Friday, July 31, 2009

Little King's Story (Wii) Review

This is the final review for the month of July. Tomorrow I'll post the Review Round-Up with all reviews posted this month in case you missed one or two. For now, check out Little King's Story for Wii.

Long Live the King

Who hasn’t ever dreamed about being king? Well, probably women who’d want to be queen, but just roll with this for a second anyway. The ability to rule a land, shape it how you want, boss everyone around, etc. It’s a very intriguing prospect. If you aren’t born into a monarchy though, the next best thing may just be the new Nintendo Wii game from Xseed and Marvelous, Little King’s Story. Is this a game that makes it good to be king, or is it one that will be crowned a disappointment?

Little King's Story puts you in the role of the little king, a shy boy who one day uncovers a golden crown. With this, he suddenly becomes the king of Alpoko. You start with a small, rundown, isolated kingdom, but by the conclusion of the game, Alpoko will expand its boundaries beyond the starting lands with dozens of denizens, a bounty of buildings, and more money than God. Of course, you can't do this alone. Your advisers, Howser, Liam, and Verde are there to support you with news, advice, and the ever-important ability to save.

A leisurely jaunt through the melon patch.

There are seven kingdoms surrounding Alpoko ruled by seven quirky kings, and it's the little king's job to take these lands by any means necessary. This is in order to dominate the wor-- I mean, unite the lands. As lands are taken by the little king's army, new areas open up, new jobs for citizens open up, and new quests are unlocked. Completing simple quests such as "beat enemy located here" reward players with bonus items that are converted to cold hard cash when the little king returns to his throne. Quests, which are accepted via Howser's suggestion box, are rated in difficulty by stars. Five out of five stars is the hardest while one star is the easiest. Certain quests have you taking on colossal bosses, but the reward for besting the big baddy is the expansion of your kingdom. A simple hit and run pattern of striking an enemy and then calling them off when you see the enemy about to attack works wonders here.

A good king never gets his hands dirty. No, that's a job for the common folk. Alpoko's citizens are ready and willing to do the work for their king. Every citizen starts out as carefree with no special abilities, but as new lands are acquired, new buildings can be built either to house more citizens or to create new jobs for said citizens. This isn’t like Dark Cloud where you select where you want the buildings to be erected, however. Regardless, there are over a dozen jobs that are unlocked by the end of the game, and they all serve a purpose. Soldiers are the main line of offense. The deal the most damage, and they're deadly in sheer numbers. Meanwhile, carpenters build bridges and stairways at designated areas for your troops to cross rivers and scale plateaus. Then there's miners who destroy large boulders, lumberjacks who remove huge tree stumps, and hunters who can attack enemies from afar. The more advanced jobs cost money to train, so it's a constant struggle having enough money to build, train, and buy.

Carpenters can build steps as well as bridges.

Little King's Story plays a lot like Pikmin. However, since each citizen has a name and identity, it's much more damning to have a troop die on you since it's not as easy as bringing a Pikmin pellet to a flying saucer to create another citizen. Sure, there's a chance that a dead denizen will wash up on the nearby beach the next day, but it's still a good idea to show carefulness in your orders. Instead, some citizens will fall in love with one another. They can then get married at the church, have babies, and your town will blossom with new life (i.e. warriors to send to battle).

The little king can do some fighting with his scepter, but he's no match for a stronger enemy. That's where your royal guard comes in. They'll follow you around the various areas of the world in one of three beginning formations. They can line up behind you in rows, follow you in a snake-like pattern for evasion, or guard you in a protective ring. Like Pikmin, you call your forces to attack enemies, build bridges, or whatever by facing the enemy or item you want to be utilized and mash the A button for how many people you want to work on your task. It's odd that the pointer wasn't used for this game. In fact, there's no Wii remote functionality at all to speak of. Instead, a yellow line to designate the little king's line of sight is used. This works well most of the time, but it can be nigh frustrating trying to send your troops to attack one enemy yet they keep attacking another. A choice for pointer functionality would have been welcome.

Jump cannons allow you to blast yourself across the land.

If you want to send out a specific type of troop, you can cycle between job classes with the down button on the directional pad to make planning all the more easy. Each of your townspeople have health bars in the form of hits. They can only take so many hits until they perish, but they're fully healed once the little king goes to bed. Additionally, each guard can be equipped with a treasure, awarded by completing quests or hidden around the world. These can raise their attack power, immunity to poison, being frozen, or burnt, or boost their life energy. Conversely, enemy health is symbolized with a circle that depletes clockwise. Once the circle is completely gray, the enemy is eliminated.

Each area is cohesive without apparent load times.

Those seven kingdoms you must take over are ruled by seven boss kings. These aren't your typical boss fights either. One will have you playing pinball with the boss as the ball, another will have you answering brain teasers, while another will have you trekking up a mountain while avoiding bombs, boulders, and other baddies. These boss battles are highly creative and quite challenging. Thankfully, there's three difficulties to choose while playing Little King's Story. Besting a boss will open up their land under the name of Alpoko and giving you the chance to rescue a princess.Besides boss battles and expanding your kingdom, there's plenty of side quests, grinding for cash, and other things to do.

This boss breathes fire and ice from his stoop.

Little King's Story is visually impressive. The art style is quaint and cute, the colors are very virbant, and everything runs and at a smooth, steady clip. The music is all public domain with tunes like Frere Jacques and the William Tell Overture arranged and performed in clever ways. The writing is pretty out there in some parts as many of the bosses will just weird you out. There's plenty of humor all around, regardless.

Little King's Story is a highly charming real-time strategy game that is incredibly difficult to ignore. The gameplay is so intriguing that two hours can easily pass without you noticing. The polish and care given to this game is one that we don't see not just on Wii but on any console. With the rewarding and challenging gameplay, 20-30 hours of story to play through, and oodles of secrets to explore and uncover, Little King's Story gets a high recommendation as one of the best games of the year.

[SuperPhillip Says: 9.25/10]

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