Little King’s Story – An Impression of the First Five Hours

July 17, 2009 § Leave a comment

Little King’s story is an RTS for the Wii, where you play as a (the?) ‘Little King’, tasked with “World Domination” oddly enough. I personally didn’t get very far into the game – only about five hours as you can see from this post’s title – and so I’m hardly in a position to write a proper review of the release, however if the game’s middle and end continue in the same way as its beginning, then my experience should be a pretty good representation of the rest of the game.

It’s Really Really Cute – But Not in a Good Way

From the children’s book illustration filter placed over the cutscenes to the adorable gibberish the dialogue is made up of, Little King’s story prides itself on being as cute as it can be. This not only adds to the game’s charm, but also ensures that the game’s simple visuals always look crisp and clear on the hardware they have to run on.

This style does get in the way on a practical level with the way in which the game chooses to present tutorials to you. If you wish to hear information from one of the NPCs about a new unit type you’ve just gained access to, you’re presented with a series of chalk drawings on a board, illustrating how to use that particular unit. It’s cute the first couple of times you sit through it, but the system trips up when you try to look something up quickly and then have to sit through what is essentially a medium length cutscene. Browsing a paragraph of text would have been a much simpler way of doing this. Worse still, the game does a poor job of explaining its controls to you, I only knew that you could rearrange your troops (an essential feature to use in battle) after it was pointed out by a friend who had had a similar experience.

That said, overall the art style adds to the game, especially when it makes what would be cheesy dialogue in a more serious game (lines refering to the King’s desires for “World Domination” for example) amusing in a very sincere way.

This Game Could Have Been on Any Other Platform

Almost it seems in reaction to the calls by reviewers for an end to pointless Wiimote-waggling, the motion controls of the console lie completely untouched by Little King’s Story. You move your character with the analogue stick located on the Nunchuk, and use the Wiimote for its buttons, nothing more.

In many other games I’d personally welcome this approach, obviously not every game is going to benefit from the Wii’s unique controller, but in LKS there are times that I found myself wishing that the game had taken advantage of it. In order to send you’re followers to undergo tasks in the game, you simply face whatever it is you want them to interact with and press the ‘A’ button to send them on their way. There are many problems with this, the foremost being that it’s impossible to aim whilst on the run, perhaps from a boss creature. In such situations you have to stop and turn around before you can send your minions to attack, which leaves you open to the enemies advances, and never feels like a very intuitive way of going about things.

Other problems exist, such as how difficult it is to select between a couple of close together interactable items, which considering this is your core activity within the game, makes it a much more frustrating experience than it need otherwise be. It seems odd that considering this is a Wii title the developers chose not to allow you to even point at the screen to select items, when this is something that would have really improved the game.

Without speculating on the reason why (though covering up a poor draw-distance brought on by the Wii’s hardware seems likely) you’re vantage point is always fixed at an angle very close to a top down view. Needless to say this makes switching on the intrusive full-screen map a necessary evil a lot of the time, and made me pine for a more accomplished mini-map.

Simplicity is Not the Be All and End All

To be fair, by this point I’d twigged that I wasn’t in the game’s target audience. The sound, visual, and writing style all pointed to gamers much younger than myself, so I wasn’t to surprised that when I actually got to some combat it fell wildly below my expectations.

The combat consists of two commands, attack and fall back, controlled with the ‘A’ and ‘B’ buttons respectively. You send your soldiers to attack an enemy, and then when said enemy’s animation shows that they’re about to attack you, you withdraw your men to take them out of harms way. This simple system could work if there was any way of aiming whilst moving, but in this particular story you’re forced to retreat, stop, and then turn around to face your enemy before you can send your men to attack again, by which time the enemy will usually already be taking steps to attack once more.

In Conclusion

From what I played of Little King’s Story, it seemed to have all the right intentions but with none of the good sense to pull them off correctly. The central style and feel of the game, as well as the exploration paired with the strategy seems good in theory, but because of the game’s control problems I found it hard to enjoy my time with the game. A younger player might find the game more fun though, as its tasks are rarely too taxing, and the game’s style – as previously mentioned – is clearly designed to appeal to a younger audience.


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