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Little King's Story: The best Wii game you've never played

There's more to the Wii than Wii Sports Resort, as long as you like to entertain fantasies of being a miniature despot.

Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
Expertise VR and AR, gaming, metaverse technologies, wearable tech, tablets Credentials
  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Scott Stein
2 min read
Take our advice and be a sad little king. You won't regret it. XSeed Games

Those who complain about there not being enough good original Wii games had better put up or shut up this week. Yes, there's a certain game called Wii Sports Resort that's about to hit store shelves, but we're not talking about that one. Indie game publisher XSeed has been slowly gaining a reputation for releasing weird and risky import titles to the U.S. (the DS cult hit Retro Game Challenge being one of them), and this week they've brought the Wii perhaps its finest genre-blending game: Little King's Story.

We won't pretend, based on the title, that you'll necessarily be interested at first sight, because we weren't. Cutesy king man-child, large logo, and Japanese-esque anime art all add up to a look that seems to say "bargain bin." But do yourself a favor and pick this game up, and help publishers like XSeed for their efforts. This is a long, serious, weird, and fun piece of entertainment.

Shigeru Miyamoto's semiforgotten GameCube masterpiece, Pikmin, was recently released in a Wii-mote-friendly format by Nintendo, prompting fanboys to get angry about no new Wii sequel. Well, you can nearly consider this your sequel. Little King's Story features a gameplay mechanic of crowd control and rounding-up of subjects that's very reminiscent of Pikmin. Executive produced by the creator of another cult title, Harvest Moon, this game retains a lot of the same sense of family-friendly strategy.

While the colorful, Animal Crossing-cheery world centers on you (the Little King, who starts with a few subjects and no money), the way that battles and missions are achieved is by training and gathering your growing stable of subjects, tossing them at targets to do your bidding. Waddling around with your little jiggling entourage surrounding you is really an amusing sight, and the game unfolds with some charming Nintendo-quality localized humor, smart use of classical music, and a great mix of real-time strategy and role-playing wrapped in an interface that's nonintimidating.

Reviews of the game have been good since its release, which isn't surprising. It's everything that Nintendo games are supposed to be about. If we had a few more of these, and a few less of the licensed one-offs, maybe the Wii wouldn't seem like so hollow a success story to serious gamers. While this game is available on disc in stores like GameStop, hopefully WiiWare will allow riskier indie projects and smaller-market games in the future to thrive more easily, and insure a future where gamers will always have original, creative content as an option.

Now here's a question for you: are there other forgotten Wii masterpieces you feel have been under-celebrated? Or others you'd like to finally see the light of day?