Sometimes you just want to boss people around. We spend most of our lives abiding by other peoples’ orders and aiming to please authority figures, so it’s only natural that we would wish to rebel and dictate the doings of others. Sure, some games let you craft cities or lead space armies, but how many let you be a king? I’m talking crown, cloak, and scepter, baby. King. Little King’s Story is one of those games.
Published by Xseed games, Little King’s Story is a royalty simulator RPG produced by Harvest Moon mastermind Yasuhiro Wada. On the surface it appears to be a childish, pithy, waggle-heavy shovelware title. Is everything what it seems? Hit the jump to find out.Little King’s Story immediately douses you with gallons of color via its unique chalk drawing intro. The beautiful movie showcases a boy named Corobo chasing mischievous mice into a forest where he stumbles across a magical crown. Naturally, the crown is donned and Corobo is whisked away to a magical land where the inhabitants immediately appoint him king.
After being introduced to his shanty of a castle, King Corobo perches upon the throne and is introduced to the help. Howser, a bull knight and Corobo’s right hand, acts as a motivator and adviser. Liam, a giant but gentle servant, is a jack of all trades. Lastly is Verde, the adorable record minister, who lends a hand when you wish to save. Little King’s Story does a great job of immediately letting you know you’re in control.
Corobo is first tasked with snapping the “Carefree Adults” of Alpoko Kingdom. “Carefree Adults” is the default class of all units in the game. Think of them as blank canvases for you to impose your will upon. After a bit of waving his wand about, Corobo has a small band of follower shadowing his every move.
Having devoted followers is nice and all, but Carefree Adults are pretty useless in their raw form. Eventually you are rewarded with an allowance of gold, Howser suggests Corobo build a Town Guard, a Farmhouse, and several dwellings for the townsfolk. The Town Guard and Farmhouse allow Carefree Adults to enter and instantly become professional guards and farmers, respectively. Building additional houses increases the population of Alpoko Kingdom. What was once an empty, overgrown field around the kingdom slowly develops into a genuine town. Citizens bustle about and increase in number, and the castle becomes more and more impressive.
After you’ve accumulated some guards and farmers it’s time to get to the meat and gravy of any good RPG, the questing. Exploring the uncharted territories of the lands is simply charming. The guards put their swords work to destroy fallen trees that block paths. Farmers comically pile into mysterious holes, digging deep until they uncover treasure and loot. After all the years of questing and grinding, it’s truly rewarding to sit back and watch your peons do the dirty work for you.
Your subjects don’t get off just digging and harvesting lumber, oh no. That’d be too easy. It’s also King Corobo’s duty to send his men and women into battle. Walking mushrooms, cute Onii demons, and other bizarre creatures wander the lands begging for battle. All you have to do is use the analog stick on the nunchuk to make Corobo face the enemy, then by tapping a button your troops will charge into battle. No matter what class your subjects are, they will all do their dandiest to subdue the enemy. Your royal guard is so dedicated that they’ll mindlessly hack away at the enemy to their last health sliver, with only death to bring them rest.
This does not have to be, however. You have the ability to call for the retreat of your troops, effectively saving them from taking unnecessary damage. The flow of battle is rather simple; send in your troops, do damage, wait for a visual cue that the foe is about to counter-attack, retreat, and repeat. You’ll never have issues getting a good few preemptive blows on an enemy, but nearly each one has some sort of tell which indicates they are going to retaliate. It’s usually a little anime-style steam cloud that puffs from their head, indicating frustration and anger.
If any one of your units takes too much damage, they don’t simply kick the bucket. In an effort to make micromanaging your troops easier, a classified unit will return to being a default “Carefree Adult” before officially kicking the bucket. It’s a handy indicator that indicates the battle is not tilted in your favor. Units that weather multiple battles will level up, becoming hardy, indispensable veterans. You can bulk up your most decorated subjects by equipping them with items that augment their stats.
As you thoroughly sprawl the reach of your kingdom across the land, you eventually discover that you are not the only sovereign in the neighborhood. Howser explains to you that there are seven rival kingdoms which you are destined to dismantle. Lo and behold, the course of the game is unraveled before you.
World domination is no easy feat with a handful of people, so naturally you’ll need more subjects. You’re able to purchase upgrades that allow you to control dozens of units at once. Additional class types become available also, such as carpenters to help build bridges and staircases, hunters to provide arrow volleys, lumberjacks to chop down huge tree trunks, etc. You’ll want to make sure to have a varied group of servants following you so that you can do everything your little heart desires.
The rival kingdoms provide varied locations and enemy types, helping to keep the game feeling fresh. The Onii Kingdom is a primitive land with tiny, fanged, horned demon creatures. The boss of this land is a giant Onii who commands his own men to throw boulders and pots at your men. Another boss is the drunken King Duvroc in the Kingdom of Jolly. He chugs liquor atop mountainous crates of booze, allowing him to spit fire, ice, and vomit at you. All the while henchmen swarm your royal guard.
While the entire game feels like a pleasant cake walk (how could a cake walk ever be unpleasant?), the boss battles really amp up the difficulty. That’s even if you figure out which tactical formation is best for each boss. Duvroc in particular is very taxing, demanding the perfect combination of troops to vanquish him. You’ll be making your royal guard charge and retreat until your thumbs bleed. Not being able to skip the lengthy cutscenes before each boss battles gets to be a real pain, too. All that challenge only makes the pay off that much more rewarding, though.
When you vanquish rival kings, you’ll rescue whichever princess it was they were holding captive. In a quirky twist, Corobo is able to take on multiple Queens (much to the chagrin of Verde), which is perhaps the first time a polygamist has been featured in a video game. Little King’s Story is full of surprising, quirky little twists that helps it merit a Teen rating.
Once again, the Wii manages not to let underpowered graphical capabilities stop it from pushing out a stylish, fun looking game. The flavor of the presentation is decidedly kiddy, but the game is far too deep and adult humor-rich to ever hold a child for long. The character designs are very original also. You’ll likely be lusting after a stuffed Onii doll after a short while with the game.
Any developer looking to churn out a game for the Wii should take not of the control scheme of Little King’s Story. No motion control. You read that right, Little King’s Story lacks any sort of motion control. It doesn’t even let you point and click in the menus. This allows the player to focus on mastering the game rather than mastering the waggle, and you won’t miss it at all. It essentially feels like you’re playing on an N64 controller that’s been sliced in half.
Speaking of the N64, you’re going to be babysitting the camera like you were back on Nintendo’s last cartridge-based console. Other control issues you may run into include difficulty keeping your troops together when their numbers grow. Too many times a unit or two will miss a staircase and you’ll be forced to go back and collect them.
All and all, Little King’s Story is a perfect little diversion to sink your time into, especially if you’re one of the Wii dedicated. It’s one of the first truly compelling games that will have you coming back to it again and again to further your progress.
If you’re interested in a game that’s one part Pikman, one part Harvest Moon, and several parts hilarious, this game should definitely be on your to-do list. Your throne awaits, and the addictive gameplay will make sure your seat remains warm for eons to come. Long live the king!
A great looking game for a Wii title, but I can’t help but drool thinking about how gorgeous this game would look on one of the other consoles.
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The lack of motion control is a boon. Babysitting the camera is a headache, though.
The music is fitting and charming, but it’s almost all public domain. I Hope you like “Pomp and Circumstance” (graduation music), and The Lone Ranger theme.
You’ll likely be plugging away at this for weeks. Months even.
Little King’s Story is the first truly remarkable, original RPG to hit the Wii. Don’t let the kiddy veneer fool you, it’s pure win!