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Little King's Story Wii invites you to fill its board with architecture and armies. Although fuelled by different mechanics, there was still a strange familiarity to the feel of it - to this old board gamer at least.
I decided to take a chance on Little King's Story when I heard that it appeals to board gamers. It's a strategy game on the Wii where you take control of a growing army of miniature everyday people to rid the land of enemies and expand your kingdom. While it certainly turned out to be a great game for our household, I'm not sure there are too many direct parallels.
One of the phrases to look for in a review of a good modern board game is, "agonizing decisions." Certainly, in Little King's Story there are often situations where you want to purchase, say, five items for the Kingdom plan while only being able to afford two.
However, these decisions rarely directly affect the course of the game. Rather than fuelling knife edge tactical choices, they are really encouragements to invest time building up your resources.
You can overcome most of these problems by simply investing time in treasure hunting, completing quests or figuring out how to defeat that neighbouring king - and doing so is much more fun than passing 'Go' in a certain property trading board game I could mention.
Strategically, Little King's Story is more akin to my usual board game experiences though. There, when you happen upon a potentially winning strategy or tactic, it rarely guarantees success. Here too, I had to regularly consult an online guide because many of the challenges (defeating bosses and guardians, winning races against rabbits, etc) were near impossible to complete without lots of practise and luck.
The more powerful job classes - the wizard, the steel knight, hardened soldiers and so on - generally appear towards the end of the game so the potential of each as a game-changer is limited.
This did however give a sense of building towards something over time. I've always liked board games where game play results in the construction of something - a road system, a city, passenger routes and so on. At the end of these game you can sit back and admire your creation. Little King's Story offered a similar gratification - particularly when neighbouring kingdoms become available for development.
I often found myself simply touring around my growing kingdom just to see what it looks like. Not a million miles away from a board adorned with counters.
While board games and video games succeed for very different reasons, Little King's Story hook me in because it played to many board gaming memes. It's obviously a video game at heart, but one with the slightly left field aesthetic of the physical board games I always end up going back to.
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