As the Wii’s number one fan at one point, I feel as though it’s my duty to do at least one Last Gen Hero for my beloved little white box. It didn’t take long for me to decide which game I would choose for my first (and possibly only) entry in the series, as this game is also one of my favorite games of all time. Please be aware that there will be some spoilers for the ending of Little King’s Story, or at least my interpretation of it, so read this at your own risk.
Little King’s Story is a Wii exclusive real-time strategy life simulation roleplaying game (description lifted directly from Wikipedia, I’d call it a Pikmin variant) in which you assume the role of a lonely young boy named Corobo. Upon finding a magical crown in the woods, you are taken to the kingdom you now control, Alpoko, and tasked with making the best kingdom possible. The game itself is fairly standard, travel to seven different kingdoms to unify the whole continent, then travel to the final area and beat the big baddie. You are also able to take on tasks from townspeople, generally killing some monster (called UMA) that is terrorizing an area, in order to make your kingdom a more peaceful and complete a side quest for a few of the supporting characters. The gameplay is essentially the same as Nintendo’s own Pikmin, but with more character classes. There several different classes and each has their own strengths and weaknesses. It helps to have a varied party for most of the game, but many boss battles require you stack your party in a certain way in order to succeed. Combat is handled by ordering your troops forward, again much like Pikmin, although you have less control over the direction of your troops in Little King’s Story. All in all pretty standard gaming fare, but Little King’s Story does all these things with such a cohesive level of charm that it makes the game seem like more than it is.
The gameplay visuals look straight out of a story book, the cut scenes look like a cross between a child’s drawings and an oil pastel picture, and the music is a mixture of original songs and well known classical pieces. When combined, these all work together to really give the impression that the entire game takes place within the confines of Corobo’s mind. Yes, the ending of the game reveals that the residents of Alpoko are versions of the people in Corobo’s life and that the kingdom exists entirely within a box in the young boy’s bedroom. The childlike wonder of the kingdom makes much more sense through this context, as most everything in the game rings true to how a young child would expect the world to work. In order to give a townsperson a new job, you simply send him or her into the corresponding school. They come out fully clothed and ready to perform their duties perfectly. Rescue a new princess? She immediately falls in love with you and becomes your new wife. The monsters that terrorize the town repeat quite a bit, but when you realize that it’s a boy playing with his toys it makes sense. Even the music, one of the most widely criticized elements of the game upon its release, makes sense when viewed with the ending in mind. Many reviewers bemoaned the lack of original music, but it makes sense that a boy imagining his own kingdom would think of songs that he already knows and not original pieces.
Perhaps I love Little King’s Story as much as I do because it resonates so strongly with me. I had few friends as a kid, so I made up my own adventures a lot. I imagined myself in scenarios with very vivid visuals, and they often had accompanying music. Little King’s Story successfully taps into some of my earliest childhood memories without resorting to throwing 90s references in my face. It’s a feeling that has never been captured by another game, and possibly never will.