Little King’s Story: Impressions

Little King’s Story, a 2009-era Wii title, has been re-released for the PC by XSEED Games and Marvelous USA Inc. It may have been a fun Wii title back in 2009—I don’t know, as I never played it—but this PC port is no good.

First, I wonder why, here in August 2016, a 2009 Wii release would suddenly be ported to the PC. I mean, seriously: why? And for it to be sold for $22.49 is ridiculous. It should be $10, or less, especially when you consider its problems.

Firstly, and this is a biggie, there is no mouse support. At all. For an overhead game where pointing towards things is a big part of the gameplay and there are, you know, menus, being restricted to keyboard keys is a pain. Along with this, you cannot customise the keys. So if you game southpaw-style like me, and are used to using the right side of the keyboard and your right hand for movement, then too bad! You’re stuck with the standard WASD layout. Even for the majority of PC gamers where this is not a problem, the fact you still can’t customise the rest of the keys is atrocious.

Secondly, the UI is ugly and unintuitive. The few settings you can change can only be done so via a window at startup. No options can be accessed from in-game, and while playing, at any moment, the standard Windows cursor can be brought on-screen. So if you happen to move the mouse while playing, you can see, and move, the cursor across the screen like you’re still on the desktop.

The default keys are never explained. You can see what keyboards keys do what via the game’s menu by pressing “M”, but you are never told that “M” is the menu button! Sure, it’s intuitive since “m” is the first letter of “menu”, but it’s also the first letter of “map”, which is what I was trying to bring up in the first place. Not that the map is much good anyway. And should you ever press “Escape”, as anyone would, to access the main menu, all you’ll get is a tiny window prompt with “Quit game?” and yes or no options. (You’ll always want to select “Yes”).

On the topic of default keys, “Enter” and “Backspace” serve as the equivalent to a console gamepad’s “A” and “B” buttons respectively. “Enter” selects options in menus, and “Backspace” takes you back. As you’re going through the menus, though, the two prompts for these are “Button Enter to Confirm” and “B Button to Close”. At least the former gets the button right, if the wording of the prompt makes no sense. But “B Button to Close”? It’s not the “B Button”! It’s the “Backspace” key! Ugly.

Speaking of ugly, let’s talk about the game’s sound design. The music in the game, which is all royalty-free classical music, overpowers the sound effects. If you ever want to get a good idea of what Little King’s Story sounds like, tune in to your local classical station, because there’s no other unique sounds to speak of. Beneath the terrible port-job and sound design, there’s a game that’s somewhat cute and maybe, in another time and on another system, fun. I’d like to play it with a Wii remote as was originally intended, but my only impression of Little King’s Story is as a bad PC game.

With the technical jargon now dealt with, let’s take a look at the gameplay itself. You’re a little king, and you want to grow your kingdom. You start out with a few Ministers, who give you options like viewing the status of your kingdom, building news edifices, and saving your game. An annoying hurdle the game throws at you is that you must be seated on the throne and then must select a Minister’s name to access their options. Speaking to the respective NPC in the game-world does not give you that Minister’s options. I often walked up to the NPC of the Minister of Records, who gives you the option to save, with the intent of saving, only to realize that I must walk to the throne, sit on it, and then select this Minister’s name to get to the save option. This is a needless hurdle and, speaking of saving, you’d best do it often, as there’s no autosave feature. This is important when you consider how easy it is to quit the game: hit “Escape” thinking that you’ll bring up the menu, then freak out because a “Quite game?” prompt appears, hit “Enter” in the midst of your freak out, and you’re back at the desktop. In a flash, too. No second chances. Not that you’d care, as I assure you, quitting this game will be of highest priority almost as soon as you start it.

You walk around your kingdom, called “Alpoko”, and recruit “Carefree adults”. This is meant to refer to unemployed adults that you can recruit because they aren’t working, and is likely the result of very poor localisation. Once you recruit these “carefree adults”, you can have them dig up gold, build a farm to train farmers and a place to train fighters, and discover new areas and fight things Pikmin-style…there are day cycles…resting…there’s a compass…a clock…

Look, you don’t need a full description of this game’s inner workings and, full disclosure: I didn’t play all of this game. But I didn’t need to, and you don’t have to. All you need to know is that this is an ugly, terrible PC port of a 2009 Wii game, and that you should in no way shape or form buy this game.

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