Everytime I explain the premise of Fat Princess for someone who's never heard of it, I always get a laugh in response. A very good sign, and the gameplay idea is actually brilliant. Two smurfishly cute armies in a comically bloody Animal Crossing-world have to defend their kidnapped princess and stuff her with pieces of cake to make the other team's rescue mission as difficult and heavy as possible. If you think the portrayal of women is a bit iffy in Super Mario Bros. with its passive princess you're probably going to pass out whilst playing Fat Princess. Here, the princess isn't just completely sedentary but she also have no other ambitions than getting hold of some more cream and custard.
Fat Princess is a team based action- and strategy game in realtime where the goal of each team is to reach the opposing team's castle dungeon and carry the princess back to their throne room. A capture the flag where the flag is in drag (and yells "I'm hungry") in other words. Your army consists of 16 little gnome-like guys and you control one of these through nine different maps, either in a story driven campaign for one player or in a chaotic online mode.
There are five classes to choose from and you switch between these by putting och the class' hat from the hat machines(!) in your base, and with their distinct styles they are all fun to play as. You may want to collect some wood and minerals with your worker in the beginning, for instance. This guy wields a sharp axe and apart from collecting material for base upgrades he can also build structures on the battlefield, like trampolines next to the enemies castle walls.
The warrior has the most health, he's the strongest melee fighter and a good choice for those who want to carry the princess. The hunter uses bows and rifles, the priests heal your guys or steal energy from enemies as a "dark priest". Finally we have the mages who uses fire- and ice powers. Everybody has a normal attack and one that can be charged by holding the square button.
The chaos that starts immediately when you begin the battle is fantastic and your pulse is going to rise when someone has grabbed "your" princess, not to mention the times you've grabbed the opposing team's girl yourself. It takes a really long time before you get bored with the battles. Just collecting lumber to build the catapult is kind of fun in its own way, and with a quick change of hats you can attempt something more hero-like, like storming in as a warrior for a raid with some priests and mage friends.
Even more variation comes from the different game modes. The one I've described is called Rescue the Princess (it's true!), in Snatch ‘n' Grab you have to do it three times, in Team Deathmatch you just kill everything you see and in Invasion you have to capture different outposts scattered on the map. Rescue the Princess is the most fun of them all, though every mode has something fun to offer.
The chaos can sometimes be a bit to much though, and your efforts in the battles doesn't always pay off in an obvious way. In single player, your teammates seem to have a fragmented collective mind and you never get the opportunities of command as in a regular RTS. When I "jump start" the catapult for instance, I rarely get anyone to follow me, and some who seem keen to tag along suddenly abort their plan and rush off from the catapult to do something else. You are a cog that's not quite big enough, in an already big machinery. A local multiplayer mode would also be nice, by the way.
The graphics are great, though. Out of pure gratitude I could easily marry Titan Studios artists and give them all the cake and footrubs they would ask for, that's how gorgeous this game is. The cartoony, colorful and bright presentation doesn't really have any flaws and great attention to detail has been given. Every brick in your base, every flower on the battlefield, is just right. Here are idyllic "Shire-levels", pirate ships and volcanoes to run around in, all stuffed with outposts to conquer and shortcuts to investigate.
So much is happening on the screen at once. A worker is dropping of a bunch of wood in an outpost, a warrior makes enemy blood splatter on a rock wall, an archer is frozen in a block of ice by an enemy mage, someone has turned into a chicken and you fly majestically over the map right into the enemy base, thanks to the newly constructed catapult. And when you stand still for a moment to auto-heal, your character sits down and munches cake...
Fat Princess is a must for Playstation 3 owners and you can expect a cake in your face from this reporter if you don't download it. Titan Studios has baked together a brilliant game that crushes a lot of full price games in terms of originality, presentation, depth and replay value. You're going to laugh, be engaged in every little battle and be charmed by the cutest, most violent game world you've seen in a long time. Stuffing aristocrat face full of Black Forest has simply never been more fun than this.