REVIEW / Little King’s Story (PC)

 

Welcome to the Kingdom of Alpoko, a scenic, good-for-nothing dump! Little King’s Story is a Japanese real-time strategy life simulation RPG that was originally developed for the Wii by now-bankrupt company Cing and Town Factory. The game was first released in 2009, re-released for the Vita in 2012 and finally, as of the 5th of August 2016, it was rerereleased on Windows via Steam.

 

LK1

 

Little King’s Story is all about the simple joys of being a child king to a bunch of mostly useless adults. The game gives you just a speck of story in the opening cinematic where the little king Corobo (who can be renamed) is shown to be a bored, lonely little boy with an interest in puppets. Corobo stumbles upon a magic crown and naturally, by putting it on, he becomes the king of Alpoko. As the new king, with the help of your three helpful adult servants Howser, Verde, and Liam, you are tasked with turning Alpoko into a well-oiled machine instead of a cluttered field. There may or may not be a mention of world domination here and there, too, but that’s for when you play the game yourself.

When you launch the game you will be given a configuration menu to tinker with, which includes things like shadow and texture settings, frame rate, controller settings (I highly recommend playing Little King with a controller) and other things to make your life easier. Based on my personal trial and error, I recommend putting everything on its lowest setting and playing the game full screen rather than windowed. Little King has a bit of a lag problem even with effects minimized, but trying to play it windowed just about made my laptop freeze.

 

Did I mention you can rename your character? Yagi is the Japanese word for goat. All hail the goat king!

Did I mention you can rename your character? Yagi is the Japanese word for goat. All hail the goat king!

 

As I explained earlier, other than the opening cinematic before the main menu, you are given little to no storyline. That’s okay, though, because Little King is a very simple game that doesn’t require much explanation. You’re a king now; go out and do king things.

The tutorials in the first few in-game days of Little King’s Story are both unobtrusive and effective in teaching you about how the game works. Liam, your Anything Minister, will offer you a few easy tips about how to talk to and recruit your citizens and send them off to work or battle. He also teaches you about job classes, which are an important part of gameplay. The first job class you have available, which is held by every single one of your citizens at the start of the game, is the Carefree Adult. They’re good at digging and that’s about it.

 

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There’s a hole up in the top left corner, below the clock.

 

That’s not to say that digging is unimportant. Your first task in the game is to find gold and other items that you can convert into Bol, which is Alpoko currency. Digging in holes found around the kingdom usually yields gold coins or sometimes much larger bags of gold. Later in the game, digging in holes can also turn up monsters, or UMA, which are the enemies of the game.

Records Minister Verde allows you to check out the stats for the kingdom and save your game. She also seems to sass you a lot more than the other two servants you have at your disposal – take that as you will. Records Minister Verde allows you to check out the stats for the kingdom and save your game. She also seems to sass you a lot more than the other two servants you have at your disposal – take that as you will. Talking to Howser will allow you to access the Kingdom Plan, where you can build new buildings, check quests, read letters from the suggestion box (which is added later in the game), and see basic stats for the town.

 

Don’t ask about our economy.

Don’t ask about our economy.

 

Little King’s Story has that addictive quality similar to other simple day-by-day games like Harvest Moon. Each morning you wake up, possibly watch a scene or tutorial and then sit on your throne and check out what needs doing for the day. Once you have enough Bol you can start upgrading the Castle Town by adding buildings.

Adding a Farmhouse will allow you to turn your Carefree Adults into Hardworking Farmers, while the Guard House will turn the lazy masses into Grunt Soldiers. These job classes allow your citizens to perform different actions when you’re ordering them around. Hardworking Farmers are excellent diggers and Grunt Soldiers are much more skilled at fighting UMA. Over time you will have special upgrades afforded to you which allow you to increase the number of minions you can “carry” at any one time.

 

Best turn them into something less carefree and happy, then!

Best turn them into something less carefree and happy, then!

 

The music in Little King’s Story is very lively and happy and is mainly comprised of remixes of classical tunes. The game’s main background music is a remix of one section of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D Minor. The sounds in the game are super cute, including the barely perceptible squeaky sounds that the King’s feet make as he runs around doing King stuff.

The voices used by all of the characters and citizens sound like a mix between Japanese, French, English and pure gibberish, though I’m betting it’s mostly the latter. The voices remind me of all the dialogue in Okami, except slower and softer, which is certainly not a bad thing.

 

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You stay away from me, Mr.M.

 

All of the music and animation feels very reminiscent of a Harvest Moon game or something else light, colorful and fluffy. The animals (cows and chickens, particularly) look near-identical to the animals in Harvest Moon, although I’m unsure if any design work would have been done by Marvelous, XSeed or Rising Star if they were solely responsible for publishing.

Little King’s Story feels very childish and simple, but that goes to its credit – not all games need to be dark, gritty and difficult. However, I did experience some difficulties when it came to the actual gameplay. To talk to and recruit your townspeople, you have to stand next to them and press either A or B respectively. However, you can easily clip through NPCs and animals, making it difficult to grab them on your first try. I suppose in a way the game handles like you would expect a small child would run about if they were suddenly a king with ridiculous amounts of power. All the same, the game would control much more smoothly and be much less frustrating if collision detection was improved.

 

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Similarly, you can turn on targeting when you have your loyal subjects following behind you in order to direct them to their next task with greater accuracy. Unfortunately, the targeting system – in this case the little dotted line that appears to help you aim – does not follow your line of sight smoothly. The target line jumps in chunks, meaning that no matter how hard you try, you can’t focus the line on that one rock you want your citizens to pulverize.

Sometimes your minions will collide with it anyway and get to work, but oftentimes you’ll have confused citizens running back to your side for your next order and you’ll have to fling them at their target again and hope it sticks. However, my boyfriend was quick to chastise me for this comment without having tried it with keyboard and mouse. In this case I would suggest making your own mind up and trying both and sticking with what works best for you. I definitely have a little controller bias from predominantly console gaming.

 

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My other gripe with Little King’s Story is how achingly slow the King and his charges are when running around. I haven’t played far enough into the game that I could say for sure that there isn’t an upgrade later down the track, but for the moment it’s very, very slow.

Despite these weaknesses, I really enjoyed playing Little King’s Story and intend to play more of it in my free time. Despite having all of the visual settings on low, the game is exceptionally visually pleasing and the gentle swaying of the trees and happy, lively music really puts me at ease while playing. In addition to pleasant graphics, there are so many deeply satisfying parts of the game, like cashing in your spoils at the end of the day and watching your Bol skyrocket.

 

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Fighting boss battles amount to running around a tiny battlefield and sending your Grunts in to wail on a single, much bigger enemy. It is seriously exhilarating, especially since like all other tasks in the game, you can watch the boss’ health tick down on a little red clock timer. After major story events and completed quests, you get festivals like the cow festival above. You can’t do any work on those days because your citizens are too busy making merry, but it really helps the town feel alive.

Little King’s Story is simple and addictive, plagued by that “Just one more day” disease that Harvest Moon, Persona and other day-by-day games are all afflicted with. If you pick up Little King’s Story, you too will find yourself wrapped up in “Just one more day” as you upgrade your town a little more, grab a few more townspeople, find new job classes and unlock new territory outside of Alpoko.

 

Just one more staircase.

Just one more staircase.

Just one more bridge.

Just one more bridge.

 

Little King’s Story is a delightful game.  I believe it will keep anyone who buys it coming back again and again. If the publishers could patch in some slightly tighter controls and make general movement much faster, it would be one of the world’s most perfect time waster games. Little King’s Story is available now on Steam for $24.99USD and is definitely worth your Bol!

 

 

 

This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.

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