I’m sure we have all heard and grown tired of the old cliché of making sure to never judge a book by its cover. It is assumed that in doing so, one could wrongfully pass up a good book with a bad title for a terrible book with a great one. Fortunately, as far as titles go, there seems to be an exception in the newest addition to the PSN network, Fat Princess.
Just by hearing those two words, lucid images appeared before my eyes of a fairy tale not so generically centered around a helpless beauty of a princess, but of a tale perhaps with a bit more character to it. Needless to say, all expectations I could make, based on the title alone, were happily met and exceeded.
Boasting a single player as well as an online multiplayer mode, developer Titan Studios takes on a familiar goal of providing a game entertaining enough to play alone or with others. Yet, it isn’t in the menu options that the game entices its players, but rather its flare. As the lyrical chord loops during the title and loading screens, the idea that the player is drifting into a medieval age slowly begins to develop.
By selecting the option to “Play with Yourself”, players are invited to learn about the Legend of the Fat Princess. In doing so, gamers become an avid audience as they are read aloud the basic premise of the game. Like school children sitting and listening intently, gamers learn about the world of the cursed Black Forest cake.
Ultimately, the foundation of the game rests upon the fact that after insatiably feeding upon the cake, the local princess as well as the neighboring princess, gain an insurmountable amount of weight. Eventually each kingdom kidnaps the opposing corpulent princess, and the goal set before gamers rests in rescuing the local princess.
During the single player mode, gamers will unlock seven chapters throughout the game, each time learning a bit more about the legend. The real treat is that each chapter offers a new mission. The various missions consist of Rescue the Princess, Snatch ‘n Go, Team Deathmatch and Invasion.
In Rescue the Princess, the goal is to infiltrate the enemy castle and return her to safety. While this may sound simple enough, there is nothing easy about the task at hand. Throughout each map, players will have to capture outposts, battle opposing enemies, and keep the enemy princess behind bars.
An outpost is captured when a player stands next to a flag pole until the flag bears the team’s color. While attacking opposing teams to prevent a rescue may seem logical, players can fatten up the princess to make a rescue more burdensome, which adds to the charm of the game.
With quips such as “Feed Me!” and “I’m hungry!!!!” coming from the prisoner’s dungeon, gamers will feel obliged to fulfill such demands by gathering pieces of cake growing on the battlefield and feeding them to the portly prisoner, thereby making her heavy and conclusively harder to carry.
At the beginning of each mission, players start off with a simple peon and a health bar measured in hearts. Strewn throughout the castle are machines, which spout hats of various shapes and sizes. In wearing each hat, the peon takes on the persona of one of five classes consisting of mage, priest, ranger, warrior and worker. Each one of these has an upgradeable second function that’s accessible with an easy press of the triangle button.
For instance, the warrior’s initial build is more suited for defense, and is geared with a sword and shield, but his secondary build is equipped with a two-handed Halberd, and is more suited for aggressive tactics. Every other classes’ changes are more profound: the ranger becomes a gunner, the priest gains the ability to drain life as a dark priest, the mage gains a freezing ability, and the builder turns into a Zelda-esque bomber.
Having these five options readily available throughout the entirety of each level not only contributes to fun gameplay, but it’s also necessary to advance. Players will soon learn when it is appropriate to become a worker to gather resources needed to upgrade classes, or when a priest is needed to heal the prevailing AI teammates. As the AI can become a massive help or hindrance, the use of the “up” button on the d-pad becomes a blessing in disguise. Up to three units may come to the players’ beck and call as the field is traversed.
For the most part, the AI magically makes decisions on repairing cracked doors and defending or advancing on outposts, but there will be times when it seems confused as to the best course of action. I must say, it was a bit of a curiosity the first time I witnessed an AI worker carefully meander around a pond of lava to obtain a crystal only to blindly step right into the magma and die the instant it reached its goal. Sadly, such poorly contrived plans seem to be the norm for the game’s AI.
Another type of mission available is Team Deathmatch, where the underlying goal is to reduce the enemy lives to zero. Gamers will get a chance to hone in on battle skills. Yet, throughout the mission, there will still be the normal upgrades and outposts to control, which adds to the overall strategy and enjoyment.
The last type of mission in Solo Mode is Invasion. The purpose is to capture outposts, which earlier served as way points and the occasional underground route back to the castle. Once a team controls 50% or more of the outposts, the enemies’ morale will gradually reduce. Once the morale reaches zero, the match ends.
After playing each mission, there are several chapters to complete in which a similar mission will be presented upon a new map. Once the chapters are completed, the story is over, but that hardly means the game is at its end.
There are three modes to play the single player on: easy, medium and hard. Aside from that, players can chose to make their own game and customize the level in terms of the amount of AI participants, the mission type and the map to play on. If they so wish, gamers can even go in and customize their character’s features. At first the choices available seem relatively scant, as players attempt poke around at all the game has to offer, new choices in the customization department will unlock.
With all that said and done, the real meat of the game rests in its online mode. Just as the solo mode consisted of Rescue the Princess, Snatch, Team Deathmatch, and Invasion, so does the multiplayer. Once in a game, the mission will play out precisely as the solo mode, with just more intelligent players controlling the characters…usually.
The real beauty of the online mode is getting a chance to actually feel like part of a team rather than being the sole person truly concerned with the eventual outcome of the game. Gamers can chat online as well as continue to make use of the “up” button to request assistance from those nearby.
Yet, while up to this point, the gamer’s belly may have remained gratuitously satisfied, the act of actually getting into a game will likely cause distress. With no lobby system, it becomes a bit of a chore finding a host with a connection that works. Should a gamer become one of the select few to make it into a game, prepare to be dropped at any moment because there are no dedicated servers.
Yes, the game will attempt to find a new host, and yes, the game may continue to gallop along unhitched. However, because players are randomly matched up with one of a thousand hosts, if there is any connection issue, gamers will be stuck at a dead screen for minutes at a time, without the ability to quit. Titan Studios has announced that they are working on a fix: when it will actually drop, only time will tell.
Aware that this problem is trying to be solved, one may be able to overlook such problems if it weren’t also for the many glitches present in the game. Having now joined multiple games of Snatch n’ Go or Rescue the Princess, it is a real disappointment to play for upwards of fifteen to twenty minutes only to have one of the princesses completely disappear from the game. As it is required to have the game’s princess on the throne while the enemy princess is in a dungeon during Snatch n’ Go, the mission thereby becomes impossible to complete.
Being permanently transformed into a chicken is another encountered glitch. While this spell generally is meant to last a few seconds, already it has been experienced that upon returning to normal the character will proceed the rest of their life sounding like a chicken and the ability to attack will be hindered. I’ve also encountered a few trees that disappear after harvesting them. If connection issues weren’t a problem, an easy solution would be to merely quit the game and join another. However, as earlier mentioned, the debate then remains whether or not to finish an unsatisfying round to keep a connected host, or to gamble with one’s time and try and find a better game.
Luckily, aside from connection issues and a few glitches, the game doesn’t suffer from much else. With only a narrator for a cast and a few catchy tunes on loop, the game doesn’t offer much in the sound department, although what it does offer is satisfactory. The narrator’s voice fits in smoothly with the overall tone of the game and the music gives off just the needed ambiance for a medieval realm game.
All in all, Fat Princess sets out to indulge its players in the choices provided on its carefully chosen menu. While nothing on its menu may seem out of the ordinary, it clearly sets out to master what it offers. As an action real time strategy title, the game offers simple gameplay with unique tidbits to nibble on. Presenting itself as an upbeat game, it keeps its goal obtainable, and that goal remains what every game’s goal should be: to have fun.
The cartoony graphics and animations are simply wonderful.
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You’ll have a blast playing as any class you choose, and the controls are very tight. However, due to some glitches, lackluster AI and a poor net code, Fat Princess doesn’t deliver as much as it should.
While the music could be better, it fits the fairytale tone quite nicely. Sound effects are pristine, and will have you chuckling often.
Online play, a hidden soccer mode, the “Baby Got Back” credits game, gladiator mode, and 31 available AI opponents will ensure that you’re playing this title for months to come.
Fat Princess is a gem that’s marred by some issues that would otherwise make it the best game on the PSN.
Second Opinion: Daniel Clancy
If you’ve ever dreamed of being a knight in shining amour, traversing dangerous lands and taking on huge, menacing armies in order to reach a damsel in distress trapped at the top of a dark tower, you probably didn’t imagine it like this. Fat Princess takes the classic fairytale blueprint that countless stories are based around and throws in giant, cursed cake growing out of the ground, potions that turn characters into chickens, lots and lots of blood and… well, overweight princesses.
The premise of the title is born from classic team-based gaming – of which capture the flag and team deathmatch are prime examples – although the finished product is dressed up in an entirely cute way that blends the look of most Cartoon Network shows over the past ten years with the cel-shading technique of Prince Of Persia.
The stumpy character designs and colorful environments are terrifically well rendered, standing out as soon as you load the game up. An overdose of color and character certainly adds a humorous edge to proceedings, while somehow triggering memories of first loading up the likes of Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie; perhaps the trick lies in the way environments seem welcoming and attractive at first glance, branding an image on the brain that demands you return again and again to its realms, in which you can get easily become lost for hours (in a good way).
Consisting of seven chapters, the single-player campaign tells the ridiculously charming story of two princesses who, while out having fun together in the Black Forest, stumble upon some giant cake. Unable to resist the delightful appearance of the dessert, the girls tuck in to its delicious sponge and icing. This is when things get eerie; the cake turns them instantly obese, while their respective families believe them to have fallen victim to some kind of Black Forest curse.
At the games heart lies a great sense of humor, with players asked to feed more and more cake to their corresponding princesses to make them larger, heavier and therefore more difficult to be carried away by the enemy. Naturally, the cake is scattered throughout the maps, which are usually full of the kind of chaotic action that can please and frustrate in equal measure. But it’s difficult to get mad at this game at all; though not impossible.
You will die a great deal during a game of Fat Princess, of this there is no doubt. However, the Priest – Titan’s version of a medic – can help improve the situation ten-fold by zapping life (represented by classic hearts) back into teammates. They also, like all other classes, have a special ability that can be triggered when holding down the square button. Priests can cause a blast of energy that effects those players within a certain radius. The use of the word “effects” is important here as an upgraded Priest – who looks like an evil Pope – can suck the life from opposing forces. A quick tap of triangle enables this wonderful ability switch to happen, as is the case with all other classes.
While the modes that Titan Studios has made available in Fat Princess are highly enjoyable to play, they are certainly lacking on the inventive side. Although it is harsh to criticise a game for using a template that other games of its ilk and even countless first-person shooters have previously utilised to great effect, one can’t help but feel that they played it a little safe. Perhaps they should have pushed further for the kind of outlandish gameplay that the look and feel of the title calls for, rather than leaving us with modes that need no explanation
If you’re looking for a team-based game that steps out from the first-person view, away from shadowy greys and browns and into a world of color and hilarious, sugar-coated gore, you should look no further than Fat Princess. Provided you are working within a strong team or, if all else fails, enjoy playing against thirty-one slightly deranged bots, you’ll be sure to laugh and revel in a well-executed kill like never before. It’s one of the best games to reach PSN – well worth its £11.99 price-tag – just don’t expect to be shown too much new, aside from team deathmatch in a glorious pink frock covered in crumbs.