Fat Princess: Fistful of Cake is a tiny version of a lovable treat, like those fun-sized Snickers you get on Halloween. Fortunately, you won't feel like you're getting short shrift on the goodies. This updated, handheld version of last summer's PSN hit Fat Princess successfully incorporates the original title in its entirety, adding double-stuffed multiplayer and brand-new story sequences. In other words, it's more filling than it appears.
- Gameplay adapts well to handheld platform
- Excellent port
- Filled with value-rich PSP exclusive content
- No headset support makes strategizing difficult
- Invasive overhead map
- Lack of AI squad commands
Fat Princess: Fistful of Cake is a tiny version of a lovable treat, like those fun-sized Snickers you get on Halloween. Fortunately, you won’t feel like you’re getting short shrift on the goodies. This updated, handheld version of last summer’s PSN hit Fat Princess successfully incorporates the original title in its entirety, adding double-stuffed multiplayer and brand-new story sequences. In other words, it’s more filling than it appears.
Capture The Nag
If you haven’t played the console version, here’s a rundown: As a member of the blue or (vastly superior) red team, you are charged with keeping your enemy’s princess prisoner while retrieving yours from the opposition’s dungeon. There are plenty of different modes to spice things up; most are variations on capture the flag. Hat machines churn out different kits; donning them lets you switch between a variety of character classes. These run the gamut from the Warrior (armored soldier) to the Dark Mage (health-sucking pentagram drawer). To anchor your prisoner, making it more difficult for the opposition to spirit her away, present the lady with cake. Fortunately, these porcine princesses aren’t picky about the five-second rule. Find a cake slice in the dirt, underwater, or in the sweaty, hedonistic nest of a woodland creature, and she’ll gobble it up, expanding in the process.
Table For One, Dinner For Two
Fistful of Cake doesn’t stop at including the original story mode in its entirety: it doubles its predecessor's offering with a total of fifteen sequences. And these levels aren’t ham-fisted stabs at selling fans two copies of the same game, either. The most enjoyable handheld-adapted map, Deep Fried, takes place in a lava pool. Rushing to your castle with enemies at your back and the princess in your arms becomes even more challenging as the paths ahead of you sink into and emerge from deadly lava. It’s frustrating at times, but strategizing under the additional pressure is generally enjoyable.
New enemy NPCs include Tween Wolf-like woodland creatures with sniper-accurate bows. They want both teams’ princesses for unnamed purposes, and their arrows don’t discriminate. Throwing a third “team” into the mix (if only for a bit) adds a new element, but their occasional attacks from off-screen are difficult to defend against. I’m happy to see the game keeping things fresh, but I’m glad they’re not in every level.
Part of the reason off-screen attacks are so difficult to defend against is the game’s minimal HUD. In order to figure out where you, your teammates, and your enemies are, you’ll need to bring up a full-screen map. This map covers the entire screen, and opening it in-game leaves you susceptible to enemy attacks. This full-screen canvas is far more invasive than the PS3 version’s, in which the map covers only the bottom three-fourths of the screen, giving players the opportunity to realize they are being attacked and flee as the map closes. You’ll find yourself switching back and forth in the PSP version, frantically scanning the overhead while hoping no one shows up next to you, since you’re as good as dead if you try to switch back to the action during an assault. A HUD designed specifically for the handheld would've been a simple solution to this nagging problem.
Multiplayer skirmishes are, as to be expected, on a smaller scale. While the PS3 version offered 32-player matches, Fistful of Cake allows teams of up to four players each. Even though fewer people can join in, it’s a nice change of pace. Tighter gameplay means objectives are more manageable, individual players become recognizable, and actions are more thoughtful and less frenetic. It’s a bit of a give and take, though, as the game lacks headset compatibility--a big loss for a PSP game with online multiplayer. It’s not as bad as wrangling 15 other incommunicado players over PSN, but its absence is frustrating.
Bots nicely round out the rest of the team, but unlike in the single player mode, you can’t enlist them in a medieval posse. Though the bots are consistent, it’s too bad they’re funnier -- with punny names like Solid Cake, Liquid Cake, and, er, Caketos -- than they’re intelligent. Although the notion of liquid cake does sound tasty, I must admit. Even in the single-player mode, which allows for squads, I longed for simple communication with my bot buddies. Squad commands like “follow me” and “push forward” could be smoothly mapped onto the d-pad. It’s a baffling omission.
Fistful of Cake includes the same multiplayer modes found in the PS3 version, and then some -- doubling the total of multiplayer modes from four to eight. A new map designed specifically for Reaper mode joins the maps from story mode. Whoever racks up the most kills as the PSP-exclusive Reaper emerges victorious, baptized into the dark church by the blood of his cutesy-wootsy enemies I enjoyed the novelty of Queen's Rules, a battlin' soccer match, but spent the most time with Demolition, which replaces the princesses with oversized bombs.
Fat Princess: Fistful of Cake adapts wonderfully to PSP, partially due to the crisp play style that lends itself to handheld gaming, and thanks to SuperVillain’s solid adaptation. Besides the added quantity of exclusive content, this game tweaks and re-adapts the original’s art style to make it palatable for the small screen. It’s like a cupcake companion to the downloadable PS3 original. It’s not the same as buying an entire ice cream cake and eating it in secret, but it still hits the spot.