For those reading one of my Wii review blogs for the first time, here is the basic concept:
The Wii is often mocked for its game library, yet, it actually has a solid list of exclusives that are unavailable anywehere else. Though only Nintendo games were avilable where I am from, I was always intrested on other games. Hence, I decided to play the top 50 Wii games as chose by Gamesradar in this list:
Without further ado, here is:
7: Little King's Story:
Genre: Real Time Strategy.
Publisher: Rising Star Games, Xseed Games, Marvelous Entertainment.
Developer: Cing, Town Factory.
First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.
Little King's Story was an unassuming release in the Wii's library that caught the few who played it by surprise. What was a quirky and childish-looking strategy game turned out to be a diabolical masterpiece.
At so many levels, Little King's Story is a perfect example of the best games on the Wii. Something unique and innovative while having unmistakable depth.
There is no two ways about it, this is one of the generation's best games. One which is in no way perfect, but is more iconic due to its imperfections in an otherwise wholly unique package.
"I am more noble than you, he is more noble than me. The rich are more noble than the poor. The hard working are more noble than the lazy. Then who is the most noble of them all?"
From the first notes of music, when you hear Ravel's distinctive Bolero notes, you realize that this game is either making a big show of things, or it truly is going to deliver something interesting and unique.
You control the King of Alpoko, a child who wandered into a mythical kingdom and became its king. As the king, the head honcho, you become responsible for building up your kingdom, by of course, going to war. Supported by a bunch of self-serving advisors, you are pushed to go an conquer the other domains from both nature and other kings, and of course, save some princess (who all become your wives).
Going with your princess(es) into the sunset
It is clear that nothing is what seems in the surface, and that the game tackles a variety of topics with both a satirical and wondrous eye. No two people would agree on the underlining symbolism in the game, and that's what makes it great. Little King's Story is a game rife with symbolism, but at no point does it beat you in the head with a "right" answer.
Instead, you are just living the game, sharing the wonder your child protagonist must feel, and at the very least enjoying the hilarious parts of the story.
From interactions with the supporting cast and the conquered kings, to your conversations with the any citizens that form both your army and government, there is always something either funny or thought provoking to read.
The gibberish language only adding to the style and the childish lens.
Very Good Characters: +4
Great Story: +5
A Lot of Symbolism: +3
"One fine morning in the Kingdom of Alpoko, a tattered flag raised above a ruined castle fluttered the wind"
Regardless of how good the story and wondrous setting of the game is, it wouldn't work without some equally good gameplay. Thankfully, Little King's Story provides something that is both satisfying and challenging.
If I am going to explain the gameply, I would say the closest to it would be Nintendo's Pikmin games. Like with Pikmin, you control a central character that controls an army of sorts. Initially starting with just the ability to control five citizens, the king can then control up to 30 of them.
Like with Pikmin, the crux of the game-play is in maneuvering with your army and then throwing them at obstacles and enemies. The strategy is in organizing an army with different jobs and utilizing them well.
Each job is useful in one-way or another, from typical soldier to carpenters and miners. One job is only useful for efficiently cooking chicken (which is much more useful than its sounds). Generally, battles are an exercise of switching jobs, sending citizens at the enemy, changing formations, and frantically avoiding attacks.
Summon the Troops
It can be extremely chaotic if you don't understand what you are doing, but is actually well-controlled if you take the time to understand the system. That is something I strongly recommend that you do, because the game can be deceptively challenging .
You find yourself building relationships with your citizens, and when some strong enemy starts massacring them, you will lose your calm, as their cries of death blame their fate on you poor command.
Most of the time, defeat is due to the player's own lack of preparation or competence. However, the game sometimes seems very cheap in introducing insta-kill moves, which if you didn't know about will surely know when you see half your army go to the four bloody winds with one swipe; forever disappearing from your town.
Other times is when the game's control scheme loses focus. I don't know if the fault is in my own Wii set-up r the game's, but there has been frequent instances where the game didn't control accurately enough. Sometimes, one button press would register as two, and instead of changing to my soldiers I would fling some poor kids at a dragon.
Saving often, and avoiding doing much before crucial battles is important to keep your calm. With bosses, dying will give you the ability to restart the entire fight with all of your army intact. This means the problem is still there, but is at least with a lesser impact.
Good Expansive Combat: +4
Some Technical Issues:-4
Some Cheap Difficulty: -2
"Having sought the true king for 35 years, I am getting a bit emotional and teary-eyed"
Outside of the first few hours, the game gives you little direction of how to spend each day, and basically leaves you at your own leisure about how to go and conquer the world. The main gameplay loop is to go explore the world, collect some loot, do some quests, and spend all that money upgrading your kingdom.
Upgrading the kingdom gives you more citizens to control, more equipment to give your army, better health, and more jobs to choose from. You then take those upgraded citizens and do the same thing all over again.
It is an effective system that always gives you a sense of progress, culminating in one of some brilliant boss battles.
And so, with each passing day, you see how the Kingdom of Alpoko expands, and you see how your citizens react to your orders. One Jumping Jacks decree (which raises the max health of each citizen) will see some of the citizens practicing it while you walk around.
Once carpenter building a bridge while a battalion standby, ain't that a militaristic society for you
That sense of having fun just walking about is all what the game itself is about. As you rescue more princesses, they give you special tasks. One princess asks you to collect the tunes your citizens hum at night. These are badly sung renditions of classical thees such as Beethoven' 9th or the Moonlight Sonata.
In itself, it is a weird sidequest. The fact that once you uncover one person humming the song, you then see others who learned it humming it is what makes it so fun. I had an evening with my mum, getting her to try and guess these badly hummed songs are renditions of which classical music pieces.
Addictive Gameplay Loop: +2.5
Fun World: +2.5
"Princess Apricot is so kind. She let me lick it the other day..."
Being on the Wii, Little King's Story is not exactly a graphical marvel. However, even with the Wii's standards, the game looks worse than counterparts such as the Pikmin series. What it lacks in graphical power, it makes up for with stylistic choices though.
Starting with the "cut-scenes", which are are designed like some moving water color painting with animated brush strokes, to the super deformed chibi-looking king and citizens. This is a game that has a lot of personality in its colorful choice of graphics, and that works more often than note.
Even in the middle of the most chaotic of battles, you can recognize what each of your citizens is doing from the distinctive shapes of their hats and the equipment you game them. If someone is equipped with a pillow weapon, they will be carrying a pillow to battle.
Jusht von more drinkkk, HIC!
The true star of the art production department is the soundtrack though. With a remix of classical themes from Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms and even more modern classical artists like Dvorak and Gershwin, this is of course going to be an excellent soundtrack.
However, this doesn't mean that the soundtrack rests on the brilliance of its free source material. No, these themes and melodies are expertly remixed into shorter versions, and the sound direction is impeccable in how they are used.
More importantly, the game doesn't lean on the more well-known tracks, and actually gives an effort in exploring a wide repertoire of classical music, showing a love and respect for the source material that carries obviously into the game itself.
Good Style: +3
Excellent Soundtrack: +5
It is not easy to review a game like this. If you take all the parts, you will write a review suggesting that each part is really really good. However, it is actually difficult to explain how the final result is even greater than the sum of its parts.
The best I can say is that Little King's Story was a criminally underappreciated game, one which had all the elements of being a classic, buried deep into an unassuming package that many glossed over.
Hope we don't make such a mistake again with another gem like it.
The expansion of your castle town fills you with pride
"Looking Back at Destructoid's Review:"
It's not a surprise at all that Jonathan Holmes really liked this game, giving it an 8.5. Summing it up nicely: "The main thing I want you to know about Little King's Story is how incredibly charming it is. It's hard to imagine that anyone willing to put an hour or so into the game won't come away smiling. Beyond its quirky, likable surface, Little King's Story offers the opportunity for the genuine joy, fear, pride, shame, curiosity and wonder that a real child might feel when given the task of ruling a kingdom of adults. Clever design choices and bravely placed satire round out what will likely become yet another under-appreciated Wii-exclusive cult classic."
The comments section didn't disagree with Mr. Holmes at all:
GameQueen doesn't beat around the bush: "One of the best games on Wii. In fact I'd say it's the best game on the Wii right behind Mario Galaxy 2."
Of course, there must be a comment that discusses the game against the context of the time, like this one by Theswitcher: (What a prophetic username)
"Another great Wii game that bloggers will forget about when they start making more "dust" jokes in 2 weeks"
Finally, check out this comment from previous Dtoid regular, Chad Concelmo:
"This may be Game of the Year for me so far. I adore it on so many different levels! :)"
Great reception that did not translate well to:
I am generally not intrested in the sales of the games I like, and I don't measure my penis size through the sucess of games I like. However, sales data is intresting in studying market trends, people's general intrest, marketing strategy, genre effect, and other factors. Which is why I am going to check the sales data of every modern game I review (Gen 4 and beyond).
Like many Wii cult classics, Little King's Story did not sell particularly well. Especially against a backdrop of the console "collecting dust". Only managing to sell around 300K Units. This didn't do Cing, the developers, any favors. As it is one of many reasons that Cing eventaully collapsed.
What is more troubling is that the game also failed to sell in its ports to the PS Vita (of course) and Steam. The PS Vita semi-port (semi-sequel) only sold around 10K Units while the steam port was bugged at release, and there is not indication of success whatsoever.
It's always a shame when such a gem doesn't get the appreciation that it deserves.
Look at my work ye mighty and despair
1- Always carry a farmer with you to boss battles.
2- For boss battles, Soldiers and Hunters should be the majority of your troops.
3- When simply exploring, get at least one of each non-fighting job.
4- You can produce children by throwing your army int church and getting them married.
5- Children can climb trees.
6- If too much of your citizens die, they won't come back.
7- Dragon enemies (and enemies carrying dragon tails) can one-kill your citizens.
8- Frogs can insta-kill as well.
That was another great Wii exclusive, one that was completely ignored by the 100 Million Wii owners, many which complained about the console collecting dust while a masterpiece was in front of their eyes. Life can be unfair sometimes.
Next game to be reviewed is another ignored title, the first No More Heroes game. The second No More Heroes game sits at #5 in Gamesradar list, but I am reviewing the first game before it. This is one game that I apparently should not play in the living room of the house.
For Previous Wii game Reviews:
For More Screenshots:
None available at Moby Games