If you like chaotic action with a dash of tactical planning, if you like your multiplayer games to be accessible, violent and fun, or if you simply like your princesses as big as a house, then Sony’s latest network offering will be for you.
Fat Princess, a cream filled treat, with chocolate frosting and sprinkles, not only has a rather dodgy premise, but is also packed with playability, up to date online features, and a chunky slice of offbeat humour.
In the best traditions of competitive gaming your team of little red men goes up against the opposing forces of evil. That’s right – little blue men. The evil blue empire, looking like a murderous pack of heavily armed smurfs, have kidnapped your princess and locked her away in their castle. Your noble red army has, quite rightly, responded by taking their princess and locking her away.
After that, it’s all on as both sides battle to recapture their large-boned monarch and leave their enemies beaten, ridiculed and hacked into small pieces.
When playing Fat Princess you begin in your castle. Looking down on the action in a view reminiscent of the old isometric dungeon crawlers, you are automatically assigned control of one of your scurrying soldiers. In the castle there’s also a throne, a number of strange machines and, in the beginning at least, a fairly average-sized princess. In front of each machine is a hat. Picking up a hat will assign your little drone a class. You have a choice of a warrior, mage, priest, archer or worker. Choosing the worker will enable you to chop down trees or mine gems from mounds of rock. Carry the wood or gems back to your castle and you will be able to upgrade the machines, and in doing so, upgrade your classes.
Switching classes is as simple as it gets. All you have to do is pick up a hat from one of your machines, or the battlefield, and you’re no longer a worker, you’re an archer or a mage. Each class not only has different abilities, but also has different stats. It's all fairly rudimentary, with the difference usually just a slight tweak in health and a different mode of attack. If they sound a bit like the classes in Diablo, they are. It's all kept refreshingly simple but with a cool little two-dimensional graphical twist. The entire game is light, smooth and very engaging.
The single-player mode is a good opportunity to get familiar with the game mechanics and will see you heading towards your opponents castle, as a warrior or mage, as soon as your worker has upgraded a machine or two. While there is nothing much you can do to direct your AI army, aside from pressing up to get them to follow you, for the most part they will be keeping themselves busy collecting items or fighting.
The control system is also very simple. Use the square button to attack, cast and build, while the trigger buttons can lock onto targets or block attacks. Triangle changes weapons and you use the circle button to pick up hats, bombs, potions and cake.
The cake is at the heart of the game. Big slices of it are lying all around the charmingly presented environments. Take them back to your captured princess and she will scoff it down, immediately packing on the kilos. The heftier your princess, the more difficult it is for the opposing army to carry her back to their own castle. This gives you more opportunity to counterattack and drag her back to her cage.
That’s it, really. As you can imagine there is a lot of fighting, building, and feeding that goes into winning each of the ten levels. There are plenty of failed sorties with mage-flanked warriors getting run down while struggling with their weighty prize. The green fields are soon scattered with body parts and pools of blood and the princesses are soon the size of a house.
Fat Princess is a game aimed squarely at the online gaming community. It supports up to 32 players and, like the best of games, combines a simple premise with humour and charm. Everything about it is kept simple, but it also offers plenty of scope for tactical planning and teamwork. There is always the choice as to whether it is better to upgrade now, or build a catapult or ladder to make an early run at the princess before she gets too fat. Whatever you choose, organising mages and priests to support your warrior is essential when attacking the opposing castle.
Fat Princess, despite the dodgy premise, is heaps of fun. It’s old-school gameplay with a fresh new look. The single player mode won’t take much more then a night to play through, but online there are plenty of reasons to keep going back. Somehow, the game manages to keep a light, family-friendly charm amid the severed limbs, pools of blood and morbid obesity. And who can’t find room for another slice of cake?