New Little King's Story Review
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On 11/05/2012 at 12:00 PM by Nick DiMola
Despite the "New" moniker, this iteration of the game suffers from all the same problems.
If you have a Wii, you might want to check the game out there for cheap. On the Vita, wait on a price drop or for a lull in the release schedule, as this is still an experience worth having.
Little King’s Story was one of the many games to see release on Wii that went mostly unnoticed. While I didn’t have an opportunity to play it myself, I did watch quite a bit of it and had always wanted to dive into my own quest. The quasi-re-release of the game on Vita as New Little King’s Story has afforded me that opportunity, and for that, I am thankful. While the little king seems to have hit his teen years, the cutesy charm and simulation/RPG elements that defined it three years ago still ring true.
At the start of the game you’re given a tall order (for such a little guy); you have to rebuild your kingdom from the ground up. After a group of Oni overtake your castle and raze it, you and your counselors are driven out of the kingdom and forced to start anew. As such, you’ll slowly need to venture out beyond the walls of your new castle shack and overtake segments of the land to slowly grow a brand new kingdom.
Accomplishing this requires a small start-up crew of guards who will take down the relatively weak foes that inhabit the surrounding areas. This allows you to both plunder the land of its goods, which can be converted into spendable money, and kill foes which levels up guardsmen and makes them more capable to take on heftier foes, including bosses.
The game occurs on a day/night cycle and also keeps track of days. As the days progress, new challenges open up, which give you strategic opportunities to either expand your kingdom into new areas and/or allow you to build up the existing land. Shortly after building a home for your guards, you’ll begin to augment your kingdom with farmers, craftsmen, lumberjacks, archers, and more, each of which serve their own unique purpose.
When venturing out beyond the confines of the kingdom it becomes important to bring a variety of people because some will need to be present to open up once blocked pathways. This is a vital component for progression and an interesting strategic component because you can often find yourself very far from the kingdom without access to a potentially important lumberjack who needs to carve a pathway out for you to get to your destination. Not bringing that one member can cause an upset for the entire day forcing you to wait until the next to start the mission from scratch.
Despite the minor setback that comes from poor planning, the progression structure of the game is extremely rewarding. With each day you’ll try to do as much as you can before the sun sets and it’s time to rest. Foraging for goods in the wilderness is always good fun, especially when you can divide and conquer with the various members of your team.
Building up your kingdom is one of the most rewarding tasks and is driven by your foraging efforts. This, along with completing missions, bank rolls all kingdom enhancements, each of which have drastic impacts to the look and feel of your space. Because new construction often occurs over night, the kingdom you knew before you went to sleep is a much different one than the one you wake up to the next day. It can be easily disorienting at first, but over time it becomes less so.
Given the Pikmin-esque design of the combat and control of your guard, the game is frequently enjoyable. However, it has a fair share of flaws that can make it a very frustrating experience. For one, you can’t easily target an enemy and direct your team members in their direction for a quick and easy kill. Even worse, if you don’t have pinpoint accuracy, your guardsmen will miss and be potentially vulnerable to an attack.
Organizing your team members both in the field and before heading out for a mission is consistently aggravating. After putting many hours into the game, I still can’t deduce exactly how to easily assemble my desired team to head out. There are some facilities via your podium outside the castle, but they feel incomplete. From my experience, you seem to only be allowed to pull out certain classes of team members and add them to the party; woefully, they are dismissed from your party if you call forth a new class. As such, assembling a team is a constant chore.
In the field, you have to cycle through groups of team members constantly to bring the right one forth to handle the situation at hand. Unlike something like Pikmin, you can’t use a handy whistle to direct a particular subset or sideline others in a tense battle. It’s a constant challenge to manage your team because the tools just aren’t right.
This is unfortunate, because nearly everything else about New Little King’s Story is a real treat (the story and dialog are abysmal as well). I love building out the kingdom, foraging for goods, and even doing stuff like marrying off members of the kingdom who fall in love. In most cases it’s even fun to battle a wide set of enemies if you bring the right crew, but most frequently, a diverse crew is brought to the field to ensure nothing can impede progress.
If you can get past the somewhat serious control issue in New Little King’s Story, you’ll find a rich and enjoyable game that can hold your attention for hours on end. Its tactful balancing of its various facets makes for a rewarding gameplay experience that players of all ages can appreciate.