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Little King's Story review

It may look cute and innocent, but this is one badass strategy game

So you’ve got the means to employ your subjects; here comes the second dose of strategy. You’re limited to a certain number of followers at any one time, so you have to make them count. The others will tootle around town in delightfully clockwork AI routines while you set out on adventures. Only those adventures won’t get far if you, say, take four farmers to fight a poison-spewing snail beast. You’ll need soldiers instead, but then how will you dig up gold? Best take one farmer. But he won’t whip you up the necessary bridge, so it’s carpenters you need…

Decisions pile up at a rapid rate. All you’re doing is approaching people and tapping B to shanghai them into your army, but that choice largely decides between victory and defeat. You could play it safe and ferry only the required workers back and forth as and when they’re needed, but as the game progresses and distances involved grow, you’ll not only need to slicken up your act, you’ll want to. Storming around with a posse of 30 miners is funny in a mad King George III kind of way, but there’s real satisfaction in knowing you assembled a perfect team. It makes you feel, well, kingly.

It paints quite a nice picture of expansion, too. You won’t know what that dream team is until you’ve ventured into foreign lands and had your arse handed to you by a dragon/fallen log/giant egg, so you’ll have to scout it out first. Dipping your toes in the water and deducing what manpower is needed to suck it dry is such cunning fun that it’s no wonder the olden days were as invasion-heavy as they were. Hell, why did we ever stop invading?

Pulling off a really good invasion, however, is a different matter entirely. Even with the infrastructure and the right men, you can’t just turn up and expect to be handed the land deeds on a silver platter. No, it’s bloodshed or home time for you. Commanding your troops redefines the phrase ‘deceptively simple’. Technically speaking, you press A to send a citizen to perform his chosen action (fight, dig, build) and press B to retreat. First of all, don’t be ashamed of the retreat button – it’s your friend and it’ll save your life.

Funnily enough, enemies don’t like having 20 soldiers pounding on their skulls and will retaliate. The secret is to pay attention to attack patterns and heed enemy intel to make sure your men attack when beasts are at their least harmful. When the dragon has his back to you? Stab that fool. When smoke is billowing from his nostrils? Flee. It sounds obvious but, as with anything in Little King’s Story, Marvelous find ways of increasing the scope of the challenge.

What about multiple enemies, unreachable foes and environmental hazards? Overcoming them from a theoretical standpoint is half the battle, but enacting the plan is something else entirely. Learn to use the D-pad. With it you can change battle formations and decide which order your men will attack in. It’s no more (actually quite a lot less) than any strategy game would ask of you; Little King’s Story just has the guts to dump you, a frail child, in the heart of it all. Good luck keeping a clear head.

More Info

GenreRole Playing
DescriptionLittle King's Story is a real-time role playing sim where players control a young King and manage their townspeople, enlist them to dig for treasure, build new buildings and otherwise better their community. Players can also try to conquer rival nations to create a single unified kingdom as well as grant the requests of townspeople at whim.
US censor ratingTeen
UK censor rating7+
Alternative namesKing Story
Release date21 July 2009 (US), 24 April 2009 (UK)