New Little King’s Story is the enhanced remake to Little King’s Story, a game that few people bought but one that everyone who did loved. Adding new elements to the story, new ways to play, and a level of portability only PlayStation Vita could provide, NLKS is a game that everyone should buy.
The game is centered around King Corobo, the young king whose kingdom was reduced to shreds after being overthrown by mysterious invaders. To reclaim it, Corobo needs to rebuild everything from scratch, in addition to leading an army to save the seven Princesses and reclaim what is his.
The main gameplay is absolutely inspired by the Pikmin series. To explore, wage battle, and do much of anything, the king will need an army behind him. Like Pikmin, units can be thrown into battle or a tasked individually, and Corobo can call all of them back at once. Units themselves can belong to any of several classes. Though many classes exist, each one has a specialized function. The Soldier, for instance, is very battle focused, and cannot do much of anything else; The Hunter units are used for long-range assaults with a bow; and some units, like Farmer and Carpenter, have other uses. Carpenter units specialize in building things like bridges and steps, and are absolutely required to finish the game. Farmers, however, are good at digging holes, and can unearth more treasure, which translates to more money for the kingdom. In addition, every single unit can be customized with unique clothing and weaponry. If you want a team of ninjas, the game beckons you to make it a reality.
Treasure also plays a major role in the other part of the game: kingdom management. Rather than having a game reliant on the interesting Action-RTS gameplay, New Little King’s Story tasks Corobo with rebuilding his kingdom. Doing so requires three things: conquering, treasure-hunting, and building. To gain more land to build on, Corobo needs to defeat the sub-monsters of an area right outside of town. After beating these bosses (which are entirely unique from story bosses), more of the town opens up. After this, Corobo needs to collect treasure, done so by collecting it from bosses, enemies, holes, and breakable items. Once this occurs, Corobo can spend the money on developing areas to expand the kingdom, add citizens, and add unit classes.
While on Corobo’s throne, you have the option to take quest, customize your troops, or buy new buildings and abilities to take advantage of. The quests take on numerous forms; most involve defeating mini-bosses to expand territory or a requirement to defeat as many enemies as possible. Even though the quest primarily act to pad the game, many of the quests remain fun in the process.
During story missions, Corobo and his team explore the kingdom to find the seven princesses, and defeat the bosses that hold them. The bosses are incredibly interesting affairs; some are simple battles to see if Corobo can overpower his opponent, and others are crazy twists on the game (and the RTS-like genre). One king is found in a desert-based kingdom, and can only be defeated in a game of pinball, using your units against his fat, rolling body. Without spoiling anything, there are well over seven bosses to be found over the 20-hour run, and a good deal of them are equally as unique.
On a sour note, the technical side of things leaves something to be desired. As the game progresses, and Corobo gets to utilize more than 20 units on screen at once, a noticeable slowdown hurts the game. It isn’t game-breaking, but it’s a huge bother, and one of the few things that taint the overall experience. Also, the graphics are a higher definition than before, but the art-style suffers. A game like this would do well with cartoony visuals (which can still look great on the Vita), and it seems like a missed opportunity to only provide something that looks so uninspired.
These two drastically different styles of gameplay form a synthesis — one that combines the action-packed spin on Pikmin with an interesting take on social management found in Animal Crossing and The Sims that somehow comes together to create something all its own. Despite some technical hiccups, New Little King’s Story is incredibly fun, incredibly unique, incredibly packed with content, and is, without any doubt, my favorite game on PlayStation Vita.