Critical Reception: Xseed/Cing's Little King's Story

This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Little King's Story, a Nintendo Wii real-time strategy title that reviews describe as "adorable, charming, and an absolute blast."
This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Little King's Story, a Nintendo Wii real-time strategy title that reviews describe as "adorable, charming, and an absolute blast." Little King's Story currently earns a score of 87 out of 100 at GamePro's Will Herring gives Little King's Story 4.5 out of 5 stars, assuring that the game's sugary visual style belies its complexity. "I'll admit firsthand that I was more than weary [SIC] when I was handed Little King's Story for review," he begins. "While 'cutesy' character design doesn't always mean a similarly sugar-coated gaming experience, I couldn't get over the unyielding doubt in the pit of my stomach, leaving me thoroughly convinced I was about to spend the next week trudging through an edutainment title fit for grade-schoolers." "I think it's safe to say that Little King's Story is a prime example of knowing never to judge a book by its cover," Herring continues. "A fine mix between classics such as Harvest Moon, Pikmin, and (oddly enough) Command & Conquer, Little King's gameplay is an innovative melting pot of genre-bending ingredients, thickly applied to a wonderfully engaging and open world." Herring describes the resulting product as an unexpected hit. "Adorable, charming, and an absolute blast, Little King's Story is more than worth your time - and weighing in at about 30 hours, it deserves every minute it can get!" he concludes. "A surprising and enchanting experience, I think it's safe to say that Little King's Story is a must-own title that I certainly couldn't have expected, which only makes this hybrid RPG's success all the sweeter." Alex Sassoon Coby at GameSpot scores Little King's Story at 8.5 out of 10. "At first glance it looks simplistic," he admits, "but this is actually a mature, fresh, and challenging game. There are references to everything from Nietzsche to Cervantes, and Douglas Adams to Captain Beefheart, as well as nods through the dialogue, visuals and music to gaming classics such as Super Mario Bros and Space Invaders." "Little King's Story opens with you, the titular royal, in a rather squalid little hut, set on an island in the middle of a charming and seemingly safe little world," Coby continues. "Your quest pits you against a few troublesome creatures that are getting in the way of you expanding the poky little kingdom that has just accepted you as its ruler." The gameplay soon expands to fit a large cast of characters. "The gameplay itself is an intriguing combination of real-time strategy and role-playing traditions," Coby explains. "Your ability to deal with the threats and obstacles that you encounter in the world is defined by the make-up of your group, and though this is relatively easy to do when you have only a handful of subjects with two or three job types at your command, it gets fairly complex towards the end when you're juggling up to 30 characters with more than 15 different jobs." "It has its foibles -- a weak story, occasional pathfinding and targeting issues, and what may be the single most annoying sound effect to grace a console this generation," Coby warns, "but it succeeds in delivering a lengthy and satisfying role-playing and strategy experience, with some truly epic fights unlike almost anything else you'll find on the Wii." IGN AU's Patrick Kolan rates Little King's Story at 9.1 out of 10. "Borrowing heavily from elements of Nintendo's Pikmin and Animal Crossing franchises, Little King's Story is a strategic RPG that builds slowly, pushing you at just the right strength to keep things interesting," he says. "For all its inspired elements, it comes from incredible heritage – the creative minds behind the Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy series – and it shows in all aspects." Kolan notes that the first few hours of gameplay lead up to what is overall "a slow-burning adventure." "Your first hour is an awkward blend of grasping the sometimes fiddly controls, learning the area and conquering your first oppressive rival – a demonic skull-cow terrorizing locals," he explains. "Suddenly, things open up significantly; you'll start noticing areas you can't quite reach, objects you have yet to understand the purpose and significance of -– and the hint of a world that stretches much farther than the boundaries of your land. It soon becomes apparent that 'world domination' is your ultimate goal." Though he warns that gameplay progression is slow at points, Kolan feels that Little King's Story is a worthy play. "Little King's Story is shockingly original in execution," he concludes. "There really isn't another RPG out there quite like it – and in an increasingly stale strategy-RPG market, this is a game that renews the category for us. It's compelling and complex, deep and rewarding, surprising and above all entertaining."

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