Little Kingdom? More like Little King-Dumb
That’s how I felt at the start anyway. The title screen lists two options – Play and Credits. No intro to the game, no help screen of any sort, not even a detailed biography of each member of the development staff listing their culinary likes and dislikes. Little3Kingdoms throws you right into the thick of things with no explanation, assuming you’re familiar with the Tower/Castle Defense genre, which of course, I am. I’m a professional reviewer of games entertainment, I know how to play a Tower Defense title. Get out my way.
Only I don’t. Not this one anyway, not entirely. I’ve not played that many of them you see. After being thrust into what I can only assume is a forest in the ancient Orient (I won’t attempt to pinpoint which oriental country for fear of racial ignorance…what the hell, it’s probably Japan), I was faced with what looked to be a fortress and a whole load of buttons I had no idea what to do with.
It’s a side scroller where the aim is to defend your fortress by summoning various types of troops, while simultaneously attacking the castle of your enemy. That much was obvious straight away. What wasn’t so clear, and what made me feel dumb – not an uncommon occurrence, I might add – was the functions of the many colorful buttons. To remedy this, I did what any self-respecting reviewer would do and pressed them all in a completely random fashion until something happened. And that my friends, is how you properly review a game.
Here’s what I found out: You start with lowly foot soldiers, progressing to more powerful warrior types such as Spearmen and Longbow men and men on horses, as you earn stars (for speed) and coins (for stars) until you barge through opponent troops and finally destroy their own shelter. But just when it reaches a point where the coins you’re earning in-game aren’t enough, and you’re almost forced to purchase more with real cash after repeatedly dying, the game will award you 100 coins to keep you going. Big kudos for that.
There were a couple of icons I had no idea about and still don’t: a castle button that I think is supposed to refortify your defenses…only there was no discernible difference when I pressed it. At least none that I could see. Perhaps it was precisely because I didn’t know what it did that it had no effect, maybe it’s like some sort of reverse placebo. It’s all getting a bit psychological.
Another one I was baffled by was a chicken in the top corner. Useful if you’re playing football with roosters (haha, I’m so funny), but not so much when you’re being slaughtered by scores of tiny Oriental soldiers. Again, I think it’s got something to do with…nope, sorry, I don’t know.
You have seven slots for weapons and warriors which have to recharge each time you use them. Lower ranked warriors such as swordsman recharge faster than higher ranked ones such as Arrow men, but of course, aren’t as powerful. So while you might be able to deploy four Sword Blokes in the time it takes for one Arrow Dude to get out there, the Blade Boys won’t be as powerful, and obviously don’t have as much range.
Summoning more warriors also increases the time it takes for your castle to (apparently) re-up. If the enemy is at your gates, do you baton down the hatches, or batter down the biatches? Excuse my salty language.
Seeing all the different warrior types and their various skill sets is a lot of fun, especially as the graphics are great on the new iPad, with a bold and colorful comic style that perfectly contradicts the on-screen maiming. Backdrops look particularly impressive in their makeup, but can get a little samey after a while.
It’s definitely a good laugh, even if the gameplay is slightly one note, and a sense of satisfaction when you finally break through enemy defenses to clobber their outhouse is guaranteed, especially on the later levels.
But can anyone tell me what on earth that top corner chicken icon does? Answers in an email please.
Little3Kingdoms is out now $1.99 for iPad. Get it on the