Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wii Hidden Gems #2 - Little King's Story

It has been way, way too long since I wrote the first entry in my Wii Hidden Gems series, and seeing as the article is one of the top five most popular posts on the blog I thought it was time to highlight another title from the consoles back catalogue that I feel doesn't get quite as much love as it deserves.  This time I will be covering Little King's Story, a strategy game that was published in 2009 by Rising Star Games in Europe and XSeed Games in the US.

Publisher: Rising Star Games
Developer: Cing
Expect to pay: £5 - £10

Graphics: 8 out of 10
Little King's Story features extremely colourful graphics that are very whimsical in nature.  They are quite cartoony yet quite stylised and detailed, and they suit the host platform very well.  There can be quite a lot going on at the same time yet the game doesn't slow down, even when you have dozens of your loyal follows trailing along behind you.  There are quite a few boss battles throughout the course of the game, both optional and obligatory, and they are usually quite large in size.  It can be quite a challenge to keep all of your little soldiers alive when you are being charged by a giant bull, squashed by a huge toad or attacked by the Oni King and his many minions, to name just three examples.

Sound and Music: 9 out of 10
This is where Little King's Story really gets a lot of its charm.  Despite the music consisting almost entirely of classical music that has been out of copyright for centuries, the soundtrack still manages to amaze due to the way the various compositions have been remixed and implemented into the game.  You will most likely recognise a good deal of the music from the moment it starts up. Speech consists of a gibberish language that the characters speak that sounds vaguely foreign but in actually fact is just a bunch of random noises.  Depending on your tolerance for this sort of thing it could get quite annoying after a while.

Game Mechanics: 9 out of 10
As for the gameplay, well... it's Pikmin, isn't it? Except in a fantasy setting and a few more RPG overtones.  If you have never played a Pikmin game, you control one character - in this case the eponymous Little King, and then roam around the game world with minions of different types trailing around behind you.  Each type of minion serves a purpose - use soldiers to take out monsters, carpenters to build bridges, etc.  You have to be careful not to let your non combative minions too close to monsters because they will not be able to defend themselves very effectively.

So armed with your different types of followers, you slowly explore further and further into the game world, uncovering loot and slaying bosses as you go.  You can bring back the stuff you have found to your kingdom where you can either sell it to help fund the further development of your kingdom (which is required to progress) or sometimes keep items for yourself to equip.  The game can actually be quite tough in places but it does allow for a certain amount of grinding because smaller monsters do reappear over time.

Innovation and Cleverness:
6 out of 10
While the game does undoubtedly steal a lot of the design from Pikmin it does bring it's share of new ideas to the table and overall is a better (not to mention longer) experience in my opinion.  As the Wii never got it's own new Pikmin game (the re releases don't count), this makes for a very good substitute.

Value and Replayability: 7 out of 10
Quite some time ago I happened to spot Little King's Story in the bargain games rack of my local Morrison's supermarket for a fiver.  That my friends is an absolute bargain and if you see while stocking up on groceries you should really chuck it in your basket or trolley without a moments hesitation.  There are quite a lot of stages in the game so it will take you quite some time to finish, but I'm not too sure whether you'd come back and do it a second time.  Luckily though the game is getting a sequel for the PS Vita - hopefully it will sell more copies this time, but maybe not if handhelds are as dead as most video game journalists would like you to believe.

Overall: 8 out of 10
This is a true shining gem amongst the collection of titles that have been released for the Wii over the years, and an affordable one at that.  So if my ramblings here have whetted your appetite at all, go seek it out and enjoy it!

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