E3 2012: New Little King's Story hands-on

New Little King's Story Screenshot - 1107392

A few years ago, I opened up a gift-wrapped box on my birthday. It was a present from my sister, and upon opening it, I discovered the colorful and cutesy delight that was Little King's Story. I dug into the game immediately, and I found that it had a ton of charm, both in terms of gameplay and style. Here we are in 2012, and New Little King's Story is headed to the PlayStation Vita. I had the chance to check the portable RPG out for myself at this year's E3, and though the charming art style may have shifted to a more "typical" RPG look, New Little King's Story still has all of the potential in the world to be a stellar Vita title.

As previously mentioned, controls have been redesigned for the Vita hardware. You move King Corobo with the left stick and the camera with the right stick, while the D-pad and face buttons are used for different commands such as lining up your party members or tossing them toward an enemy. I jumped into the E3 demo of New Little King's Story after someone had already started playing it, so I didn't play through any tutorial sequence to get accustomed to the game. Because of that, I spent a few minutes fiddling around with the controls, but it didn't take all that long for me to get the hang of things.

The gameplay mechanics of the first Little King's Story have remained largely intact. You can go around your kingdom enlisting the aid of civilians; send them into different training houses to turn them into soldiers, construction works, and so on; and you can call on them at will to provide you with backup should you leave the kingdom and explore the dangerous territory that lies beyond your home. Everything is very intuitive, just like in Little King's Story for the Wii.

King Corobo can engage in some hand-to-hand combat, too, and I found that his attacks were actually pretty effective against weaker enemies. Whenever I encountered an imposing threat, though, I immediately sent my troops out to do battle while I took cheap shots here and there. The bulk of my time with the game was spent exploring and battling enemies, and I found that a lot of the same areas (the beach in particular) are all a part of this new title's world. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but I certainly hope we get to see some new environments come launch.

A lot of talk has been going around regarding the graphical direction of New Little King's Story. Does this game have the charm of the original? No, absolutely not. Is it still really pretty to look at? Yes, it most certainly is. While the characters all have a more traditional JRPG look to them, the environments are a lot more detailed, and the art design really takes advantage of the Vita hardware. While the game world looked stellar on the Wii, the power of Sony's latest portable really allows for a bit more refinement, some subtle nuances, and hell, even some not-so-subtle details. In short, this game is looking spectacular from a graphical standpoint, even if the characters aren't as adorable as they were on the Wii.

New Little King's Story seems to be a lot like an extension of the first game. It really felt like more of the same when I played it at E3, and given how much fun the original game was on the Wii, that's not even remotely a bad thing. Throw in the fact that players can now take the game with them on the go, and New Little King's Story is definitely a game to watch out for if you're a Vita owner.

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