Little King's Story
Reviewed by Brandy Shaul
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2009-08-10 Wii Adventure T (Teen) Marvelous Entertainment / XSeed

Little King's Story is easily comparable to games like Overlord, that see the main character placed in command of a group of loyal followers, able to coerce said followers into doing their bidding to reach an overall goal normally concerning domination or revenge.

In the case of Little King's Story, you play the boy-king Corobo, who has been recruited by Howzer, a bull-knight who has searched for his land's savior for over 30 years, and claims you have the talent and "it" quality necessary to return his homeland to its former glory, regardless of the fact that you've not yet hit puberty.

After being made King, you are tasked with collecting funds to end your land's poverty and famine, and afterwards, are given the option of building various workhouses where you can train and mold your lazy, carefree citizens into upstanding members of society.

Your first career options are the basics that ever proper kingdom demands, that being farmhands and royal guards. Famers are able to till the land to not only grow crops, but also dig up buried treasures, such as gold coins or bars, while Guards are the game's main melee fighters, armed with a sword and are forever willing and able to sacrifice their own lives to save yours when faced with one of the title's various species of monsters or UMAs.

UMAs come in a variety of forms, both generic and outlandish. Walking turnips and mushrooms, as examples, accompany demon cows on walks through farmlands while Onii, squishy black tubes with football shaped heads, populate a larger portion of the landscape.

While at first your main goal is to simply find enough funds for your kingdom to survive as is, Howzer quickly offers the suggestion of entering neighboring lands and challenging for supremacy.

That being said, what starts as a very small world grows after each story-driven event, with said events normally concerning the conquering of a neighboring kingdom, the challenging of a Guardian (the boss of all like UMAs ? after defeating them, all similar enemies vanish from the area), or the finding and claiming of a new queen.

Each area retains the same overall graphical theme as the last; the same very animated and colorful trees and bushes, the same hills and valleys connecting areas. What separates each new land from the last are the architectural details, which come in the form of large stone columns, totems and debris, along with cone shaped barricades or path-markers that give each area its own identity, while still maintaining the idea that you're never too far from home, where the majority of the game is centered.

While some new areas are opened by simply walking down a path in a forest, other openings must be created by your workers. Two of the biggest examples, the dead tree stump and the construction sign, require the use of particular citizens (lumberjacks for the tree and carpenters for the signs, which turn into stairs or bridges), while other blockades can simply be pounded into oblivion by swarming them with every member of your army.

Traveling from one area to the next is easier to accomplish once you purchase a few upgrades for your ever-expanding kingdom. Not only can you build a canon system that will shoot you from one geographical location to the next, but by building more structures, you gain more untrained civilians and are given the option to create newer, stronger tradesmen like treasure hunters, which, when comprising an entire party are fairly inconsequential, but when mixed with a few guards or farmers, are the perfect compliment to your outing, as they can concentrate on finding treasure while your military might destroys every living thing in your path.

However, the option to control an ever-increasing and incredibly customizable army does not come without its share of flaws. Each citizen, regardless of trade, is incredibly dim-witted once recruited to your army and relies on your constant instruction to do anything other than breathe. This is made no clearer than when climbing a ramp or set of stairs only to see half of your little people miss the path and wind up walking into a wall one level below, at which point you must turn around, regroup, and try again, hitting the path at as straight an angle as possible in order to ensure your entire brigade is able to follow.

That annoying side-effect aside, the ability to micromanage each unit type in your army on the fly greatly makes up for any flaws present in getting from one area to the next, as there is an incredibly satisfying flow that comes when making archers attack enemies on higher platforms while your weaker farmers or lumberjacks scour the landscape for supplies, your carpenters build a staircase to reach your enemies, and your knights attack the foes head on.

All of that being said, the game as a whole has very high production values ? the graphics are downright adorable and each area of the landscape is animated independently from the next. Likewise, the soundtrack is a pleasant compilation of easily recognizable classical fare that fits with the medieval theme, and contains appropriate offerings for both intense battle sequences and victory celebrations when your villagers dance around the funeral pyre of your fallen enemies.

Little King's Story may appear childish at first blush, but it's actually a complex (not to mention lengthy), challenging, and charming experience through and through. This is one that should simply not be missed.

Special thanks to Sarah Irvin and XSEED for providing a copy of this title.