GAME NAME: New Little King’s Story
DEVELOPER(S): Marvelous AQL
PLATFORM(S): PS Vita
RELEASE DATE(S): 9/2/2012
Your kingdom: destroyed, your army: slaughtered, your princesses: captured, and your face: cute as a button. These are the things you learn within the first ten minutes of New Little King’s Story. It is now your job to rebuild your kingdom and save the world from some ancient evil. Along the way you will encounter silly monsters, over dramatic script, and love Nonagons. Sound familiar? If you have ever played any Japanese RPG ever, then it should.
New Little King’s Story wears is colors right upon its sleeve. This game is a traditional Japanese style RPG to the core. Given the current state of JRPGs though this game feels like a breath of fresh air. You are a king, there are beautiful princess, now go save the world. Nothing gets too hefty, and the closest this game gets to “dark and gritty” is the Xs that appear over dead cow’s eyes.
Even the combat is kind of silly. You build an army by calling villagers into a sort of indentured servitude for the king. Each villager can be assigned a different job, such as Soldier or Farmer, and respond aptly; when fighting a giant chicken your Cook can do more damage than a Carpenter. You can run up and start whacking that chicken all on your own if you want, or you can send in your soldiers to do the dirty work. They will all swarm it in a Pikmin style and whittle his health away, all the while cheering “Yes Sir!” to you. As with almost everything in this game, it feels good to be the king.
Every character has their own level, armor, weapon, and hat. Properly editing characters would mean that, on paper, you could have a front line impervious to fire for your upcoming dragon assault. In practice however, your characters quickly become powerful enough that just about any old armor will do. The problem with that is that there is no “optimize” button, meaning you are forced to wade through obscure items trying to find the absolute best one. Even then, the item’s value is not readily apparent, even if you sort by power, as some have special properties.
This one aspect speaks to the game’s larger main problem, it gets in the way of itself. New Little King’s Story is really fantastic in so many ways. But is constantly either underexplaining things or not providing you an option to speed up a process. Sometimes you can save, sometimes you can not; sometimes you can fast travel to the castle from the map, other times you are boned. As crazy as it sounds to say this about a JRPG, this game could have used more exposition, way more.
The only other issue can not be chocked up to design. The framerate in this game is just awful. At first things start out just fine, but as your army and city grows the game speed diminishes. So much so that near the end of the game it felt like it was running at half the speed it started on. While this game is fun this issue is a big one; suddenly fun and quirky quests become tedious and hard to care about.
New Little King’s Story has a ton of potential and even more charm. Sadly a few design and technical issues keep it from climbing to the upper echelons of JRPGs. Make no mistake though, this game is very fun, despite itself. Building your army up from carefree dirt people is extremely satisfying and killing Oniis even more so. It also scratches that JRPG itch, in the most innocent and gentle of ways possible. Did you like Final Fantasy back in the day? Then get New Little King’s Story, get it now.
Even the cutest thing wants you dead.
Every girl loves you.
Bad guys are mostly anthropomorphic vegetables.
Anime assisted dialogue sequences.
Characters made of Legos.
Saving the world from an ancient evil.
Decisions that do not actually make a difference.