Before starting the Port Impressions, I would like you to know that Little King’s Story for the Wii is one of my favorite games of all time. It’s charming, funny, challenging, and an all-around blast to play. But see, the keywords here are ‘for the Wii,’ because XSeed and Marvelous’ new PC port is nothing short of a hot mess.
First, let’s rewind a second. Released in 2009, Little King’s Story is an RTS in the style of Pikmin, giving players control of a young boy named Corobo (Or whatever you decide to rename him). Corobo has found a crown and been named king of the small kingdom of Alpoko. Now, it’s up to you to shape your lazy citizens into hard workers and conquer the world.
The primary method of interaction is, like the aforementioned Pikmin, hurling members of your handpicked royal guard at anything that needs accomplishing – be it building a bridge, collecting taxes from peasants, or slaying a giant turnip monster. As you conquer more and more of the world, you can build more buildings to give you new job classes to throw your carefree adults into, from burly lumberjacks to strangely fighting-adept chefs. The obstacles in your path are plentiful, and all of the bosses have unique strategies, including some that completely change the genre into a pinball game or pop quiz.
Still, Little King’s Story‘s greatest strength is the writing. Despite the cartoony aesthetic, it’s quite a dark game, and the game drops some not-so-subtle tips that you’re playing as a power hungry warlord trouncing peaceful kingdoms occupied by some of the goofiest characters you’ll see in a strategy game. That’s to say nothing of my personal favorite character, a fire and brimstone priest who has built his religion around the worship of soup.
All these positives are rendered nigh-irrelevant with just how terrible of a porting job this is. During my many hours with Little King’s Story, I experienced crashes, horrendous frame drops to the single digits, blinding graphical glitches whenever certain enemies would attack, and NPCs clipping through walls. In particular, Sir Howser’s trusty bovine steed Pancho loved walking outside the bounds of my castle wall so much I was more surprised to see him on a proper path than I was floating in the abyss.
However, worse than glitches is the options – or lack thereof. Upon launching, you’re greeted with this very simplistic configurations screen with shockingly limited options.
That’s about it. You get another options menu at the title screen, but that only includes your difficulty, brightness slider, and if you want to skip messages. No audio options. No anti-aliasing options. You can’t even switch the controls or fullscreen without quitting the program and relaunching. Oh, and trust me, you’ll want to change the control scheme to an actual controller. The keyboard works stunningly bad, and there is zero support for the mouse (in a game about pointing where you want your minions to go). However, most embarrassing of all, I couldn’t even input my name with the keyboard. I instead had to use arrows to select the individual letters manually just to name my file. Using only a fraction of your keyboard to control a digital keyboard is the most surreal experience, especially when hitting shift doesn’t even change the case (Gotta arrow over to the capital option).
Oh, and of course, Little King’s Story loves to crash, especially on boss fights. Remember the screenshot of that cool clockwork knight from earlier? Yeah, that was my third attempt. Not because I died, but because it crashed the previous two times during his mid-life pattern change. And when that boss finally decided to work, a later boss just crashed whenever I’d kill him. And then one boss after him, another crash.
It’s frustrating because I’d give this game the highest praise in a heartbeat if we were dealing with a competent port. But the fact of the matter is that we’re not. What we’ve got here with Little King’s Story is a brilliant game ported to Steam with all the finesse and grace of a runaway monster truck. It’s good to be the king, just not on this platform.
Little King’s Story was played on Steam with a copy provided by the developer.