Little King’s Story is among my favorite Wii games, and while I technically reviewed this game way back when, I generally look upon my writing during that time in a very negative light, and with a PC version recently coming out, I figured it was as good a time as any to revisit this delightful game, and I’m not too surprised by how I feel about it.
Little King’s Story Review
Platforms: Wii, PC(reviewed)
Developer: Cing and Marvelous Inc.
Publisher: XSEED Games
Little King’s Story is the tale of Corobo, a young boy who finds himself in the midst of a fantastical world where he soon finds a golden crown he places on his cute little head. A sign that he is destined to become king of a pitiful excuse of a nation, and grow it into a world dominating powerhouse one opposing nation at a time. While also accruing a collection of wives. A simple, yet effective tale that manages to remain both a memorable and endearing one throughout its entire duration.
While there is not much proper story in this Little King’s Story, it makes up for it by having a very exuberant and intoxicating personality that manages to feel childish and wonderful, subtlety Japanese, and weirdly more insightful than anyone would expect. It is a game where the bosses consist of a fat French man who you need to use as a pinball, a drunkard on top of a bunch of plastic crates, a quizzical egg, and a geography test. Every area of this game manages to be memorable in some degree, incorporating some unique element to it, and holding its own charm, much like the rest of the game.
While the term can be overused, I keep going back to that word whenever trying to describe this game. It is a delightful and charming little romp where everything from the simple and silly faces of the generic citizens have something appealing about them. Everything works together to give off an eccentric storybook vibe that I still have yet to see captured by any other game I have ever played.
From the colorful visuals, the soundtrack ripe with classical songs, revamped to give them their own distinct personality, or just the mumbling from the various characters in the game, it all has an incredibly lovable quality that kept this game preserved in my mind as this excellent little gem. Unfortunately, I would not be so generous with my compliments when talking about the gameplay.
Gameplay of Little King’s Story is often compared to Nintendo’s Pikmin franchise, and for a good reason. You are a little king commanding a small battalion of soldiers, farmers, chefs, lumberjacks, and robo-carpenters and you sort through them before sending them out to do a small number of tasks, like break the thing, kill the enemy, and build the thing. Each morning, you set off with your own assembly of the royal guard, made up of a diverse and practical group of characters, and venture off into the great unknown, in search of battle, treasure, and lands to call your own.
However, in doing these things, the game can come across as a bit shallow. What combat there is most often consists of sending your soldier type characters at various foes, and calling them back whenever enemies clearly telegraph their attacks with a puff of smoke that bursts from their heads. You cannot really flank them or some such thing, and there are only a few who are weak to a certain class, such as the chickens, who can easily be cooked alive by using a chef. The closest semblance to strategy that I found involved using the limited equipment mechanic to give your given soldiers an item that can paralyze foes, allowing for you to get more hits in.
Beyond that, the hit and run tactics are all you have to general combat, and needless to say, it is not very invigorating. You dogpile an enemy until they charge up an attack, and then flee in order to avoid damage, a predictable array of status conditions, attacks that can change your character’s class, which is annoying seeing as how you need to pay for class changes, and instantaneous death movies. Yes, from as early as the first five hours, Little King’s Story features enemies and bosses who can murder your citizens with a single strike, and later on there are obstacles with the same capabilities. Which is the most evident instance of this game’s difficulty.
There are quite a lot of odd instances where the game’s difficulty reaches bizarre extremes, requiring a lot of diligence and patience from the player against a threat that may not be evident until after you lose a lot in the process. These can most often be seen in boss battles, whose novelty and dramatic flare can often be undermined by a challenge that does not always feel fair. Then there are sections that just waste your time with how long it takes to properly defeat a series of recurring enemies who appear in the form of quests. The scarecrow, Spinny Knight, and giant snail are all time sinks that consume a good chunk of in-game days, and are a rest of fruition more than anything else.
That said, these are just peaks of frustration that manifest themselves in what is otherwise a jaunty adventure through a colorful world that had me giddily revisiting locations I only vaguely recalled from years ago, all while taking in the delightful soundtrack. Combat is usually relatively easy, and if not it can provide a decent deal of tension as you narrowly avoid tail swipes from oddly proportioned dragons or the rampage of desk fan tanks, and there was so much endearing about most boss fights that I really didn’t mind that I had to go through them again… at least for the first five times, because then it just got annoying. Stupid king Sauvage and his big beard of boisterous death.
Even though I can gripe on these aspects, I still find the game to be an utter joy the vast majority of time. I even had a good time while doing the theoretically obnoxious fetch quests for Corobo’s many wives. I even found myself enjoying the finer aspects of this game, even though this PC port isn’t very good. In fact, you may just have a better time if you emulate it. Well, based on the unpatched launch version of the game anyhow.
The issues plaguing this game are numerous and minor. Spanning from bad keyboard controls, even though the gamepad works fine. Eight directional movement instead of 360 degree movement of the Wii version. A recommended frame rate of 30 due to technical reasons that would likely be difficult to remedy. Limited visual options that are contained in a prompt that must be configured before the game. Stability issues, as seen by the three times it crashed on me. Oh, and the game runs in the background, with music still playing, if you try to close it from the taskbar. To turn it off then, you need to end the Little King’s Story background task… Yeah, it’s kind of a mess. I hope they patch it eventually, as there hasn’t been one in the first week and a half of the game’s launch.
While I can look at Little King’s Story as a flawed game, one whose gameplay loop is actually quite repetitive, and is generally oddly constructed in many minor ways, I still can’t help but thoroughly enjoy this game. A strong aesthetic can often make or break a game, and when you manages to create something that manages to feel childish, genuine, and ultimately endearing like this, it would take a lot to do anything more than crack this little gem. Little King’s Story is a joyful romp of adventure and conquest, one that I genuinely enjoyed going on the first time, and am happy to claim is just as delightful years later.