Since Nintendo lets players who buy and register their products to swap Star Points for Wii Points now, I finally decided to go download the 1500 points Wii Ware title, "Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles - My Life as a King". The sim (yes, it's not an RPG!) sounded like a very fun title and with Square-Enix behind its development, I was pretty sure it will be.
In case you don't know, Wii Ware are small titles developed for the Nintendo Wii's Shopping Channel where users can purchase Wii Points either directly through the internet or, go to a high street store to pick up a Wii Point Card. The "exchange rate" is £7 for 1000 Wii Points so as you can see, that just puts this Square-Enix title at around the £11 mark only.
Or if like me, you've been buying Nintendo products, you can exchange 4 Star Points for 1 Wii Point. You can get around 250 Star Points per game which works out to around 60 Wii Points but... Every little counts.
The story tells of a young king named Leo who arrives at the new barren land of "Pedoravak" together with his servants, Chancellor Chime and Knight Hugh. It is here they find a crystal which bestows upon Leo the power of "Architek" to rebuild their homeland destroyed by a dark force some time ago.
Upon starting the game, the early chapters start off as tutorials for the player and the controls work very well. Everyday you have about ten minutes in Pedoravak controlling little King Leo directly, going around building or speaking with the people. Instead of pointing to a spot where you want to build something, you move him to an empty space, shake the Wiimote to summon Chime and select the building. Very simple.
The only downside I find with building new structures is that you don't know if they will fit in the new space until you actually try. The game is also very limiting when it comes to building, only allowing few of each building type besides houses.
When you're not building structures, you can speak with the townspeople to raise their morale and while most of the time their dialogue can be repetitive, I think there's just enough variety not to get bored quickly. You also get to issue "behests" just before you sleep which are basically orders for the adventurers you recruit to carry out - mostly just sending them off to explore dungeons and hopefully, have them return victorious from the bosses there. Then you end up with new plans and "Elementites" to expand the kingdom which is part of the fun in a sim game.
However, I find that beating dungeons can be very much a lottery affair. Although the adventurers level up just as you would expect from an RPG and the game allows you to spend funds to upgrade the gear available at shops, sometimes you'll find it takes an unbelievable number of attempts to beat a dungeon even if your adventurers are say ten times stronger than the level rating the enemies have. Many times the game does hint sending adventurers with the right skills but it just doesn't give you enough information about the kind of monsters that are in the dungeons.
As the game's title suggests, the visuals are based on Final Fantasy's Crystal Chronicles RPG which is a mixture of chibi character designs (i.e. designs that make all characters look like kids) and colourful visuals. There's not much animation either as the game reuses the same voice effects and model animations to tell the story but, the fun dialogue and scenes make up for it. Also, instead of facial expressions, we have a limited number of emoticons to show what the characters are feeling.
It's great to see the barren land become filled with life and watch buildings get constructed with Architek even though it's the same animation every time. On the other hand, there's pretty much no voice effects in the game at all and there's just about three tracks for music which means you could get bored of the music very quickly.
All in all, I think My Life as a King is a good attempt at a sim by SE. The only "downside" is that while the game itself will last you for a very long time, it won't be enough to fill Pedovarak. Any additional content such as new buildings and costumes SE releases will cost more Wii Points as part of Nintendo's Pay to Play scheme. It would cost another 2400 points to get all the add-on content which has now all been released according to SE so, if you tag that onto the initial price tag, you're really going to end up paying the price for a full retail game at approximately £30.
The difficulty level of My Life as a King may no where be near a game such as Sim City or Theme Park where one simple mistake can bring down your establishment quickly but, it's a brilliant fun little sim considering its price.
Time Played: 18 Hours
- Very good presentation, vivid colours and cute models.
- Simple but engaging gameplay.
- Plenty of dungeons to send out adventurers to.
- New structures and content unlocked at good pace.
- Fun dialogue.
- Wii Points required for all add-on content makes game full price.
- Don't know if a building fits or not without trying.
- Locating buildings can be pretty cumbersome.
- Very low limit of buildings.
- End game can be boring as with all sims.
- Needs information about the monsters.