Little King's Story was a generally very well received, but relatively overlooked Wii title released back in 2009. The game featured a mix of Pikmin/Overlord style controls and a kingdom simulation where you managed buildings and citizens. A few years on and a portable sequel emerges...
New Little King's Story basically starts out with King Corobo being chased out of his castle by an unknown enemy force. With all of his royal guard left behind, and all of the princesses missing, it is up to Corobo to start anew, build a kingdom, a castle and a royal guard. Gradually you evolve your citizens, give them professions and level them up, and expand your kingdom by defeating submonsters that control specific areas of the map. After a fairly linear start to the game, it opens up more and allows you more exploration and freedom.
Your little king is fairly weak on his own, but he can "scout" subjects, give them professions and skills, take them on adventures, use them for finding treasures and for combat. Not long after you start the game you will run around with a tail of subjects following your footsteps eager to do as you command. New areas are typically unlocked and opened up, when you acquire a new type of subject - a carpenter who can build stairs, a lumberjack to cut down trees or a miner to chop up rock. You earn money to expand and advance your kingdom through finding treasure, killing enemies, and defeating bosses.
At first the map looks daunting, but it's actually fairly condensed and once you've gained your "jump" ability the distances are even shorter. As you unlock more formations, and more diverse troops the combat also gets more varied and enjoyable. While the bosses aren't as complex as say something out of the Legend of Zelda franchise, they still offer up some variation, and need a bit of tactics and thought to be conquered.
New Little King's Story is full of its own brand of peculiar humour. One citizen called UB who was 40 years old sent me a letter signed UB40 ("Red red wine" indeed), and the first princess you rescue is named Apricot (ain't that peachy?). There are lots of similar humourous elements, and the grammar and spelling of the Onii King (an enemy you face a few hours in) is enough to make you want to go out and reclaim your kingdom (reminded me a lot of the letters you get from the zombies in Plants vs. Zombies). The entire experience is sprinkled with humour ranging from amusing stuff, to what can only be described as bizarre.
You will be fighting clockwork knights, giant chicken, frogs melons and sunflowers, just to name a few of the enemies you encounter. And the cast of characters (some returning) are also entertaining for the most part, even if there maybe one or two clichÚs too many for some.
Speaking of Apricot, princesses aren't just in there to be pretty. They can tag along with you and add bonuses to your troops even if they don't do direct combat. If you're into micro-management there is lots of items to equip your royal guard - ranging from, you guessed it, the bizarre to the more useful (adding attack bonuses and extra life). Dressing your troops up is also a great way of keeping track of who's who. Camouflage helmet and giant club - well that must be Josh then. You will be managing, and marrying (children are a resource, after all), your subjects - and you can also use the alchemist shop to send them on errands assembling new items.
There are, however, some negatives to be found. While you do have increasing control over your followers, the straight forward "charge in one direction" basics are not exactly breath taking. It does the job, but at times I would have wanted more accuracy, and perhaps even a way of targeting and locking on to an enemy. The path finding leaves a lot to be desired, and some of the later mechanics are poorly explained or not explained at all - which means you have to explore them yourself and you may overlook their usefulness at first. The end result is a game with some rough edges, that still manages to win you over with charm and humour.
New Little King's Story provides the PS Vita with something it has been missing - and it's a game that will appeal to fans of the both role playing games and simulation. It could have done with an extra layer of polish, and some additional tutorials to make the many systems in play more accessible, but overall growing your kingdom and grooming your subjects was a pleasure.