You come into the world of Little King’s Story as a king, more specifically the broke king of a rural village. Howser, a mouse in knightly armor, says Corobo needs to get 100,000 of the local currency to grow his kingdom.
King Corobo’s first mission is to raise money by ordering his carefree villagers to dig. Using his magic wand Corobo can recruit subjects and throw them, sort of like Pikmin, to find bags of money. Fortunately, Corobo’s village is filled with hidden treasure and enough funds to get the kingdom started.
Little King’s Story sounds simple to play, but there’s depth. Players decide how to build their kingdom, which jobs townsfolk should learn, and when you get down to it micromanaging subjects. Seeing townsfolk crowd around Corobo and the watercolor graphics also gives Little King’s Story a warm and charming feel similar to Chulip or perhaps even Animal Crossing. But why design a game where the player is a king? During the demo I asked Yoshiro Kimura, Producer of Little King’s Story.
Where did you get the idea for King Corobo?
Yoshiro Kimura, Producer: That’s a good question… That’s an important question I’m having a hard time answering. From the beginning of the project I said the main character is going to be a king.
I think subconsciously, kings are noble and have all this power, but working with other people as a director or even the president you have to order your subordinates. It’s more like a love relationship with them as well. You have feelings for them, it’s not like you’re just using them. I think I just wanted to convey that feeling into the game. So, I wanted people to think kings are noble and I wanted the player to rethink what being noble means through the game.
About the noble part, there are seven different kingdoms around your kingdom and each king thinks they are the most noble by their personal view. So, like I’m the tallest so I’m the most noble or I can drink the most so I’m the most noble! The other thinks I can eat the most desserts so I’m the most noble! They all have different mindsets.
[Kimura shows an area with subjects trying to stretch themselves out with pull up bars.]
Whoever is tallest here is the most noble. This entrance to the mountain and I need to check in. Because they seem like they’re in a higher position [the subjects are taller than King Corobo] they seem condescending.
[The tall king sits at the top of the mountain. He is fed by a basket of food dragged all the way to the top. As the basket moves up a mountain climber grabs a bite from the traveling feast. Up higher, a UFO does the same thing. This is one of the many creative and silly moments in Little King’s Story.]
Another king called is called the king of TV — TV Dinnah. That inspired by watching American TV. Even though I live in Japan I don’t really like Japanese TV shows. I watch Fox and other American shows. When I’m talking with my US friends and talking about TV I can feel people in America really love TV.
Right now, one of my favorite shows is American Idol. It’s one of those shows that when you’re on TV or working with TV it seems like everyone is impressed. Like when I say I saw someone from a TV station in Japan, I say I work with them. They say, “wow that is really impressive”, but at the same time I really don’t think people working in television don’t think it’s that impressive or noble. That’s one of the questions I want to pose to the players.
How many subordinate job classes are there?
More than 15.
Which one is your favorite job class?
As a job class, I love the farmers. By pushing the A button they (villagers) can dig holes like so, but farmers have a special ability to dig in special places. It’s really important to have farmers. The biggest thing about farmers is they can find hot springs (onsen). When they (your army) go into a hot spring everyone’s HP recovers.
What inspired you to design Little King’s Story with the watercolor art style?
I really love Russian oil painting animation. That was one of the things that inspired the style.
We’re looking at the game now and each villager looks and feels different.
When your kingdom expands you can have up to 150 citizens. Each individual citizen will have a different name, personality, and when you talk to them they have their own likes/dislikes. Some may like you. Some may not. Each character is really a different person. The possibilities are endless.
Was it difficult to fit the user created enemy from the art contest into the game?
No, it was really simple. We directly put it in from the art. The person who drew it will be amazed because what he drew will be in the game.
Has he seen it yet?
No, he has not.
Not even in the European version?
For the European version we used the Japanese [art contest] winners. The US one hasn’t been disclosed yet and it’s specific for the US audience.
Are there any other differences in the North American version?
For the US version we put a special feature in. Usually, hardcore gamers like difficult games right? [Editor’s note: this might be a clue!]
Little King’s Story has been in development for a long time. What stumbling blocks did you face during development?
It started with the relationship between the bosses and the job classes, how you fight with them, and how to expand the world from what it was. [Kimura makes a playful gesture of frustration.] I can’t work like this anymore! It just wasn’t working so I had to redo everything.
Wada-san said, OK you got to go to Fukuoka where the development team is and oversee the development in Fukuoka for a year. From that point on I stopped being a producer and became a director.
The good thing about being a director is I got to say whatever I wanted. [laughs]
You know you talked a lot about King Corobo directs people. Have you thought about making Little Video Game Director’s Story?
That is something I do everyday so I really don’t want to make that into a game. [laughs]
Yasuhiro Wada, President of Marvelous: Kimura-san would definitely be one of the bosses you have to beat!