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Little King's Story Review

Adrian Hatwell
Adrian Hatwell

Enchanting and deceptively rich, the King may be little but his story is huge. Delivering a superb blend of Simulation, RPG, and strategic action, Little King’s Story is the sort of game the Nintendo Wii has been desperately crying out for.

A humble, timid youth finds his fortunes dramatically reversed when he happens upon a magical crown.  Placing the coronet on his head the young man is imbued with power of irresistible charm; whatever he commands people now find it impossible to disobey. And so the little scamp is appointed King of Alpoko Kingdom, shouldering all power and responsibility with which it comes.

Thus the tale begins, an adorable fable that quickly unfolds into a grand epic. Controlling the young King Corobo the player must manage an initially meagre kingdom. Citizens need jobs, structures need building, armies need training, income needs gathering; Alpoko has a great destiny, but it will take much hard work, wisdom, and sacrifice to get there from such humble beginnings.

Corobo starts the game with very little; a ramshackle castle, a handful of shiftless layabouts to command, and a trio of eager advisors ready to steer the path of glory. First thing’s first, the kingdom is a nonstarter without a little capitol, and with no natural resources to depend upon Alpoko’s mains source of finance comes from scrounging about for treasure. Not the most dignified starts to a royal legacy, but one makes do.

With a little cash in hand the time comes to turn your carefree constituency into a serviceable workforce. Investing in training facilities allows the King to assign jobs to those brave or foolhardy enough to choose to reside in Alpoko. Basic farmers and soldiers get the job done initially, but as the game unfurls a bevy of occupations become available, hunters, miners, engineers, and lumberjacks among them.

Of course any upstart young kingdom lives or dies by the age-old prison philosophy; to survive early on you have to either kick the ass of someone bigger or become their ‘special friend’. It’s not long before your haggard old military advisor is barking urges to move beyond your kingdom’s borders and give the neighbours a right royal welcome.

Combat involves taking a limited number of followers out into the field and hurling them at anything that looks vaguely threatening, ala Pikmin. Each class of follower has different strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important to do sufficient recon in foreign territory so you know just what you’re getting into and who best to deal with it.

The game’s imperial bent provides a sly bit of darkness to otherwise radiant cuteness; it’s hard to really imagine yourself the ‘good guy’ when you march unprovoked into neighbouring territories, slaughter the indigenous critters, and take it over for yourself. The title makes no secret of its origins, clearly inspired by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's exceptional children’s story ‘The Little Prince’, Little King’s Story similarly revels in the amorality of youth.

The initial scope of the game, tasked with whipping an unimpressive village into shape, continually expands until you’re asked to grow your empire out to the furthest reaches of a considerable world map. With time allotted for treasure hunting, village improvements, citizen-requested side-quests, and general trial and error, the game turns out to be a far larger ordeal than it’s kindly little beginnings ever let on.

Each region is inhabited by its own native freaks and geeks, and reined over by a sovereign King (until you're done with them, that is). Designs for each of the different critters are lovely and diverse, some so cute you really do feel bad for killing them, others grotesque enough that death almost seems like mercy. In a nice bit of fan service, during development people were encouraged to send in their own designs for ‘Unidentified Mysterious Animal’, the best of which appear in the game.

When first picking up the Little King’s Story it is the familiar feel that ropes you in; be it Harvest Moon, Animal Crossing, or Pikmin, there’s likely some manner of addictive cutesy game that Little King’s Story reminds you of. It doesn’t take long, however, for the game to convince it is a different kettle of Ninjūn entirely. The scope, the strategy, the management, and an odd feeling of responsibility make Little King’s Story a singular, infatuating experience. If you own a Nintendo Wii then you simply must track down this game.

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