Although Little King's Story's timid debut on the Wii was among the causes that forced Cing to plant the shack and puppets, the game is still remembered as one of the best and most unexpected third-party surprises on the Nintendo console, as well as the only title in. able to satisfy at least in part those who have been waiting for a new chapter of Pikmin for years.
New Little King's Story Unfortunately, it is not the sequel that the talented couple Yoshiro Kimura and Yasuhiro Wada wanted to make, but rather the Marvelous attempt to give a second chance to a promising IP that has been orphaned of its original authors. Entrusted to the AQL division (Fate / Extra CCC) and published on PlayStation Vita in collaboration with Konami, this new chapter is not even a simple remake, given the more or less evident innovations that go alongside the characters, mechanics and settings of the original game. Certainly the choice to revive the little king in an exclusive PlayStation Vita, console certainly not known for reigning over an empire full of subjects, appears strange and courageous.
Little rulers grow up
The first big difference between the old and the new Little King's Story undoubtedly concerns the plot, this time with more serious premises and in line with Vita's ideal audience. If the protagonist of the original was a plump and curious child who began to give orders left and right after finding a crown on the street, this time Korobo is a king in all respects, complete with a Royal Guard and ministers in tow.
The story opens with a sudden attack that razes the royal castle to the ground, forcing the young ruler and his handful of advisors to rebuild Alpoko's kingdom from a battered shack and a wooden chair to act as a throne. This is a clearly more attractive plot for those who do not digest fairy tales and childish characters, but it is not necessarily a lucky choice, given that a sui generis plot full of personality now gives way to one that is so canonical as to be almost banal. Apart from a few new entries and a few replacements, the cast of characters has remained almost unchanged: the king is accompanied on his adventure by some ministers, while between a secondary mission and a fight with a boss you come across a series of princesses from save and bring back to your castle. Some news concern the young nobles, we will see it in a while, but fortunately Marvelous AQL has left intact that successful mix of RPG, strategy and city simulation that seemed to unite Pikmin to The Settlers. In the role of Korobo, the player can wander around the kingdom and hire his subjects: just approach, press a button, and here is that the slacker begins to follow his king as if he were his shadow; just press another one and you charge it towards an enemy or an object to interact with.
Five, twelve, twenty-three ... soon after you have a real battalion ready to carry out your orders, but the most interesting aspect is represented by the job system of the game. Depending on the structures built in your village, it is possible to assign each of your followers a particular job, thus giving them useful skills in battle or in the collection of resources: a hunter can shoot arrows at otherwise unreachable enemies, a carpenter builds bridges or stairways , a farmer is able to dig up treasures by digging into the ground, and so on, until he unlocks veteran soldiers, cooks, merchants, and even TV presenters. The enormous variety and usefulness of the classes makes it essential to carefully manage the party and organize it according to one's needs, but above all it becomes necessary to anticipate any unexpected events; an army of only soldiers allows you to pulverize a boss in a short time, but if the road is blocked by a huge boulder the only solution is to go back to the village to recover a miner. Precisely with regard to the management of subjects, one of the most welcome additions of New Little King's Story it's about being able to customize and train them, upgrading them through a fairly simple growth system and changing their gear, so as to avoid the "clone war" effect of the first Little King's Story.
PlayStation 3 Trophies
Marvelous hasn't bothered to come up with original Trophies, as the vast majority are unlocked by eliminating bosses and completing side missions. On the other hand, it is a fairly easy Platinum.
Between old and new
New Little King's Story in short, it maintains some important stakes of the Wii version. The world map has remained the same, while the castle, which can be expanded throughout the adventure, still serves as a hub where you can activate new missions, buy new structures, organize your units and interact with rescued princesses. In this chapter for Vita, more importance has been given to the beautiful maidens, and now, in addition to assigning the player special missions, they can take part in the battle by helping Korobo and the Royal Guard with a particular support ability. There is still the possibility of carrying on love stories with each princess, but much more interesting for the purposes of the gameplay is the relationship system of their subjects: from time to time some members of their party could fall in love, and taking them to the sanctuary they will marry and have children. In turn, the children of the kingdom have the unique ability to climb trees to reach treasures inaccessible to any other unit.
The finishing work of the game involved everything, including structures, units and missions: building a hospital allows you to have all the KO units hospitalized in one place, with the possibility of having them treated instantly by paying a certain amount of money. . The new development team has even gone so far as to add a crafting system, which however is useful almost exclusively to those who want to be a little more competitive in the unprecedented online challenges, timed missions or points in which to compete to climb the game's leaderboards. . This is also because, in general, the difficulty level has been smoothed out a lot, with some boss battles made more accessible but at the same time less epic. A special mention should be made to the soundtrack, which like the original is based entirely on arrangements of classical works, including the March of the Nutcracker or Giuseppe Verdi's Aida: the overall effect is absolutely pleasant, but unfortunately also in this chance we are facing a step back, since most of the original songs beautifully adapted by Yutaka Minobe and Yoko Shimomura have been replaced by well-chosen but less brilliant music.
A neglected kingdom
Marvelous's plan to make the experience attractive to a more mature target was not limited to the narrative component, but also and above all to the aesthetic aspect and characterization of the characters, both of the main ones and of the supporting actors.
Korobo is no longer a funny plump boy, just as the seven princesses are made much more attractive by an artistic style more in line with traditional manga: those with a more "daring" design have been completely replaced (such as the chubby Spumoni or the too prosperous Ferne), but here too the speech made for the changes to the plot applies, with the game losing a lot of personality in an attempt to pursue a more traditional and less particular aesthetic. New Little King's Story it would have been a far better work if the developers had spent less time making the game sexier and more time patching up its flaws.
Especially in light of the power of Vita's hardware and the game's low-poly graphics, it leaves you speechless at how the engine can't handle the AI around it, with heavy slowdowns already in the first few minutes of gameplay, when the village is made up of only a few commoners, while it collapses in a devastating way and loses frames along the way in the second half of the adventure, with the outposts full of subjects and the king carrying thirty units in single file. Let's be clear, during the less crowded missions and in the battles with the bosses the problem is much less evident, but what sense does it make to enrich and expand your kingdom if a walk inside it turns into a frustrating funeral procession?
Other more or less important defects range from a map that is difficult to navigate to an inaccurate pointing system, from an occasionally spiteful camera to the inability to explain many elements of the gameplay well to the player, while incomprehensible is the size of the texts, so much small to be almost illegible in some cases. Unfortunately, more than a semester after the release in Japan it is now unlikely the arrival of a patch that can correct those that are the main defects of New Little King's Storydefects which, in addition to ruining a delightful experience, would undoubtedly have been avoidable with a more careful and less hasty development.
A fascinating, imaginative and singular work like Little King's Story would have deserved a better adaptation by Marvelous. It is undeniable that New Little King's Story remains a unique, fun and carefree experience, a boon for a console that urgently needs solid and original titles, but at the same time it is impossible to turn a blind eye to the faults of the development team who, in search of the "greatest" and of the "most beautiful", he has packaged a product with less personality but full of superfluous, defective or poorly illustrated elements.
- A phenomenal mix of strategy, RPG and city simulation
- More variety in the classes
- Captivating graphic restyling ...
- ... but less characteristic than the original
- Heavy slowdowns in inhabited areas
- Inaccurate controls in battle
- The game forgets to describe even important gameplay elements