Though the colors are more washed out, the charm is still there.
The last time RPGamer visited Los Angeles, we were lucky enough to see what wound up being one of the site's Game of the Year candidates, a quirky, charming, and beautiful little game called Little King's Story. Virtually everyone on staff who played through this gem immediately fell in love with the tale of King Corobo, but a sequel seemed a virtual impossibility. Happily, we were wrong about that. Although the franchise has shifted hands from XSEED to Konami, New Little King's Story for the PlayStation Vita is coming to North America, and it looks just as charming as ever.
Initial reactions to the game's announcement were somewhat skeptical, especially given the radical change in style. The original Wii title featured a unique, pastel art style and small, deformed characters, while New Little King's Story showed off character portraits using an anime art style. Thankfully, after seeing the game in action, I can report that this seems to be limited entirely to the portraits, and not to the game itself. Character models make use of the same squat, deformed style, and although the pastel shading style has been replaced by a much glossier coat of paint, the original's charm remains in tact.
This is truest when it comes to the game's animations, particularly for Corobo's many followers. I had an opportunity to play through the very earliest parts of the game, and the townspeople Corobo can recruit to fight for him are just as quirky as ever. Early on I only had access to the blank-slate carefree adults, who would twirl and sway and generally act like complete ditzes in their adorable white robes. When sending them out to an item they couldn't interact with they would respond with puzzled look, and if they charged headfirst into an obstacle, they would fall over, clear their heads, and then jump back to their feet.
Many new classes exist in the game.
The game play seems to be mostly unchanged, but the controls are more responsive and feel a bit tighter overall, possibly thanks to the elimination of motion control. Surprisingly effective touch conrols have been implemented as well — tapping on an interactable object on the screen will send one of Corobo's minions towards it, and in the heat of battle, it will surely make selecting targets a much less frustrating affair. If there is no target, nothing happens, so players won't need to worry about accidentally sending minions off for no purpose.
Little King veterans will be happy to hear that a few familiar faces reappear in the new game. Of note is Corobo's single-mindedly psychotic chief advisor Howser and his treasurer/girlfriend Verde. Also returning is the use of classical music in place of original compositions. Right from the get go we were able to hear Night at Bald Mountain, which players may remember from the original's ending sequences. However, the project lead informed us that there are also a fair number of new, original pieces in the soundtrack.
She also told us that the number of classes available for townspeople has been greatly increased, which hopefully means that New Little King's Story will prove to be a larger and much more expansive game. New Little King's Story is tentatively scheduled for Summer 2012 for the PlayStation Vita.