A pint-sized king with a button nose, a pink princess with hearts for hair and a quirky old knight riding a cow may not seem like characters worthy of a mature adventure. But spend some time with Little King's Story and you'll find an epic game worthy of the top shelf. Beneath its sugary surface lies a complex simulation RPG where a rags-to-riches king must fight for world domination.
From the makers of Harvest Moon comes the tale of a tiny boy-king with nothing but a dilapidated shack for a castle and a handful of lazy citizens to call his subjects. But with his royal charisma, little King Corobo can recruit these "carefree adults" with the tap of a button and send each and every couch potato to work as soldiers, farmers and other pursuits that unlock along the way.
After parading around as king for five to six in-game days, you receive a letter from a distant king declaring himself your enemy and claiming that you are a "world-class jerk." Your trusty advisor, Howzer, will have none of these vile insults and instantly demands that you conquer each piece of surrounding land ... which he then illustrates using a chalkboard and kindergarten-like drawings. So with a troop of faithful servants behind you and some lovely Nutcracker ballads playing to your squeaky footsteps, you set out to conquer the world.
As you gradually take over the surrounding areas, you'll be able to purchase upgrades that will transform your kingdom from a shantytown into a regal city. But building a worthy kingdom doesn't simply involve fine housing and rich citizens. With more money and influence, you will also unlock new classes, discover new areas of the map and be able to accept more challenging sidequests and story missions.
Customizing your city and fitting your loyal warriors with gear for the next big adventure gives Little King's Story a renewed appeal each time you flip on the Wii. But the satisfaction of progress wouldn't send your typical reviewer into a cooing fit. For this, look to the game's charming style and presentation.
Little King's Story is adorable, but not in a way that will make you cower in a corner, clutching to your manly, hardcore gamer-ness. It almost makes fun of its own cuteness. For instance, Princess Apricot - a clear play off of Princess Peach - isn't the game's only damsel in distress. So what is the poor little tyke king going to do with the rest of his princess harem? Why, marry them all, of course! Your female minister has a few choice words to say about this, but what do you care. You're king. Everyone has to do what you say.