Format: Wii Genre: RPG Released: 2009 Developer: Cing/Town Factory
Little King’s Story was a very pleasant surprise. Having read some positive reviews before buying it, I knew it was going to be good, but I was amazed at just how good it would turn out to be.
The first thing you need to know about Little King’s Story is that it’s definitely not ‘little’ – by the time I’d finished it I’d racked up over 40 hours of gameplay, and there were still side quests I hadn’t done. To be fair, you could probably finish the main game a lot more quickly than that, but there are so many interesting distractions along the way, you’d be doing the game a disservice to ignore them. I mean, how can you pass up the opportunity to beat a cow at table tennis?
Anyway, I was initially drawn to Little King’s Story by the similarities it shares with Pikmin, one of my favourite GameCube games and one that has – perhaps surprisingly – rarely been imitated. Superficially, the games are very similar in that you command a group of followers who you can fling in front of you to fight enemies, break rocks, carry items and generally do useful stuff. However, whereas Pikmin only gave you three types of follower to choose from, Little King’s Story has around 20, all with different abilities. As such the game is a lot more complicated, and coming up with the right balance for your team – particularly during boss battles – can be quite tricky.
Speaking of boss battles, the bosses in this game have to be some of the most inspired I’ve ever seen, ranging from a drunken layabout king who you have to knock from atop his pile of beer crates (see screenshot below) to ‘King TV Dinah’, a part man, part TV broadcaster who fights across various telly programmes, from westerns to sci-fi. My favourite though was a boss who hides inside a giant egg and challenges you to answer questions about the things you’ve seen so far in the game – get a question wrong and he releases hordes of cockerels to attack you. Natch.
The game is far from perfect of course, and in fact some parts are downright frustrating. In particular, there’s a section in the middle where the game gives you little direction on where to go or what to do, and you end up grinding through dozens of repetitive side quests in the hope of upgrading your weedy followers. Plus there are some utterly ridiculous difficulty spikes – the mountain level is a particular offender in this category, where suddenly you’re introduced to enemies and hazards that can kill half your followers in an instant. Who on earth thought that would be ‘fun’?
But despite its shortcomings, Little King’s Story was an absolute delight to play, chiefly because of the sheer imagination and charm oozing out of its every pore. In years to come, people will hail this game as a cult classic, and the fact that it failed to trouble the charts will only add to its rarity – buy it now before it starts changing hands on eBay for 50 quid a pop.
(Screenshots from destructoid.com)