Release Date: July 21, 2009
If anyone is reading this that has not yet played Little King’s Story, stop reading right now. (NO PLEASE DON’T -Ed.) Run to your nearest video games store or get online, dust your poor, neglected Wii off and get ready to experience a little taste of pure, unadulterated joy.
Little King’s Story has unfortunately suffered the same fate as many first and third party Wii games. It was criminally neglected by many gamers, simply because, at first glance, it looks like a kids’ game. The marketing behind the game was also insufficient, which resulted in a game that was missed by far too many people. This is a crying shame as Rising Star Games have created an absolute gem of a game.
You take on the role of Corobo, a child king who, following a bizarre intro sequence, finds himself in charge of a small, insignificant community or kingdom. Things start off fairly simple, you earn money by finding treasure out in the wild and, with this money, you are then able to start developing your kingdom. You can purchase particular buildings which can then be used to grant your subjects special skills, starting with simple tasks such as carpentry, farming or combat and then introducing the more specialised talents of ranged combat and even wizadry. It is then up to you to maintain and expand your kingdom and its inhabitants by conquering other areas of the maps which are originally ruled by other kings who must be defeated in order to progress.
The bigger your kingdom gets, the more subjects you are able to draw on. It is then up to you to decide how you want to utilise these charming, beautifully rendered individuals. With a touch of a button you can recruit a party who will then follow your every step. If you want to gather a band of treasure hunters and spend all day simply wandering around the lush, green expanses you can. Equally, you can recruit a group of soldiers and lead them into battle. I can only describe the game as Sim City meets Pikmin, but that comparison does this game a disservice because this little king is big enough to stand on his own two feet.
That’s you, that is.
Things get deeper very quickly and the great thing about the game is that this sense of progression never stops. Just when you think you have mastered one particular aspect of the game, it laughs in your face and introduces another goal or mechanic to the proceedings. For this reason, the game is the complete opposite of childish or shallow. Things get complex very quickly and before long, you are faced with a game of such staggering depth that it can sometimes become overwhelming. It is just layer upon layer of gaming goodness that continues to excite and surprise you throughout the entire experience. However, all of this depth is controlled with only two or three buttons and the controls themselves are beautifully integrated into the overall experience.
Every single character has an individual name and I do not exaggerate when I say that you will come to love each and every one of your subjects. You will know them by name, laugh at the undecipherable language they speak and I promise you that your heart will sink when they are killed in battle or die. Equally, you will feel a genuine sense of pride as you waddle through your ever-evolving kingdom and the more time you put in to the game, the larger your community becomes and the happier your subjects will be. There are also little quirks within the game that are not made made obvious or handed to you on a plate, meaning you are able to experiment and just give in to all of your omniscient whims. For instance, if you have two subjects who are wandering around with hearts above their head, simply send them into the church and they will marry. This will be swiftly followed by a night of passion and your population will then increase due to their subsequent new addition. Little touches like this mean that Little King’s Story is absolutely saturated with charm and character.
I won’t lie, aesthetically the game is pretty much as cutesy as they come but this should be embraced rather than sneered at because it is screen-lickingly gorgeous: all hazy sunshine, stardust and plumes of confetti. There is no doubting this is a game that belongs on a Nintendo platform and it is all the better for it. The amount of character the developers were able to inject into each and every character, including the bizarre enemies is testament to the absolute love they lavished on their creation.
Another thing that must be mentioned is the soundtrack which is mainly comprised of quirky takes on well known, classical pieces and they compliment the gameplay and graphics perfectly. The majority of your time within the game world will be accompanied by a take on Beethoven’s Symphony No 9 and it just never grows repetitive. There are other recognisable tunes sprinkled here and there but I will let you find those by yourselves.
Every time that I play Little Kings Story, I am unable to prevent a huge smile spreading across my weathered face. If ever I feel down or plagued with visions of my impending middle-age I grab this game from the shelf before all others and lose myself in my kingdom for a couple of hours whilst everything else just fades away into the background. I consider it the epitome of all that is good and misunderstood about Nintendo in general and, more specifically the Wii.