Du Ju Dubodubuis Inu Jianau Disudujubudai!
For all the uniqueness of the game, some things either backfire outright, or keep you uncertain of its benefit. The first is the voice loops. An old development trick used to work around limited storage space and audio processing capabilities of older consoles was to use nonsensical voice loops to try to give a feel for character voices. This is a similarly beloved practice in game design as building a nitrogen bomb into the game case. The irritation only grows as you play the game. The Wii, on the other hand has ample storage space and excellent audio processing. It may not match a PlayStation 3's Blu-Ray capabilities, but it's more than adequate as more mature titles such as The Conduit, Mad World, and even Nights have proven with a full voice soundtrack. Why, then, Little King's Story would make a return to the voice loop idea, escapes me. Granted, the idea was to create a foreign feel to the game, and in that sense, it succeeds well enough. Compositions of French, Mandarin, German, and others are quite apparent in the game. If only the sound loops were of more length. Instead the same syllables are endlessly repeated, which
gets old fast. It doesn't destroy the game, but it adds some additional gnashing of teeth at times.
Make no mistake, despite all the fairy tale trappings, and box art that looks like it would target the Saturday morning cartoon audience first, this is by no means a child's game. Its level of required skill, planning, and difficulty should be targeted to players of games like Starcraft, Knights of the Old Republic, and others. The game is difficult. Very difficult. Punishingly difficult. Even on the "easy" skill, the game rapidly starts to become next to impossible, especially for the actual bosses (kings of other lands, not just guardians.) While getting your party killed either by poor strategy, or selecting the wrong composition for your party before taking on the quest is often a source of defeat, even worse is truly complicated bosses who have unconventional and irritating strategies to beat them. While I applaud the genius of diversity in creating a boss that must be defeated through a pinball mechanism, a boss which asks riddles, and other highly creative scenarios, the fact that the strategies to beat them are
highly redundant and vaguely explained detracts from some of the fun.
While the difficulty level is, in itself, difficult, there are control and design issues that cause most of the problems. The game does not make use of any of the Wii motion of pointing devices. This is not inherently a bad thing, as those controls are often overused, and I've grown to detest most uses of the pointing functionality. It may be accurate, but it can be painful to aim, and is extremely difficult to use at the review station which brings you all these lovely screenshots to gawk at. On the other hand, there had to have been SOMETHING that could have been done to improve the aiming in the game. Pressing 'Z' pops up a straight line
pointing away from Corobo. Rotating Corobo around with the thumbstick on the nunchuk rotates his wand, and an "auto target" selects one of the items on the screen. While in theory this makes sense, targeting the item you want can be difficult when many are on the screen, leading to a great deal of frustration, both on the part of the player, and of the townsfolk who just walked into a dead end, or worse, an enemy they are unable to defeat. Additionally, often you will arrive to a fight only to find out you selected the wrong group of party members, resulting in the need to return to the podium at the castle, select a new team, and go back to
your quest. Thankfully while most enemies respawn, most obstacles do not. Assuming you don't die first. This would be okay, however, if the path-finding in close quarters wasn't so bad. Your units will often get stuck between buildings, in crop rows, or on the edge of stairs or cliffs. Your only option to retrieve them is to walk behind them and gather them. This is at its worst in the sunflower field area where your units will often fall off the edge of cliffs as you try to walk them
around. I've taken to avoiding any quest in that area as a result. This often leads to much grumbling of "If only I'd brought the lousy lumberjack with me in the FIRST place..."
Possibly the greatest problem with the game, however, is the selection of job classes. In most parties, you'd want at least eight classes with you at all times. With an upper limit of 30 party members by the end of the game, there's a lot of classes and units to cycle through. Unfortunately, your only selection mechanism is pressing down on the d-pad. While this does indeed rotate through each group, the process is slow, and the little icon on the bottom that indicates who is selected can be easily overlooked, leading to frantic rotation and frequent mis-selection during heated combat. Struggling to get your miner to take down the rock barrier
while rapidly switching to soldiers and archers to fight off the dragon following you becomes the struggle of the hour. This issue is exasperated when said dragon unleashes an attack that sends most of your soldiers to the ground, and running back to your party, requiring that you isolate them and send each one back to the dragon again. This go fight, retreat, go fight, concept becomes what the bulk of the game is made of. Even the side-quests don't offer much deviation. While fun at first, you rapidly realize that they're just the same enemies in the same areas over and over again.
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