There’s a time for complex, Ken Levine-esque, layered storytelling. But sometimes, you just want to dive into a game, not worry too much about the plot, and just have some fun.
For all of the artistry that goes into creating today’s AAA titles, there’s still a niche for the unassuming, simplistic game with fun gameplay. On the surface, Fat Princess Adventures seems like it might be one of those games. Once you start playing, however, you’ll bemoan the game not living up to its potential.
The setup is fairly simple. Fat Princess Adventures is a top-down, Diablo style hack and slash game which allows up to four players to fight their way through a fantasy world. You and your companions will battle enemies atop a pirate ship and within dense forests. The objective? Saving the world, of course. On your way, you’ll pick up better weapons and items to help you deal with stronger enemies. And when you’re in trouble, you can just eat cake to feel better. Which is what everyone does in the real world too.
Is a continuation of the campaign from the original Fat Princess game. The Red and Blue Kingdoms have merged into Great Bitten, but not all is well. There’s a new villain with designs on the throne – the Bitter Queen. The Bitter Queen is awful, and she hates cake.
For a game that has such a ridiculous premise, Fat Princess Adventures could’ve done with much more than the unfunny jokes and cutscenes that go on for way too long. The dialogue seems like a ham-fisted way to add some more jokes to the proceedings, and most of what the characters say is uninspired pop culture comedy.
All of that would’ve been palatable if the actual combat in the game was satisfying. Unfortunately, the game misses the mark here too. For a game that involves so much hacking and slashing, the combat is too simplistic. Each class has two different attacks. The Archer class allows you to fire a bow at range and wield a knife for close combat. The Engineer class can wield hammers and throw explosives. The combat remains the same irrespective of the class you choose. You wander around, swatting at things until they explode and try to max out your ‘Awesome Sauce’ bar. Once it’s full, you are temporarily able to swat things harder and move quicker. The combat lacks innovation and fails to capture your interest after the initial novelty wears off. The only respite is finding better weapons, because it allows you to kill things quicker allowing you to finish the game faster.
Complexity doesn’t always guarantee an enjoyable combat experience. Sometimes, simplistic combat mechanisms paired with an enjoyable soundtrack and good graphics is all it takes. But there’s none of that to be found in Fat Princess Adventures. The hitboxes work weirdly, making it unclear whether you’ve hit someone or not. Often, you’ll find yourself ambushed and die without understanding what you did wrong.
Boss fights elevate the proceedings a little by introducing some interesting set pieces. One of the boss fights will have you throwing chickens you grab into a wheel which electrifies the floor and damages the boss. Yet another fight will put you against a cooking show host who’s juggling an interview in between fighting you. These sections are where Fat Princess Adventures is the most fun, and even these aren’t always very enjoyable. The game routinely throws a gamut of regular enemies at you to fight while you’re trying to take down the boss, sucking some of the joy out of grabbing chickens or whatever else you’re doing.
Quests follow the same simplistic formula. You have to go to some corner of the map to either talk to an NPC or find an item. That’s all there is to the quests in this game. And your map doesn’t help things too much. Your minimap might have you facing one way, but when you zoom out to the full map, you realize that you’re supposed to be heading in the opposite direction. The graphics are pleasing, with a cartoonish art style that fits in with the lighthearted setting of the game. You’ll battle colorful enemies and journey through good-looking maps.
The game allows you to partner up with up to three other players for local or online multiplayer. The problem with that? Everyone shares the same screen. When you’re playing in the same room, this isn’t too much of a problem. But when you’re playing online, you’re in for several frustrating moments while members of your party wander around, exploring whatever might have taken their fancy. You can also compete with other players in the Grindhouse mode. This is a mildly entertaining distraction from the usual gameplay.
Fat Princess Adventures doesn’t have a lot going for it other than the cute premise and colorful graphics. The combat is weak, the story is uninspired and the game is relentlessly unfunny. RPG fans would do well to stay away from this one. And if the setting sounds like your cup of tea, play the original game instead.