Lonely Cake Fortress
More than most multiplayer games I've played, I can say with a good amount of confidence that I'm a great Fat Princess player. I place at the top of the leaderboard consistently, and when I don't, it's usually because I entered a match in progress. I know my way around most of the maps, how to exploit certain areas of the map to gain the upper hand, and know when to use what class. In short, in the week that I've spent with Fat Princess: Fistful of Cake, I've learned most of its tricks and can use the tools given to me effectively. As someone who's usually in the bottom half of the player list in most other competitive games, it feels good to finally be on top and be reinforced into playing the game rather than feel like I'm wasting my time.
It also helps that the game itself is fun. The class-based gameplay revolves around a combination of resource-gathering and cutesy deathmatch, and capturing the princess (or any other objective) requires skillful managing of both, on top regular team coordination. Workers must build defenses, build siege platforms on enemy territory, and upgrade the hat machines that provide the rest of the team with more powerful versions of the other classes. The controls work well, and nothing is lost in the transition to the PSP. Fights are simple, and without much need for aim with an L1 lock-on, winning is more about timing your attacks and "strategic retreats" than who has what loadout.
But the Warrior stands so far above any of the other classes that the best (read: correct) strategy for almost every game time is to upgrade the Warrior's hat machine, have the computers work on gathering resources, and go to town on the enemy, who'll likely have the same setup in place. Once you learn to use the Warrior's charge ability, you've more or less mastered the game. It doesn't ruin the game as much as it changes it; the Warrior becomes the only usable class for combat, since every other class has no effective counter against the charge. The Ranger, Worker, and Mage can't defeat a Warrior from afar fast enough to stop a charge, and healers won't last long enough to improve a team's chances. This new game is much more predictable; if you manage to charge first, you've more than likely won the fight, as long as you're not surrounded by other Warriors.
The other gaping flaw in Fistful of Cake's design is that CPU players usually outnumber the human players. I played only one game that was CPU-free, and the rest were lopsided. Because of the lack of coordination between CPU's and communication between human players, the golden rule of Fat Princes becomes "If you have more human players, you're going to win." This rule was never proven wrong in my 18 hours with the online multiplayer, or during the sterile single-player, which is nothing more than a tutorial mixed with outdated internet memes. That, and prepare for plenty of stalemates when playing anything where the point isn't to kill as many enemies as possible.
But you don't become a skilled player of any game if there isn't at least something to like about it. If you're looking for some Fat Princes on the go, Fistful of Cake stays pretty faithful to the PS3 formula, and, despite the issues with the reduced player count, as well as the balance issues, it's a fun game to pull out every once in a while. I can't imagine it'll last long, however. It's fun for a while, but for now, it's only for those who dare to experience every unique take on the never-ending war between the two dominant primary colors.