nature means that itís pretty easy to tell what you need to do next, it also means you can feel trapped by it. It feels like this should be an open-ended kingdom building game with lots of management and customization options, but itís clear within a few hours of play that Little Kingís Story is more of an "on rails" RPG.


Difficulty:

Little Kingís Story is easier when you make some upgrades and improve things like the size of the squad you can take with you. There are some roadblocks where, even if you grind away and build as much as youíre allowed to, you might still have to beat a boss before youíre allowed to purchase other upgrades or expand your territory. With each upgrade and advantage you get, however, the stakes rise and the enemies become trickier.

The game seems pretty forgiving in giving you second chances. If your citizens are injured, you can heal them at a spring. If they die, well, miraculously youíll get new ones, but youíll have to pay death benefits. However, if you donít protect yourself, the king, itís game over (or in the rather disturbing fashion of this game itís called "Life Over").


Game Mechanics:

With such simple controls, Little Kingís Story needs to have some polished mechanics to be enjoyable. Everything in this simple game, in fact, does work well. Youíll basically be recruiting and deploying your citizens to do various jobs. The controls are limited to a few buttons and an occasional menu to do more complicated tasks like create squads of varied citizens. The rest of your time is spent trying to maneuver the Little King himself to avoid danger and properly heard your citizens around.

Some parts of the map, such as stairs and plateaus with access ramps, are needlessly difficult to maneuver once you have a large entourage to command. Stragglers get stuck behind and force you to go back and line everyone up again and again until youíve made the perfect approach. Again, not the worst thing in the world, but canít we take care of little annoyances like this, especially in a remade game such as this one?

Little Kingís Story does suffer from a few more minor annoyances that many JRPGs share. Why canít you save anywhere? Why doesnít the game auto save? Why do I have to stand near my citizens while they do mundane tasks like build bridges? Again, these are minor annoyances, but not game-stopping bad.

It can be rather enjoyable to build a team, learn the strategies of attack and retreat with each unique enemy, and amass large quantities of treasure. With its classical soundtrack and cheery but bizarrely humorous atmosphere, Little Kingís Story is one of those games that is so adorable, itís almost hard to get mad at it. After a while, I found myself clicking with the gameplay, and if you give it a long enough window, youíre likely to have a good time with it too.


-Fights with Fire, GameVortex Communications
AKA Christin Deville

Minimum System Requirements:



MINIMUM SPECS: OS: Windows XP/Windows 7/Windows 8, Processor: Intel Core i3-530 @ 2.93 GHz, Memory: 2 GB RAM, Graphics: NVIDIA Geforce 450, DirectX: Version 9.0c, Storage: 5 GB available space, Sound Card: Compatible with DirectX
 

Test System:



Win 10 64bit, 16 GB, Intel Core i7-4720HQ CPU 2.6 GHz, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M

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