Title: New Little King’s Story
Developed By: AQ Interactive, Marvelous Entertainment
Published By: Konami, Mindscape (Australia)
Based On: Little King’s Story on the Nintendo Wii
Console: Playstation Vita
Genre: Real Time Strategy
Classification (AU): This title has been classified as PG for Mild Themes and General Audiences
Review Conditions: Vita, Australian Edition, Physical Media, Normal Mode
In New Little King’s Story, players assume the role of King Corobo and experience his incredible journey to win back his kingdom from the Devil King, “The Nightmare.” Gamers will be put to the royal test as they visit seven different kingdoms and battle against evil dark lords that have captured the royal princesses. As King, gamers will need to lead their Royal Guard in every grand battle, and plan attacks wisely as they grow their populations and broaden their territories.
Little King’s Story on the Nintendo Wii was a surprising success when it was released in 2009… despite having cover artwork and overall visual design which might have indicated it was a game for younger audiences, within it was some really enjoyable gameplay elements and some boss fights that were unique to say the least. Last year it was announced by Marvelous Entertainment that they would be releasing a new installment in the game entitled The King Demon King and the Seven Princesses: New King’s Story or for short – New King’s Story.
Thanks to Konami we haven’t had to wait long until we saw an English localized release – with an Australian release just last week. Both Wii and the Playstation Vita version have their charms and downfalls, but I invite you to check out my review of the game below to find out just what I thought of it.
New King’s Story is not a sequel to the original, but instead is an alternate retelling of the previous game with a much older prince, a completely different princess cast and many new plot points. The story follows King (Insert your name here), who we first meet escaping his castle which had been invaded by dark forces. The being also captured the seven princesses of the land and imprisoned them inside beams of light that were protected by guardian bosses. In a bid to reclaim what was once his, he travels around the kingdom with his royal guard (Aka. People he recruits off the streets) to rescue the princess’.
While different from the previous game which focused more on the world domination element, it was still once again light on storyline. While starting off strong you will eventually find yourself with only small tidbits of storyline every couple of Princesses you rescue and for the most part you are left alone for the gameplay. The game does have a more Princess-oriented theming which does see each of the seven once again with their own individual personalities and small segments of plot but still nothing up to what there could have been.
The core gameplay remains the same from the original release – you play as the King who leads a group of your kingdoms inhabitants as members of your ‘Royal Guards’. Each of these characters start off as carefree humans but can eventually be specified as a particular class from a general soldiers and hunters whose sole purpose are to attack using swords or ranged weapons to more specified classes such as carpenters who can build bridges and stairs and lumberjacks who can eliminate logs impeding your progress. As you may expect, variety is key to surviving and progressing.
With your team, you venture out and take out enemies using a simple button or touchscreen press. In addition, if the goings get tough you can summon all your units to your side with a O button press, reorganize your team with the triangle button and shift between three line-ups with the up directional key. By the end of the game you are given access to a total of 30 units at any one time and despite a few logistic problems in finding the correct units to use midbattle (As you can see in the image above, you can only tell by small images at the bottom of the screen) you do make good use of them in boss battles. In addition, as it was with the previous game the path-finding for units is not perfect and it is not uncommon to find you have left several units behind helpless because they got trapped behind a log or unroutable cliff or otherwise refuse to do what you intended for them to do despite aiming. Otherwise the system is enjoyable, works and while I personally prefer button controls there is no problem with the touch screen controls.
While the King no longer has access to his magic staff, and still finds himself lacking in HP… he has taken up a sword and proves much more effective in the battlefield (Including a few moments where he is pitted against enemies alone). In addition, any freed Princess can also join you on your adventures but instead of fighting give you access to a special ability exclusive to them. Taking examples from the first three princesses saved – Apricot increases you attack power, Sakura cancels out monster attacks against the King and Ambile recovers everyone’s life. Each of these abilities can be used a set amount of times dependent on level via the Select button and in my opinion may be a tad imbalanced.
At the beginning of the game you rule the Kingdom from little more than a cardboard box which increases in size as you progress through the game. But that doesn’t mean that everything else will be done for you. During your adventures you earn yourself some sizable loot which is automatically traded in for gold at the castle. Using this, you purchase new buildings to obtain even more villagers and unlock new jobs. Additional land can also be unlocked both through your adventures or through side-battles, which are mostly optional but add some challenge to the game and alongside other in-game quests are a good way to deviate from the main storyline.
The game world is pretty much similar to that of Little King’s Story and while only average in size has a good balance between giving you the freedom to explore but also not having it take too long to get to your destination. The world has been designed to incorporate every job type and requires you to use all of them to uncover all the mysteries and loot. Select loot found in the world can also be used in the games new Alchemy features which from initial impressions felt like an afterthought, but due to the time consuming nature and other factors it was not covered in the course of this playtest.
One of the key elements that made Little King’s Story on the Wii a pleasure to play were the ‘boss characters’. From TV Dinnah which incorporated a Geography quiz into the mix to King Shishkebaboo that was essentially ‘Weight Loss Pinball’, each of these battles were unique and left a lasting impression. While not all, several of these characters reappear in battles similar to or completely different from their originals. Whereas Little King’s Story provided ample challenge across the board, I felt when it came to major battles they were far too easy and lacked that charm of the original. While I only played on Medium Difficulty as I keep standard for most games I review, I felt the difficulty could have been higher across the board as well.
I was initially uncertain of how I would feel towards the new visuals after diving into New Little King’s Story, I am happy to report that the new visuals do work for the game. While in Little King’s Story each job was more or less represented by a different overly-sized hat, this time around the visuals allow a greater depth into character design, with not only clearer characters but the ability to customize them with new stat improving weapons, clothing and hats which all result in visual changes to the units. In addition, you can force everyone to wear a specific outfit by passing laws…. anyone up for a game comprised of units wearing Japanese school swimwear? Formal attire?
I was fond of the whole storybook aesthetic to the world, but the environment designs in New Little King’s Story are also a big improvement, being brighter and clearer than before. The game also throws in a few bits of CG artwork here and there, although when they appear remain inconsistent between Princesses and could have used more. They also throw in a music video featuring one of the Princesses which is well animated and incorporates both in-game and animated visuals.
Unfortunately with the improved visuals comes dreaded lag. While having a small team does not have much impact on gameplay, when you are forced to use all 30 unit placements the game starts to slow down. While this lag doesn’t generally affect gameplay its serves more as a tedious inconvenience.
As with the original, New Little King’s Story comes with a nice assortment of music used intermittently throughout the game, some of which are remixed versions of classical songs. They are of good quality and complement the game well. While the game does feature English voice-acting, dialogue is not and serves more as brief one or two sentence lines when interacting with the characters or villagers. The quality of these are nothing special but at the very least serve their purpose.
Having played and really enjoyed the original title, I felt I was at a bit of a disadvantage when it came to playing this game. The improvements and new additions were many, for the most part well implemented/thought out and would have been necessary for any port or new release in the series. On the other hand, the overall challenge and in turn gameplay experience was toned down and never really met the standard of the original. To an extent they sort of cancel each other out and despite some problems across the board, New Little King’s Story is still a solid title to play in short bursts or a few long gaming sessions and is one I think fans of the genre could get some entertainment out of.
Storyline/Character Development: C-
Music/Voice Acting: B+
Personal Opinion: B
Overall Score: B