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Alright, I didn't really have anything ready for today so I'm going to review something I'd been playing somewhat recently (and meant to review anyhow).



Little King's Story

Game type: Action? (Pikmin-esque... whatever)

Time demand: Small amount of time between saves usually, but you can return to save when you like.

Platform: Nintendo Wii

Released: 07/21/09 (US); 09/03/09 (JP); 04/24/09 (EU/AUS)

What it is: Now here's the tricky part, of course. What is this game? It's... well...

Okay, here's the story. There's a little boy (surprise surprise), who is a bit lonely and ends up following some mice or rats or something for some reason into the forest, where he gets lost. He ends up falling down this hole, and finds a mystical crown. As soon as he puts the crown on his head, he magically becomes king of the area. He's joined by his two friends as aides, and the Bull Knight Howser (and his trusty bull steed Pancho) as his main advisor/spokesman.

At the start, the king (who is, shockingly, the main character that you control) rules over a very small area, pretty much two small fields, and has a village of something like 12 carefree adults. From this point on, you follow the advice of Howser, and explore the nearby areas, defeating any Oni (monsters/demons/whatever) that you come across. To fight, or interact with objects, or pretty much anything, you press the "A" button on your controller to happily fling a villager at whatever it is. Then when they connect they'll attack, or dig, or build, or... whatever it is that can be done with what they hit, so long as their particular class lets them do it.

As you explore, dig, defeat monsters, and so on, you find objects that you collect just by walking over them. Whenever you talk to Howser, he'll identify the objects and exchange them for gold (Or whatever the actual term for money is... I don't even bother to remember for most games these days, since it's different in each. :p ) Plus you can eventually start to get letters that give you quests (usually to kill specific more dangerous Oni), which also give gold when you complete them. In that way you build up money.

Now, the way you expand your kingdom is by a) exploring areas and b) defeating any boss Oni/rival kings that already live there. Once you defeat a boss, you (usually) take the area that they ruled as your own. You can then build in that area. Each area has specific buildings that you can put there, and each building costs money. So you explore and build up money, then build new buildings, and this in turn will unlock new jobs that you can change your villagers into, which in turn gives them new actions they can perform (such as building bridges or stairs), which in turn lets you explore new areas, which lets you conquer that area... and rinse and repeat.

In some ways it's fairly straightforward, but it's also a lot of fun. Part of that is the humor - while the game looks "kiddie" with its graphics, it can be surprisingly dark and quirky at times, making it obviously skewed more to adults. With things like throw-away references to Monty Python skits, a game-over screen that's "Life Over" with your villagers attending the main character's funeral, multiple wives for your king after you rescue them, and nods to Pastafarianism (just to name a few), this game is pretty obviously not aimed at the little ones, although I also can't think of anything (except perhaps difficulty... oh yeah, and the drunken king boss) that would make it *unsuitable* for them.

So part of the fun comes from humor and odd pop culture bits here and there. Part of it is the difficulty, which is higher in places than you might expect, and gives you a challenge. Part of it is the gameplay, which is a blend of Pikmin and Warcraft (not World Of) and I don't know even what else. And part of it is just in never knowing what to expect next - the Boss Fights after the first couple for instance are definitely... um... "different," and certainly imaginative. Some of the areas can be maze-like and tricky just to get around, and even the normal enemies at times might keep you on your toes.

Recommendation: This game's a lot more fun than it has any right to be. If you have a Wii, you should give it a try, at least through a rental.