Review: New Little King’s Story (PSV)
Title: New Little King’s Story
Format: PlayStation Network Download (650 MB)
Release Date: October 2, 2012
ESRB Rating: E10+
New Little King’s Story is also available on Wii.
The PlayStation Vita version was used for this review.
New Little King’s Story is the second attempt by Konami to bring this fusion of town simulator and strategy RPG to the west. Released for the Wii a few short years ago, Little King’s Story became an instant cult hit, gathering a respectable fan base on a system not known for supporting third party developers. Now, a few years later, Konami has brought this strange little game to the PlayStation Vita in hopes of finding a new audience. The game, part re-make and part re-imagining, comes off as fun and addictive, but a myriad of technical problems bog this game down and prevent it from being a must own game.
New Little King’s Story thrusts you into the role of king in a kingdom that mysteriously comes under attack. After the assault and inevitable retreat, you retreat to a tiny village on the outskirts of your kingdom in order to rebuild your kingdom, rescue the princesses, and reclaim your rightful position on the throne. As you progress through the game, you gain the ability to recruit new town members to your private army, assigning roles and different classes to make them useful to your cause.
Part town manager and part action RPG, New Little King’s Story is a strange, yet addicting blend of gameplay. At the onset of the game, things seem relatively simple enough. You, as king, lead around a small army of four or five to take down enemies, claim land for your growing town, and recruit more members to your cause. As you progress go, your town evolves and grows, which allows for more people, more resources, and most importantly, more soldiers.
The town managing system in New Little King’s Story is fairly open to customization and player choice, but at the end of the day, it feels kind of limited. It’s fun to build up your town and recruit more citizens, but it’s merely just one side of the coin. The town simulation is the better of the two options, however, as the combat can bog down and feel boring at times.
Combat in New Little King’s Story is handled in a very similar way to Nintendo’s Pikmin series. You, as king, have the option to face enemies head on with a fairly weak sword slash, but that is usually a bad idea. The army that follows behind you is the main brunt force of your kingdom, but it’s a shame that combat doesn’t feel that tactical or well thought out. Sure, there are different classes that specialize in different types of attacks, but at the end of the day, it feels aimless and mindless. As king, you merely point in the direction of the enemy and throw your troops at there. You then sit back and wait for them to attack and do their thing. It’s nice to see another game take on the formula that Pikmin popularized, but the results here are less than stellar.
For the class system, New Little King’s Story allows you to assign your citizens to a multitude of different roles, such as carpenter, soldiers, cook, mountie, or others. Each class has a benefit, whether it’s the ability to build structures, perform better in battle, or dig up hidden treasure. As the number of your citizens approaches the limit of 100, it can become hectic to manage your citizens. It speaks to the overall tone of New Little King’s Story; though fun and manageable in small bite sized chunks, the scope and the scale brings the game down.
Nothing in New Little King’s Story will blow you away visually. The characters and the art style take on a decidedly anime style, and it works for the most part. Draw distances are fairly weak in comparison to other games on the Vita, such as Uncharted or Persona 4. Overall, the game doesn’t break any new ground with its visual style or art style. Monsters look and feel fairly generic, and characters feel lifeless and uninteresting. There is something worth talking about with the visuals: the performance of the game.
When there are more than about seven or eight characters on the screen, the frame rate noticeably drops. This wouldn’t be that bad if there weren’t that many characters on screen, but at any time, you’ll usually have at least 10 or more soldiers following you. When you walk around town, the game nearly slows to a crawl, making it unbearable for a lot of the town management sections. I found myself disbanding my soldiers when walking through town just to prevent the game from slowing down so much.
As far as audio goes, nothing really stands out in the game. Sound effects get the job done. The music is probably the only memorable aspect of the game, remixing classic orchestral pieces in fun and fanciful ways. For a music fan like myself, hearing classics like In the Hall of the Mountain King put a smile across my face, but to the average player, the music will go mostly unnoticed.
This game is single player only.
New Little King’s Story is a mixed bag. The mechanics in place make this game enjoyable and addicting at moments and absolutely frustrating at other times. I both enjoyed and disliked this game at once. The combat and story are weak, but the progression and feedback loop made it easy for me to get sucked in. For the price of $40, this game is definitely not for everyone, especially with the technical hiccups that keep it from being a smooth gameplay experience. If you’re looking for a Pikmin-type game on your Vita, look no further than this game. Just go in expecting a game that’s not as polished as it should be. This game can be a fun distraction, but it ultimately falls short of deserving a place in every Vita owner’s library.
* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Vita’s built in screen capture feature.