Big trouble in Little King's Story
Title: Little King’s Story
Release: July 21, 2009
Developer: Cing and Town Factory
Publisher: Xseed Games and Marvelous
Rating: T (Teen)
Animal Crossing was a Gamecube title released back in 2002. The game play delighted people who had never played a game before due to the fact that there were no enemies, fighting, strategy, objectives or conflict but you could buy furniture as well as arrange it. The game was essentially a fish bowl in your TV that you would stare at and appreciate for the sake of watching backwards-talking animals demand you pay rent. Today, the people at Cing and Town Factory have taken it upon themselves to inject a game into what many would call the husk of Animal Crossing. The results leave much to be desired.
Graphically, Little King reflects a mixture of Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon. The world is a brightly colored, simplistic atmosphere that tends to be blurry like someone smeared Vaseline on the camera. The character models are charmingly designed but never look pleasant when recreated within the game world. There is a wide range of “uma” or monsters that include evil cows with skull heads to possessed vegetables. The more impressive visual art comes from the game’s chalkboard animations that act as the tutorial for performing the basic tasks and dealing with certain enemies. When the chalk animation is used for FMV sequences, however, the look comes off as archaic and sometimes creepy like a hazy Katamari Damacy cut scene.
The music, by comparison, is much weaker than the graphics. The townspeople talk in Animal Crossing-style altered voice recordings that are annoying as well as unnecessary. The soundtrack is nothing more than clichéd classical music that you have heard thousands of times before. Music for many games acts as an identity that transforms a faceless property into a recognizable brand name. Little King in this sense has no identity. One could argue that the music fits the theatrical tone of the game, but when the graduation theme is played over and over again the only word that can accurately describe the sound design is “lazy.”
As the king of an up-and-coming starter kingdom, it is your job to ensure its prosperity. In order to build houses, farms and other useful buildings, you must enlist the help of your citizens and search for treasure. This may include fighting monsters, digging up loot and smashing trees and rocks for resources. As days go by, the money earned goes towards constructing bridges and stairs to reach new areas to explore or unlocking job classes for your citizens in order to complete specialized missions or kill certain enemies. And there you have it. Much of the game is the endless grind of making money in order to buy buildings in order to make even more money and buy bigger buildings. There is a rewarding sense of constructing a well run town but this is an almost endless drudge that is tedious from the start.
The controls make it very difficult to issue precise orders to a particular unit which is unfortunate for a strategy game that is based solely on making strategic decisions regarding what specific class to use and when to use them. In most situations you will accidentally send a unit crashing into a wall because your aim was slightly off or your units will get killed because you accidentally sent a farmer to fight a monster. Battling creatures usually boils down to mindlessly rushing any units at a target until they have successfully overwhelmed the enemy. Boss battles are the opposite with each battle turning into a puzzle which offer the most entertainment found in the entire game because you are given the opportunity to use your brain.
Journeying through the world can become a hassle when your ever growing party finds its members stuck behind structures and cliffs. There is no ability to warp everyone in your party to you current position instantly so it is up to you to make sure you get from point “A” to point “B” with everyone in you party in one unified group. And then there are those situations where even if you do make it to your chosen destination, the job classes you have in your party are not suited to do what is needed to be done. If you fight through twenty minutes of monsters only to reach a path blocked by a fallen tree, you must have a lumber jack in you party or else you will have to march all the way back to your kingdom and make the necessary adjustments.
Little King’s Story is a charismatic, unique title that will ultimately let people down. The constant grinding and overly simplistic game play beg for revision while the controls effectively remove most potential enjoyment. Those who wondered why Animal Crossing lacked combat and objectives now have a solid answer thanks to Little King’s Story.
Overall Rating: * * / 5
M. Michael Chwedyk "The Gamekok"- MuzikReviews.com Sr. Video Game Reviewer
August 2, 2009
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