Little King's Story ReviewBy Raymond Padilla - Posted Aug 04, 2009
It’s easy to dismiss Little King’s Story as another kiddie game for Wii. The cute box art, saccharine character design and adorable name are enough for most enthusiast gamers to give this title a pass. That would be a monumental mistake.
- Deceptively deep gameplay
- High replay value
- Gorgeous art style and great music
- Some battles are needlessly long
- Targeting and pathfinding are inconsistent
- Dull story
It’s easy to dismiss Little King’s Story as another kiddie game for Wii. The cute box art, saccharine character design and adorable name are enough for most enthusiast gamers to give this title a pass. That would be a monumental mistake. After you get past the cutesy (but well done) trappings, the game offers a brilliant experience, combining real-time strategy, role playing, kingdom building, and disarmingly witty dialogue. You know that saying about not judging a book by its cover? Little King’s Story shows that it applies to games too.
When Genres Collide
As I mentioned in the intro, Little King’s Story combines elements of several different genres. It has role-playing (talking to people, collecting items), real-time strategy (the core combat, character classes), and kingdom-building (expanding territory, managing resources). Through solid tutorials and simple introductory missions, all of it seems easy, but the difficulty ramps up and hits a level that many gamers will find delightfully challenging. If I had to compare it to anything, Little King's Story is the smooth result of sticking Pikmin, Harvest Moon, and Nobunaga’s Ambition in a blender.
The basic goal of the game is to expand your kingdom so that you rule all. The story -- one of the game’s few weak points -- doesn't do much to make this goal exciting or extraordinary. However, the game’s dialogue makes it a hilarious and thought provoking romp. I was surprised -- almost shocked -- at how smart the dialogue is. In addition to some crude jokes and video game references, there are a lot of jokes based on classic literature, historical facts, and other things you wouldn’t expect from a game with cutesy visuals.
Epic Battles and Controlling Them
In-game skirmishes are initially simple (send your guys to beat the crap out of the other guys), but become brain-tickling. As you advance, you have access to a wider variety of units. Some of them are highly specialized, serving only one particular purpose and coming in handy only under specific battle conditions. As you’d expect from a game with real-time strategy combat, managing your resources, choosing the right units and picking the right spots are the keys to victory. Boss fights, many of which stray from the game’s normal combat, add a pleasant diversion and some variety. Little King’s Story does a good job at presenting battles that are fun, challenging, and rewarding.
While the Wiimote-and-nunchuk control-scheme works well, there are some control issues that sometimes make battles more difficult than they ought to be. Pathfinding is one of them. You’ll tell units to go someplace and they’ll pick an idiotic path to the destination, costing you time that could mean the difference between victory and defeat. Targeting can also be a problem, causing you to keep a closer eye on attackers than you ought to; instead of pulling back and adjusting your strategy, there are times when you’ll need to coddle your units just to make sure that they’re hitting what you want them to hit. These issues aren’t the norm, but they pop up enough that some encounters become artificially difficult.
Royal Audio Visual
In terms of sights and sounds, Little King’s Story is very good, although it has some annoying quibbles. The art style is fantastic and is a great match for the game’s witty dialogue. The characters and environments, while possibly too saccharine for some, are fun to watch. On a technical level, the visuals could stand to be better, simply so you could see more of the battle environment and manage your troops more efficiently. I wasn’t expecting much from the soundtrack, but the classical music score is strong. Some gamers might not care for the Sims-like gibberish sound effects, but overall, the game has solid sound.
I don’t expect Little King’s Story to light the world up with chart-busting sales figures. Nor do I expect it to win many game-of-the-year awards. That said, I would recommend it to most gamers I know. It’s a fun, engrossing, and unique game that’s one of my favorite Wii exclusives of 2009. Again, some gamers are going overlook Little King’s Story based on its screenshots or box art. I implore you to not make this royal mistake, and give this game a look. If you’re the least bit into strategic gameplay, it’ll definitely be worth your while.