King Corobo doesn’t start out with much of a kingdom. His throne is in a run down shack and his subjects are carefree adults that spend their days spinning in circles. Somehow, you’re supposed to lead this rural town towards world domination.
Corobo being a silent and cheerful protagonist has no real aspirations to conquer the world. Howser, the bull knight and city planner, pushes Corobo to do it under the guise of “uniting the kingdom.” Jerk.
Being a tiny king, Corobo can’t do much on his own. He needs to transform his listless subjects into hardworking citizens. Corobo can charm them with his magic rod, but without workplaces like farmhouses all they can do is dig. Your first mission is to scrounge up enough bol (the game’s currency) to purchase a workplace — either a farmhouse or guard house. It’s your choice. Little King’s Story lets players decide how they want to build their kingdom similar to Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King. Unlike the WiiWare game you leave your kingdom and explore the world with your royal guards.
King Corobo can’t fight directly either. He needs to order his subjects to attack walking turnips and homicidal Onii. Fights are sort of like Pikmin where you command guards to leap on giant frogs and walking mushrooms. Hunters add another element to battles since they fire arrows from a distance. Since Little King’s Story isn’t just about combat you probably have other classes in your party too like farmers that can dig up treasure, carpenters that build bridges, and chefs that… magically fry chickens. The key to winning fights is managing your subjects by cycling through ranks with the D-pad and calling your party members back before they get hit.
When you meet a boss, like the club bearing Onii Leader, Corobo gets locked in a little arena. Bosses tend to have quirks to beating them, instead of rapidly tossing soldiers. That won’t work against the Onii Leader. Well, I guess it can work, but only if you don’t care about losing half of your army. You’re penalized (lightly) when an ally “dies”, but when Corobo goes to sleep and wakes up the next day his subject rises from the grave. You can revive your troops and Corobo by throwing them in an onsen, which farmers can find.
Beat a boss and your entire town celebrates, usually by dancing in a circle. If you beat a rival king Corobo also adds another princess to his harem. Little king, many wives. Each princess has a different personality and doesn’t seem to mind that Corobo lack of commitment.
Every character in Little King’s Story is charming from the Oniis you frequently fight to TV Dinnah, a king obsessed with TV. Marvelous spent a lot of time adding personality to the people Corobo meets, even his subjects. You get fan mail from a town suggestion box that praises you if you’re doing keeping your subjects safe or hate mail (disguised as fan mail) if you let too many people die in your quest for world domination. Taking over land advances the story, but Little King’s Story has plenty of diversions. Side quests like extermination quests or item fetching jobs are submitted by his subjects.
While Little King’s Story looks saccharine sweet the dialogue has an undercurrent of references only an adult would pick up. The Sect of Soup is one of them. Early in the game a soup obsessed priest called Kampbell demands Corobo give him bol to build a church and ends his speech brilliantly with “ramen.” Little King’s Story’s stellar localization, although maybe it should be called that since the Japanese version hasn’t been released, makes the world and all of the self-aggrandizing kings memorable.