Little King's Story is a collaboration project between Marvelous Entertainment, Town Factory, and Cing, directed by Yoshiro Kimura (Moon RPG Remix Adventure at Love-de-Lic, Chulip) and produced by Yasuhiro Wada (Creator of Harvest Moon). It puts the player in the shoes of a boy who, after finding a magic crown, is named king of Alpoko by the Bull Knight Howser.
It was released in Europe and Australia a few months ago (24 April 2009), where it's gotten some rave reviews, as shown at the Metacritic page. Many of the reviewers describe the gameplay as being a mix of elements from Pikmin (Throwing members of your royal guard at enemies/obstacles) and Animal Crossing (Wandering around town, talking to citizens, fulfilling posted requests). Perhaps what the reviewers praised most was the game's presentation, with oil painting-style cutscenes and in-game graphics that give it a sort of storybook look. The music is made up of a wide variety of classical scores (Bolero, William Tell Overture, Land of Hope and Glory, among others). Enemies generally stray away from the D&D/LotR orcs and goblins standard, opting more for normal baddies like sentient turnips, evil chickens, and the Onii tribe; Guardian UMAs and a diverse set of rival kings serve as bosses.
As the saying goes, appearances can be deceiving. At first glance, it looks like some game for kids, but, as many of the reviewers found, it's really a deep and addictive strategy RPG, with plenty of decisions to make and side-quests to undertake. The general playing time is pegged at around 30-60 hours if you do most of the stuff. An... interesting sense of humor is hidden underneath the cutesy exterior, as the game takes subtle and not-so-subtle jabs at subjects like politics, religion, imperialism, etc.
Overall, from what has been said about it, Little King's Story sounds like an original, charming, and entertaining concept that has fared well with the European critics. Fans of games like Harvest Moon, Pikmin, and/or Animal Crossing should check it out when it comes to the US in July.
I've tried to avoid spoilers in this post, so below is the Metacritic page in case you want to check out the reviews, along with some interviews with staff (Kimura is an interesting fellow, check 'em out), and a GT video that quickly cycles through different scenes, including some battles.
Siliconera interview (Kimura)
ONM UK (Wada)
TrueGameHeadz video interview (Kimura)
Rising Star Games (EU publisher): Part 1 (Kimura), Part 2 (Character Designer Hideo Minaba)
Kimura has been doing some interviews after the release of Little King's Story. Be aware, these interviews can be detailed and will likely contain storyline spoilers:
Nintendo Norway Interview, Kimura answers Reader Questions
Joystiq TGS 2009 Interview
North America Notes
Official US site
Kimura mentions in the Siliconera interview that the US version will have a few additions, including a monster that was designed in a fanart contest, Evil Dragoon Cat. It has also been confirmed that a harder "Tyrant" difficulty level has been added to the US version.
Pre-Order BONUS: Pre-order from Amazon.com, EB/GameStop, or GameCrazy to receive an Onii squishie figurine. You can see Kimura playing with it in the TrueGameHeadz video interview above.
"If you have two normal people standing there, and one of them says 'I KILL YOU!' and stabs the other one, that's just sad," [Yoshiro] Kimura tells us. "But if you have two little anime-cartoon cute guys, and one of them says [high-pitched voice] 'I KILL YOU!' and stabs the other one, it's serious, but it's really funny. It's the opposite of real people in games doing corny, goofy things... we have little goofy guys doing very serious things."
Edited by Cao Cao, 05 October 2009 - 08:53 AM.