Review: Little King’s Story (Wii)July 21st, 2009 | Written by Danreb Victorio | Topic: Reviews, Wii
Developed by Marvelous Entertainment and published by XSEED, there isn’t a lot of success expected for Little King’s Story in the public’s blind gaming eye. Not only is the third party team not the most well known out there, but the game’s boxart doesn’t look too “maturely engaging” either, and it’s a shame because Little King’s Story just might be the best Wii game released so far this year.
Little King’s Story first boots up with a scene in the form of a puppet show, further showcasing the game’s seemingly adolescent nature. The game puts you in the shoes of a lonely little boy who, just as he was getting ready for bedtime, comes across colorful mice running around his bedroom. In curiosity, the boy follows these mice and somehow ends up in a forest where he finds a crown. After trying the crown on, a mysterious glow eradicates from his body leaving the villagers of the nearby kingdom to stand in attention. Suddenly, he learns from a suspicious old knight that he’s now the King of the Alpoko, and it’s up to him to bring the kingdom and village back to prominence… and eventually dominate the world.
In the end, what seems to be a very simplistic fairytale turns out to be quite a twisted story. With that, it’s hard to really put the game in a specific genre. You play the role of a king and the main story is about as long as any RPG, but the game plays more like a Pikmin-style real-time strategy game.
Your Kingdom of Alpoko starts off as a relatively small kingdom with the village’s peasants being nothing but carefree adults who can do nothing but digging holes. For the first few minutes of the game, it’ll be up to you as the king to recruit these carefree adults with the B button as noble subjects who’ll do your bidding. Once recruited, the servants will follow you wherever you go, and you can literally throw them at areas you’re facing with the A button. Since all they can do is dig holes, you’ll be spending the greater majority of your time getting used to the game’s control scheme, while also gaining a feel of what you’ll be doing throughout the little king’s story.
Once you gather enough funds to make the kingdom a bit more respectable, you can start to expand the kingdom by including various workplaces at the nearby village so the carefree adults can start to become more useful. At first, you’ll only be able to turn them into knights and farmers; knights can do nothing buy fight, and farmers are hard workers who can do any sort of cultivation—which is mainly digging holes at a faster rate.
When you feel that there is nothing left to do, you can always go back to your castle, sit on your throne, and get an update from your second-hand, Howser, about how the Kingdom is prospering. When sitting on the throne, any loot you have will be exchanged for Bol, the main currency in the game, and that’s essential because almost everything there is to make your kingdom better revolves around how much Bol you have in the kingdom’s savings. In addition to this, you’ll gain access to the kingdom’s suggestion box, which is pretty much just a menu to read different letters from your peasants as well as proposals for various quests that usually rely on your king and kinsmen’s ability to explore and take out bosses in vacant areas.
Exploration is one of the biggest elements in the game, and it’s also a great indicator on your progress. At first, you won’t be able to explore certain areas because they’ll be blocked off due to the lack of a bridge, a staircase, or due to the fact that there’s something in the way. This is where the game’s strategy comes in. Aside from the Grunt Soldiers and Hardworking Farmers mentioned earlier, there are ten other classes in the game that have different strengths. You have carpenters that can build bridges or staircases, lumberjacks that can axe down giant tree stumps blocking a path, animal hunters that can shoot arrows at distant fiends, chefs can cook animals (but to have to be socially acceptable, sorry—but the cooking of pets isn’t in this game) and a handful of other classes with different abilities. The follow-the-leader and throw-your-minions-at-enemies gameplay gives the game its Pikmin-like feel, but of course with a lot more classes, it’s a far cry from Miyamoto’s garden fantasy. On top of this, only a certain number of people can follow the King at a time, and you can only upgrade when the option is available back in your throne room.
Speaking of the option only being available in the throne room, the saving feature is only available in the throne room as well. The game’s tutorials remind you about the common fact that saving early and often in this game is essential, but as you progress farther and farther in the game and have your kingdom start to really grow, the journey back to your castle with the lack of warps or shortcuts starts to really become a chore, and this affects the game’s overall challenge. Some of the game’s bosses are hard enough, and if you fall against the boss two hours after your last save, you’ve basically screwed yourself out of good time. In this day and age, auto-save is entirely possible, and the lack of that feature in this game is one of its only drawbacks, but it’s a huge one at that—especially with how easy it is to forget to save with the sheer amount of things there are to do.
Little King’s Story does nothing to drastically challenge the Wii’s visual power, but for what the game is all about, it does a really good job delivering the message. Cutscenes in the game are shown in a watercolor texture, giving the game its storybook style. Actual environments are pretty reminiscent of Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon, but the depth and amount of ground you have to cover definitely relieve the player of any disappointment. We just wish there was a button that would activate the game’s map, rather than having to pause the game and find it.
As far as the sound goes, it’s rather hard to judge. In terms of the game’s many sound effects, quite a few are annoying and too cutesy for their own good. For example, as you’re walking around, all you hear is the king’s shoes squeaking. While it is a bit irritating, it’s nothing that really takes away from the experience. The game’s soundtrack is also a great blend of original music with revisions to famous classical arrangements such as the always epic William Tell Overture, the prideful tune of Pomp and Circumstance, and even the theme to The Lone Ranger in boss battles. These songs are by no means original, but they certainly make the game have its own original charm.
More likely than not, Little King’s Story is going to fall victim to gamers who will ultimately skip it because of the box, or simply because third party games like it just don’t get too much attention. With that, those who don’t live by that stigma will find that this game is an engaging experience that has enough depth, charm, and freshness to go with its sheer amount of gameplay. From building your kingdom, to recruiting an army, to choosing one out of seven princesses to be your bride, all the way to world domination–Little King’s Story has a lot to offer in a very polished package, so grab a copy or two before this one becomes rare.