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New Little King’s Story

These are truly desperate times. Despite the good fortune and prosperity heralded by the success of the little King in his first adventure, he could do nothing to stop the armies of adorable, slack-jawed monsters that sacked his castle and evicted him, his advisers and his people. Even worse, they crashed a party, one that played host to seven princesses, each one now in the clutches of enemy hands. However, the kingdom is not entirely lost. It’s King, though just a boy, will save the Princesses. He’ll rebuild his lands. Even if he has to ensure every single loose log, bush, obstructing tree stump and miscellaneous piece of clutter has been hacked apart on his way.

This kingdom building, princess saving, dungeon crawling kleptomaniac goes about his business in a fashion that feels like a Facebook city simulation got mashed up with gameplay borrowed from Pikmin. There are elements of a few genre’s tossed in here, though never with complexity. This game is about having a simple, fun time, accessible to all, regardless of genre familiarity.

The adventure begins on the royal throne. From there the King can order out his plan, whether it be the construction of new buildings, the upgrading of military prowess or determining the dress code of his civilization. The throne is also the place to accept quests and read mail, and it’s from the throne that all collected loot is appraised for what it’s worth.

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And while it’s nice to see the kingdom grow as you expand your territory, all of your options are preselected. Sack an enemy base, defeat it’s boss and the only buildings you can construct there are selected via the menu. They get purchased and voila, they are placed in their assigned location. It’s a highly streamlined function that lacks depth. This is your kingdom, but not to your own unique specifications.

Purchasing and constructing key buildings becomes the first step towards creating a royal guard. It is their job to follow the King about his business and protect him from harm. Every citizen of your kingdom begins as a carefree adult, lacking job or specialization, and while the average citizen can dig holes with the best of ’em, if you expect to get anywhere they’ll need skills. From the basic model they can be reassigned as grunts or farmers, hunters or builders and more. But your entourage can only grow so large. The trick is figuring out how many of each specific class to bring with you on your journey.

From here you can choose to move down the story path, towards the next pillar of light that houses the next Princess. There are also quests needing to be done, monsters that can be destroyed, and then there’s also the land itself to explore. Cutting down bushes reveals hidden cracks in the Earth that can be pried open to access their riches. Stairs can be built, in prescribed areas marked appropriately, that lead to other hidden items. There is a massive collection of loot out there waiting to be found, or convinced to be handed over by brute force, and added to your treasury.

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Whether you choose to proceed with the story, a quest, or just explore to find things, there is always a routine in what you do. Firstly, you begin the day. Your squad has disbanded without your presence. There is a system in place that allows a squad to be registered, but it’s clumsy at best and highly unintuitive. Details on all of the kingdom’s citizens can be accessed via a platform outside the castle, once you’ve built it, but there is no way to assign particular citizens to groups. The royal guard must be brought to the platform and then registered. Any additions to the royal guard would require re-registering the entire group.

The second step is to venture forth into the wilds, and it is here that the game functions most like Pikmin. All units have two basic commands: charge and retreat. The actions a unit performs depend on what he/she is being charged into. Charge a grunt at an enemy, and he’ll attack accordingly. Charge a grunt at a giant tree stump and he’ll just come back confused. There are appropriate classes to send out against particular obstacles, but solving the giant tree stump obstacle is amongst the simplest of problems.

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Now let’s say you’re moving through an underpass and an enemy above is happily hurtling pots and rocks out of his infinite supply at the ground below. There is also a barricade of fallen logs blocking your path. You could send in your troops to deal with the logs, and then retreat as necessary. Or, if you brought along your archers, have them deal with the monster.

The main problem with leading the royal guard is how they follow their King around. They are less like individuals that happily follow the King, and more like a tail, an extension of himself that whips around him as he turns. This becomes a problem when you encounter ledges, or enemies that like charging into aspiring heroes. A few of ’em might find themselves hanging in mid-air, Wile. E. Coyote style, before realizing that gravity is about to take them down.

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The third, and final step, is the return home. Whether you’ve completed a quest, took down a monster or merely followed a path to it’s inevitable conclusion, you will undoubtedly have plenty of miscellaneous, unidentified loot on you. Go back home to the castle and sit on the throne and all of that loot will be appraised for what it is worth. Then rest up, and begin again.

With a brand new day there are plenty of options for the King to pursue. More money is needed for renovations. New quests have arrived. Princess Apricot wants some alone time. The sky isn’t the limit, but there is plenty of reason to wander around the casual world of New Little King’s Story, even if it’s just to see what’s there.

7 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in July 2011.

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