If there’s one thing all Marvelous games have in common (and we’re including Suda51’s Grasshopper oddities as spiritual bedfellows) it’s the focus on the little things. The quirks of the Harvest Moon girls, the pixilated pooch in Contact, hanging out with Travis Touchdown’s kitten; all unnecessary asides, but vital pieces of the puzzle. Little King’s Story has them in droves.
In a delightful chalk-drawn intro (reminding us of Yoshi’s Story’s crayon style) a lonely boy is whisked off to become the Little King. This Narnia-esque twist sees you sitting atop the throne and tasked with kingdom expansion. Described as Harvest Moon meets Animal Crossing meets Pikmin, the latter angle is the most evident – there’s more direction than Animal Crossing and the face-pummeling strife of Moon is thankfully absent.
As in Nintendo’s vegetable RTS, progress relies on leading a workforce on expeditions in a world in which you’re largely powerless. Where Olimar planted his workforce, yours is commissioned by leading carefree adults to job centers. A farmer digs, a carpenter chops and soldiers fight. As in WiiWare’s Crystal Chronicles, adults lean towards jobs – match them up and they’ll have special moves, such as the farmer’s super hole-smashing dive.
Where Pikmin are laser-guided with a cursor, the King just has to look at an object to send a follower to interact. Thus gold is dug up, paths are cleared and the land is cleansed of villainous slugs, all with cold, hard steel. Resources are ploughed back into the economy and your town expands, enabling the existence of more adults, more job classes and – most importantly – more men in the King’s party (we only ever had four, but you’ll probably have 50 by the end).
Throughout all of this we were constantly distracted by little asides. Inside the castle – where Land of Hope and Glory constantly blares out heroically – we found picture frames to fill from our extensive gallery of art. We choose a photo of a prize-winning cow chewing on some grass. Popping outside we bumped into a priest from the Sect of Soup, a chap called Kampbell (arf!), who asked for money for his church. Threatened with damnation we gladly handed over the loot.