PlayStation’s new handheld, the PlayStation Vita, continues to get its steady trickle of new games and one little king has decided to make it his home. A re-imagining of and a bit of a sequel to the Wii’s classic RPG, Little King’s Story, New Little King’s Story has set its throne on the PlayStation Vita with a new look, new story, and new adventure for gamers to go on. Could the little king’s new adventure cement his place in RPG power? Or will his kingdom fall forever?
Let’s clear the air about something first: For those of you who have already played the original title – New Little King’s Story is not a port of Little King’s Story for the Wii. This is a re-imagining of the game and even an implied sequel. To begin, New Little King’s Story is well, a new story. Instead of becoming a king like you did in the first game, you start out as a king – now 14 years old King Corobo. While having a party, your kingdom comes under attack by an evil figure and you have been run completely out. Now you have to rebuild your kingdom from the ground up and save the many princesses from the grip of the Devil King and his minions.
The story itself is fairly clichéd but still retains some charm and humor as depicted through text on the screen. Unfortunately, unlike its predecessor, New Little King’s Story lacks the cutscenes to advance the story. Instead, you complete missions and are greeted with a brief text-based progression of the story. There’s nothing wrong with it and it works fine for the portable game; However, it would have been nice to include that extra charm and uniquely animated cutscene style that was present in the first game.
The game does assume that you have played the first title or have at least become familiar with it as you will encounter several characters throughout the game that were present and established in the first. There is no introduction for most of them other than some optional recaps on the princesses you are saving. Fortunately, even if you have not played the first game, you can still catch on quite easily and play the game as it can stand firmly on its own. In addition, you can unlock some encyclopedias that will help you understand your encounters a little further.
The story can get a little dragged out and suffer from pacing problems due to the fact that the game’s progress depends on your completing missions and building up your kingdom. You can spend hours upon hours just collecting items, roaming the maps, or other activities without advancing the story the slightest bit. This shouldn’t be a huge problem as the meat of the game is in the participation of all those activities and not really the story.
The real foundation of the game is in the gameplay and the endless hours you can spend ruling your kingdom. New Little King’s Story puts you in the position of a king where you can build businesses, manage workers, go on missions, and fight some baddies. There are tons of things you can do. Progressing through the game, you build up your kingdom with loyal subjects, assigning them to one of 23 jobs that become available throughout the game. Each job has a specific function that will help you in your restoration of the kingdom such as carpenters, farmers, soldiers, hunters, and miners. You can take these subjects of your kingdom, any you choose, and go on missions throughout the vast open world – conquer bosses in battles, dig up hidden treasures, build bridges, collect weapons and items, and so much more. Forgetting the story missions itself, there are so many side things you can do that will keep you playing for hours without end.
The controls are pretty straight forward and there is a brief tutorial when you start the game. The game combines a bit of strategy and action RPG elements to create this hybrid sort of gameplay. When in battle, you can switch your “Royal Guard” members (those kingdom subjects you pick to go on missions) on a whim’s notice to adapt to the situation. However, you must make sure that you are always prepared before going out into the wild. You’ll need people with the right skills, weapons, and jobs to complete the tasks at hand. You don’t want to go miles from the castle without hunters and get stuck in a valley where onii (monsters) are throwing items at you and your army with no protection; Or get stuck on a path because you have no miners to knock down the huge boulder in your way.
While the controls are simple, there are times they can be a little lacking. Due to the Vita’s special features such as the touch screen and dual analog sticks, you can control the game in various manners. You can go simply with the buttons and analog sticks or you can mix it up with some touch screen controls as well. The touch screen will allow you to select items, Royal Guard members, or enemies that you want to carry out some action on. I found it a bit easier to stick with the buttons and analog. However, there are times where the aim function is a bit off when using the analog and shoulder buttons. In times like these, especially when fighting an enemy in a crunch, tapping the screen is the best move for quick action against the enemy.
While everything is generally straight forward in the game, especially after the brief tutorials, there are some points in the game where I admit, I was stuck. After securing a few princesses, you will be told that you can continue on to the next area of the game’s map to save the rest. I took my band of merry men and women to save the next damsel in distress, only to find that no matter which way I went, I could not pass or I didn’t have and couldn’t obtain the proper jobs to get past those points. It wasn’t until some serious hours after that I finally figured out that “side-quests” are actually necessary for progression through the main game. These few quirks can be a little frustrating and annoying but eventually, you can figure everything out.
Graphically, the game looks good. Although the art style has changed from the original game, you still control your chibi king and his loyal subjects in vibrant and sharp 3D and 2D spaces. During story panels, the manga inspired art design is beautifully drawn and appealing to the eye. The overall cartoony and cutesy nature of the game reclaims its innocence although content-wise, this game should have retained a “Teen” rating with the myriads of suggestive art and material, innuendo, mature topics, and language that most parents wouldn’t want their children exposed to. Back to graphics and visuals – the only negative I could find on this aspect of the game was the fact that it does suffer from some frame rate issues. This slow down usually occurs when you have a larger band of royal guards trailing you and the game will seem to get sluggish. It’s not a game nor a deal breaker, yet it is something that a few people could get bothered by at times.
Overall, New Little King’s Story provides a fun and satisfying open-world RPG and strategy experience. For gamers who love to collect items, build and manage worlds, engage in battles where strategy and action are involved – New Little King’s Story provides it all. The most impressive part of the game is that, while this is a digital download only, the scope of the game is anything but little for this, Little King. You can be sure you can find at least 30 hours of gameplay within this portable title.
While you may find the story clichéd, a few frame rate issues, and it may take a little bit of time to learn your way through the game completely – New Little King’s Story provides a solid experience for those craving a new RPG experience on their PlayStation Vita. This New Little King’s Story is one big adventure that you do not want to miss.
Note: Thanks to Konami, who provided GamerXChange with a free copy of this game for review.