Fat Princess for PSP is to be released in May, 2010. An enhanced version of the game released as Fat Princess for PSN in 2009, this game is a whimsical and silly time. Does it have enough improvements for more than just fans of the first release to want to pick it up? Does it continue to fuel that stupid debate about how it is wrong it is for a princess to be “fat”?
The story in this game serves as a foil for each stage’s goal, changing rapidly throughout. It begins with two princesses, one Red and one Blue, ventured into the Black Forest for their daily walk. They stumble upon an open area with a delicious looking cake. Tasting one bite, they find it delicious and must have another piece. They can’t stop eating the cake until they are morbidly obese (though the game would never use such realistic description).
Being sudden fatasses, they can’t even walk back out of the forest. Virtually immobile, they are captured by the denizens of the forest. The respective king s worry and send them soldiers to find them. After “negotiating” with the villagers, The king’s soldiers carry the rubenesque royalty home under much duress, and report the situation to their majesties. The rest of the game is spent trying to figure out what this magical cursed cake is all about. Each mission the player undertakes involves a different aspect in the uncovering of the mystery.
The graphics are simple and very colorful, retaining their sense of style even on the much smaller screen of the PSP. I like the look of pretty much everything in the game, from the clever design of each different class (Gunners with their blunderbusses rule!) to the design of the buildings. The environs look a bit more generic, but fortunately each stage takes place in a different area, preventing it from being too repetitive.
Music is nice, and fits in right with the colorful theme of the graphics. There are a variety of pieces for each stage, but it is all a bit too whimsical for my tastes. I know it fits the tone of the game, but we all would’ve liked to hear some choir bits with heavy pomp and circumstance, no? It just fits these types of strategy games.
Luckily the voice acting works hard to make up for the somewhat one-note selection of music. All of the voice actors not only do some great work, they all sound like classic stereotypes of such characters. The king is pompous and regal, the princess helpless and naďve, the villagers hardworking and downtrodden, and the old men… well, they sound like old men.
As a highly anachronistic bonus, the script incorporates modern internet memes and catch phrases in a hilarious bit of comedy. From the “All Your Base Are Belong to Us” when you capture all the forts on the map to the cake being described as “nom nom nom indeed”, these bits are gold.
Fat Princess is something of a genre hybrid. The game plays like a combination of a real time strategy games and an RPG. Your main goal is to complete a mission before the rival team, sometimes capturing the princess of the title and bringing her back before the enemy can steal yours.
You can choose from several classes by picking up hats, and each class is ideal for different situations. As you gather resources with the worker class and upgrade these hat machines, these characters will level up, adding more life and new abilities.
While this may sound all good, there are frustrating aspects, mostly with your inability to control troops. You can only command 3 at most to follow your characters and they rarely do what you suggest. This serves to make combat needlessly complicated and difficult, often coming down to whomever has more troops for the encounter.
This game also features standard ad-hoc and infrastructure multiplayer that function just as in other PSP games. You can choose from many different scenarios based around the rules of the different stages in the main game. This being an early release copy, there was naturally no one to play online with yet.
This game can be pretty challenging due to the way the A.I works. In some missions, you pretty much have to count on your team making the right moves, as you can’t do much of anything by yourself. Sometimes it is just a matter of waiting for your troops to mount an offensive and tag along to grab the Princess. But this doesn’t work in some mission goals. I hate the ones in which you must drain the enemy’s life force, because that requires working with the limited A.I, rather than exploiting it. Even if you “control” 2 priests and 1 upgraded warrior, it is still not enough to deal with overwhelming enemy numbers. This of course always seems to happen when none of your troops are around.
Perhaps this game is meant to be played this way; waiting for opportunities to attack. But to me, that is a BIG old missed opportunity. Honestly what would be wrong with a Starcraft type command structure for the troops, like R orders them to attack, L to retreat? Also holding the shoulder buttons combined with the face buttons orders them to do a variety of tasks (gather resources, follow your character, use spells, heal and so on?) It would work much better and help to limit the inconsistencies of combat in this game.
Replay value is low because of the simple fact that while there are multiple ways to pass each goal, needless frustration will end into nearly all of them, often forcing the player to use the same repetitive but effective strategy. If you find a team of warriors working for you, you’ll have to work much harder to achieve the same with a worker tossing bombs.
I suppose if you like the game enough, you’ll want to try this. Just be aware that the game seems to do everything possible to encourage you to play only in a certain way; that is if you want to have fun while playing. And I’d like to think we all play games to have fun…
Fat Princess is a better idea on paper than it is as a physical game. Just think of the promise; besides being a fresh take on established genres, the idea of a sizeable sire is just hilarious. Too bad playing certain parts are just plain not fun.
- Ugly Bob