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Fat Princess: Fistful of Cake

Technology, our fickle friend. Our strive for the perfect computational device for all our needs, from word processing to the most peculiar of pornographies, is a never-ending waltz towards the rainbow of perfection. The pot of gold sits humbly for our collection, but this inherent human trait of wanting more means now, gold isn’t good enough. Gold is a fascinating, rare and pure element but once it’s yours, platinum takes its place. Once we hit the top, we long to rediscover the joys of what has always been there for us, the simplest of elements. This generation has allowed us to journey complete virtual worlds with an army of real-life online accomplices but few of us feel truly satisfied with these tools. We finally have our dream woman, but her soul is lacking and the flame of our first love reignites. What is the perfect body if your heart aches for a simpler time?

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Shying away from the trends of a respected display of computational performance, Fat Princess is the old crush who has walked back into your life; you feel guilty having the fling but few things have quite that effect on you. Luckily, she’s also grown up a little to make one fall in love once more, rather than simply reconnect with feelings of old in the name of nostalgia. The core gameplay is somewhat reminiscent of Capture the Flag and King of the Hill from a plethora of multiplayer games, with two teams of eight fighting to complete a set objective before the other. A loose and redundant tale of a princess being captured and finding an addiction to cake vaguely ties each of the fifteen levels together.

The game is played from a top-down perspective over a variety of vast but never overwhelmingly sized maps. Objectives are initially perplexingly simple, however the in-game navigation’s quote holds oh so true. “Get the job done quickly before battles expand into full-scale conflict!”

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Whilst such advice will be dismissed in early levels, as the difficulty gains momentum, so does the relevance of this statement. It is possible to complete a later mission in less than sixty seconds with lady luck taking the bullets for you, but miss these opportunities and the map evolves into the scene of a deadlock, the limited pathways our trenches. It could be said that it plays like Star Wars: Battlefront with a little more variety. Levels vary in all possible ways such a system allows; capturing a princess from the blue team’s base whilst defending yours, planting a bomb in theirs, competing for territorial zones and simple-as-it-comes outright battlefield slaughter.

Despite these predictable but welcome attempts at variation, it’s difficult to maintain motivation to play longer than for two levels at once. Repetitive goals combined with simple but shallow mechanics may provide a long-term addictive edge, but this is no Final Fantasy. Fat Princess is a cheeky handful of Haribo under the school desk as opposed to an open buffet of calorific euphoria.

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There’s also variety in character classes, from the workers who maintain your fortresses and collect the set raw materials, to the archers and the warriors who’s blood lines the map. These character classes can be switched at any point simply by finding the uniform of a fallen ally or collecting a new suit from your base. The more you play the greater these classes evolve which adds another minor element of variety to the simplest of soups. Each new element of versatility doesn’t overwhelm or dictate the game play, but it provides the player with a host of tactical decisions which you’ll frantically experiment with, in vain hope of breaking the stalemate.

“Each new element of versatility doesn’t overwhelm or dictate the gameplay”All this is given a charming and colourful cel-shaded skin that somewhat defines the experience – technically competent but discarding dignity in favour of character. So far the game hasn’t received the most impressive of sales figures and it could be argued it’s lacking in content for a full-priced release. The online modes are functional however the frame-rate staggered slightly with just three players. Instead of getting on its high horse over A.I. players in online games however, they are included which makes the online mode worthwhile even with just two players – there’s a mutual, unspoken competitiveness in leading your team of computer characters to victory over another player.

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It’s this world you create in your own mind running parallel which completes the experience. At its core, Fat Princess is a shallow single player experience with lazy mechanics imported from a resigned online. You may play Fat Princess, but the game also plays you by encouraging these ridiculous tactics to blossom in the player’s mind. It’s hardly a pioneering RTS of cognitive complexity, but it doesn’t try to be. This is gaming in a pure form – whether that’s an appeal or not depends on the individual but from an analytical perspective it’s a commendable game which is sure of itself.

In a generation of finely tuned animation and seamless open-world environments, a cheeky taste of days gone has more appeal than simply nostalgia. Now pass me a quarter.

7 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in November 2007. Get in touch on Twitter @StuartEdwards.

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