New Little King’s Story: Corobo reigns again on Vita

October 10, 2012

Little King’s Story, released on the Wii in 2009, was an addictive combination: Pikmin-style action-strategy with party progression and customization. Crafted by the storytellers at now-defunct developer Cing, it gave the Wii a compelling third-party exclusive and gave players a deep, lighthearted experience.

This Vita release, New Little King’s Story, is a remake of the original, helmed and localized by Konami. The story, therefore, is similar: as King Corobo (or whatever you name him), you gather citizens, train them in jobs and take numbers of them out to gather resources, fight enemies and accomplish various tasks in order to build your kingdom and save princesses. Workers are good at digging, while soldiers are stronger attackers. There are ranged-attack units, as well as those specializing in building things, cutting down trees and more. As the game progresses, these classes get more complex and specialized, and your troops level up and gain attack and health.

The remake largely keeps the original’s pleasant aesthetic in place, though it replaces much of the cartoony interface and scattered elements with a streamlined, fixed menu and manga-style character portraits. The disconnect between the two styles is less jarring as the game goes on, and while it was nice to have more information over the heads of units and such, it helps to eliminate the chaos on the small screen to see much of that on a bottom bar.

The localization is a bit frustrating, especially given the quality seen with XSEED’s treatment on the Wii version. The writing is utilitarian at best, with attempts at being silly that largely fall on their face. (We did like the super-weird save conversations, once we expected them.) All the text in the game is unnecessarily tiny, often taking up less than half of the text box. It’s reminiscent of games like the original Dead Rising, but without the excuse of designing for different-sized displays.

New Little King’s Story has some nice visual effects for the system, and the world looks nice. Unfortunately, as you gather a larger and larger army, the number of on-screen units makes the frame rate suffer quite a bit. It’s still playable, but it’s not exactly pleasant to people who have worked hard to amass the dozens of troops.

All this said, there are actually some changes that benefit the game. The day-night cycle is still here, but not as important, allowing you to venture out as you will. The original’s pointer controls are well-emulated with the touch screen, but we found ourselves sticking to analog sticks. There’s a lock-on functionality that lets you send units to the right spot to attack or gather, and while this could certainly work better, its inclusion is nice in this context.

There’s a lot of adventure to be had in New Little King’s Story, and adventure worth experiencing. As a full-price download-only title, it will certainly bristle some feathers, and it’s also arguable that it’s inferior to the three-year-old Wii version you can still buy. It’s nice to see Corobo out and about again, though, and if this development means we could see more adventures in the future, it’s magnificent news.

Pros: Same great gameplay, streamlined interface, portability
Cons: Frame rate issues, awkward localization

Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.