Little King’s Story
For a console founded on quirkiness, it’s odd that many of the more ambitious titles in the Wii’s library have been met with such little commercial success; No More Heroes, Boom Blox, MadWorld, Eledees, and even some of Nintendo’s big-hitters such as Mario Galaxy and Twilight Princess have all failed to set the charts alight. If a similar fate awaits Little King’s Story this would be a real tragedy, as Town Factory and Cing have crafted a unique, enchanting and engaging title, the likes of which even Nintendo itself would be proud.
The game opens with the coronation of the titular Little King, with the young child Corobo stumbling upon a Crown that gives him control over the realm of Alpoco. With three trusty aides by his side, Corobo must put the country back on the road to greatness and, eventually, world domination; the latter being a particular focus of your somewhat sinister right-hand man, Howser Oreganostein.
Little King’s Story’s influences are easily identified; it’s a heady mixture of Animal Crossing, Dragon Quest, Pikmin and Harvest Moon, and Cing & Town Factory do an admirable job of cherry-picking the best of what each of these games had to offer. However, while it wears these influences on its regal sleeve, this is no lazily produced doppelganger, with every inch of the game imbued with an almost palpable energy and spark; from the shimmering, kaleidoscopic visuals to the deep and constantly evolving gameplay. Production values are extremely high throughout with some truly beautiful cutscenes (rendered as if in oil paint) pull the story along, with a classical soundtrack (the game opens with ‘Land of Hope & Glory’) used to excellent effect.
Leaving the confines of your somewhat squalid castle/hut for the first time is, in fact, a little underwhelming. Your Kingdom is tiny, your people few in number and your options limited. Pottering about, you can enlist the help of civilians (or ‘carefree adults’ as they’re known) capable of little more than scratching at holes in the ground to uncover gold and other items used to fund further development. From these humble beginnings, you soon find yourself at the bottom of a beautifully realised learning curve, as new abilities, characters and areas of the map unfold.
In terms of gameplay, Little King’s Story closest comparison is Nintendo’s Pikmin. Much like Shigeru Miyamoto’s plucky spaceman, Captain Olimar, Corobo cuts a diminutive figure and on his own is virtually useless. However, with a quick flick of the royal sceptre your townspeople can be recruited to form a Royal Guard, and will do your bidding without question or hesitation. How any given character will interact with the environment is dependent on their type. Grunt soldiers, for example, are useful in combat but are unable to assist in more menial tasks such as digging or construction. Farmers are more versatile but struggle in combat, while Animal Hunters specialise in ranged combat. Picking the right selection of classes to fill the ranks of your Royal Guard (which initially is limited to five people – this grows over time) is vital to the success of any excursion you make beyond the confines of your kingdom.
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